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02/14/08 11:58 AM  
Stuck Brett fermentation???
OK, let me lay out this scenario. Back in late Nov my GF and I brewed a beer to celebrate out anniversary. We wanted something that we could age and enjoy for several years. We brewed up a red/brown beer loosely inspired by RR Toronado 20th anniv beer. OG rang in at 1.091. After about 10 days I racked it to secondary and added the following: 1 tube WL B. Brux, 1oz toasted American oak chips soaking in 8oz syrah. At that point the SG was 1.020. I was happy that it was somewhat high as that would provide some food for the brett.

Here it is over 2 months later and I have some concerns. 1, a pellicle had never formed on the beer. Now I know it's not a requirement but to me it was a sign on something wrong. The beer was a little cool, so I warmed it up to ~74 or so. When I received the initial tube of brett there had been a shipping mishap and it had spend some time in transit. Something like 7-10 days. So I didn't really have the most confidence in it to begin with, but figured I'd wait and see. In the meantime, I had ordered more brett, including some more brux and had begun building up a starter of it. (part of which I pitched into the beer roughly 3 weeks ago hoping to help it along) So a few days ago I decided, it's been two months, I'd check to see if there actually any activity. I took a gravity reading and a taste. SG 1.018.

So, I'm not really happy at this point. I know brett is slow, but I don't think this has done anything. I tasted it, and while it taste quite good, and shows a lot of promise, there is little to no influence from the brett. So, figuring this could use some help, I pitched the remaining slurry from the starter into the secondary. That was a few days ago and from what I can tell it pretty much just sank to the bottom and isn't doing anything. I have the heat on it trying to keep it in the 70's. Anytime I turn the heating pad off the beer wants to drop clear.

So, what are my options here? I really need to get this beer going. This one is very important to me. As of now there is almost no headspace in the carboy, so pitching anything else is going to require another transfer which I didn't want. I have a full cake of WL B. Claussenii, but didn't really want to use that as I fear it'll be too mild. I also have a tube of WL B. Lambicus but didn't want to use that as I hear it's much funkier than the WY version and lacks all the "cherry pie" that one is known for. So, if I want to stay with the same strain of brett, I figure I'll need to do a 100% b. brux beer and use a portion of the cake from that. I had considered ordering a pack of the WY lambicus, and see if that works better. What do you guys think I should do?

Thanks. I appreciate it. Sorry for the novel. ;)

02/14/08 12:13 PM  
Re: Stuck Brett fermentation???
Your only option is patience, because using brett as a secondary fermenter (especially in a big beer) will take a good 6 to eight months before you START to notice any influence.
02/14/08 12:20 PM  
Re: Stuck Brett fermentation???
I made a 1.100 brew with a rippin' slurry of brett C. Started fast but stalled, proceeded to drop very slowly after the primary fermentation. I let that one sit 6 months before packaging. 1.018 doesn't sound like an unreasonable gravity for a 1.091 homebrew, but 2 months also doesn't sound like a reasonable timeframe to expect brett to have run its course.

Oh, FYI the "cherry pie" thing with Lambicus isn't necessarily something you can count one. My third all brett beer was finished with Lambicus, was very cherry pie initially. Now its all gone. Beer is still nice, but the flavor profile has moved on.

02/14/08 12:42 PM  
Re: Stuck Brett fermentation???
Steve, I believe that tankdeer used a normal sacc yeast strain for ten days then added the brett. So the brett will act very slowly over a long period of time. I also agree that 18 is a very acceptable FG for a OG of 91.
02/14/08 12:57 PM  
Re: Stuck Brett fermentation???
That's actually very similar to my experience though. Al's monster C. cake was unbelievable, I think I lost a quart of wort from the furosity of the ferment. In fact I'm not sure I'd ever seen a sacc strain perform so vigorously.

It is strange, the BC did keep working - as did the Fantome brett strain that followed it. But at 1.030 or so it really hit the brakes and proceeded at a crawl as I would expect a sacc/brett beer to do. I don't really understand that.

Anyway, tankdeer, if a pie takes an hour to bake you can't put it in the oven 20 minutes before dessert time. Do you keg? Bottling the stout could easily be a problem, in 8 months a bottle will probably be a weapon. You really must let the brett run its full course before putting a cap on it. But a keg can be very forgiving...

Actually there is one more option. You could either heat up the beer or sulfate it to cease all activity. Then pitch new sacc and bottle it. Brett won't care about your schedule, and adding more will not compell it to jump through a hoop. You need to either wait a long time, keg it so excess CO2 can be bled or kill the brett and move on.

02/14/08 12:59 PM  
Re: Stuck Brett fermentation???
Correct. This was primaried with Sacch (WLP510) and then I racked to secondary and added the b. brux. I was not expecting to see much activity or influence per say, I guess I just expected to see SOME. My initial plan was to bottle this at around 9 months or so (give or take). But maybe that was a little too optimistic. I guess the main point was that since this was an anniversary beer, we wanted to crack the first bottle a year after brewing. (knowing it would probably still be young).

I do hope that the SG drops though. 1.018 would be fine for a lot of high gravity beers, but for something like this I would want it to be drier. And I was counting on the brett to take care of that for me. Not sure I was expecting any superattenuative properties in a beer this big, but I was honestly hoping for something closer to 1.010 .002

Thanks guys. My impatience doesn't really jive with these funky beers. :)

02/14/08 01:30 PM  
Re: Stuck Brett fermentation???
Sounds like 2 months ago you put a suspect tube of b. brux in, and then you pitched another b. brux starter during the last 3 weeks (in two separate steps). Like Steve and Cisco said, no surprise you don't see any changes yet. Don't worry about the pellicle, because

1. some strains make pellicles more than others (not sure what WLP brux's habits are)

2. you can brett character in a beer that doesn't develop a pellicle (I'm sure I'm not the only one who's had that experience)

My guess is, at the 9 month mark (7 more months?) you'll have some brett character, regardless of whether you ever see anything interesting happen in the carboy. Not sure what reasonable steps you can take to make it go faster (there are grad students and professors in Leuven who have spent a fair bit of time working on that one) but keeping the temp up like you have been may help. Anyway don't worry--you put the bugs in and now you might just want give them a fair shot.

02/14/08 01:53 PM  
Re: Stuck Brett fermentation???
Oh - a year? That changes things a lot, a year is a totally reasonable time frame. Then the only advice I have is don't make yourself crazy by watching it. Put a cover on it, draw off a little to weigh and taste around July.
02/14/08 04:38 PM  
Re: Stuck Brett fermentation???
Thanks guys. I knew I was being too impatient. Guess I just needed some more experianced people to tell me that. So I will stick with the original plan to (hopefull) bottle at 9 months, and start tasting around 12. Hopefully it'll be ready. If not, I'll play more of the waiting game.

Baums, yes, that's exactly what I did. I guess I wouldn't be so anxious if that first tube wasn't suspect. Sorry if I gave the impression that I was expecting it to be done by now. I'm definitely not. i was just checking up on it because of that stupid first tube. :)

Thanks again.

02/14/08 05:06 PM  
Re: Stuck Brett fermentation???
Oh, and yes; normally, I do keg. However this is one of those exceptions that will be bottled. Most likely in 750ml belgian bottles with cork and cage.


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