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Brian K
03/12/07 01:24 PM  
Saison Brewing w/Brett
Long time reader first time poster. This seems to be THE place for wild fermentation discussions on the web so I thought I would try and pick some of your brains. In the next couple weeks I am planning on brewing a Saison to be ready for the early summer time frame. What I would like to do is brew a 10 gallon batch and split the fermentation out into a seven gallon and three gallon batch. The seven gallon batch I am going to ferment with wlp565 and the 3 gallon batch I am going to ferment with Brett C. Once the the Saison portion of the fermentation is done, I will blend the two back together. I hope to be able to manage some of the "wildness" by doing this blending. My hope is to use this brew to introduce some "wild newbies" to the style. I just don't want to funk them out too much. Is this a valid approach to accomplishing that?

Additionally, I would like to introduce some Lacto sourness into the batch but am concerned about it running wild and taking it too sour, so I thought I would sour about 3 quarts (Too much?) a couple weeks before the brew day, then add that sour culture to the boil (killing off the lacto). I understand that the Brett can produce esters from the lacto, do we know if that is from the bugs specifically or from the soured wort itself? I am going to try and produce the lacto naturally via the cracked grains in wort approach. Has anyone ever done this? Any tips?

03/12/07 02:20 PM  
Re: Saison Brewing w/Brett
I can say the Berliner I made with only Brett C. is nicely sour and was a week after pitching. Probably because of the low gavity the sourness level seems pretty stable. I originally planned to brew another Berliner with just a lager yeast (to work it up for a couple more beers) for the sake of blending but I think the sour level is just right. So I made a pils instead!
03/12/07 02:30 PM  
Re: Saison Brewing w/Brett
From my experience I would not add any lacto to your beer for sourness. You'll get plenty from brett Cl. As far as blending is concerned I would recommend that you try blending in a glass first to see what ratio of the two beers is for your preferred flavor profile.You'll be surprised how little it takes of a soured beer to affect the profile of the base beer. Also remember that the blended beer will continue to get more sour over time as the brett eats more of the base beer.
Al B
03/12/07 02:44 PM  
Re: Saison Brewing w/Brett
Its funny trying to "control" brett activity.

I made a farmhouse ale with WY biere de Garde to 1.010. I then added (10ml/3gal) a recultured brett I found in a fantome bottle. FG went to 1.003. Funk? In just a couple of weeks, it became a funkhouse (without much sourness). You may have a profile you're after from blending but if you didn't stabilize the wild side - chances are it will progress into something more.

You may or may not experience acidity right away from B. clausenii - but it seems to me that it will continue to sour alittle by itself (or alot with me). The cracked grain approach for lacto works fine - but it may take a day or two to sour up some depending on temperature.

03/12/07 03:15 PM  
Re: Saison Brewing w/Brett
There's an aroma I really like in certain sour beers, that I don't know how to define any better than to say it's a fruity, sour smell, and instantly tells you the beer will be sour.

Some beers with brett don't have this smell (New Belgium Biere de Mars, for instance--not that I didn't love the beer). It seems like beers that do have a lot of this smell (Rodenbach Grand Cru, Fantome, Jolly Pumpkin) have a fair bit of lactic acid in them, where the others do not.

So, it's my best guess that this smell I like may be ethyl lactate. You, can't get ethyl lactate without lactic acid, so I try to make sure there's some lactic acid there when I brew a beer with brett. In the two beers I've made with brett (Wyeast B. Lambicus) I made sure to put lactic bacteria (Wyeast Lactobacillus) in too. The first beer was moderately lactic, eventually, and had the smell I was after. I haven't tasted the second yet.

I don't know if B. Claussenii produces lactic acid (I have never seen a reliable reference that any brett produces significant amounts of lactic acid, but that doesn't mean they don't). So... this probably isn't all that helpful. Sorry!

Brian K
03/12/07 05:26 PM  
Re: Saison Brewing w/Brett
Thanks for the all feedback.

My thoughts were to try and remove as much of the fermentatables via standard fermentation to lessen the secondary Brett fermentation, but hearing that .007 drop created a funkhouse makes me rethink that plan. I think I will take the measured in a glass approach suggested by SteveG. I will probably end up with a batch that is slightly funky (blended 2 weeks before serving ) and a second batch that gets what ever is left over (to age a few months).

@Al B - I think it was Vinnie C from Russian River that said Saccharomyces is like a dog and Brettanomyces is more like a Cat.

@Baums - Is ethyl lactate the by-product of fermentation with Lactobacillus? Correct me if I am wrong but If sour a portion of my mash(then boil) the lactic acid will still be present. Or are better result obtained by pitching live cultures in the wort. (Is this the difference similar to the difference between using acid malt and Lactobacillus)?

Either way it should be fun.

Al B
03/13/07 07:26 AM  
Re: Saison Brewing w/Brett

One thing that will help alittle is mashing in the 140s to minimize extra dextrins. Low proteins helps too. Bretts do breakdown dextrins.

03/13/07 10:32 AM  
Re: Saison Brewing w/Brett
Great point Al.


Brian, I do not think the commonly used lactobacillus cultures produce much/any ethyl lactate--just lactic acid and some other byproducts.

Ethyl lactate is made of lactic acid and ethanol. If there is lactic acid in the beer, some of it will react with ethanol to make ethyl lactate--but it takes time. Perhaps this is what's behind the often reported phenomenon where if pure lactic acid or acid malt is used, the lactic character takes time to "smooth out."

Brett reportedly have the capability to make this reaction happen faster.

As you suggest, I think where the lactic acid comes from is probably immaterial. I do not think there is anything magical about lactic acid that comes from bacteria, versus what comes in a bottle. When l. delbrueckii eats sugar, the resulting product is almost entirely (90+%) lactic acid. People complain (and write) that using pure lactic acid leaves the beer "one dimensional." But I have heard the same thing about beers made with just a pure lacto strain and no brett. No matter what the source of lactic acid, it seems like people prefer the beer after age/brett have diverted some of the lactic acid into other compounds.

I actually think using lactobacillus is just a different (and much harder) way of putting pure lactic acid in the beer. I still do it, but sometimes I'm not sure why.

03/13/07 11:28 AM  
Re: Saison Brewing w/Brett
Baums, don't suppose you have a brett beer hanging around? You're the kind of guy I'd love to be involved with the up-coming swap.
Mike T
03/13/07 01:30 PM  
Re: Saison Brewing w/Brett
For my last Brett beer I added Ĺ pound of acid malt at the start of the sparge to get the Brett some lactic acid for making ethyl lactate. The wort certainly did not taste sour at pitching, but I think that now that the beer is fermented it has a slightly different aroma than my first Brett beer which did not have any lactic acid (smoother and slightly fruitier). It'll be interesting to see if these two beers continue to diverge as time goes on.

I just bottled it on Saturday so no real conclusions yet, but I get the feeling I could/should have used a bit more.

03/13/07 01:50 PM  
Re: Saison Brewing w/Brett
A trick I use in my Wits and Saisons is to use 1 pound of acid malt in a 10 gallon batch to impart a slight sour tang. It gives a very subtle edge to the beer.
Brian K
03/13/07 02:44 PM  
Re: Saison Brewing w/Brett
@Al B

Thats a great tip, I am going to try and mash low and probably for 90 minutes as well.


Great information. Thanks!

@Cisco and Mike T

The LHBS does not have acid malt and my wife would kill me if another package arrived from NB or B3(Sometimes I wonder if my wife is the mother of invention instead of necessity). This is what lead me to the natural lacto path. I am going to give it a whirl and see what happens. I am just not sure how much sour wort I should add to 10 gallons.

03/13/07 02:48 PM  
Re: Saison Brewing w/Brett
Mike, that sounds like exactly the kind of experiment I have been wanting to try. Brett with and without the addition of pure lactic acid.

Steve, thanks for the invite. Unfortunately, the wild brewing has been on hold until we are sure we've eliminated a very annoying infection in our chiller, which ruined the last 2 batches. There's a carboy of sacc/lacto/brett red ale in my closet, but it may be a while before it's ready.

Mike T
03/13/07 03:23 PM  
Re: Saison Brewing w/Brett
Interesting yes, did I do reasonable job controling the other variablesÖno. The batch with the lactic is a different recipe, higher OG, lower hopping, high pitching rate, lower ferm temp, more O2. I was trying to push them to opposite funky extremes, but so far there isnít too much of a gap between them.

Hopefully Iíll be able to pick up a distinct ester in the second batch that isnít in the first, but we shall see in a few weeks when they are both fully carbed.

03/16/07 07:02 PM  
Re: Saison Brewing w/Brett
Posting as a Brett novice. I recently bottled some Saison that had the dregs of 2 bottles of Orval added. I let the beer sit in a keg with the dregs for around 3 months.

All I can say is wow! The brett character has really taken over in a good way. All the barnyard aromas you'd expect combined with the fruity esters.

I don't get pure sourness as such (yet) what I seem to detect is acidity on the pallette. In the same way that some cheeses seem to impart. Like a slight burning sensation on the gums and part of the tongue. Not unpleasant at all actually.

I'll certainly be doing more brett saisons in the future. Great experiement.

03/17/07 02:58 PM  
Re: Saison Brewing w/Brett
>>Posting as a Brett novice<<

Arn't we all!! Glad its going well, keep in mind we are still looking for one more for the brett swap.

Darel Matthews
03/17/07 10:09 PM  
Re: Saison Brewing w/Brett

I did almost exactly the same thing and the Orval addition, I thought, actually accented the hops and malt character. My observations sound a lot like yours. Mine took two firsts in a recent, very large, competition in both Saison and Belg Specialty categories.

How long has it been on the Brett now? Mine's been on since early August. Has it taken over yet? Just curious when mine will go from a saison to a lambic.


03/18/07 01:56 PM  
Re: Saison Brewing w/Brett
Bretts are supposed to throw more acidity when they're well oxygenated.

I have an underattenuated brown ale that I threw some Roeselare brett dregs at a while back. While it was in a stainless keg, not much seemed to be going on... so I moved it back into a plastic bucket and gave it a pound of frozen cherries to eat, and it is going to town now. Great aromas coming out of there now. With luck it should prove a good component to blend my remaining 6 liters of 2-year-old Roeselare beer with. Hopefully it should be tasty by late summer. These brett bugs do take their time cleaning up after themselves... but once they're done it's great.

03/20/07 01:06 AM  
Re: Saison Brewing w/Brett

Racked it and added the Orval dregs around late November last year. Just left it in the keg and kept bleeding of excess gas with consequently seemed to happen forever so I'm assuming the brett chomped down the FG considerably. Stored it between 20-25c for around 4 weeks then just left it in the fridge at around 10-15c.

Nothing like a Lambic at this stage. A little of the Orval character there and that's about it. Sourness is apparent but as stated not overwhelming.

I'll try one of the bottles in the next week or two. I then plan to put the remainder away to condition for at least 3 months.

A great experiment, a real test in patience (only sampled from the keg once). Will most certainly repeat it next summer.

Warren -

03/20/07 08:22 PM  
Re: Saison Brewing w/Brett
OK,I inoculated mine a few months before you. I'll probably try another one in a few weeks to see if it's still good enough to send in to Longshot.


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