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SteveG
03/07/08 12:45 PM  
Lawnmower beer - is it so bad a thing?
I've wanted to post this thread for a couple weeks now. One of the things that kicked me into gear with brett brewing was a Tomme Arthor article, but he has done more than one on the subject. A following article was basically about the concept of making lawnmower beer that was not watery pils. With a powerhouse fermentor like brett you can do that, making a beer that is light in body, very refreshing, unique but fairly simple in character, maybe a hair tart but still clean. As many here now understand, a brett beer need not be a funky beer.

This thought entered my head upon reading some judging notes on my 3rd all-brett - which was very much a lawnmower beer. Lots of really flattering commentary praising really all aspects of it and even saying how "beautifully fermented" it was (judges words). Its not a hoppy beer though nor is it a malty one, which was pointed out, and nobody understood what the "base beer" could have been. They wondered if maybe I added brett to a kolsch or pils, no connecting with it as its own kind of beer. Oh, entered in the "specialty" category, the catch all for beers with no categorical home. So I had all these glowing comments calling it slightly tart, very clean, beautifully fermented - describing the exact beer I was trying to make - followed by a score of 26!

I love a nice complex beer, but also really appreciate a simple one if it is done well. With all the positive statements made on this one, I'm pretty sure it got slammed for points cause it was a lawnmower beer. Anyone out there have room for lawnmower beer in there recipe collection?

Cisco
03/07/08 12:56 PM  
Re: Lawnmower beer - is it so bad a thing?
I'm making what I consider to be a lawnmower beer this weekend with an OG of 45 (I just can't force myself to make a beer of less gravity). I'll be using two bottles of the D2 dark candi syrup to see what it does to the flavor profile and fermenting with WLP550.

It will take quite a few years before brett beers are recognized in their own category in competitions. Too bad, so many folks don't know what they're missing!

DrunkenPanther
03/07/08 12:56 PM  
Re: Lawnmower beer - is it so bad a thing?
lol yeah I hear ya. I have had some come back from the catchall category like this:

Base beer: Belgian Blonde

Judge: Great brett characteristics blah blah blah, maybe too dry and "brett like" for a blonde blah blah blah. 26.

Seems like brett is a catch 22 for judging. Ahhh well. I enjoy it. Others enjoy it. Judges can go poo poo in a sack :)

*should note that I should pick and choose which comps I send bretts to. I believe that not all are like this. There are some great brett judges out there!

SteveG
03/07/08 01:16 PM  
Re: Lawnmower beer - is it so bad a thing?
I've really gotten some great stuff back from judges, but how would you know if a competition is using judges who get that brett beer is its own thing - and what that thing is?

Cisco, this one was a 1045ish beer too. FYI, something that came out during the old ale swap (Brian made an appearance) was that unlike the regular dark candy syrup the D2 really does express its high Lovibond.

DBear
03/07/08 01:33 PM  
Re: Lawnmower beer - is it so bad a thing?

I enjoyed Dogfish Head Festina Peche last summer (4.5% ABV)

SteveG
03/07/08 01:40 PM  
Re: Lawnmower beer - is it so bad a thing?
DBear - great example. I've been told that the Dogfish Head head brewer refuses to make this beer any more as it was presented as a lambic but clearly lacked the sophistocation of a lambic. When I first tasted it I thought basically the same thing - but in a good way. With the lambic funkiness gone, leaving only fruitiness and simple tartness, I thought it was a delightful quencher. But - if the info I heard was accurate - the thing that I thought made it an excellent lawnmower beer seems to have raised the ire of the brewing staff. BTW if you're reading this and are from DFH and know me to be wrong please don't hesititate to correct me.
DrunkenPanther
03/07/08 02:01 PM  
Re: Lawnmower beer - is it so bad a thing?
Yummm I loved that beer. Too bad its gone :(

I always described to to friends as a peachish tasting kinda berliner tasting something something.

I love lawnmower beers and small beers in general. I have a house mild I brew all the time that is only 1.032, but all the biscuit gives it the impression its bigger. Id love to throw some brett C in that sometime.

BPotts
03/07/08 05:47 PM  
Re: Lawnmower beer - is it so bad a thing?
Steve - I think you may be confusing the festina peche with festina lente.

The festina lente they did once, a "neo lambic" with peaches....very tart... I actually still have two bottle somewhere that i bought when they resurfaced a year or two after being made when Sam came to philly last summer....

After they stopped making that, possibly for the reasons you state, last summer they came out with the festina peche ( a few years later) which is a "neo berliner" with peaches. Much more approachable for the average consumer than the Lente. I believe this is going to be a standard seasonal for them (should be coming again out soon).

BPotts
03/07/08 05:48 PM  
Re: Lawnmower beer - is it so bad a thing?
BTW, the lente was 7% ABV...
SteveG
03/07/08 07:34 PM  
Re: Lawnmower beer - is it so bad a thing?
Oh hell, you're right. It was Festina Lente - which I thought was a sort of peche.
BPotts
03/07/08 08:13 PM  
Re: Lawnmower beer - is it so bad a thing?
Yes, the names can be slightly confusing- calling a berliner "peche"...one of their better beers these days though IMO.

Maybe I should try one of these low grav all brett beers. I really don't have anything planned right now except for a flanders red using 3711 as a primary fermenter with dregs from a Petrus Aged Pale.... after brewing every week or two for several months I feel like I'm being lazy! I haven't brewed in three weeks now I think. After I move, the weekend after this one, I will resume brewing. First the red, then maybe a pale ale fermented with Brett CL or Lambicus... something light, clean, and subtley tart would be nice to have for the spring....

Man....I'll have lots of bugs beers if those are the next two brews....A strong dark belgian with brett, a bon chien/cuvee de tomme inspired brew, al's bugfarm brew, a berliner, a double berliner, with a Fred and all bretter to come, I'll have my hands full with bugs - almost as much as SAH!

Ross
03/07/08 08:32 PM  
Re: Lawnmower beer - is it so bad a thing?
I brew a lawnmower beer I call my Petite Belgian. It's actually a low gravity (12*P) Duvel type ale. I've never entered it in a competition because I'm sure it will get slammed for being such a light weight.
BPotts
03/08/08 01:54 PM  
Re: Lawnmower beer - is it so bad a thing?
Alright...two vials of cluasenii on order for a low grav pale ale....now to figure out a recipe.... I see simcoe going well with the hopeful pineapple notes, any thoughts?
Seanywonton
03/10/08 09:40 PM  
Re: Lawnmower beer - is it so bad a thing?
Oh man I've got so much to say, where to start? Lawnmower beers, yum, what would a good Belgian lawnmower beer taste like? My first Belgian blond, which came out way under O.G. target at 1.057, was a great lawnmower beer even though it was still about 6%. Also, my first attempt at a flanders red, was not nearly malty and complex enough, but such a great quaffable summer beer, just sour enough to make it really refreshing.

Steve, I had a chance to taste both of your entries that you entered into Homebrew Alley 2. I thought the Belgian dark strong was awesome, very fruity and sweet, reminiscent of sweeter examples like Kasteel, but better than Kasteel. That beer should have scored better IMO. The Brett beer was interesting, and tasted way better than my all-brett attempt, but I do think it might score better if a base beer style was named, because I think it would give judges something familiar to latch onto when they are thinking of malt and hop profile. I realize you were probably not trying to make a kolsch with brett, but as comp strategy goes sometimes it helps to be creative.

Oh man, I about had my heart broken when I heard Festina Peche was not going to be brewed. That beer is wonderful. I didn't like the Festina Lente much, but it was largely because it was not what I was expecting when I bough it. To my recollection there was no mention of lambic our sour ale on the bottle. So there I was expecting an "ale brewed with peaches", still not too much of a fan of the really sour beers, and stuck with a whole champagne bottle of the stuff. Waugh....

TedJ
03/11/08 12:34 PM  
Re: Lawnmower beer - is it so bad a thing?
Steve, I agree with Sean to a point. I would not necessarily go the kolsch with brett route, but the point is you must inform the judges, what you are doing per the style guide. If the judges were guessing at what you did then they did not know. Either you did not provide a description or it was not pass on to the judges (happens sometimes, as a judge I always ask for the entry info when judging speciality). The description that you provide should not just describe how the beer came out, the judges can see & taste that. But what were you trying to copy or accomplish, new style? variation on existing beers? Not just a brett beer, that is too wide. If you made a lawnmower beer then tell them that. If a speciality beer is well made but no idea what it is suppose to be, then a score in the high twenties would not be out of line.

In addition, what made it a Belgian special? A lawnmower beer with no Belgian character, should probably be entered in 23 Speciality/Experimental. But again descibe what you are doing as required.

BPotts
03/11/08 01:18 PM  
Re: Lawnmower beer - is it so bad a thing?
Festina Peche is still on Dogfish's 2008 release schedule... set to be released June & July.
SteveG
03/11/08 02:22 PM  
Re: Lawnmower beer - is it so bad a thing?
>>Not just a brett beer, that is too wide.<<

Ted, Just saying "brett beer" is inspecific, no shortage of beers out there that apply brett in a variety of ways. But this was entered as an "all-brett" beer, can anyone name more than 2 or 3 made commercially? If not, is it really that wide? I guess with so little 100% brett brewing happening in the world I thought it would be obvious that it was something new. If you were judging a beer you knew to be 100% brett fermented and were compelled to use words like "clean" and fermented beautifully - conditions that many think are impossible with all-brett brewing - you would feel comfortable giving a very low score? I appreciate that a judge needs to know what you are trying to do, if a beer is made under such an unusual constraint as using only brett is it not obvious that what you are trying to do is to make a very difficult fermentation scenario work?

SteveG
03/11/08 02:31 PM  
Re: Lawnmower beer - is it so bad a thing?
>>Also, my first attempt at a flanders red, was not nearly malty and complex enough, but such a great quaffable summer beer...<<

Sean, IMO its a mistake to get super caught up with complexity when dealing with Flanders red. Not that complexity is a bad thing or is totally out of place with reds, but consider Rodenbach. The Grand Cru - at least in the old days - could evolve in really interesting ways, but the regular old Rodenbach Red was not and is not all that complex or malty a beer. Hence the Belgian ad campaign "its wine". Years ago in Philly I was drinking on in the presence of Jezza and he asked why I like it. I told him I have a lot of respect for it cause IMO Rodenbach bridged the gap between specialty and session beer - keeping a beer like that simple is hard!! I think a lot of brewers fail to appreciate the difficulty in making an effective simple beer - they are incredibly unforgiving. Insterad everyone wants complexity. That's fine but only one side of the coin. Anyway, Rodenbach Red is a Flanders red and I guess the same is true of the GC, goes to show you that the style can have lots or little depth and still be completely on target.

>>Steve, I had a chance to taste both of your entries that you entered into Homebrew Alley 2. I thought the Belgian dark strong was awesome<<

Actually in retrospect I think that one, though maybe worthy of a few more points, was maybe not a good beer to send. I think I deserved at least some of the beating I got there.

>>but I do think it might score better if a base beer style was named, because I think it would give judges something familiar to latch onto when they are thinking of malt and hop profile<<

Sean, so glad you brought this up - IMO its really at the heart of brett brewing. There was no base beer style named cause there it wasn't crafted after any existing beer. The guidelines do cover this ... "The brewer may specify an underlying beer style ... If a base style is declared, the style should be recognizable." With words like "may" and "if" it is clear that an experimental brew might be based off an existing beer but then again it may not. The thing that first caught my eye about brett brewing was Tommes claim that with brett you can create beers the likes of which the world has not yet seen. Think about that man, thousands of years of brewing heritage and there is still trail to blaze ... wow!!

>>I didn't like the Festina Lente much<<

I think this one went through a huge change. I had it twice, both times on draft. It was like a slighty fruity very tart but not very complex lambic. But MikeK brought a bottle over the Jezza the year before and it was none of those things. Anyway, I tasted it with no expectations and it worked nicely. But if I thought it was going to be like biting into a peach I'd have been pissed.

Al B
03/11/08 10:07 PM  
Re: Lawnmower beer - is it so bad a thing?
I wonder if a category such as AMERICAN SOUR ALE or WILD ALE would be a catch all. My first few 100% brett beers were a basic grist to get a feel for each brett.......I get alot of "Gueuze-like" "wine-like" descriptors. Sometimes I think a flemish red can be done with 100% brett in a relatively short time and be interesting.

The 100% brett porter would definately go in the historical section - even there I have no idea of the outcome.

SteveG
03/11/08 10:28 PM  
Re: Lawnmower beer - is it so bad a thing?
Same here, the grists were fairly simple. Like 60% pale malt, wheat and maybe a little crystal. I figured it wasn't so much about the grist, yeast expression is a bigger factor than in conventional beers.

So what brett would you use on a porter?

Al B
03/12/08 07:17 AM  
Re: Lawnmower beer - is it so bad a thing?
I used WY lambicus for no real reason other than its a favorite of mine. I would also try clausenii.

The porter("Resident Lambicus") is in the secondary right now - we'll give it a taste this weekend before Jim Ks gig. Its very fruity, roasty, slightly tart. Instead of doing a "vatted" or "stale" porter the old fashion way, I went with 100% brett. I'm stuck on the historical porters lately. St. Peters has a Old-Style Porter out but thats more lactic bacteria influenced.

The clausenii culture you requested is coming along - what volume do you need?

SteveG
03/12/08 08:14 AM  
Re: Lawnmower beer - is it so bad a thing?
300ish ml has worked great so far...
Seanywonton
03/12/08 12:07 PM  
Re: Lawnmower beer - is it so bad a thing?
Steve, you are right-on about Rodenbach (regular) and feel free to call me generic, but it is probably still my hands-down favorite Flanders. I like balance! My flanders red was way less maltly even than that, and less sour. But it was tasty, and the 5 gallons we added 10 lb. of sour cherries to was phenomenal! I still have 1 left...

Also, as to the judging of Steve's brett beer in particular: in style 23 - specialty beer, it is OPTIONAL to list a base style brewed. I think, bottom line, if you made a good brett beer, with the characteristics of brett, no recognizable flaws, and ENJOYABLE by the judges' palates, then it should score high. On the other hand, if they thought it was a well executed beer, but they just didn't really enjoy the flavor, then it obviously does not merit a high score. That is a matter of opinion, especially where brett is concerned, as not everyone enjoys that flavor to the same extent!

SteveG
03/12/08 08:57 PM  
Re: Lawnmower beer - is it so bad a thing?
Well, that is true. The comments sounded like they did, but analysis and enjoyment are very different things.
 
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