And away we go! So one thing i like to do when getting into a new yeast is starting off simple and working to complex. This way I can get to know my yeasties and better apply them to projects down the road. That said, let's get to know The Bretts. According to White Labs the Brett is headed in the following direction:
"This Belgian strain, used traditionally for 100% Brettanomyces fermentations, produces a slightly tart beer with delicate characteristics of mango and pineapple. Can also be used to produce effervescence when bottle-conditioning."
So on beer one let's allow that yeast to shine shall we! I have mined my notes on Brett, most of which comes from Chad Yakobson of Crooked Stave, and I came up with this concept for what I am lovingly referring to as the Meet the Bretts series: Brett Un
Now, will it turn out like this, most likely not. We are dealing with some finicky funk here, but hey, can't fault a guy for trying. Sidenote: I'm adding my own little caveat to the standard format by adding the "E" which will stand for experiment, in the event I'm going to split batch, etc.
A - Extra Pale, white head which will have little head retention (of which will decrease as the beer ages in the bottle.)
S - again, tropical with a slight to moderate fruity hop character.
T - super dry, effervescent, tropical fruits especially mango and pineapple.
M - light to medium decreasing with aging.
O - very pleasant and approachable brew, sessionable, slightly tart.
E.1. - 1 Gallon - add sterile, half medium toast oak spiral long soaked in chardonnay (Russian River, Temptation inspired)
E.2. - 1 Gallon - add sterile, half medium toast oak spiral long soaked in Pinot
Let's begin with the simplest grist I can imagine.
2-row: 10lb - 85%
Munich (light): 1lb - 9%
Wheat Malt: 8oz - 4%
Flaked Oats (in boil, muselin bag), 10 minute add): 4oz - 2%
Color: 4 SRM
The two row is pretty standard, in future iterations I'll work in Belgian Pils, but for now I am just going to keep it simple. Chad states that Munich imparts precursors to an enjoyable Brett beer, also Vienna is a good choice here, but I have Munich on hand so Munich it is. And now the Wheat and Flaked Oats.
Building in body to a Brett is a big deal because the Brett will eat everything, but the trick is understanding in which order it eats. In a 100% Brett fermentation they will take down the "fermentable" sugars first and move on from there to things like proteins (and dextrins and hop acids and dead yeast and on and on and on until lastly, yes, even alcohol get chomped). Coming back to "building body into the beer," we refer to proteins. By adding proteins to the wort we are adding in, as Chad likes to say, "perceived body," which will last longer in the finished beer. Without it, the perception will be far more thin at the onset and will only get thinner with time: Enter Flaked Oats, and Wheat Malt.
Drilling down a little further I came across an interesting article by The Mad Fermentationist on putting the oats directly into the boil instead of in the mash. Hmmmmmm, I say: The point of this step is adding body via proteins and I figure what more effective way to do that than to get those proteins directly in the wort. The BN had on Dave Marliave of of Flat Tail Brewing and he mentions how he'd love to toss the Oats into his boil, except for the fact that it would be hundreds of pounds in a muslin bag that I assume would turn out to be the size of a Mini-Cooper....Not practical, but I am not them, so I am going to toss my Flaked Oats in directly and get those proteins. (I would have added 8oz, but this all I have left right now...brew shop road trip!)
Lastly, Chad rips his beers out around 6.5% (not all, just some), very Colorado of him to go that high, I like it! And he mentions 18 IBU's "ish." I say "ish" because he doesn't like IBU's, he is a perception man, and who am I to argue with the Brett-Master Yakobson himself!
Considering the above, I applied a little forethought and then a little math. This beer should be ready in late summer and I want it more sessionable than 6.5% (forethought). So assuming 6.5% attenuates like so, 1.054 to 1.004, and applying his 18 IBU's to the assumed OG of 1054, gives us 18/54 = .33 (math) ... Hey, it may be a geeky move, but the devil is in the details.
Apply that BUGU to my smaller beer and I get my hop adds.
Columbus, 1.5oz at 1 minute. And they are old, so I am not worried about going over. I used 1 minute for two reasons. First, Chad likes all hops in at flameout to reduce aggressive bittering which will shine through in a more aggressive way due to the high attenuation. Second, because if I run them through my beer program at flameout I get no IBU calc and I need some baseline in the first beer. Not too crazy.
Starter - 1040, 1000 ml, stir plate, 1 vial, 8 days, ambient 75 degrees (80 is optimum)
Boil - 60
Aeration - no
Nutrients - no
Fermentation Profile: Pitch at 68 and free rise to 74 over 2 weeks.
7/1/2014 - brett starter on stir plate - 75 degrees - 1 vial - 1040 wort from dme
7/9/2014 - brew day with Danny H - "one brew at a time there dave"
Everything went well here on temps, and volumes.
Pitched at 68 degrees
7/10/14 - krausen already formed and airlock is active
7/11/14 - high krausen - 72 degrees - she is pumping! Strong esters of mango coming off the blow off tube. Using just an airlock, krausen not in any danger of clogging airlock at this time.
9/17/14 - Gravity has reached 1008. Let's get crazy.
1.25G - infused with 2lbs of frozen and masserated Cranberries.
1.25G - infused with 24oz, frozen and masserated Black Cherries.
1G - infused with 7oz shredded Coconut, 1lb frozen and masserated Mango, 3 zested and squeezed Limes.
1.5G - soaked half a medium toast oak spiral in 2 month old beer aging with Belgian Sour Mix I. Dropped spiral to bottom of feremente for 1 hour, and tossed it into Brett Un remaining beer and yeast cake.
9/18/2014 - Fermentation has restarted in all infused vessels.
Re-Innocluated batch - let sit on oak two weeks.Check FG, decide on priming, bottle and age.
Bottled - tastes funky but not sour. Slight oak, but not oaky. Tropical fruit apparent. Bottled with sugar tabs.
Taste once per week. Once deired character develops rack off fruit. Take FG and decide on need for priming sugar. Bottle in 12oz bottles and wait 3 weeks until popping first sample.
Cranberry Beer for the October Brew Farm Contest: Consider killing Brett with potassium metabisulfite (research details of this), or bring to a boil - keg and slow carb - bottle.
Keep in mind: Bottle remaining 3G (at or below 1010). 2pts = 2.5L which is the goal. The brett will not stop eating so, worst case scenario is we over carb the beer. Bottom line, I plan to bottle with no priming sugar on this go around and taste every three months, recording the carb progression here, monthly. Subsequent batches we can play with priming sugar, but for the first batch I'd rather be patient than sorry.
Kegged cran-cherry and bottled directly from keg.
Bottled Brett/pedio/Lacto with sugar tabs and corked and caged.
Chad Yakobson of Crooked Stave notes having over carbed beers in initial rounds of bottle fermentations, I think due to the age of them ad the fact they weren't drank in time by the consumer...Or simple the bottles he kept over carbed in time. More to come on bottle conditioning funky beer in subsequent posts.