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05/02/08 10:22 AM  
Brett "underpitching"
Can anyone relate their experiences with brewing brett-only and pitching at a very low rate? How was the fermentation? And how was the beer?

I ask because I just pitched 6G of a lambic-like thing with a very small amount (2 mL) of brett slurry (plus the dregs of a 3F gueuze and whatever was living in the wood barrel after 3 hot water rinses). The fermentation is surprisingly strong--huge krausen, lots of yeast floating on it, etc.

With sacc I worry about underpitching because of the potential for huge acetate esters, diacetyl, acetaldehyde, and incomplete attenuation. But with brett and a whole lot of time, I'm less sure these'll be a problem (hence my willingness to try this experiment). The brett has esterases that I suspect will rip out the acetate esters, and it seems to hang around long enough to take care of the other three issues, especially with microoxygenation in a barrel.

But the proof is in the pudding. Anyone found any different? Didn't Joelle pitch just the WLP tube into a batch, and do okay (after a couple-month lag)? I'll have to go reread that.

Al B
05/02/08 11:35 AM  
Re: Brett
It would have been interestin' to know what may have been in the barrel-rinse or wood barrel. I would agree on the brett vs diacetyl and attenuation, not positive on the acetaldehyde but you know more than I on that front.

How long did fermentation take to start after pitch?

05/02/08 11:52 AM  
Re: Brett
I know literally nothing about brett and acetaldehyde, so it can't be more than you know...

The ester thing, I've experienced myself.

The only thing I'd expect in large amounts in the barrel wood, are traces of WLP claussenii and Nottingham ale yeast. That's all we ever put in and it was a new barrel before that.

It took about a day before the 3-piece airlock was bubbling once every 1 or 2 seconds, which it's been doing for 4-5 days now.

Al B
05/02/08 01:30 PM  
Re: Brett
Once clausenii gets going - it is a ferocious fermenter as we have experienced. Even though you rinsed the barrel w/ 3 hot water rinses, it amazing how microbes can tolerate what may seem to kill. I also have seen documented that bretts can be tolerant to "pasteurizing" temps where duration of heat would need to be applied. Theories on my part, since 2ml/6gal in 24hrs seems underpitched including dregs, but perhaps this barrel-juice has more than you know?

I did do a "mixed" fermentation last fall, going ambient/spotaneous for 1 day, then added a few mLs of sach. yeast and some bug cubes. Took off pretty well on day 2-3. Love these mad scientist experiments...

triple beam
05/04/08 06:09 AM  
Re: Brett
<<(2 mL) of brett slurry (plus the dregs of a 3F gueuze and whatever was living in the wood barrel >>

Where was the barrel from? New oak? If you are fermenting in barrel you are feeding the brett phenols from the wood. The biosynthesis of ethyl phenols by Brettanomyces is based on the enzymatic conversion of vinyl phenols derived from cinnamic acids. New barrels will breed a brett outbreak better than an older barrel once the culture is there. This "might" have helped contribute to your beer taking off as it did. Obviously this was not the "only" conversion going on in your ferment but figured it was worth noting. Also, temperature is always a factor which you've probly already considered.

Sach in barrel?

How hot was the H2O you rinsed the barrel with. Sach will not withstand the kind of heat brett will.

bty Baums, i got the farmhouse book. Thanks for the great recommendation. Shoot me an email and I'll tell you what I think about Markowski's Dupont yeast analogy w/ winemaking. mrcwine@yahoo.com.

triple beam

05/05/08 10:19 AM  
Re: Brett
It's cool to hear the thoughts of someone who's looked at brett, etc, extensively but from a different direction.

I did not know whether new oak actually provides ferulic or p-coumaric acid. Is this for certain? I knew there were other similar acids in there but not whether these specifically were available.

Anyway I'm sure there are plenty of good things for brett to eat in that barrel--not least of which are huge amounts of unfermented wort... What really surprised me is the way the brett can "keep going" despite there not being a high pitch rate, in a way that I think many/most sacc strains (or at least beer sacc strains) could not. It's now been 9 days and it's still fermenting pretty fast.

But, I did recently see a paper where a complete wine fermentation was accomplished with 0.5 M cells/ml pitch rate of brett only, or with wine yeast. Which is maybe 20-40X lower than the rate one might use with beer sacc. What are common pitch rates for winemaking?

I am wondering whether (comparatively) low pitch rates work for wine because of

1. a physiological difference between beer yeast and wine yeast (or brett), where fast fermentation is not dependent on continued reproduction


2. the fact that wine must is composed of simpler sugars than beer wort.

triple beam
05/06/08 02:53 AM  
Re: Brett
I certainly don't consider my background "extensive" I'm not a Lab tech by any means. Just as you said, I'm interested in seeing some of the same principles of winemaking carried out in brewing to better get a grasp on some of their concepts. And... we have a saying in the wine industry it takes a lot of beer to make wine.

<<I did not know whether new oak actually provides ferulic or p-coumaric acid. Is this for certain?>>

Sorry, I was kind of assuming you were using an old wine barrel, There is ferulic and p-coumaric acid in oak but I'm not sure if it is present after the oak has been toasted. Whoops.

Brett is almost never welcome in winemaking. Winemakers learn about Brett in order to prevent it. I'd be interested in checking out that arcticle if you could drop the link. There are many wineries that have significant amounts of brett in their native ferments. For instance in Burgundy it is "usually" present, but not over powering. This may be due in part to the musts that the yeast are feeding off. Burgundy (Pinot Noir specifically) will give off less 4-ethylphenol (horsey, barnyardy profile) and more 4-ethylguiaicol (spicey) than any other grape variety (Usually it is at an 8:1 ratio, but in pinot 3:1).

This seems of some interest when brewing with different brett strains. Could Brett B have an ability to produce more 4-EP than other strains? And the grains used are a very important determination as to what/how the brett will metabolize I'd assume. Any thoughts Baum?

<<What are common pitch rates for winemaking?>>

As in brewing, you want your yeast to be at high counts and in good health. We don't do cell counts at the winery. I've read 200 million cells/ml in conjunction with 100-200 milligrams/liter of DAP is "preferable". This is textbook info however and I know it;s not always practiced.

In all honesty we go native with our chardonnay and our pinots and syrahs do get innoculated "sometimes", but I'm a little out of sync this time of year, so let me get back to you when I have all the specifics.

<<1. a physiological difference between beer yeast and wine yeast (or brett), where fast fermentation is not dependent on continued reproduction>>

There are some wine yeasts (assmanhausen) with longer lag times (3 days, yeast reproduction phase) that will then take off and finish quick(3 days) and some (RC212, D254) that start same day and last 5-7. In a wine ferment, unlike a beer ferment, You mix it up multiple times a day could be a factor. Wine must will contain only glucose and fructose sugars, true.

sorry for the long post

05/06/08 08:46 AM  
Re: Brett
Baums, for my recent batches of all-brett brews, I'f you haven't seen the other thread, I fermented with a blend of brett c and b. Now, that blend consisted of 2 vials brett c and one brett b. After I pitched them into the starter I had no way of knowing whether they would grow at similar rates or if one would take over. The first two beers fermented normally - very rigerous primary, ending in 4-5 days. The third beer proceeded as usual, but then, curiously, after primary fermentation settled a new krausen appeared and fermentation resumed. I can only gather that in the first two beers the dominance of the brett c held the reigns and fermented all of the available sugars, supressing the brett b. But in the third, after the brett c gorged itself all it could, there were still enough sugars for the brett b to finally grow up and take over - enough to re-krausen..... So I guess bretts may indeed be able to grow up and eventually ferment as opposed to a sacch which would just poop out. Would make sense with Joelle's berliner too, there was only one vial pitched for that, right?
05/06/08 11:09 AM  
Re: Brett
That's interesting Potts--not sure what to make of it. Maybe it's worth messing around with some starters to see what's what.

tripel beam:

You said "There is ferulic and p-coumaric acid in oak but I'm not sure if it is present after the oak has been toasted." To me it sounds like you're right that the oak can provide these precursor acids. I doubt the toast completely eliminates them, especially as deep as the brett goes into the wood. I didn't know that before...

The stuff about winemaking and brett is interesting.

(sidenote: I've always thought that in attempting to entirely rid their wine of brett, winemakers could be making the problem worse. If you try to keep things limited to just sacc, then you leave a big opportunity for any old uncontrolled brett strain to come along and do something bad with any nutrients/sugars that the sacc doesn't take care of. I wonder whether it might be better to find a brett strain that's comparatively "good" and then intentionally introduce it, in the hopes that other uncontrolled strains would then be crowded out.)

Anyway you ask "Could Brett B have an ability to produce more 4-EP than other strains?" and the answer is definitely yes. I have some articles (but not links for them) showing drastically different volatile phenol production between brett strains, and even between 24 different "brett brux" strains! (One reason I always am asking WHICH brett brux someone used to do this or that.)

You're also definitely right that the grains are a major source of ferulic and p-coumaric acid, which the brett can then turn into volatile phenols. And that there are at least some ways of controlling these precursors. See for instance "Ferulic Acid Release and 4-Vinylguaiacol Formation during Brewing and Fermentation: Indications for Feruloyl Esterase Activity in Saccharomyces cerevisiae" if you can find it (I don't have a link for that either).

Controlling these acids is not easy. The one proven approach I've seen in the lit for INCREASING ferulic acid is a mash rest at 45C--so you might postulate that eliminating such rests will reduce 4EP etc and make better beer. BUT... such rests are common at the best lambic makers. I think it may be that 4EP/4EG are just not that big a deal for sour beers, or may even be a "good thing." I just don't know.

"200 million cells/ml"

That is a ton of yeast!

05/06/08 11:12 AM  
Re: Brett
It sounds like you're saying 4EG is preferred to 4EP? Is that something winemakers have found to be a definite fact?
tripel beam
05/06/08 03:51 PM  
Re: Brett
<<winemakers could be making the problem worse. >>

True. In France you often have filthy cellars/cellar practices which provide competion with bacteria and (complexity in ferment characteristics, if you will) In California you have "cleaner" more fruit driven wines made in new, and clean, cellars. In this way brett infection can be disastrous.

200mil./ml was from Bryce Rankine's Making Good Wine an "older" textbook which as I stated is not practical in most wineries. I looked into our protocol for yeast innoc. (which is more common) and it seems to be 3-4 mil/ml at pitching. The yeast comes dry and 25grams/Hectoliter is added to 20x its wieght of 40C/104F H20. Then combined with an equal vol. of must slowly as to not Temperature shock the yeast. and (after 3-5 hrs) pitched to the tank.

Hope this gives you a little more insight.

<<It sounds like you're saying 4EG is preferred to 4EP? Is that something winemakers have found to be a definite fact?>>

Once again, the dominance of the 4-EP aromas make wines unapproachable and mutes everything else. Also there is bottle bloom which as wines age for sometimes longer than beers the infection can be intolerable. I'll try to find an example and send it off for your opinion.

05/07/08 07:22 PM  
Re: Brett
Thinking about what to do with yeast cake from my brett c & b berliner I got to wondering the inverse of Buams question. Are there any problems with pitching a large amount of brett to finish something off in secondary? Never heard anyone talk much about this....
05/07/08 10:08 PM  
Re: Brett

Not a secondary but, I just did a bottle cond. starter of Orval dregs for a wit. It was about 500ml and it was only added to 2-2.5 Liters (cut off a bigger batch) of Wit that went through with a saccharomyces strain. So I was way overboard in proportion to what I should have done. Now I'm worried about bottle bombs, overwhelming brett/horsey overtones, and inconsistency. We'll see.

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