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Doug R
06/20/07 10:25 AM  
Pellicle Questions
I am considering getting a batch of brett going to use to blend with saisons and perhaps some lambic-type beers in the future. I understand that these funky beers should be in secondary for >6 months or even >1 year and that a pellicle will form during that time, but I don't really understand the science of the pellicle. I don't need a super-scientific explanation (probably wouldn't understand it), but I would like to know some general stuff. For example, when does the pellicle usually form, and does it eventually dissipate or fall to the bottom or what? Also, what is it made out of? Why does it only form in "infected" beer? Thanks in advance for any help.
06/20/07 12:34 PM  
Re: Pellicle Questions
Some strains of brett can form big branched chains of cells that stick together. These float on the surface and are basically what's called the "pellicle." Naturally, there are also individual brett cells dispersed through the body of the beer.

Some strains of brett do this more than others--and I believe some have never been found to form pellicles at all.

Pellicles only form in "infected" beer because they are themselves an infection!

You say these beers should be in secondary for 6 months to a year, and many would agree but it depends what you mean by "secondary." Some great beers (Orval, Boulevard Saison with brett, NBB Biere de Mars) are dosed with brett only at bottling. See the post I'm about to write for details...

Al B
06/20/07 12:47 PM  
Re: Pellicle Questions
The pellicle is a film of cellular growth. This can vary in appearance depending on strains (Bretts, other oxidative yeasts, or bacterial). When it appears depends on populations, available nutrients, residual oxygen. It can form if the wort is 100% Brett and not just "infected" brews. I've seen pellicles develop as little as 1 month to 1 yr. It doesn't dissipate but can fall (I think) over time. In short, the Brett pellicle will help prevent oxidation of the brew over time, but not necessarily needed for Brett impact of flavors/aromas.

Doug R.
06/20/07 02:49 PM  
Re: Pellicle Questions
That is helpful, thanks. Let me ask this, is the pellicle actually formed by the brett cells themselves (or whatever yeast is used or bacteria "infection" exists) or is it a by-product?
Al B
06/20/07 02:58 PM  
Re: Pellicle Questions

I know that bacterial pellicles contain cells and by-product "slime" i.e. polysaccharides. The polysaccharides may be secreted or part of the cell capsule.

Brett pellicles contain cells, probably more of a matrix of filamentous cells.

Of course, pellicles can be a matrix of different cells or contaminants too.

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