Author Topic: And So the Solera Begins  (Read 1331 times)

Online morticaixavier

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And So the Solera Begins
« on: July 22, 2013, 12:35:54 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.
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Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: And So the Solera Begins
« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2013, 08:56:50 PM »
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.
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Re: And So the Solera Begins
« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2013, 06:09:01 AM »
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.
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Online morticaixavier

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Re: And So the Solera Begins
« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2013, 07:20:11 AM »
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
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Re: And So the Solera Begins
« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2013, 08:57:27 AM »
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
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Offline bluesman

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Re: And So the Solera Begins
« Reply #5 on: July 23, 2013, 09:34:39 AM »
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.
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Re: And So the Solera Begins
« Reply #6 on: July 23, 2013, 10:20:15 AM »
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!
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Online morticaixavier

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Re: And So the Solera Begins
« Reply #7 on: July 23, 2013, 10:41:20 AM »
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!
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Re: And So the Solera Begins
« Reply #8 on: July 23, 2013, 01:27:54 PM »
Sounds awesome Jonathan!  Keep us apprised of the progress.  One of these days I would like to start a solera barrel project.
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Re: And So the Solera Begins
« Reply #9 on: July 23, 2013, 01:49:10 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.
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Re: And So the Solera Begins
« Reply #10 on: July 24, 2013, 08:42:01 AM »
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.
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Re: And So the Solera Begins
« Reply #11 on: July 24, 2013, 08:46:14 AM »
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?
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Re: And So the Solera Begins
« Reply #12 on: July 24, 2013, 09:08:53 AM »
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.
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Re: And So the Solera Begins
« Reply #13 on: July 24, 2013, 11:00:26 AM »
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.
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Re: And So the Solera Begins
« Reply #14 on: July 24, 2013, 11:29:17 AM »
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?
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