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Author Replies
hiddenvariable
03/21/08 02:37 PM  
first time brett brewing
hello all. i've been looking into brewing with brett, and i'm doing as much research as possible before actually getting started. i've been reading a bunch of threads here, and it's given me a lot to chew on, but i'm still undecided on a few things.

the plan: i had a russian river deification a month or so ago, and it blew me away. this experiment is inspired by that, but i am by no means trying to recreate that beer. so: i'm going with brett brux in a pale malt beer, in addition to some belgian golden ale sacch. what i'm hoping for is a light and fruity summer-type beverage (knowing full well i've waited too long for it to be ready by summer). from the brett, i'd like light citrusy esters and a bit of funk, and hopefully a little tartness. this is more of an experiment than anything else, so i don't mind straying a bit.

the dilemma: when should i add the brett and in what proportions? i'm not asking for a "right" answer, as i don't expect that there is one for me. but i am seeking more information. again, this is an experiment, but i'd like to have some sort of hypothesis before i get into it.

the problem is, i just don't know enough about what brett characteristics i should expect as a function of when and how much i pitch. should i throw a p/(1 - p) mix of brett/sacch into the primary? what would it do? should i just pitch a small amount of brett into the secondary? what would THAT do? or, maybe i should brew two separate batches (but again, who knows in what proportions?) and just mix them after the primary fermentation has completed.

does anyone have any suggestions or suggested reading on this sort of thing?

SteveG
03/21/08 03:21 PM  
Re: first time brett brewing
Personally I think bruxellensis is the wrong choice here.
hiddenvariable
03/21/08 03:36 PM  
Re: first time brett brewing
why is that? i had only found one source that attempted to explain the differences between the various brett strains, and that one seemed to have the most promising characteristics.
Cisco
03/21/08 03:48 PM  
Re: first time brett brewing
"from the brett, i'd like light citrusy esters and a bit of funk, and hopefully a little tartness"

Then you'll want to use Brett Clausenii as a primary fermenter with no sacc. and the beer will be ready to drink in three weeks.

Cisco
03/21/08 03:56 PM  
Re: first time brett brewing
Make a brett starter just like you would for a regular sacc yeast starter and give it plenty of oxygen and feed it several times. It will take off like a rocket and finish in just a few days.
tankdeer
03/21/08 04:24 PM  
Re: first time brett brewing
And here I am still trying to coax citrus esters from Brett C. ;)
SteveG
03/21/08 04:25 PM  
Re: first time brett brewing
>>why is that?<<

I've tasted beers made with all Clausenii, Lambicus and Bruxellensis (actually Anomolus too, but I have far less exposure to that one). Bruxellensis, IMO, is the least likely to give you the flavor character you are describing. I think Ciscos call is right on, though I would not be able to rule out Anomolus as a good choice.

SteveG
03/21/08 04:29 PM  
Re: first time brett brewing
tankdeer, what have you gotten from Clausenii? I think its too easy to look at strains of brett as flavoring agents. I've heard people on a few occasions say they wanted to add Lambicus cause it is described as having a pie cherry character. What Lambicus will do is dependent on a bunch of factors, and I have found that the pie cherry character - which can be so powerful upon pitching - will dissapate. Gravity will impact how brett evolves, temperature, the O2 it gets early on, etc.

So I think its important to be aware of what a brett can CAN do, but understand that your results may well vary with your process.

hiddenvariable
03/21/08 04:44 PM  
Re: first time brett brewing
thanks for the input so far, folks. i will likely try clausenii next. it's nice to hear it won't take 6 months, so maybe i can have an early and a late summer beer from these.

SteveG: it's a shame it takes so long to figure out how all these different variables will affect your outcome. i'm just looking for a place to start learning, moreso than i'm trying to accomplish a specific beer.

the brux is already on order, so i'm going to go ahead and get some. i guess i'll just see how it goes.

Ryan
03/21/08 06:04 PM  
Re: first time brett brewing
Yeah dude

see how it goes and report back. I'm doing a 100% lambicus stout tomorrow, but I'm switching over to clausenii after this batch given the comments on this board for the last several months.

So p/1-p? What are you a population geneticist?

SteveG
03/21/08 06:32 PM  
Re: first time brett brewing
The first all-brett homebrew I ever had, and indeed the one that sent me on the quest to encourage all-brett brewing, as made with 100% Bruxellensis. It was a pale beer, kind of like a grainy lager with a unusual rough edge. The slurry for this was developed by a micro biologist over the course of a full year. I tasted this beer 3 times, and every time was unrecognizable from the time before.

Its OK that it take a lot of work to figure this stuff out, if it were easy everyone would have the answers. As it stands, brett brewing is a big, unexplored world. The flip side is that little folks like us can actually contribute to the worlds understanding of how to make beer. Think about it, 5,000 years of brewing heritage and there is still discovery to be made - and we can make it. I find that extraordinary, and worth the wait.

hiddenvariable
03/22/08 12:44 AM  
Re: first time brett brewing
SteveG wrote: "I find that extraordinary, and worth the wait."

oh, absolutely. and the fact that i like bretty beers is only part of the reason i want to contribute to this whole new age of experimentation. when it comes to homebrew, i can spend just about the same money making beers i've had 172 times before and can still get any time i want, or i can try to make something i've never had before.

so, it's definitely worth it, it's just that it would be nice if one could try a new blend of what-have-you, and see the results without waiting a year or two.

i've read it elsewhere before, but to paraphrase: if brewing has taught me nothing else, it's taught me patience.

hiddenvariable
03/22/08 12:47 AM  
Re: first time brett brewing
Ryan wrote: "So p/1-p? What are you a population geneticist?"

haha no. i do have a degree in math, though, and probability and statistics were always hobbies of mine.

SteveG
03/22/08 02:11 AM  
Re: first time brett brewing
Ah, "bretty beers". Did you check out the link top the main homebrewboard page to "Horse of a Different Color"? That experience taught me "bretty" could mean anything.
TedJ
03/22/08 10:25 AM  
Re: first time brett brewing
"Probability and statistics were always hobbies of mine." Hidden, I'm glad you are also homebrewing, because you really needed another hobby.
Ryan
03/22/08 01:09 PM  
Re: first time brett brewing
4 out of 5 brewers know that 60% of brewing is math and theres a good chance that some of it is probability based too, so in all likelihood, you've picked the the right hobby.

SteveG
03/22/08 01:48 PM  
Re: first time brett brewing
I'd like to think that % is less, its gotta be at least 50% art!
BPotts
03/22/08 02:18 PM  
Re: first time brett brewing
Hah! I was thinking about that on my way home from work last night! Part chemistry, part biology, part art....I decided it's close to 50/50 science to art as well, if not 40/60...I use intuition more often than math!
Cisco
03/22/08 02:36 PM  
Re: first time brett brewing
Long term experience breeds brewing more by intuition than by the science which is used more in the beginning while learning the chemistry of the craft. Brewing experience eventually fosters artisinal craftsmanship.
BPotts
03/22/08 03:15 PM  
Re: first time brett brewing
well put
BPotts
03/22/08 03:19 PM  
Re: first time brett brewing
Hidden - I plan on doing an all brett wheat beer, to be fermented with clausenii, with a good amount of simcoe & amarillo hops....I'm gonna shoot for next weekend, I'll let you know how it turns out.
Ryan
03/22/08 03:37 PM  
Re: first time brett brewing
Apparently you guys aren't as dorky as I.

My post was supposed to be funny....

all stats and probabilities....get it?

Geesh!

cisco--I am nothing if not an Arteest.

:0)

BPotts
03/23/08 12:21 AM  
Re: first time brett brewing
Very subtle.... ;)
tankdeer
03/24/08 11:54 AM  
Re: first time brett brewing
<<tankdeer, what have you gotten from Clausenii?>>

Sorry Steve, didn't see this post until just now. I've done two 100% brett fermentations with Claussenii so far. The jury is still out on the second, but the first turned out very clean, with a subtle spiciness to it. Like pepper/clove phenols. Quite tasty, just not what I was expecting. (none of the "trademark" pineapple esters)

I actually threw a bottle in the fridge last night for my first official taste; as all previous tastes were from the carboy. I normally keg, and this was bottled. So it should last quite a while, so I'll see how it evolves over time. (which was why it was bottled)

hiddenva
03/24/08 12:15 PM  
Re: first time brett brewing
on Cisco's advice, i placed an order for some b. clausenii at my local supply shop. i was told it would be a "handful of weeks" before it came in, so i'll likely already have my brux brew racked by then (it comes in later this week).

so, under-pitch the brux to the secondary of a belgian golden (wlp570) and let it sit for 6 months: yea or nay? what sorts of things might i expect if i do that?

Cisco
03/24/08 12:55 PM  
Re: first time brett brewing
morebeer.com has the clausenii and you could get it pretty fast.

"so, under-pitch the brux to the secondary of a belgian golden (wlp570) and let it sit for 6 months: yea or nay? what sorts of things might i expect if i do that?"

Expect the unexpected. After 6 months bretts in secondary are barley showing any flavor changes, you'll have to wait a minimum of 8 to 10 months to get any reasonable flavor transformation from any brett.

Baums
03/24/08 02:42 PM  
Re: first time brett brewing
"After 6 months bretts in secondary are barley showing any flavor changes, you'll have to wait a minimum of 8 to 10 months to get any reasonable flavor transformation from any brett."

Hmm, my experience is different--I have a Flanders Red at the 6 month mark with complete US-56 primary, and Roselare secondary, and I'm going to bottle it already cause the brett character is very high and right where I want it. Maybe that's a just a function of the high residual dextrin levels (1.018 FG) and low alcohol content (5%), oxygen permeability in a 5G oak barrel, and 72F aging temp. Other similar beers in the past have had big brett character after 8-9 months in glass.

Or possibly it's cause of the pedio in the Roselare helping to break down dextrins faster than brett alone would...

hiddenvariable
03/24/08 03:03 PM  
Re: first time brett brewing
i was planning on going with a 72F ambient temperature. i'm still not sure how i want my oxygen permiability (maybe just a bucket? maybe a carboy and a dowel in the plug hole?). there seem to be so many variable to consider, i'm not even sure where a good starting point for experimentation might be. i don't even know if i could make a list of all the fermentation variables i could tweak to presumably get a different character.
Baums
03/24/08 03:59 PM  
Re: first time brett brewing
You don't have to worry about all the variables--you can just choose a reasonable plan and go with it. Then on future batches you'll have a starting point and you can tweak one thing or another.

Anaerobic brett aging is good enough for Orval, so if you want to keep things really simple (aging in a carboy with airlock) then it's probably good enough for you too. If you do want to worry about microoxygenation right now (buckets, barrels, dowels, etc) then go for it, but you don't have to.

hiddenvariable
03/24/08 04:19 PM  
Re: first time brett brewing
would microoxygenation produced more pronounced esters from the brett, or might it speed up the process? in short, what might it do?

i guess i'd like to get more pronounced flavors than orval. and while i am willing to wait as long as it takes, the sooner the better, don't you know?

Baums
03/24/08 06:09 PM  
Re: first time brett brewing
I've never seen anything definitive to prove it, and "common knowledge" is often wrong, but I think most people agree more microoxygenation will help keep the brett healthier long term, and therefore maybe increase their contribution. It makes sense in theory but again there's little hard evidence to back it up, that I know of.

Excessive oxygen will lead to excessive acetic acid, and that's proven.

If you want different flavors than Orval (or Rainaert Flemish Wild Ale? Or the old New Belgium Biere de Mars?) then maybe you're looking for some lactic acid, and more importantly lactic esters, that those sacc+brett only beers don't have (but that the RR beers do have). You don't need much lactic acid in there to get the esters--my most recent flemish red is loaded with the lactic esters but not all that sour. If you want that character (the fruity sour smell that immediately tells you the beer will be sour--even if it's actually not), then you might think about adding pediococcus, or lactobacillus, or acid malt, or lactic acid, in addition to brett.

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