Homebrewers Association | AHA Forum

General Category => General Homebrew Discussion => Topic started by: morticaixavier on July 22, 2013, 07:35:54 PM

Title: And So the Solera Begins
Post by: morticaixavier on July 22, 2013, 07:35:54 PM
Well,

I did it. not sure what I was thinking but I let that monkey climb right up on my back and grab a good solid hold I'm afraid.

last weekend I coated my 20 liter balcones rumble barrel in bees wax over all surfaces except the heads. This weekend I transferred a batch of farmhouse style fermented with Almanac Brewers Reserve #1 dregs and topped it off with a gallon or so of A similar recipe brewed with the belle saison.

Took some gravity readings while I was at it and was blown away.

The Belle Saison batch, just yeast, not bugs. 1.000 down from only 1.045 but still.

The Sour batch has gone from 1.048 to 0.98. woof.

Both taste pretty good all by themselves but the sour portion was starting to get really really nice. I would highly recommend this beer as a dregs starter for a sour project.

The Almanac beer has tremendous mouth feel for such a low gravity.

So finally to the questions, if anyone is still reading.

1) I topped the barrel off to the tippy top, till beer started to overflow a bit. Is this right? do I want any air space? as I sample (not often) should I re-top off?
2) I am planning to let this ride for another 4 months so the original almanac brew will be 6 months old, draw off 2-3 gallons and replace with something similar. Does this seem right? after than I will go with a 6 - 12 month cycle until I am totally sick of it or the barrel goes way way south.
Title: Re: And So the Solera Begins
Post by: reverseapachemaster on July 23, 2013, 03:56:50 AM
So finally to the questions, if anyone is still reading.

1) I topped the barrel off to the tippy top, till beer started to overflow a bit. Is this right? do I want any air space? as I sample (not often) should I re-top off?
2) I am planning to let this ride for another 4 months so the original almanac brew will be 6 months old, draw off 2-3 gallons and replace with something similar. Does this seem right? after than I will go with a 6 - 12 month cycle until I am totally sick of it or the barrel goes way way south.

1. Since the beer is already fermented there is no risk that the beer will overflow out of the barrel and spill everywhere, so you want it as full as you can to minimize air contact and maximize the amount of beer you can take back out. If it is that full you don't need to top off when you take a sample unless you are sampling frequently or taking an excessive amount. You really don't need to take hydrometer samples because your saison is going to dry out in a matter of months and you're just looking for it to reach a desirable flavor profile. That only takes an ounce or so to taste. You don't want to break open the pellicle constantly to taste it, so even those samples should be infrequent.

2. It's a fine plan going in but you should let the flavor profile guide when it is time to pull beer and replace it. You may not like the flavor profile after four months, it may be ropy, etc. On the other hand, you may like the flavor of the beer at a younger state, in which case you may want to pull and refill every 4-6 months.
Title: Re: And So the Solera Begins
Post by: Jimmy K on July 23, 2013, 01:09:01 PM
Allagash has a nail (stainless I'm sure) in the head of every barrel. They pull the nail to sample and hammer it back in.
Title: Re: And So the Solera Begins
Post by: morticaixavier on July 23, 2013, 02:20:11 PM
Allagash has a nail (stainless I'm sure) in the head of every barrel. They pull the nail to sample and hammer it back in.

I've seen that. wine makers and distillers do that as well. makes me nervous to breach the head of the barrel though. I'll keep it in mind
Title: Re: And So the Solera Begins
Post by: garc_mall on July 23, 2013, 03:57:27 PM
Allagash has a nail (stainless I'm sure) in the head of every barrel. They pull the nail to sample and hammer it back in.

I've seen that. wine makers and distillers do that as well. makes me nervous to breach the head of the barrel though. I'll keep it in mind

here is a how-to for the sample port.

http://funkfactorybrewing.blogspot.com/2012/02/installing-sample-port.html
Title: Re: And So the Solera Begins
Post by: bluesman on July 23, 2013, 04:34:39 PM
Minimizing the air space (oxidation) is key. As long as you have followed good sanitation practices and your batch doesn't become infected, you'll be fine. The alcohol in the beer will help keep the beer in good condition.
Title: Re: And So the Solera Begins
Post by: kylekohlmorgen on July 23, 2013, 05:20:15 PM
I don't think you need to top off every time you sample - there's a trade-off there between minimizing head space and introducing oxygen during filling. Since you waxed most of the barrel, there will be considerably less evaporation, so you may not have to top off at all before you pull.

Pull when it tastes great.

Are you using a breathable bung/airlock? Even though you attenuated that far, brett will still metabolize compounds and produce CO2.

I'm excited to hear how this project comes along - sounds fantastic!
Title: Re: And So the Solera Begins
Post by: morticaixavier on July 23, 2013, 05:41:20 PM
I don't think you need to top off every time you sample - there's a trade-off there between minimizing head space and introducing oxygen during filling. Since you waxed most of the barrel, there will be considerably less evaporation, so you may not have to top off at all before you pull.

Pull when it tastes great.

Are you using a breathable bung/airlock? Even though you attenuated that far, brett will still metabolize compounds and produce CO2.

I'm excited to hear how this project comes along - sounds fantastic!

I actually need to get a breathable bung. At the moment it's just got the silicon bung that came with the barrel. I might drill it out and stick an airlock in although the breathable bungs seem like a less labor intensive solution I will pull the  bung out tonight to release any pressure that might have built up.

I'm really excited to. the beer already taste pretty great to me but I am trying to remain patient for at least a couple more months.

I'll have to get a bottle to you as your somewhat responsible for this madness!
Title: Re: And So the Solera Begins
Post by: redbeerman on July 23, 2013, 08:27:54 PM
Sounds awesome Jonathan!  Keep us apprised of the progress.  One of these days I would like to start a solera barrel project.
Title: Re: And So the Solera Begins
Post by: thebigbaker on July 23, 2013, 08:49:10 PM
Sounds awesome Jonathan!  Keep us apprised of the progress.  One of these days I would like to start a solera barrel project.

+1!  Looking forward to how it turns out.  Really interesting process and one day I'll get the nerve to try it myself.
Title: Re: And So the Solera Begins
Post by: tomsawyer on July 24, 2013, 03:42:01 PM
The pellicle will protect against oxidation.  Thats why they use a nail in the head, to drain a sample without stirring up the pellicle.

Why did you wax?  I didn't do this to my barrel and its going ok, going on year two I think.  In fact I need to pull and replace soon.
Title: Re: And So the Solera Begins
Post by: morticaixavier on July 24, 2013, 03:46:14 PM
The pellicle will protect against oxidation.  Thats why they use a nail in the head, to drain a sample without stirring up the pellicle.

Why did you wax?  I didn't do this to my barrel and its going ok, going on year two I think.  In fact I need to pull and replace soon.

The idea of waxing is to make the small 20 liter barrel behave more like a 200-400 liter barrel in terms of o2 diffusion. From what I have read it works to some extent.

Perhaps it is an overblown concern and there are enough other influences that the increased o2 diffusion has minimal impact. However it was not hard or expensize. I used about 6 bucks worth of bees wax. Had I used paraffin it would have been like 2 bucks worth. and it took all of 1 hours time.

How much do you pull each time? Are you using a small 20ish liter barrel for your solera?
Title: Re: And So the Solera Begins
Post by: tomsawyer on July 24, 2013, 04:08:53 PM
Mine is 11gal, I've pulled 5gal each time and the flanders red was really sour last time.  I'm thinking of pulling more on this go-around.

Good luck with yours, its a fun thing to play with.
Title: Re: And So the Solera Begins
Post by: morticaixavier on July 24, 2013, 06:00:26 PM
Mine is 11gal, I've pulled 5gal each time and the flanders red was really sour last time.  I'm thinking of pulling more on this go-around.

Good luck with yours, its a fun thing to play with.

yeah 11 gallons is going to have a lot less o2 permeation as it is. but you might be able to reign in that sourness some by waxing the outside. I know aceto needs o2, but doesn't brett tend to produce sour in presence of o2?

pedio works best in ABSENCE of o2 and will produce some sourness. can't remember have to go back and read my notes again.
Title: Re: And So the Solera Begins
Post by: AmandaK on July 24, 2013, 06:29:17 PM
Why did you wax?  I didn't do this to my barrel and its going ok, going on year two I think.  In fact I need to pull and replace soon.

The idea of waxing is to make the small 20 liter barrel behave more like a 200-400 liter barrel in terms of o2 diffusion. From what I have read it works to some extent.


Interested piqued. What sources do you have for this?
Title: Re: And So the Solera Begins
Post by: Jimmy K on July 24, 2013, 06:37:20 PM
I do remember an article, in Zymurgy I'm pretty sure, from years ago for an ale made with Flor Sherry and oak aged. They calculated the volume/surface ratio of a large barrel, scaled down to 5 gallons, and found that a wooden blug in the top of a carboy should provide the same O2 permeability.
Title: Re: And So the Solera Begins
Post by: kylekohlmorgen on July 24, 2013, 06:40:54 PM
Why did you wax?  I didn't do this to my barrel and its going ok, going on year two I think.  In fact I need to pull and replace soon.

The idea of waxing is to make the small 20 liter barrel behave more like a 200-400 liter barrel in terms of o2 diffusion. From what I have read it works to some extent.


Interested piqued. What sources do you have for this?

http://www.funkfactorygeuzeria.com/2012/02/paraffin-waxing-barrel.html
Title: Re: And So the Solera Begins
Post by: kylekohlmorgen on July 24, 2013, 06:41:43 PM
I'll have to get a bottle to you as your somewhat responsible for this madness!

SWEET
Title: Re: And So the Solera Begins
Post by: morticaixavier on July 24, 2013, 06:43:18 PM
Why did you wax?  I didn't do this to my barrel and its going ok, going on year two I think.  In fact I need to pull and replace soon.

The idea of waxing is to make the small 20 liter barrel behave more like a 200-400 liter barrel in terms of o2 diffusion. From what I have read it works to some extent.


Interested piqued. What sources do you have for this?

I read about it here via a suggestion on this forum actually. I have reservations that it would actually work exactly the same as beeswax and paraffin must have some o2 permeability themselves but if it reduces it a bit that's good. and as I said, it wasn't hard.
http://www.funkfactorygeuzeria.com/2012/02/paraffin-waxing-barrel.html (http://www.funkfactorygeuzeria.com/2012/02/paraffin-waxing-barrel.html)

I also saw a chart, I think from Vinnie Cilurzo that specified different containers and their o2 permeability. the difference between a 20 liter barrel and a 200 liter is huge. glass is still higher than the big barrel.
Title: Re: And So the Solera Begins
Post by: AmandaK on July 24, 2013, 06:45:55 PM
Why did you wax?  I didn't do this to my barrel and its going ok, going on year two I think.  In fact I need to pull and replace soon.

The idea of waxing is to make the small 20 liter barrel behave more like a 200-400 liter barrel in terms of o2 diffusion. From what I have read it works to some extent.


Interested piqued. What sources do you have for this?

I read about it here via a suggestion on this forum actually. I have reservations that it would actually work exactly the same as beeswax and paraffin must have some o2 permeability themselves but if it reduces it a bit that's good. and as I said, it wasn't hard.
http://www.funkfactorygeuzeria.com/2012/02/paraffin-waxing-barrel.html (http://www.funkfactorygeuzeria.com/2012/02/paraffin-waxing-barrel.html)

I also saw a chart, I think from Vinnie Cilurzo that specified different containers and their o2 permeability. the difference between a 20 liter barrel and a 200 liter is huge. glass is still higher than the big barrel.

Excellent. Thanks!

I'll be following this thread for updates on whether this works well/for how long.  :D
Title: Re: And So the Solera Begins
Post by: mbbransc on August 21, 2014, 02:39:43 PM
Resurrecting this thread to see how the solera brews turned out.

Title: Re: And So the Solera Begins
Post by: morticaixavier on August 21, 2014, 02:50:05 PM
I was going to pull a portion about two months ago but upon tasting it was actually quite bland. there was some funk, nearly 0 sourness. I have some other sour projects going as well and will pull a portion one of these days for blending but have not had time as of yet. thankfully sour beer is very patient.

there are no signs of too much o2 contact so the waxing seems to have worked to some extent.

one of the other sour projects I have going is a 2 gallon batch of IPA wort that was fermented with the same yeast blend as what's in the barrel. in fact the same cake that was months old in my fridge. it's pretty asertively funky sour at this point so I may well blend the barrel portion with that when it's time.

I will need, due to other timing issues, to make this decision and get a second round into the barrel.
Title: Re: And So the Solera Begins
Post by: erockrph on August 21, 2014, 05:39:11 PM
I was going to pull a portion about two months ago but upon tasting it was actually quite bland. there was some funk, nearly 0 sourness. I have some other sour projects going as well and will pull a portion one of these days for blending but have not had time as of yet. thankfully sour beer is very patient.

there are no signs of too much o2 contact so the waxing seems to have worked to some extent.

one of the other sour projects I have going is a 2 gallon batch of IPA wort that was fermented with the same yeast blend as what's in the barrel. in fact the same cake that was months old in my fridge. it's pretty asertively funky sour at this point so I may well blend the barrel portion with that when it's time.

I will need, due to other timing issues, to make this decision and get a second round into the barrel.

If you're looking to get another round going you could rack some to secondary and add more bugs/dregs/etc. to it there prior to bottling. This may kick things off a bit more in the first batch and will keep the solera project moving along.
Title: Re: And So the Solera Begins
Post by: ynotbrusum on August 21, 2014, 05:42:29 PM
I started my Solera last year on the basis of this thread and it is progressing nicely on the second round of topping off.  I blend about 5:1 new to barrel aged ratio after trying a slightly greater barrel aged proportion that seemed a bit too bourbon intense.  As it mellows further, I may alter the ratio toward greater barrel aged potion.  It is interesting to do blendings and every six months or so I have something cool to do.  Waiting on a pellicle from this past May to subside a bit on the glass to make my next blend. 
Title: Re: And So the Solera Begins
Post by: majorvices on August 22, 2014, 03:06:04 PM
Hey Jonathan, we will have to do another bottle swap sometime. I have a solera going now too in a jack Daniels bbls that was resources as a red wine bbl that is now resourced as a solera. Gonna be a while though.
Title: Re: And So the Solera Begins
Post by: morticaixavier on August 22, 2014, 03:18:21 PM
Hey Jonathan, we will have to do another bottle swap sometime. I have a solera going now too in a jack Daniels bbls that was resources as a red wine bbl that is now resourced as a solera. Gonna be a while though.

for sure! I've also got a super cherry-y sour that's half over a year old and half about 3 months along.
Title: Re: And So the Solera Begins
Post by: ynotbrusum on August 23, 2014, 02:57:28 AM
Jonathon and Major -  I would be glad to be in on that exchange - plus in addition to my Flanders Solera, I have a Blackberry Brett Saison that is almost ready for racking off the fruit, if that might be of interest...it would be worth it for me just to get your honest feedback, as I am (relatively) new to the sour/funk side of the hobby.  Each year I want to do around 15-25 gallons of sour to be able to blend and age....maybe the forum will eventually generate enough interest to have a special section for sours?
Title: Re: And So the Solera Begins
Post by: majorvices on August 23, 2014, 02:17:04 PM
Jonathon and Major -  I would be glad to be in on that exchange - plus in addition to my Flanders Solera, I have a Blackberry Brett Saison that is almost ready for racking off the fruit, if that might be of interest...it would be worth it for me just to get your honest feedback, as I am (relatively) new to the sour/funk side of the hobby.  Each year I want to do around 15-25 gallons of sour to be able to blend and age....maybe the forum will eventually generate enough interest to have a special section for sours?

Sounds like a plan to me. I have no idea how good mine will be either. I have only lightly dabbled in sours and just starting to really get into it, though I have done a bunch if Brett beers.

When mine is ready I will definitely let you guys know.
Title: Re: And So the Solera Begins
Post by: morticaixavier on August 24, 2014, 09:39:14 PM
Jonathon and Major -  I would be glad to be in on that exchange - plus in addition to my Flanders Solera, I have a Blackberry Brett Saison that is almost ready for racking off the fruit, if that might be of interest...it would be worth it for me just to get your honest feedback, as I am (relatively) new to the sour/funk side of the hobby.  Each year I want to do around 15-25 gallons of sour to be able to blend and age....maybe the forum will eventually generate enough interest to have a special section for sours?

Sounds like a plan to me. I have no idea how good mine will be either. I have only lightly dabbled in sours and just starting to really get into it, though I have done a bunch if Brett beers.

When mine is ready I will definitely let you guys know.

right on! I'll keep posting