June 2, 2013

Lambic Solera Update #15 -- Two and a half years

It's crazy to think that I have had this all this lambic going for two and a half years. I mean, I've been brewing
Year one in reserve
for about four years but I still remember the desperation of waiting those few weeks for my first batch to be ready. But here we are, thirty months into the solera project. Just six more months until I take up my first blending project with the solera. I'm not as desperate waiting for the blend as I was for that first batch of beer to carbonate but I am very excited.

Today's post is really about the bottling of the blackberry lambic but I thought I would check in where everything else is. To the right are some updated pictures of the main fermentor plus the two reserve gallons. They aren't looking very different than the last update in March, except for some changes in the pellicle.

My plan right now is to pull three gallons in December and bottle one gallon straight with the other two going into the gueuze with the two reserve gallons. I've been going back and forth about bottling some of the year three straight but I think it makes sense to have some of that batch bottled by itself if for no other reason than to compare it directly against the other years. Additionally, it means my four gallons of gueuze will be 50% one year old and 25% each of two and three year old lambic, so more aged lambic is in the mix. I will taste year three before committing to the blend to make sure I like the flavors
Year two in reserve
from year three enough that I want it to dominate the blend. I might end up using less year three than expected in the blend which means I can do something else with the extra gallon. Blending shouldn't be about just mixing set amounts. It's about creating a complex flavor profile. So I'll want to figure out how each year mixes with the other. I think the even mix of years one and two will work well so we'll see how year three plays with the other two.

Year three at work

So then there's the blackberry lambic. It's nicely purple in color. The blackberries did a better job of staying intact in the beer. Last year's raspberries dissolved into small pieces which made bottling more difficult. The flavor is fantastic. It's very acidic but the fruit flavor comes through quite nicely with the funky lambic character in the background.

I ended up with 6 bottles of blackberry lambic (four 750ml and two 330ml), which is about the same as last year's raspberry lambic. I bottled this batch with 1.3 ounces of priming sugar and a slug of champagne yeast slurry. I grew an 800ml starter of champagne yeast so I would have some extra yeast to encourage carbonation in this beer plus my doppelbock and barleywine.


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