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01/21/07 11:39 AM  
Brett in mead?
Slightly OT, but if anyone has info, it will be this group! I cultured up some dregs from 2 Orval bottles for a Belgian Enkel/Single late last year, and it worked very well in the secondary, giving the classic bretty Orval flavors.

I am considering reusing this (I suppose it is most accurately described as a Brett/Sacch. mix with the Wyeast 1762 from the primary) in a mead - I recently started following a batch or series of beers with a mead as a way to extend the useful life of the yeast and to experiment and have fun.

So, I am interested to know if anyone may have tried such a thing. I realize it is probably not in the main line of interest of the bug-savvy beer brewers here, but it can't hurt to ask. No info at all seems to be available from the various mead-related resources on the web . . .

Al B
01/21/07 12:16 PM  
Re: Brett in mead?
I recall a thing called Mead-the-Gueuze or something like that where gueuze is blended with mead. But as far as fementing brett in mead, not yet. It passed through my head when I was helping SteveG pressing some apples for his cider though. Sounds interesting.
01/22/07 10:07 AM  
Re: Brett in mead?
Actually there was a very experienced mead maker at cider day (the thing in northern MA last November I went on about). One of the things I always understood about mead was that it should never be boiled as that throws off a great deal of its aromatic compounds. But you need to heat it cause theres lots of bacteria that live in honey. So when I have made mead I've heated it to 150F and held that for a bit, that is supposed to be enough. But this mead maker was adimate that you should never heat it at all, aromatic loss begins as soon as heat is introduced. It came up when I asked the cider panel how they treat the honey they add to apple must to avoid contamination. One answered by miming opening a jar and just dumping it in!

OK, this doesn't really address your question, sorry. but it does suggest that there is some bacteria componenet to quality mead production anyway. So I guess my point is that adding funky bugs to mead might not be all that much of a stretch. I'm picking up some clausinii from Al very soon, I have 2 beers planned. I might just experiment with honey before I give it the heave ho.

01/22/07 04:51 PM  
Re: Brett in mead?
Hm. Interesting info, Steve. I have followed some of the varying opinions among mead-makers on boil/no boil/no heating and there certainly does seem to be some logic to each of the positions. I guess everyone has to find their comfort level between delicate flavor (or in some cases 'authenticity') and risk of infection. I have gone with adding honey to hot water after removing from heat, so I've more or less matched your approach.

And yeah, so I suppose you could actually see using brett as more or less historically accurate, to the extent that it would mimic naturally-occurring wild yeast. I am very curious to know how it would act on the different sugar composition of a mostly honey environment.

For my current effort, though, I have gone with Sacch. C. for the primary - I'll consider a later brett addition maybe. I'm still a little sour-spooked!

Also, tasting the product of my former brett starter, I had a really weird flavor experience I think you'd appreciate. In addition to the strong pineapple-y ester I had smelled previously, when I tasted it it was a blend of that with serious diacetyl, and let me tell ya, butterscotch and pineapple are not happy bedfellows. The brett sedimented out very strongly, though, leaving a dense layer that was easily separable from the fermented liquid. What to do, what to do . . .

01/22/07 05:52 PM  
Re: Brett in mead?
At least diacetyl can be metabolized so all is not lost.

I forgot to mention how I ferment mead. I like the natural approach, so on those occasions (4 or 5 I guess) I have made mead I preceeded it with a cider pressing. I put a cup or 2 of freshly pressed juice in a sterile jar and cover it. When it starts to really go I make the mead must and pitch. At that point the cider smells very sulfery, I actually find that going with natural apple yeasts works very well - in fact I have yet to be disappointed from it. Ferments pretty clean and thouroughly.

01/22/07 08:03 PM  
Re: Brett in mead?
OK, that's it ... . instead of "GoudenGale", we are going to have to start calling you "Spontaneous Steve".

And one of these days I'm gonna have to meet up with you face to face and hear the infamous tale of the "inoculation" of your basement!

01/23/07 09:34 AM  
Re: Brett in mead?
One of these days I'm sure! Although the apple thing is not 100% like spontaneous fermentation. The first time I made cider I pitched beer yeast and was underwhelmed by the results. I decided to see how the apples own natural yeast would perform cause I could and I was impressed with the results. Really, it isn't terribly unlike fermenting with lager yeast. It smells really eggy, works at lower temperatures and actually needs to be lagered to clear (for longer than beer though). Your gaurentee of success with a packaged yeast is definately higher, and I'm sure the day will come that a batch just won't work out. But that being said, so far using the yeasts on the apple skins is more like pitching than you might think. When I go spontaneous I don't really know whats going to happen, but so far with natural apple yeasts I feel I do - the results have been that consistant. Actually they have been more consistant than with some package yeasts I've used!
01/24/07 04:39 PM  
Re: Brett in mead?
Steve, when Dan and I make cider we usually use bottled juice with no preservatives in it and add either wine or beer yeast. If we wanted to ferment this bottled juice with apple yeast, how would you suggest doing that? Throw an apple or two in with the juice?


01/24/07 08:47 PM  
Re: Brett in mead?
Hummm, intereseting question. The yeasts are supposed to be on the skins, maybe if you skinned a couple apples and tossed in the skins it would be enough. Then again, when I press cider the juice touches the skins of all the apples, at least a bushel and a half worth. I wonder if that is similar to pitching a larger population? I think the handful of apples skins is worth a try. Have you ever had apple cider (opaque, deep brown)? I don't think of it as a Texas thing!
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