It was last October when I heard Ethan Tripp speak to James and Steve on Basic Brewing Radio about his Sour Solera Project. I must have listened a good few times because I lost a morning.
I was very envious of ET and was about to do my thing of contacting those amazingly cool American home brewers to ask for something. It would take a long time. I would doubt that it would happen. But it would all be well worth the wait, the uncertainty, the cursing of the postman(sorry mate, I went to the temple to make it better,the monk assured me it would be just fine!).
I contacted James Spencer and asked that he put me in touch with Ethan. I asked a whole load of question, to which Ethan gave me very detailed answers and also agreed to send me some dregs with which to sour some of my own brew.
The only catch ( if you can call it that) was that I accept sole responsibility for the outcome, be it good or bad.
So, after scores of things getting in the way, I finally heard from ET about ten days ago saying that the package had been posted and that it included not only four vials of Brett/bugs, but also a bottle of the brown ale spoken about in the podcast.
When the package arrived at the office last Friday I was teaching a TEFL course and was on my way for a coffee break,cup in hand,as I walked past the teacher’s room window. I very briefly stopped dead in my tracks and dropped my coffee(ouch!) and ran screaming and shaking like a leaf in a storm,into the room.
Well what with all the shaking ( I had stopped screaming by now) and the mad skills of master wrapper Mr. Tripp, it took m,e ages to get into the goodies.
My heart sank ever so quickly as I noticed that one of the five vials had leaked. WAIT A FLIPPING MINUTE! Five, not four vials.
So, here is what they were:
1: Cabin Blend 1 containing stuff,hey, we all like a bit of stuff!
2: Cabin Blend 2,containing Anchorage White out, Vapeur En Folie, Timmermans Gueuze, BFM Abbaye St. Bon Chien 2009 and 3 Fontienen Doesjil 2006.
3: Petrus Aged Pale ale Brett
4: East Coast Yeast Bug Farm 01 with some Jolly Pumpkin(god how Iong to get my grubby little hands on one of their beers). This is in three of the barrels and is the basis of the Solera.
5: De Molen Leif and Leed, Istastegi Basque Cider, Cantillon Fou Foune 2013, BFM Abbaye St. Bon Chien 2006 and Cantillon Kriek.
In Ethan’s words”Ah, Cabin 4 was a “why not” addition. It’s not really been proofed, save that it smelled fantastic. It also got quite ropy, so be aware, there lies pediococcus, and it does weird things, but it makes great beer”.
So, as would any respectable home brewer, I rushed to brew something on Saturday night. I decided that the grain bill must be two things. 1) Simple 2) made up of grains I had on hand.
With that in mind I put together a 15 litre batch:
1kg Vienna malt
1.4 kg Pilsner malt
130gr flaked oats
30gr Carafa Special II for colour
I mashed it with 2.5 litres/kg at 69c for an hour. At 60 minutes I added 10gr of year old Glacier pellets which after calculating the residual AA content, gave me about 5IBUs.
I then boiled for an hour and cooled by “showering” the outside of my brew kettle before sitting in an ice bath for a while. After 20 minutes, by this time it was 01:30 in the morning, I sprayed the lid with Starsan and went to bed, leaving the pitching and dividing for the next morning so that Wenlock could help me.
Sunday morning the wort was siphoned into the 5 litre FVs and I “pitched” or rather “spooned” two desert spoons of re-hydrated Windsor into all of them. Into the two at the back, I also pitched CB1 and CB2( not together).
The FV at the front will have about 200ml of amber LME wort added, which I will boil with some hops and then pitch the Petrus Brett ready for aging.
This was today at about quarter to five:
A big fat thank you very much goes out to E.T. for his help,generosity and all round wickedness!
I will update when I brew with the other two,which I am thinking of giving to Tylerization, and again when I open that Sour Brown Solera.