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Sean White
11/26/07 09:28 AM  
Culturing Brett from Orval
If I were to culture up some brett from a bottle of Orval, for use as a secondary fermentor in homebrew:

--How big of a starter should I grow to pitch into secondary (original beer 1.060)?

--What time/temp do you guys recommend for the secondary brett fermentation? My lack of a cellar means this carboy will probably stay around 70 degrees. Will that be a problem, i.e. creating too much horseyness or off-flavors?

11/26/07 10:09 AM  
Re: Culturing Brett from Orval
I talked to JB (from Boulevard, makers of unbelievable brett-secondaried beer) about this and he suggested using a very small amount of brett rather than trying to speed it up by pitching a lot.

He also suggested experimenting with adding different amounts to bottles for conditioning... but that isn't feasible if you really want to secondary as a batch and not in the bottle.

From personal experience, 1-2 mL of WY b. lambicus *starter* (not slurry) in 12 ounces of beer makes its presence known in 2-3 months, without overdoing it. That would be equivalent to a 50-100 mL starter in 5 G. But then again that's also a different strain.

Sean White
11/26/07 11:33 AM  
Re: Culturing Brett from Orval
I could do bottle only, but I want to get the carbonation spot-on and not get undercarbonated or bottle bombs.

Any hints?

11/26/07 03:03 PM  
Re: Culturing Brett from Orval
For me the carbonation did not seem to increase over time with b. lambicus. I think there was a thread about this a while back and if I recall correctly nobody had ever had overcarbonation when doing secondary with brett in the bottle. Then again you could be the first. Anyway using champagne or lambic bottles, or else just using normal bottles and checking them sufficiently often, should take care of that problem. And using a very attenuative yeast for the primary makes a lot of sense too of course.
11/26/07 03:04 PM  
Re: Culturing Brett from Orval
I got pretty good results from simply pitching dregs of two bottles into five gallons. I let it sit in secondary about six months on my basement floor. Gravity went from 1.010 to 1.002. I then reyeasted with sacch. before bottling. The brett character is moderate and very pleasant, and I'd be very proud of this beer if it didn't smack of Philly tap water.
Sean White
11/26/07 03:54 PM  
Re: Culturing Brett from Orval
Baums what amount of sugar did you add for your 5 gallons of beer? A normal carbonation amount or a higher "belgian" carbonation?

I typically go 6 oz. corn sugar per 5 gallons with belgians. I suppose if I took it down by a half ounce or a full ounce I could expect some more attenuation in the bottle. And my primary strains could get the beer pretty dry.

11/26/07 04:11 PM  
Re: Culturing Brett from Orval
I had good luck adding the dreggs of two bottles at bottling time along with my normal priming sugar. No bottle bombs. I don't have my notes with me, but the brett character was fully developed in about 8-12 weeks. Carbonation was pretty high by the last bottle (over a year old), but it would not gush if chilled.
Sean White
11/26/07 04:26 PM  
Re: Culturing Brett from Orval
Witsok, what is your normal priming sugar? What level of carbonation are uyou normally targeting?
11/26/07 04:58 PM  
Re: Culturing Brett from Orval
I actually bottle prime. The batch I'm talking about, the sugar was calculated to give ~2.5 volumes. So, normal levels for pale ales and the like. The batch was actually a pseudo-pils, and we only innoculated 6 bottles with the brett.

11/26/07 08:06 PM  
Re: Culturing Brett from Orval
At the time, I was just using 3/4 cup per five gallons. The FG at bottling was 1.009, but after a year it had dropped to 1.006. So the brett did work on some of the residual sugar. It was nice and lively. My guess is I ended up around 3.5 volumes.
Sean White
11/27/07 08:08 AM  
Re: Culturing Brett from Orval
Thanks guys, after reading this I might go with brett at bottling instead of in secondary. It sounds like I should be able to target the CO2 fairly accurately.
11/27/07 11:04 AM  
Re: Culturing Brett from Orval
If you do, then it might be really enlightening to try JB's experiment idea. I plan to do this too sometime soon. Maybe dosing some bottles with 1/2 mL, some with 2 mL, some with 4 mL (of brett starter, not slurry).
11/28/07 02:38 AM  
Re: Culturing Brett from Orval
Just stumbled upon this and thought I'd weigh in.

I just made an Orval clone from the recipe in the book "Brew Like a Monk" (page 252). I fermented at roughly 72 degrees with White Labs WLP500. After fermentation, the gravity was a low 1.003 (OG was 1.050). For bottling, I added 3/4 cup of corn sugar and dregs from two Orval bottles. I bottled in standard 22 oz. beer bottles w/caps. The bottles sat in my basement in the low 60-degree temp range.

One month later, I had a beer that tasted nothing like Orval, certainly with no evidence of brett. I was very disappointed but determined to wait it out.

Six months later, brett funk was perfect and the beer overall is excellent, with some of the same properties that make Orval so wonderful. I might tweak the grain bill ever so slightly, but I don't know how just yet. But the brett character was dead on -- not too little, not too much.

So I'd say don't make a starter. Just add some dregs and be patient. Hope this helps.

11/28/07 08:32 PM  
Re: Culturing Brett from Orval
Glad to hear you had good results. That was my contribution to Brew Like a Monk. At the time I brewed it, I had fairly fresh bottles of Orval, no dust on the bottles. It took about 3 months for the Brett character to fully develop. I'd be curious to here if you made any modifications? I felt the flavor and finishing hops could have been greater.
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