August 6, 2014

Lambic Solera Update Nineteen - Forty-Two Months

It's been a while since I've updated about the solera. I didn't get to taste Year Three until the end of May and I just recently opened my second ever bottle of the gueuze so I wanted to wait to make an update until I could add those notes. The solera has lost the offensive trashy smell from early in the year and now has its typically delicious acidic and cherry aroma. It looks good and it is sporting its usual thin white pellicle.

Lambic Solera Year Three Tasting

If my math is correct, after the prior to two years of removal and replenishment of beer, the Year Three beer should be an average of about 1.7 years old. With annual pulls on the same schedule, the solera will top off around 1.9 years and should get into that range on the next pull. There is definitely an interesting mellowing character in this year's pull and its flavor says a lot about the gueuze's character because it's 60% of the gueuze blend.

Appearance: Low carbonation but not still. Light straw color with reasonable clarity. Slight haze.

Aroma: Lactic acidity, barnyard, honey, melon.

Flavor: Honey and funk, sort of like a bretted mead. There is acidity but it is more restrained than the last two years. Acidity becomes more noticeable in the bite as well as the flavor as it warms.

Mouthfeel: Prickly from the acid and moderate body. Almost a white wine mouthfeel but with some carbonation.

Overall: An interesting and unexpected result from the solera. I don't know where all the honey flavor came from. It wasn't quite this big on the honey note at bottling so it is something that is maturing in the beer. My speculation is that the saccharomyces I added with Year Three's replenishment was responsible for that turn. I wish there was more acidity in the beer to make it a little less mead-like but overall I'm happy with it.

Gueuze Tasting

If my math is still correct this blend has an average age of 2.6 years, which is pretty old for a gueuze blend. It is 50% Year Three, so it would be surprising if the Year Three honey character isn't predominant in the blend. The first tasting I made was a couple weeks after bottling and it was very similar to Year Three. I wanted to give it several months to meld together before retasting to see if it melds into something distinct from its individual components.

Appearance: Low carbonation. Slightly darker hay color than year three. Relatively clear with minimal haze.

Aroma: Barnyard funk, lemon rind, grapefruit, cherry, honey.

Flavor: Honey note has drifted off from the early tasting. Acidity is bright and punchy with a big lemony flavor. Brett funk wraps around it with subtle hints of other citrus fruit, cherries, leather, honey and hay. Slight herbal note.

Mouthfeel: Slightly watery, which is the only thing I dislike about this beer. It could have used a little more carbonation to give it some snap to compensate for the thin body but it is not so watery that it is unenjoyable. The acidity is very prickly.

Overall: Certainly a good blend. The flavors came through nicely once the beer had some time to come together in the bottle.  I feel good about the blend. It's certainly one of the best beers I have ever put together, if not the best. Better than the sum of its parts although the original Year One batch was not far off. A little different from other gueuze I have tried but honestly I would put it up against several commercial examples (maybe not against the well-known Belgian blenders).

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