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Solera brewing
  • FuzzyFuzzy
    Posts: 46,877
    A solera is a method of fermentation process that blends aged whatever (beer/wine/vinegar/etc) with fresh in a series of containers.

    Here's a bit more detailed info of the process:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solera

    In recent times, home-scale producers have adapted a slightly different method, one that I came across when I started making kombucha. Essentially, you use one single fermentation vessel and continually remove and replace a portion of the liquid.

    So, for a beer, you would ferment out completely, then bottle a portion, up to 75%, and replace with fresh wort. For kombucha, it's more like 50%.

    This method does two things:

    Firstly, it allows you to have a constant, viable culture perpetually fermenting and available.

    Secondly, you can really gain a depth of flavor and a complexity that's not possible with the traditional batch cycle of brewing.
    "Oh, you were serious? I was drunk."-C_B
  • FuzzyFuzzy
    Posts: 46,877
    For my first foray into pseudo-solera brewing, I plan on changing my normal 5 gallon batches to 6 gallons. I will then, take the extra gallon and ferment it in a small fermenter, bottling 75% or so of it and replacing with the extra gallon from the next brewday.

    I plan on starting things off with some wyeast brett L that I have waiting around. After that I'll probably either add some lacto (not sure if I'll use wild or specific strain) or some brett b dregs that I have bottled up for just this purpose.

    After a few cycles of bottling and replacing wort, I might start adding more dregs and, hopefully, more complexity, or take the bug mix in another direction.
    "Oh, you were serious? I was drunk."-C_B
  • FuzzyFuzzy
    Posts: 46,877
    By doing it in this way, bottling a sixer or so of each specific culture mix, I'll be able to go back a step in case anything I add changes the culture mix in a way I'm not happy with.

    So I can always go back and start over with the dregs of the last culture that I bottled.
    "Oh, you were serious? I was drunk."-C_B
  • FuzzyFuzzy
    Posts: 46,877
    @jeepinjeepin, or @creepyjeepy, or @baldybeardjeep, whatever your name is, care to share your experience with solera brewing, or at least your approximation with the lambic barrel you have?
    "Oh, you were serious? I was drunk."-C_B
  • FuzzyFuzzy
    Posts: 46,877
    Pictures and notes forthcoming*
    "Oh, you were serious? I was drunk."-C_B
  • jeepinjeepinjeepinjeepin
    Posts: 17,333
    I have a bourbon barrel which should be approximately 53 gallons capacity. I started with around half that volume fermented clean in buckets and added that to unfermented wort in the barrel. Once in the barrel I added several strains of Brett along with Lacto and Pedio. I'm sure I've added dregs from some sour/Brett beers as well. I'm not looking for something reproducible so notes haven't been taken.

    The grain bill is very lambic-esque. It's mostly pilsner, pale, and wheat. There are also some roasted and crystal malts, but not enough to take it past dirty blonde. It was hopped to around 10 IBUs just because. Lacto is very sensitive to hop oils so I wanted to keep it low. It would have been just as well to have had no hops in the boil.

    I tasted it a few times early on because it was a new thing and then buckled down and let it be. The first pull was 5 gallons at around 9 months. It tasted good so I dry hopped it and carbed it in a keg. It was horrible. The carbonation brought out nasty bile flavors. It was hoppy puke. Fast forward 3 months to today. It still has an odd almost meaty finish that is fading. I've been told it may come and go. I'm still looking for a more complete answer on that one.
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  • jeepinjeepinjeepinjeepin
    Posts: 17,333
    Here's a couple pics. It lives out in the garage. I love the bung. It's a Dalco Du-all dual action fermentation bung. It vents pressure but seals with vacuum.
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  • jeepinjeepinjeepinjeepin
    Posts: 17,333
    The traditional method of Solera, usually for Balsamic vinegar, uses several barrels. The pictures I've seen usually show around five or six barrels of decreasing size. The process is started by filling the largest barrel. Whenever it is time a portion is moved to fill the next smaller barrel and the first barrel is topped up. This process continues until the smallest barrel is mature. It continues on as long as desired, moving the smallest barrel volume down the line each time the smallest barrel is ready to bottle.

    My two vessel system is the only feasible method for me right now. I may move on to a multiple vessel if I come across come smaller barrels at a steal.
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  • FuzzyFuzzy
    Posts: 46,877
    great stuff. thanks jeep.
    "Oh, you were serious? I was drunk."-C_B
  • FuzzyFuzzy
    Posts: 46,877

    It still has an odd almost meaty finish that is fading. I've been told it may come and go. I'm still looking for a more complete answer on that one.



    there isn't a better answer out there. the brewing 'bugs' are unpredictable little buggers. it's hard to know for certain what they'll do.
    "Oh, you were serious? I was drunk."-C_B
  • jeepinjeepinjeepinjeepin
    Posts: 17,333
    I've been told by a UC Davis grad that it may be mess left over from the Pedio and it will fade, but he wasn't sure and hasn't tasted it. I've also been told by a soon to be pro brewer that has tasted my beer and has run across the same flavor in his lambic that he hasn't found an answer for it, but the flavor seems to come and go.
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  • jeepinjeepinjeepinjeepin
    Posts: 17,333
    Maybe, just maybe, when we move into our next house I can reason that I'll need one each of 5, 10, and 20 gallon barrels to "spread the load" to make the 53 gallon portable. The sad part is that another 53 would be way cheaper from one of my local breweries that barrel age.
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  • ThymThym
    Posts: 103,758

    Maybe, just maybe, when we move into our next house I can reason that I'll need one each of 5, 10, and 20 gallon barrels to "spread the load" to make the 53 gallon portable. The sad part is that another 53 would be way cheaper from one of my local breweries that barrel age.



    that's a lot of coin
    The only thing between me and a train wreck is blind luck..... - Kenny
  • jeepinjeepinjeepinjeepin
    Posts: 17,333
    That @lakewoood, he's a sharp one.

    C_B
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  • FuzzyFuzzy
    Posts: 46,877
    it begins!!!


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    "Oh, you were serious? I was drunk."-C_B
  • FuzzyFuzzy
    Posts: 46,877
    that's about 2/3 of a gallon of the third runnings from my recent dunkel brewday, boiled down with a little maple syrup and some dme to bring it to around 1.035

    i would have liked to ukp that a good bit, but i didn't have any more dme on hand. :(
    either way, i wanted to get the wyeast brett L active so i can get this thing started.

    not sure yet weather i'll feed this one some really high grav wort to bring it up to normal beer body/abv or if ill just bottle it off and give it something fresh to work with.
    "Oh, you were serious? I was drunk."-C_B