Despite holding a deep respect for traditional lambic production methods (see Hollambic #2), I also gravitate toward new world spontaneous brewing techniques (as evident in Hollambic #1). American brewers have always pushed beer styles to new limits and spontaneous beer is no exception. Since brewing the first Third Leap spontaneous beer in 2015 as a one-off experimental birthday batch, we have continued to brew at least one batch every year. The 2017 version marks our third year of spontaneous brewing.
As part of our innovative and experimental mindset, we have modeled every Hollambic batch after a different spontaneous beer producer – and 2017 was no exception. After stumbling upon Chase Healey and American Solera, I found my inspiration for Hollambic #3!
Healey is the creative mind behind the ever-popular Bomb! (an imperial stout aged on coffee beans, cacao nibs, vanilla beans, and ancho chile peppers) and Funky Gold (a golden sour ale dry hopped with heaps of fruity America hops) series, developed during his tenure at Prairie Artisan Ales in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In 2016, he launched America Solera, a West Tulsa brewery specializing in barrel aged beers. Among the dozens of beers Healey produces at American Solera, Western Culture is their only lambic-inspired beer that is run through a coolship, inoculated with ambient Oklahoma microflora, and aged a minimum of 18 months in oak.
At the 2016 Great American Beer Festival, Healey joined Jeffrey Stuffings of Jester King Brewery to lecture about Spontaneous Fermentation. During his talk, Healey explained his twist on spontaneous beer production at American Solera. Some highlights from his methods are:
- Non-turbid mash (due to relatively low tech brewing system)
- 60% pilsner malt and 40% wheat (combination of malted and unmalted wheat)
- 0.8 lb/bbl (0.42 oz/gal) aged hops
- Target overnight temperature below 40°F
- Coolship inoculation and unrinsed barrel inoculation (i.e. partial solera process hence the American Solera name)
Drawing inspiration from Healey’s process, Hollambic #3 was brewed on January 20, 2017 using unfiltered Massachusetts well water, malted barley, malted wheat, and aged hop pellets from our basement. A single infusion mash step of 165°F was performed for just 20 minutes with the intent of creating a highly dextrinous wort. The wort was boiled for 4 hours before being transferred to our homebrew coolship. Following the results from the (then) recent Great Homebrew Coolship Experiment, I opted to use a rinsed and sanitized 10 gal Igloo Mash Tun to cool and inoculate the wort. The wort was left uncovered outdoors at 32°F for 15 hours. The next day, Hollambic #3 was transferred into a 6.5 gallon glass carboy and tucked away.
Despite being a lover of gueuze (a blend of one-, two-, and three-year-old lambic), I am also incredibly fond of vintage wine. In other words, I see merit in both blended and singular components in spontaneous beer. In this vein, a portion of each Hollambic beer is reserved for packaging as a vintage (expression of a specific time) and the remainder is reserved for packaging as a multi-year blend or cuvée.
How will our American Solera inspired Hollambic #3 turn out? Only time will tell . . .
Style: 23D – Lambic
Description: An interpretation of a traditional Belgian lambic – a crisp wheat beer featuring a unique tartness and funkiness from ambient microflora that lend way to complex hard cider and white wine characteristics
Batch size: 10 gallons
FG: 1.002 (est.)
ABV: 7.2% (est.)
63% Domestic pilsner (Canada) @ Mash
37% Malted wheat (Canada) @ Mash
0.4 oz/gal lambic blend pellets @ 240
Water treatment: Untreated Holland, MA well water
Mash technique: Single infusion @ 165°F for 20 minutes
Kettle volume: 12.5 gallons
Boil duration: 240 minutes
Final volume: 8.5 gallons
Fermentation temp: 66°F (ambient)
Notes: Brewed solo on 1/20/2017. pH readings were 5.62/5.00/4.50/5.96/5.68 (mash/2nd run/3rd run/preboil/postboil).
Intentional hot and short mash to try to replicate dextrins produced during turbid mash, without all that effort. Long boil was used to concentrate wort and darken color to 5 SRM.
Rinsed and sanitized MLT. Ran boiling hot wort directly into MLT and transferred outside with sanitized cheese cloth to prevent any insects or debris from entering coolship. Placed outside around midnight. Average overnight temperature was a perfect 32°F.
Retrieved coolship after 15 hours. Rans 6.5 gallons into glass carboy and the remaining 2 gallons was split into smaller carboys and subsequently pitched with our native foraged yeast or house microflora.