I need to sit down and write up an update on the lambic solera and take some pictures because it is developing a nice pellicle. I should probably knock that out this week.
I did break out two beers for their first tasting recently. First is the brown ale from the grain roasting experiment. Delicious! It is dark with great head retention and a nice complex flavor for a session beer. It has a bit of an acrid finish due to going overboard on the black malt and over-roasting it. I bottled the honey version of that recipe this week so hopefully it will be even better.
Second is the fake kriek that I did with the sour mash. In spite of getting a solid lacto infection it turned out really delicious. It is tart with a small cherry flavor. It isn't complex and it is missing the brett funk but otherwise it is crisp and refreshing. My fiance said it reminded her of the Cantillon kriek, which is a huge compliment. I doubt it is that good (I have yet to try Cantillon myself) but to be even in the ballpark is a real positive. I would be happy to try that recipe again, but I would go bigger on the sour mash, avoid the infection and either go fresh cherries or cherry juice. The canned cherries just didn't add a lot.
This year I have decided to try growing hops. Hops are primarily work during the summer, which will be easier on my schedule since I will not be taking summer classes this year. One difficulty I will face is that hops like to grow very tall but I will be limited to eight feet due to the HOA limitations at my house. I intend to grow Mt. Hood, Spalt and Kent Goldings. I will receive my rhizomes in early March and intend to get it all set up over spring break.
I have several small batches I intend to brew in the next couple of months because I need to refresh several of my yeast strains and I have several new recipes to get it going, including a dunkelweizen, dunkel wheat wine, black ale and a dark saison that will get broken out next winter.