New Holland Brewing Company unveils Dragon’s Milk Solera

Discussion in 'Beer News & Releases' started by Todd, Jul 7, 2020.

  1. Todd

    Todd Founder (6,147) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society

    New Holland Brewing Company unveils the next member in its Dragon’s Milk Family: Dragon’s Milk Solera

    The foeder-aged ale utilizes a technique that blends old and young into an ever-evolving beer

    Holland, Mich. (July 7, 2020) -- New Holland Brewing Company has announced the next member of the Dragon's Milk family, Dragon’s Milk Solera, a 10% ABV foeder-aged ale that emphasizes the passage of time. By implementing a method where a flow of fresh beer influences the base solera, Dragon’s Milk Solera achieves a drinking experience that’s simultaneously consistent and ever-changing.

    The solera aging method could best be described as fractional blending. Beginning with a master batch, New Holland ages Dragon’s Milk Solera in massive oak foeders and gradually pulls down the line until reaching the final foeder, blending a pool of beer from different generations. The beer’s average age will increase before hitting an eventual equilibrium, becoming more layered and complex. Each pull from the solera will contain a small bit of the original batch, allowing Dragon’s Milk fans to follow this beer as it evolves.

    “We plan to label each batch with the pull number so drinkers can join us on the journey,” Brand Manager Dominic Berquist said. “The aging and blending brings our brewers and cellarman a new set of challenges, but they have more than risen to the occasion and we're very excited by the results.”

    In a glass, Dragon’s Milk Solera presents a gorgeous mahogany hue. An oaky and subtly sweet nose draws the drinker in for a sip where beguiling flavors of caramel, toffee and fig coalesce into a beer best savored amongst good company. Crack open a couple with friends and watch the Dragon’s Milk legend unfold.

    "We've researched the history and lore behind the term 'Dragon's Milk’ and have actually found references to it as early as the mid-1500s in England,” Bergquist said. “Dragon's Milk was used to describe a wide variety of potent ales and elixirs that were worthy of celebration, and Solera absolutely lives up to that expectation. It's an exciting new chapter in the legend of Dragon's Milk and we can't wait for our fans to try this brew."

    Dragon’s Milk Solera will be available year round in four-pack 12 oz bottles and on draft in select states beginning in August. A limited amount of this beer will be available for online pre-order starting at 11am on July 18. The release coincides with another New Holland brand, Hazy River, a one hundred percent Citra-hopped New England Style IPA with a huge citrus aroma and taste.

    Pick up will take place at the Knickerbocker and New Holland production facility on Saturday, August 1 from 11-6pm. For more information on Dragon’s Milk Solera and the pre-order, please visit www.dragonsmilk.com.

    Tag Us: @dragonsmilkofficial @DragonsMilk

    Hashtags We’re Using: #dragonsmilk #sharealegend

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  2. DIM

    DIM Poo-Bah (2,882) Sep 28, 2006 Pennsylvania
    Society

    I have to be honest, I was thinking snarky thoughts about when I saw a thread about another dragon's milk variant. But I love this idea and I hope I get a chance to try some.
     
    #2 DIM, Jul 8, 2020
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2020
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  3. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,979) Mar 12, 2009 New York
    Society Trader

    Those were my exact sentiments. Would love to try this one, but if I miss it I guess this will be a periodic offering, and might even just get better and better. Nice to see this labor/time/space intensive technique in use.
     
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  4. MrOH

    MrOH Meyvn (1,283) Jul 5, 2010 Maryland

    Sounds cool. I remember when Dragon's Milk was a draft only Barrel-aged old ale. Still the most affordable bourbon-barrel aged imperial stout out there. If I run across it, I'll pick one up.

    I'll pass on the Hazy River, though.
     
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  5. MrOH

    MrOH Meyvn (1,283) Jul 5, 2010 Maryland

    I view it as: "we bought some foeders, because that's the cool thing to do, now what are we going to do with them?"
    Good use, though.
    Blue Sunday always kinda sucked. Hate to see them start a half-hearted sour program that they won't actually follow through on.
     
    #5 MrOH, Jul 8, 2020
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2020
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  6. thesherrybomber

    thesherrybomber Devotee (417) Jun 13, 2017 California
    Society Deactivated

    Its a little funny seeing that term used in the beer world, but my curiosity is piqued
     
  7. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,979) Mar 12, 2009 New York
    Society Trader

    Have you tried other solera method beers? I am anxious to try more. The only non-funk ones I've tried were the old ales done by the Bruery. I bet stout benefits equally well as did those. Guess we'll all (hopefully) find out.
     
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  8. MrOH

    MrOH Meyvn (1,283) Jul 5, 2010 Maryland

    Everything that passes through a foeder will either take on some sourness or funk, unless it's at an ABV that kills off the wild yeast and/or bacteria. And the solera method does lead to oxidation, part of why "sherry" is the description for the good kind of oxidation in barleywines.
     
  9. CB_Michigan

    CB_Michigan Initiate (192) Sep 4, 2014 Illinois

    I still remember being blown away the first time I tried Dragon's Milk, watching the Hope-Calvin game at the Pub. A year or two later it went from being an Old Ale to a Stout. Don't drink it often these days since it doesn't really show up on draft around here. I've done a couple of draft v. bottle side-by-side comparisons and people are surprised by how much of a difference there is.

    Definitely will pick up some of this, however.

    Never cared all that much for Blue Sunday but I really enjoyed Incorrigible Reserve.
     
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  10. Roguer

    Roguer Poo-Bah (5,245) Mar 25, 2013 Georgia
    Moderator Society Trader

    Interesting.

    As with all DM variants, I'll try it if given the chance ... but unlike others so far, I'm less enthused. Is the base stout good enough, honestly, to really shine in this kind of experiment? I have my doubts.
     
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  11. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,979) Mar 12, 2009 New York
    Society Trader

    Oookay I guess we can just leave this right here, then.

    I hope some of this is available for both of us, sounds like it's in my wheelhouse. Hope you enjoy yours too. Cheers!
     
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  12. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,089) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    But "Foeder" is just a foreign term for large horizontal or vertical wooden casks, fermenting or aging vessels - the same containers used by thousands of breweries before the development of glass-lined steel, stainless steel, and tanks made of other materials.

    Properly lined with pitch, enamel, lacquer, varnish or Mammut, etc., millions of barrels of beer came out of them without any "sour or funk". Take these Stroh fermenters used into the 1970s (or later?) - no off-flavors, heck, most couldn't even pick up the carmelization from the "Fire-Brewing".
    [​IMG]
     
  13. MrOH

    MrOH Meyvn (1,283) Jul 5, 2010 Maryland

    You are correct. Do you know if the foeders that New Holland uses are lined with any of the coatings you mentioned?

    I could be wrong, but I don't think anyone is going to invest all the money and care into a wooden vessel of any kind that doesn't give character when a SS conical can do the same thing with less upkeep, and possibly footprint.

    I'm talking about current usage of wooden vessels, not historical.
     
  14. StoutElk_92

    StoutElk_92 Poo-Bah (2,946) Oct 30, 2015 Massachusetts
    Society

    I'm also curious if this will have a slight funk to it. I had a foeder-aged stout that was placed in a brand new foeder and it had a slight oak/wood vanilla character to it but no funk or sourness. I've also had a couple foeder-aged lagers that had a similar fresh oak/vanilla character and no funk. I have had some good solera wild saisons and sours, but I never thought about a solera stout. Would it be good to have part of the stout be 5 or so years old? Some stouts hold well over time, but some have not been very good for me after a few years, maybe having to do with the malts. I can see an old ale or barleywine taking nicely to this method since those are usually still good several years down the line, but I'm wondering how well a blended mixed age stout would stand to the test of time. Also, would any adjuncts/variants be included? Or it seems this will only be a regular Dragon's Milk blend with no flavored stouts blended in? This could be a nice easily accessible blended aged stout if things go well.
     
  15. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,089) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    I was not referring to this NH product specifically, but to your comment re: "Everything that passes through a foeder will either take on some sourness or funk..." which implied any beer, not just this one.

    Seems to me that there have been some US "craft" breweries experimenting with aging in pitched or otherwise lined wooden vessels - yeah, likely not the larger new foeders many brewers are using. Maybe a barrel or two :wink:. Not sure about the Stroh casks used by Bell's.

    The only one I can think of off-hand* was NJ's first "microbrewery" in the late 1980s, Vernon Valley (later "Clemens"), which used ~18 bbl. casks for their German beers. (* Well, I am gettin' old and haven't been feeling well...:grimacing:).

    @honkey - you've mentioned some US brewers doing it, IIRC?

    But in Europe it is still done (even, on a tiny scale, for Pilsner Urquell).

    I don't know - it's similar to current belief about coolships - yeah, brewers in Belgium and now elsewhere use them to inoculate their wort with wild, airborne yeast but that was not the original purpose of a coolship (aka "cooler") which was, as the name implied, to cool the wort (in later decades, as a preliminary step before other cooling equipment), and was used in numerous US breweries that fermented their beer with their standard cultured top- or bottom fermenting yeast.
     
    #15 jesskidden, Jul 10, 2020
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2020
  16. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Poo-Bah (2,830) May 30, 2005 Michigan
    Society

    I asked Larry Bell in the Ask The Brewer forum what beers have passed thru those old Stroh's foeders, and his reply was that they haven't found a project for them yet. :confused:
     
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  17. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,089) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader


    But, but ... that ain't what the linked article says:astonished::
    This "Fake News" shit is finally gettin' to me!:wink:
     
  18. CB_Michigan

    CB_Michigan Initiate (192) Sep 4, 2014 Illinois

    Actually, New Holland isn't labeling this as a stout, which seems confusing given the Dragon's Milk branding. Here's a pic from their website:
    [​IMG]

    Tasting notes emphasize "caramel, toffee, and fig," which sounds more like an Old Ale than a Stout (especially considering the appearance).

    I'm pretty excited about this. Sipping on one of the 2020 DM Reserves (Scotch Barrel w/ Marshmallow & Dark Chocolate) and this might be one of my favorite variants. In terms of execution, I am pleasantly impressed. The flavors are present but they're fairly restrained and come in waves. There's a marshmallow sweetness and creaminess up front, the chocolate follows and helps round out the taste, and then it finishes with a smokey, tannic, oak note. Definitely not a pastry stout type of beer, it's much more subtle and refined, easily one of the better examples of scotch barrel aging I've had. Honestly, the lingering dryness is a characteristic I associate more with wine, so I am really intrigued by this solera approach they're taking.
     
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  19. CB_Michigan

    CB_Michigan Initiate (192) Sep 4, 2014 Illinois

    Not sure that I agree with the sourness/funk claim. I've bought Two Brothers Atom Smasher (foudre-aged Marzen-style) for the past 6 or 7 years and I've never gotten any funk or sour notes. Like @StoutElk_92 described, there's a clear caramel/vanilla/oak presence, but in a way that complements the base beer. At 7-8% ABV, I wouldn't guess that it has that wild-yeast-killing strength.
     
  20. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,979) Mar 12, 2009 New York
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    Did you get a chance to try Cuivre et al from The Bruery? Those were oaky, deeply rich old ales, with a lot of malt complexity from the solera method blendings. Excited to try that DM variant you mention in the post above

    DFH does Palo Santo Marron in Palo Santo wood foeders that give it a rich unique flavor. Not at all sour or funky. Industrial Arts just installed some foeders to do some of their fermenting and IIRC their plan is not to do any sour or funky beers in them. Foeders are just wood fermenters, basically, no reason they should throw funk or sour unless they get accidentally, or intentionally, infected.
     
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  21. CB_Michigan

    CB_Michigan Initiate (192) Sep 4, 2014 Illinois

    Honestly, unless I'm looking for something specific (Allagah, DFH, FW, Oskar Blues), I rarely venture out of the IL/Midwest/Imports aisles. I probably haven't had a Bruery beer in 4 or 5 years, but that Cuivre et al sounds really interesting. I had the Palo Santo Marron at a restaurant and enjoyed it but don't recall seeing it in bottles. Of course, the DFH beer I drink the most is American Beauty (a little pricey for what it is and not a world-beater, but aligns with my palate, is so easy to drink, and I think it just pairs well with everything).
     
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  22. purephase

    purephase Initiate (150) Feb 23, 2008 Connecticut
    Trader

    I was a big fan of the solera barleywine I had from one of New Holland's locations, so I'll be in for this one. I probably haven't purchased a version of Dragon's Milk without anything added for far too long anyway.
     
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  23. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Poo-Bah (1,558) Mar 12, 2013 California
    Society Trader

    Wow, I was vaguely interested in this beer before, now I am absolutely ecstatic about this beverage. New Holland isn't my favorite brewery but I've always respected their commitment to what they do. And dragons milk is a lovely stout that absolutely punches about it's weight.
     
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  24. Roguer

    Roguer Poo-Bah (5,245) Mar 25, 2013 Georgia
    Moderator Society Trader


    Well that sounds much better ... but also more confusing. Why use the DM brand, then? It's like the EV SUV Mustang; it might be great, but I'm confused with the name. :wink:
     
  25. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,979) Mar 12, 2009 New York
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    I felt that way when Bourbon County Brand was put on a Barley Wine.
     
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  26. Roguer

    Roguer Poo-Bah (5,245) Mar 25, 2013 Georgia
    Moderator Society Trader


    Good point. Maybe this is just New Holland evolving the DM "brand" in the same direction GI took Bourbon County. In this case, spinning it off as just the New Holland barrel program writ large.
     
  27. StoutElk_92

    StoutElk_92 Poo-Bah (2,946) Oct 30, 2015 Massachusetts
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    It seems to me now that this was the Dragon's Milk stouts and after aging so long and blending in the solera, it has become more like an old ale with time, as the stouts naturally got old. With the age, look and tasting notes it is probably correct for them to no longer call it an imperial stout. Looks interesting, I'll try to pick up a bottle if I see it, and look forward to future results and vintages.
     
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  28. BruChef

    BruChef Aspirant (223) Nov 8, 2009 New York

    Such as Anchor. No funk in their Steam Beer.

    Also, no mention of where the Bourbon Barrel aging takes place in this process. Is the beer placed in foeders post bourbon barrel aging? Why not Just apply the solera method to the actual bourbon barrels that contain the beer?
     
    #28 BruChef, Jul 11, 2020
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2020
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  29. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,089) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    Well, not lately...:wink:
    Fritz Maytag on Anchor Steam Beer in his early days of ownership (Interviewed by Lew Bryson),:
     
  30. MrOH

    MrOH Meyvn (1,283) Jul 5, 2010 Maryland

    Happy to see them going back to the roots of Dragon's Milk. Far too few Old Ales around nowadays.
     
  31. BruChef

    BruChef Aspirant (223) Nov 8, 2009 New York

    Ok, perhaps I meant the other California OG brewery. Doesn’t Sierra Nevada still ferment some of their beer in coolships? I remember seeing a cool time lapse video of Bigfoot fermenting that way.
     
  32. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,089) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    Yeah, that's a great video... (but I'd call that simply an open fermenter - since coolships tend to be shallow in order [originally] to help quickly dissipate the heat).

    Of course, both ale and lager brewers in the US did a lot of open fermentation into the mid-20th century.
     
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  33. muck1979

    muck1979 Initiate (69) Jul 3, 2005 Minnesota

    Dovetail Brewing in Chicago uses a coolship and open fermenters for all their beers. The brewery windows along the parking lot allow you to look down into some of the open fermenters.
     
  34. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Poo-Bah (1,558) Mar 12, 2013 California
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    I don't think there is any Bourbon barrels involved. To me this looks like an old ale and there is no mention of bourbon barrels or being an imperial stout on the bottle in the marketing image that @CB_Michigan posted
     
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  35. tobelerone

    tobelerone Poo-Bah (2,819) Dec 1, 2010 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    I’ll probably give this one a shot if and when I see it but from the way you’re writing it sounds like Dave, you’re back? If so cheers and congrats to you, I know you had some serious health concerns for a while taking you away from (Among other things) the wonderful world of beer. Cheers!
     
  36. CB_Michigan

    CB_Michigan Initiate (192) Sep 4, 2014 Illinois

    Is that even possible? I mean, that is a HUGE difference in color, considering that every DM I've had is seriously black with dark brown edging and beige head/lacing. Maybe the foeder aging lends itself to that degree of change, but I would seriously like an explanation on how that happens. For comparison, here's a photo of a decade-old, non-imperial coffee stout I found in a half-empty moving box this morning. This beer was stored in conditions that I assume would accelerate the aging process (uninsulated utility room about 10 ft from our boiler for the past 4 years and an uninsulated tool shed in MI for 5-6 years before we moved):[​IMG]
    That beer has lightened up slightly compared to fresh, but we're talking pitch black to a fairly dark brown (black coffee color). And yes, it was pretty disgusting. Anyway, if something as pedestrian as this has barely budged in 10-ish years, why would the base DM stout change so dramatically?
     
  37. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,979) Mar 12, 2009 New York
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    Thanks! Not back quite yet, but planning ahead 3-4 months. Doc says a beer every occasionally actually good for me now I have my medical issues almost handled. Hopefully I have some years ahead to enjoy those occasional beers, and solera method DM is def. gonna be on the "list"
     
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  38. StoutElk_92

    StoutElk_92 Poo-Bah (2,946) Oct 30, 2015 Massachusetts
    Society

    I'm not sure honestly, and I think only New Holland has all the facts on their beer right now. Sometimes I see a stout that is translucent and red colored, or more brown than black. I was thinking that possibly the drop off from time in combination with extracted wood tannins might discolor the beer a little more brown and a fade from black, but I'm not sure if that would definitely happen, it was the only explanation I could think of that might make sense. I don't know the age of the oldest part of the blend in their solera and if age at all would turn it from black to brown with or without help from the foeders or solera blending. I suppose it's possible they made a batch with some different malts that were more brown and old ale oriented, but that would raise questions for me about why they are calling this Dragon's Milk, unless it is indeed like @Roguer was mentioning about them possibly just using the Dragon's Milk brand to expand off of, and in turn going back to it's original roots as an old ale as mentioned by @MrOH. I suppose it's totally possible that they are calling this Dragon's Milk and it isn't even the Dragon's Milk imperial stouts that we know, and is just a brand new foeder-aged solera blended old ale style beer. I guess the lore of the Dragon's Milk remains.
     
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  39. CB_Michigan

    CB_Michigan Initiate (192) Sep 4, 2014 Illinois

    Finally opened a bottle from "Pull #1" (7/21/20) tonight. This is definitely NOT a stout and anyone expecting such based on the Dragon's Milk branding will be extremely disappointed. That said, it is a very unique beer and Strong Ale seems an appropriate way to categorize this. There are certain qualities that remind me of other beers like Founders Curmudgeon, SN Life and Limb, and some Pipeworks barleywines, but the DM stands out for its thinness and a sherry-like, slightly oxidized quality. There is also a pronounced alcohol burn and a fair amount of vanilla from the oak foeders. I enjoyed it but I'm not sure if I just kinda liked it, solidly liked it, or really liked it. I am interested to see how this beer evolves over time and will definitely pick some up with each new pull that gets released.