At some point towards the end of 2017, Wildflower rolled in a couple of foudres – essentially oversized oak barrels that hold somewhere in the region of two and a half thousand litres of liquid. Into one of them they poured a base beer not too dissimilar to their signature Gold blend, with the notable difference being to switch raw wheat with raw spelt. It then sat around for about three months before half the liquid was packaged. The beer that was pulled from the foudre has now been opened up to the public as the first of what will be a quarterly (or thereabouts) release called Solera.
Unlike Wildflower’s Gold and Amber series, which are carefully blended – a bit of this barrel, a bit of that barrel – towards a specific end, Solera is a beer that effectively blends itself. When half the liquid is taken out to be packaged, the empty portion of the foudre is filled again with a fresh batch of the same beer. Then the same half out, half in, process happens a few months later, so it’s a creature that’s being constantly reinvigorated while simultaneously getting older and increasingly mixed. This method means they have less control over how the final beer will present itself and this first one has duly presented quite differently to the beers for which Wildflower is best known.
On a basic level the citrus and peppery aromas and characters aren’t actually too dissimilar, but the sourness is considerably more pronounced. It has a little more of what you might call an earthy or grainy character, though that takes a back seat to a clean lemon character which seems all the more refreshing thanks to the acidity and the fact it's topped of by the most perfectly fluffy white head.
Because of what it is and where it is in its life cycle, the first pull of Solera doesn’t feel like a beer that yet has the same polish as its siblings – after all, those have had at least a year’s head start. And for Solera this really is just the start; at no other point will you get the opportunity to try this beer in what is effectively its unblended form – pure Solera, if you will. So if you’re keen to follow the full journey of what flows from the foudre, get in on the ground floor while you have the chance.
- Foudre Beer