Solera pull #1, bottling straight

It feels like a lifetime ago since I started this Solera Project in a Sanke keg. I have been really anxious to remove the first portion to bottle but I wanted to stick to my plan of waiting a full year to remove a portion. Now that a year has passed (plus 3 weeks at the time of bottling, shoot me) of aging in the Sanke keg I removed a sample to taste and bottle off 3 gallons, I started with ~14 gallons in the keg.

The last time I tasted it was when it was 6 months old, and seemed to be coming along despite a lingering sweetness on the back end of the palate. I am happy to report that sweetness is gone, completely, taking its place is even more sourness. Wow! This is a really sour beer, definitely the sourest beer I’ve ever brewed, as you can tell by that 3.32PH at the time of the pull.

pH meter testing lambic beer
It could go lower, but I would prefer it not at this point.

I’m glad that I chose to package the first pull prior to brewing the top off batch, post on that is coming soon after, because this may actually be a bit too sour. This gives me the opportunity to modify the wort in hopes of dialing back the acidity a little bit and increasing some of the funky/sweaty/horsey aromas, based on tasting notes I took at bottling.

I bottled up all 3 gallons straight, so to get an idea of what has been going on in there over the 12-month aging process. I would have loved to get some of this on fruit, and there really is plenty, but I would prefer to tackle that with the next pull which I hope will be in 6 months’ time. I re-yeasted with Champagne yeast as I did with the Lambic blend a few months ago, and primed some heavy Belgian/Champagne bottles to ~3.7vols of co2. This will be a highly carbonated, highly acidic beer, fingers crossed.

reclaimed 750mL bottles being filled with lambic
Filling a mix of reclaimed bottles, some green some brown, all 29mm caps.

I’ll go into more detail on my top-off batch in the next post but my goal will be to minimize the sourness and increase the funky flavor/aromas. To do that I’ll try to implement a few methods that I have gathered through a few different sources I’ve read over the years. For starters I plan to turbid mash this batch, half will be fermented aside from the Solera for blending and the rest will be for the top off.

I also plan to hop the hell out of this batch, I recently purchase a ton, ok only 10lbs, of de-bittered aged hops and I plan to use a full pound in a 10-gallon turbid mashed batch. I will start fermentation in a stainless kettle with Abbey Ale Yeast and TYB Brussels Blend and then transfer to the Sanke just as fermentation is slowing but is still active. I believe this plan should help me get to where I want to be for the next pull.

I am getting close to the first tasting of this beer, it has been a long wait but I think it will be worth it in the end. I will judge the beer on first taste, although I probably shouldn’t because I expect this should age well for quite some time, well hopefully.

lalvin EC1118 Dry Wine Yeast next to a glass of beer
bottling bucket being filled from sanke keg
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