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Author Replies
Markaberrant
12/17/08 10:42 AM  
RIS w/ brett C in secondary questions
Hi folks, long time lurker, first time poster. Iím looking for some opinions, suggestions, encouragement. Hereís the deal:

I made a big historical RIS (1.110) this summer that stuck at 1.040. I added a vial of Brett C, and 1oz of French med toast oak cubes in mid-October. I checked the gravity 2 nights ago (2 months since inoculation), and it is still at 1.040, but the hydro sample is incredibly fruity, you can't even tell it's a RIS until you taste it. This is also my first experience using oak cubes (only had crappy chips before), and wow, the character is so much more appealing. The oak is fairly strong at this point, but it actually works quite well given the high gravity and other strong flavours that are present.

A couple other items to consider:

- I ordered the brett from Morebeer in California, and it took 2 weeks to get here (Regina, SK, Canada), so it may not have been in top condition, and I didnít bother making a starter, just tossed it in. At this point, there are a couple soap bubbles around the oak cubes, but otherwise no visible signs of the brett doing anything. So I'm not sure if it's dead or not.

- The beer is in a 6.5 gallon Better Bottle w/ airlock, and there is about 5.5 gallons of beer, so there is some headspace. I figured this would be good to help get the brett going, but if the brett is in fact dead, the beer could be oxidizing, which could be the source of the fruity aromas... which are nice at this point, but could be turning cardboard-y in a hurry.

So basically, I don't know if the brett is slowing working and only generating some interesting acids at this point, or if my beer is oxidizing at an alarming rate.

I'm not sure what to do at this point, but this is what Iím considering:

- I will be picking up 2 more vials of brett C at xmas. I could make a starter with one of them and add to the RIS.

- I could top up the fermenter with another beer to hopefully minimize oxidization. I could even add unfermented beer, which would also reintroduce some fermentables to kick start things.

- I could do nothing and just wait it out. 2 months is not that long, I did not make a starter before adding the brett, and it was a big beer (OG 1.110, current abv is around 9%).

Please help! Even if itís just to say RDWHAHB.

SteveG
12/17/08 10:52 AM  
Re: RIS w/ brett C in secondary questions
I think brett C was the wrong choice, I predict you see no meaningful gravity drop from it. It just does not behave like other strains of brett. Also, from everything I have seen just tossing in the contents of a vile requires extreme patience regardless of the specific strain.

IMO for finishing if you want a brett character the best bet is L. Al, for finishing would a worked up sample be best? I know that given time even the little bit from a vile will work, I wonder though if you can speed up the process by a few months given an investment of a couple weeks. Also for finishing, do you think a large sample would produce the same results as a small sample?

Markaberrant
12/17/08 10:59 AM  
Re: RIS w/ brett C in secondary questions
Thanks for the speedy response.

I chose the brett C because I'm still aiming for a historical RIS.

I agree I screwed up by just pitching the vial. Not sure what I was thinking.

The only other "funk" beer I've made was a 1.067 Saison with 3724 in primary, 1/2 lb of acid malt, and Orval dregs in the secondary. It got down to 1.008 before adding the dregs, so their wasn't much left to chew on, but the brett percolated away for 3 months and finished at 1.006 after 4 months. It's not a "wild" beer by any stretch (although it is to those not used to them), but it does have a nice complexity to it. Bottled it a year ago, no increase in carbonation, and it is still improving.

tankdeer
12/17/08 11:47 AM  
Re: RIS w/ brett C in secondary questions
I think what Steve is getting at is that you'll be lucky to get any gravity drop with Brett C in secondary. It just doesn't have the voracious appetite that the other brett strains have. I have tried varies sized pitches in secondary and pretty much always end up disappointed. It's cool for a primary fermenter but just won't do much in secondary. I second his recommendation of B. Lambicus.
Markaberrant
12/17/08 12:09 PM  
Re: RIS w/ brett C in secondary questions
Gotcha.

I guess I figured the brett C should be capable of doing something, I'm not even at 65% attenuation. It does taste pretty damn good at this point, not syrupy or somewhat-cloying like it did before adding the oak and brett.

I'm leaning towards adding another vial of brett C (grown up this time with a small starter) in early January, and check it in 2 more months. Or does this seem like a total waste, and further increases the risk of oxidization by leaving it in the carboy with headspace? I'm getting the yeast for free, and I do plan on saving the oak cubes for future "wild" brews... if it matters.

Al B
12/17/08 12:19 PM  
Re: RIS w/ brett C in secondary questions
First off, the vials of WL brett is much lower in population than the regular yeast vials. Secondly, B. clausenni is notoriously slow to start from the vial, and even slower in a massive brew. I don't know what was the initial yeast ya used, but if its getting more fruity, it probably is the clausenii and not oxidation. Oxidation will cause more maltiness before staleness occurring.

You should use a starter for clausenii as stated before.

Markaberrant
12/17/08 12:34 PM  
Re: RIS w/ brett C in secondary questions
Thanks Al.

Original yeast:

3 packages of Windsor - yes, I know, a terrible choice for a big beer based on it's relatively low attenuation. I didn't want an overly dry beer, and I used no crystal malt (5% black patent, 15% brown, 80% pale), so I was hoping the yeast combined with a relatively fermentable wort would have balanced out and finished around 1.030.

Al B
12/17/08 12:53 PM  
Re: RIS w/ brett C in secondary questions
The brown malt can slow attenuation down too, in my exerience.
Markaberrant
12/17/08 12:59 PM  
Re: RIS w/ brett C in secondary questions
Yeah, I also read that about brown malt... after I brewed.
Baums
12/17/08 01:11 PM  
Re: RIS w/ brett C in secondary questions
Mark you've got a lot of worries: oxidation, attenuation, brett character). I think this is two or maybe even three more worries than you need.

Oxidation: it doesn't sound like you've begun to detect oxidation problems. Like Al said, "incredibly fruity" is not what I'd call the first stage of oxidation. Also, that's not really a ton of headspace for a wild-ish beer, as long as you're not re-opening the carboy repeatedly and letting fresh air in. Don't worry about it.

Attenuation: Getting the flavors you want from brett can be complicated enough without also asking it to further attenuate a big stuck beer. Why not separate these two goals? For more attenuation (assuming you really want it...) I'd just use a big starter of a very strong sacc strain.

Brett Character: Given your statement about incredible fruitiness, it seems like you may have already gotten everything you need from the claussenii--i.e. a surprising fruitiness in a roasty stout. What more are you after?

If you do want a different kind of brett character then I'm sure folks can suggest something. (BTW in my opinion, adding the phenolic character of an Orval-like brett may not improve an already phenolic/roasty beer.) Interesting that some people favor lambicus (WY or WLP?)--unless there's some lactic acid around, for me the WY lambicus would not be a top choice.

Anyway hope that helps a little.

SteveG
12/17/08 01:44 PM  
Re: RIS w/ brett C in secondary questions
Dudes, if Markaberrant has had not gravity reduction since the introduction of the BC, why would you guess the fruitiness was due to that? If the BC was active enough to impact the flavor so, would not that activity be underscored by at least a small gravity drop? Maybe the fruitiness is from the primary yeast and the BC has done nothing.

I added some BC to a barley wine that stopped a little too high. No gravity impact, no flavor impact.

I agree with everyone who questions the oxidation/fruity aroma link.

Al B
12/17/08 02:14 PM  
Re: RIS w/ brett C in secondary questions
The fruit could be due to underpitching, unhealthy yeast, yeast strain, and ferm. temps.

I would tend to think some gravity would drop w/ B.c. however, that may come later. Bretts are responsible for several compounds, esters being one. I don't think the reduction of sugar necessarily directly cooresponds to ester production (check w/ Baums)???? Other compounds produced by bretts in general are alcohol, acid(s), volatile phenols, and tetrahydropyridines.

Markaberrant
12/17/08 02:22 PM  
Re: RIS w/ brett C in secondary questions
I'm glad no one thinks it is oxidation. That was my main concern.

There was the usual english fruity esters before I added the brett, but now it's over the top, and not really "english" per-se.

I don't have any references on hand at the moment as to the behaviour of brett, but could the following be possible: Adding the small vial of brett has resulted in a very slow growth phase. Long, strenuous growth phases typically = lots of esters, and no fermentation. In essence, I could still be in the growth phase. As I said, there are a couple of soapy bubbles on the surface of the wort, as well as a couple of small bubbles in the airlock (whereas my long-term bulk aging mead and cider have absolutely no bubbles in the airlock), so I have been thinking that "something" is going on, just very slowly.

Markaberrant
12/17/08 02:23 PM  
Re: RIS w/ brett C in secondary questions
Al, you posted as I was drafting the response above. Looks like we are thinking along the same lines.
Baums
12/17/08 02:27 PM  
Re: RIS w/ brett C in secondary questions
Brett can create a lot of flavor with no significant gravity drop. For instance, bretty wines are not sparkling.

And in the brett bottling experiment I did, carbonation was not noticably different between the brett strains and the no brett control, even though the flavor definitely was.

But Steve you are right I just assumed the fruitiness was from the brett C. I guess I did that because it would be somewhat consistent with what I've seen myself with BC secondary, but anyway the assumption could be wrong. Markaberrant, was the beer that fruity before you put the brett in?

Baums
12/17/08 02:29 PM  
Re: RIS w/ brett C in secondary questions
Looks like you're a step ahead of me...
SteveG
12/17/08 02:47 PM  
Re: RIS w/ brett C in secondary questions
>>There was the usual english fruity esters before I added the brett, but now it's over the top, and not really "english" per-se.<<

Neither is a beer with high starting gravity. Pubs tend to list starting gravities on pump handles, they don't get far passed 1.040 if that. There are NOT a lot of beers like Le Coq over there! If you are using a yeast for this RIS that you can't liken to an existing British RIS I would not assume it could not be the cause.

About slow growth creating fruity flavors, I will never - as long as I live - forget Al's first description of the aroma of growing Brett C. He didn't say "Whoa, that's fruity!" He said "Cheese and toenails".

Adrian
12/17/08 04:41 PM  
Re: RIS w/ brett C in secondary questions
For what it's worth, I pitched a vial of WLP645 into a batch of Porter that stopped around 1.020. 8 months later and the final gravity was around 1.018 even though I had considerable growth from the secondary yeast (as shown by the pellicle that formed). Lots of funky fruity aroma and at the end of the 8 months there was a vague tartness in the beer.

I'm not sure if I like the resulting beer as the Brett profile completely masks any flavor/aroma from the original beer and ended up blending some of it with a freshly brewed Porter (after failing to kill the Brett with Campden tablets. Now there's pellicles forming in the bottles. Oops.).

I hope the comments here about Brett C not producing C02 are acccurate. Otherwise I'll have a mess in a few months.

Al B
12/17/08 04:46 PM  
Re: RIS w/ brett C in secondary questions
<<I hope the comments here about Brett C not producing C02 are acccurate. Otherwise >>

Oh, CO2 is produced as a by-product of alcohol, so I would chill just in case.

Baums
12/17/08 05:09 PM  
Re: RIS w/ brett C in secondary questions
While we're talking about the flavors created by brett c...

We had people taste a beer that was finished with different bretts in different bottles. They blind-tasted samples from the exact same bottles without talking. Here's a disconcerting snippet of the written notes:

Person 1 on the brux bottle: "...horse poop..."

Person 2 on the brux bottle: "...horsey..."

Person 1 on the claussenii bottle: "...horse poopy..."

Person 2 on the claussenii bottle: "...no horsey..."

We all know different people taste things differently, but I still found that kind of startling.

Al B
12/17/08 05:44 PM  
Re: RIS w/ brett C in secondary questions
I would expect results w/ Person #2.

Bruxellensis tends to have that ethyl-phenol (barnyard) maybe some tetrahydopyridine (mousy) where clausenii does not.

SteveG
12/17/08 05:54 PM  
Re: RIS w/ brett C in secondary questions
>>I hope the comments here about Brett C not producing C02 are acccurate. Otherwise<<

Oh my. If it can eat it will certainly produce CO2. Big time.

Baums
12/17/08 06:20 PM  
Re: RIS w/ brett C in secondary questions
Al, two out of five people found bc at least as horsey as the brux! "Most barnyard" was a comment on claussenii from probably the best trained taster (certainly not me).

Meanwhile the other three tasters didn't mention horsiness or barnyard at all in the bc. Bizarre.

Mike T
12/18/08 10:07 AM  
Re: RIS w/ brett C in secondary questions
Brett C is plenty aggressive in secondary it took my ~1.080 old ale from 1.020 to 1.010 in 9 months. Just give it some time and youíll see a gravity drop.
SteveG
12/18/08 11:37 AM  
Re: RIS w/ brett C in secondary questions
Wow. Mine went a year in a barley wine and made no measureble impact (gravity or flavor). Do you think your primary yeast would have taken the beer to 1.010 as well?
Mike T
12/18/08 03:43 PM  
Re: RIS w/ brett C in secondary questions
I certainly don't think so. 1 lb of crystal, mashed at 152 for 20 min then 156 for 40, (Us-05 and Windsor) 76% AA after 2 weeks when I racked to secondary. It had a visable pellicle and certainly had a strong flavor impact. Recent tasting have suggested that it has continued to dry out even more over the last 18 months in the bottle.
Rob B
12/19/08 10:24 AM  
Re: RIS w/ brett C in secondary questions
It was my understanding that brett has a hard time at really high alcohol levels. From my experience, I had an 11% BDSA that I pitched brett c and brett b into in secondary. While it did drop the FG from 1.018 to 1.008 I didn't really get much brett character in that one.
Markaberrant
01/05/09 03:08 PM  
Re: RIS w/ brett C in secondary questions
I decided yesterday to visually check this batch, as I returned from a 10 day trip to Dallas. It hasn't been 3 weeks since I took a gravity reading and started this thread. Wouldn't you know it, but there is now a thin milky white layer forming on the top!
Markaberrant
01/16/09 04:53 PM  
Re: RIS w/ brett C in secondary questions
Just wondering if there is any info out there on the alcohol tolerance of Brett C? Or brett in general?
SteveG
01/17/09 12:15 AM  
Re: RIS w/ brett C in secondary questions
i just made a triple with it. Well, its 5 weeks in the bottle now. I don't have the numbers in front of me, but I think it went from 1080 to about 1012 and performed like a champ. Very clean.
chadunit
01/22/09 02:45 PM  
Re: RIS w/ brett C in secondary questions
As far as ethyl alcohol I've never seen anything say below 10% tolerance usually reported to be between 12%-15% and I recall another study which reported 18% tolerance. It would maybe depend on the strains within the species but say 10-12% in general is safe for all Brett spp.
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