My solara project is several years old now and has some fusel notes. What I did not consider when I was adding beer to the vessel (it's in a carboy) was that adding wort to it would keep increasing the alcohol of the main batch. I've learned now to add fermented beer instead.
How would this be the case? Wort or beer, its all going to depend on sugar and volume. Although there is some concentration during aging, my wine needed about a 500ml addition per month. I didn't top up this barrel, I fermented a batch in it then filled it with fermented beer a couple weeks later.
That all sounds most adventurous and yummy. One question... How do you have any idea what the ABV is, other than having three 16 ouncers in an hour and trying to stand on one leg?
I generally make those beers around 1.050 or a little higher, and you can bet the mix will ferment it down to 1.005 or thereabouts. So its not terribly strong stuff, but quite flavorful.
Very cool. I've been wanting to do something like this for years.
Check out a barrel from Vadai World Trade Enterprises, just about the cheapest (around $200 shipped) and a decent quality. Get a silicone bung to go with it, no fun to fight with wooden bungs. A new barrel would produce a lot of oak flavor on the first batch, but be diluted as you pull and refill. I had my zin in it for five months and thought it was adequately oaked, after a year of mellowing it could have used another months or two.
I'm on a lambic bottling kick right now, just bottled a 17mth kriek made with sour cherries from my own tree, and a small batch of young lambic (9mth) fermented with Oude Beersel dregs that has a wonderful pineapple aroma and a puckering tartness (maybe too much). I'm bottling them all carbonated.