So what is this Solera beer we’re releasing for our 5 year anniversary?
First let’s tell you about the Solera process…
Solera is a process for aging liquids that utilizes fractional blending, so the finished product is a mixture of ages. It is common in Sherry wine and Balsamic vinegar and less common in other products like beer, other types of wine and spirits.
The idea is that a large batch is produced and filled into containers, usually wooden barrels. At a certain interval, a portion of those barrels are emptied to fill a smaller number of barrels leaving a some of the liquid behind. The original barrels are topped up with a fresh batch. This process is repeated with multiple additional layers or criaderas. Each time, a portion of the liquid is transferred to a smaller number of barrels and then the partially emptied barrels are topped up from the previous layer all the way back to the original layer which is topped with a fresh batch.
Using this process, we will release a new iteration of our Anniversary Solera each year, but every new blend will include portions of every previous year’s blend.
So how did we employ the Solera process to make Five and future Anniversary Soleras?
First, we started with a unique beer recipe inspired by the character of Sherry wine (the Solera-aged beverage that inspired this endeavor). Our beer recipe is closest to an Old Ale or English Barleywine but it is very much its own unique creation. We brewed it with raisin juice and local honey.
We crafted the first batch for FIVE back in November 2019, then placed it in 16 Heaven Hill bourbon barrels to begin the aging process. It aged in the bourbon barrels about a year and then most of the beer was transferred in November 2020 to 12 brandy barrels that previously held Buffalo Trace bourbon. We left 25% of the original batch behind to start the future Solera blending process and then topped up the bourbon barrels with a brand-new batch, with a slightly tweaked recipe. This new batch started the 2022 Anniversary Solera’s aging process for those keeping score.
With 2021’s FIVE now in brandy barrels and 2022’s SIX aging in the original bourbon barrels, we began to prep the final criadera, receiving 6 PX Sherry barrels from Spain. In March 2021, we moved FIVE from the brandy barrels into the PX Sherry barrels, again leaving a portion behind. We then moved SIX from the bourbon barrels into the brandy barrels, leaving a portion of SIX behind for the next year’s blend, you guessed it, SEVEN. Note, at this stage SIX is blended with portions of both the bourbon-barrel and brandy-barrel aged FIVE.
At that time, we brewed the 2023 batch, again with a slightly tweaked recipe and we filled the bourbon barrel criadera with the new batch, which will eventually become SEVEN in 2023. Are you still with us?
When we bottle FIVE, it will have aged just under a year in bourbon, approximately four months in brandy and six months in Sherry. Over time we will modify the aging lengths and recipes slightly and each year’s new blend will have portions of each of the previous year’s blends included.
When SIX comes out in 2022, it will have portions of FIVE blended in and will have aged in the same three criaderas, bourbon, brandy, and PX Sherry. When SEVEN comes out in 2023, it will have portions of both FIVE and SIX blended in. Over time, we will replace the criaderas as barrels lose their character but we will continue to blend in portion of the previous year’s beer into every subsequent batch, meaning ten years from now, you’ll be enjoying a blend that includes some of the same beer you’ll get to try at this year’s 5th Anniversary Party.
We hope you are as excited as we are to try each year’s blend and compare them to one another over time.
The ABV of Five is 16%.
We may still have some bottles of this unique brew available but they won’t be around long. Click here to pre-order a bottle today.