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06/20/07 12:51 PM  
Brett at bottling experiment
We brewed a pseudo-pils kind of thing, mostly pils malt with a little vienna, lots of saaz hops all around, and US-05 (same as US-56) ale yeast fermented in the low 60s. Roughly OG 1051 and FG 1010. During bottling, as an experiment we dosed a few bottles with WY brett lambicus.

A bottle opened after 1 month had a hint of vaguely "brett" character that really did add some nice complexity, but we wished for more.

A bottle opened after 2 months had much more brett-influenced character. There was no noticable ethyl lactate (sour fruitiness), which is unsurprising since there was no real source of lactic acid in the beer. The character was more a kind of musty, sharper, slightly phenolic complexity. It was nice at first but as the beer warmed up it became a bit more than I would have wanted.

There's one more bottle and we'll probably wait another couple months to open it, just to see what's what.

This is a good/fun way to learn more about brett strains. To dose the bottles, we took a brett colony off of a plate and made a 10 ml (test tube) starter. We put 1 ml of the starter in with each beer.

Does anyone know what strain is in Boulevard's saison with brett? I suspect it is not WY b. lambicus, based on the brett flavors in my dosed beer. But perhaps it is, and the difference is in something else. Either way I'd be interested to know.

06/20/07 07:03 PM  
Re: Brett at bottling experiment
i had a go at doing this with some commercial beer for a laff recently. i got a 750ml bottle of cooper's sparkling ale, opened it and let it go flat for a while, then added orval dregs and recapped.

opened it 20 weeks later and it was interesting. it was still basically flat (i guess there's not much left in CSA for the brett b. to eat) but had developed a very mild background of barnyard in the aroma. no phenolics or medicinal stuff, just a pleasant barnyard element. it was quite subtle but really worked well with the existing fruitiness of the beer.

i will try it again with a bit of sugar for CO2. this time i might scrape some brett brux off an existing pellicle. does brett create different flavours when it has to propagate first, vs being from an active starter?

06/21/07 10:35 AM  
Re: Brett at bottling experiment
My guess is that brett of varying initial health would produce varying flavors--but somebody will have to find out for sure.

That's an interesting way to go, dosing commercial beers. (By the way the carbonation did not noticably increase in mine either, with the brett.) I'd rather not commit a valuable homebrew batch to this kind of experiment, but maybe I'll get a case of something fairly light-flavored, and dose with various brett strains to see what happens. (Also maybe pure lactic acid with the brett in some bottles.)

Your experience with the Orval dregs sounds like what I've experienced with Orval itself (naturally). I have tasted excessively phenolic/medicinal bottles of Orval, but I am pretty sure they were well over 20 weeks old.

06/22/07 08:02 AM  
Re: Brett at bottling experiment
"Does anyone know what strain is in Boulevard's saison with brett? I suspect it is not WY b. lambicus, based on the brett flavors in my dosed beer. But perhaps it is, and the difference is in something else. Either way I'd be interested to know."

Post this on the main board as I believe JB works for Boulevard?

I tasted this last year and my guess would be Clausseneii as it was noticeable but not overly sour.

06/22/07 10:29 AM  
Re: Brett at bottling experiment
Thanks for the idea Loren.

Even if nobody is at liberty to say what's in the Boulevard beer, it might be worth trying to compile a list of what strains (not just the name, but the yeast company as well) are (or "were" in some sad cases) in various commercial beers. If anyone can add to the following list, please do. (And please use a question mark if you are not *certain*.)

NBB Biere de Mars -- Rumors say WY b. anomalous?

Mo Betta Bretta -- B. anomalous (source: Tomme Arthur article on White Labs site). Did it come from WY?

Orval -- WLP b. brux? White Labs description implies this is the same strain, but who knows if the WLP strain is really from Orval.

Boulevard Saison w/ brett: ?

Proef stuff: ?

As you can see, I am certain of almost nothing.

06/22/07 10:51 AM  
Re: Brett at bottling experiment
The podcast from Basic Brewing radio with Peter B - mentions the Mo Betta Bretta as Brett. C- and then he said that Tomme would say it's anomalous - but with a big preboil lactobacillus fermentation to develope the Lactic for ester production.

Your comment on the orval is exactly what I feel about all of the commercial yeast strains. Is this really the ______ Strain? fill in the blank with all of those belgian breweries.

06/22/07 11:33 AM  
Re: Brett at bottling experiment
Huh...what about this?


06/22/07 11:40 AM  
Re: Brett at bottling experiment
Captain Lawrence used Brett C. and L. from White Labs in their Cuvee de Castleton...plus *maybe" some house bugs found in the wine barrels used, since they did not inoculate Smoke From The Oak - Wine but yet it shows a notable Brett _? presence.

Question...can Brett L. or ?. produce acetobacter like effects? I've read some reviews on the CdC that state there's an aceto presence but I don't see it. Or maybe it's from the wine barrels "guests"?

06/22/07 01:51 PM  
Re: Brett at bottling experiment
Brendan: agreed about the strains.

Loren: Of course, the most important "effect" of acetobacter is that it can ferment ethanol to acetic acid. And yes, so can brett. Both require oxygen to do this, and if I had to put money on whether either one is in a given used wine barrel, I'd bet on "yes."

On the brett thing, the latest "offical" taxonomy only recognizes anomalous and one other, I think lambicus. What was called "claussenii" is now just one of the strains under anomalous, and what was called "bruxellensis" is now a strain of lambicus. (I could have brux. and lamb. swapped there, but no matter.)

So, there is a lot of confusion, where one strain could be called different things. If I like a strain in someone' beer, I'd love to know *exactly* where it came from (orval dregs, WLP, WY, etc). Otherwise I am not at all sure that I can obtain it on the first try (other than culturing from their beer if I can get it). And it looks like we don't know that for Mo Betta Bretta yet.

06/27/07 12:17 PM  
Re: Brett at bottling experiment
"Of course, the most important "effect" of acetobacter is that it can ferment ethanol to acetic acid. And yes, so can brett."

Brett can? I never heard that. And can't find anything on it either.


06/27/07 01:08 PM  
Re: Brett at bottling experiment
"Of course, the most important "effect" of acetobacter is that it can ferment ethanol to acetic acid. And yes, so can brett."

Brett has been reported to aerobically ferment glucose into ethyl alcohol, CO2, and acetic acid. I have not seen a reference to ethanol to acetic production.

This link doesn't work anymore but archive.org has it. I can't post the archive link because it contains Ach tE tE pE in the middle.


06/27/07 02:16 PM  
Re: Brett at bottling experiment
So you don't like to take surprising statements on faith? Me neither. So, here are a couple references.

An old (1947) paper on "Yeast-Like Fungi", available at


discusses strains of b. claussenii and b. brux on pp 260-262. On page 261 it's noted (as JohnA says) that when B. Claussenii and B. bruxellensis are cultured aerobically on glucose, the products are ethyl alcohol, CO2, and acetic acid. But Skinner further states that "The acetic acid is produced, not from the sugar, but from the alcohol."

No specific support is provided for that statement, as it's more of a review paper. Also it's kind of weird to say that the acetic acid is not produced from the sugar--perhaps he just means ethanol is a necessary intermediate step between sugar and acetic acid. So maybe that reference is unsatisfying.

More recent (1984) is "Inhibition of fermentation and growth in batch cultures of the yeast Brettanomyces intermedius upon a shift from aerobic to anaerobic conditions (Custers effect)" by Wijsman MR, van Dijken JP, van Kleeff BH, Scheffers WA. Abstract is available on pubmed.org, and says among other things:

"In the first phase of growth glucose was fermented to nearly equal amounts of ethanol and acetic acid. After glucose depletion, growth continued while the ethanol produced in the first phase was almost quantitatively converted to acetic acid."

That one's a little more airtight.

06/27/07 02:20 PM  
Re: Brett at bottling experiment
BTW that excerpt describes observations of *aerobic* brett growth.
06/27/07 02:49 PM  
Re: Brett at bottling experiment
Thanks for the references, Baums, I will go through them.

btw, as to an earlier post: Peter told me in 2004 that the NB Biere de Mars used B. brux., but he was playing with 4 different strains of it. The first couple years were only bottle conditioned, but the last couple they were thinking about doing all Brett. To my taste, 2006 does taste different (and the bottle foams more on pouring, with a coarser head).

06/28/07 07:14 AM  
Re: Brett at bottling experiment
OK...I'm no chemist here but if Brett "ferments" ethanol to acetic acid wouldn't it reduce the ABV of a beer? Couldn't you do tests on this with various OG...intermediate and FG readings? Somehow? Or am I lost here?
06/28/07 11:42 AM  
Re: Brett at bottling experiment
Yes this could reduce the ABV of the beer.

Testing with a hydrometer would be very hard. The overall reaction is (one molecule of each):

ethanol + O2 --> acetic acid + water

The only thing that enters or leaves the beer is the oxygen, so the beer gets heavier. But I the volume of the beer will also change and I don't know how much. Even if it didn't change at all, you'd have to measure very well because a single specific gravity point would correspond to ~1000 ppm acetic acid (there's 2500 ppm in unblended Flemish red).

By the way, to get 2500 ppm acetic acid requires a lot of oxygen--almost 5 liters of air per liter of beer.

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