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Author Replies
12/17/08 10:53 AM  
100% brett C Belgian IPA??
Here's another one for you folks.

I'm going to do 2 100% Brett C beers and I've got a couple questions. I'm going to grow up a large starter with plenty of O2, then ferment at room temp (68-72) with no additional O2. I'm trying to get the tropical/pineapple character, does this sound right?

The first beer will be 100% pils to 1.050, bittered to 20-25 IBUs with Magnum, and 1 oz of Sterling at flameout. Pretty straight forward, just to get a feel for the yeast character.

The second beer is also 100% pils to 1.070, bittered to 60 IBUs with Zeus, 1 oz of Sterling at flameout, and 2 oz of Centennial as dry hop. The grain and hop bills are inspired by Chouffe Houblon IPA. Does this seem like a worthy experiment, or destined for failure?

12/17/08 11:43 AM  
Re: 100% brett C Belgian IPA??
I say you're on the right track. Go for it. Maybe you can get the pineapple that I have failed to get so many times. ;-)
12/17/08 11:47 AM  
Re: 100% brett C Belgian IPA??
I made a similar beer to the first one you mentionen last january with the only difference being a more complex grain bill with pils, munich, wheat, and acid malt. My brettC was a starter that I grew on a stir plate over about a month of consecutive feedings and decants so tons of cell growth. I didn't add any pureO2 to the actual beer when all that yeast was pitched. Long story, long - no pineapple esters. Ale-fruity, but not extreme. The majority of the comments were - "very beer-like". I was doing this beer for the same reasons as you but my experience is similar to a majority of the homebrewing experience. If you do a search, you'll uncover alot of similar comments.

As a solo fermenter, brettC in large quantities just seems to be very clean with none of the pineapple notes that the more famous commercial example had.

If you want funk, I'd go another route like BrettL or BrettB. I did a 100% fermented batch with those 2 with a pils grainbill and it was very nice lemony citrus sour and didn't resemble a regularly fermented beer at all.

cheers petec

12/17/08 12:13 PM  
Re: 100% brett C Belgian IPA??
Thanks for your comments.

I have read previous discussions on Brett C, so I know it's hard to coax the desired results. I guess I feel like it's a good place to start before I get into the more agressive strains.

12/17/08 12:36 PM  
Re: 100% brett C Belgian IPA??
If you're serious about trying hard to get a particular flavor from the claussenii, you can multiply your chances by splitting the batch into multiple fermenters and treating them differently.

I've never made a brett C beer but for what it's worth whenever I've grown it up on a stir plate the resulting starter has been tropical-fruity. Could be the extra yeast nutrients I put in the starter wort, or the continual oxygenation, or the large amount of growth (I innoculate 250 mL with just an agar colony or two).

Al B
12/17/08 12:49 PM  
Re: 100% brett C Belgian IPA??
I must be the only one to achieve pine-apple w/ clausenii (and mostly by accident). It was too much to be honest. It produced alot of acid w/ the pine-apple which is where the pine-apple ester is derived.

So my theory on how it happened? Once a large starter was produced, the slurry was collected (~300ml thick slurry). The slurry was then added to one last starter anaerobically to get the cells in a fermentation mode rather than a growth phase. Afterwhich the high pitch of slurry went into a non-aerated wort and fermented around 72F. The reason initially was to reduce the possibility of acetic acid production aerobically as per "Wild Brews". However, with O2, bretts tend to produce alcohol rather than acetic acids - hence the clean beers (excluding the other compounds responsible for horse and goat which are strain dependent).

Under anaerobic conditions bretts produce more acid (lactic and others) than with O2. So with a high pitch rate, any O2 present will be quickly negated and fermentation will begin rather quickly and violently.

I have experienced this with WY lambicus as well (normal vs.acidic). I am quite sure that atmospheric conditions is most important with bretts, and this includes the starters. The brew I made way back had so much pine-apple, it became Gueze-like so bear in mind the it can be very sour in this fashion.

12/17/08 02:37 PM  
Re: 100% brett C Belgian IPA??
"Under anaerobic conditions bretts produce more acid (lactic and others) than with O2."

That surprises me Al. For one thing, while I know the idea has been thrown around some, I've never seen anything that really shows brett can produce more than just a very little bit of lactic acid. When I think of brett creating acidity, I think of acetic acid produced in aerobic environments. (And also that crazy citric acid thing that I've never seen anything more on.)

Is this a pattern you've noticed in your batches, or something you believe is true in an even broader sciencey sense? (or both?)

If someone made two starters on a stir plate, one covered loosely with foil and one covered with an airlock, I'd probably bet on the one with the airlock to be less sour... but I can't say I've tried it.

12/17/08 02:38 PM  
Re: 100% brett C Belgian IPA??
BTW my claussenii starters, on stir plate with loose foil, have been tropical/pineappley with definite tartness. But I've never made one with an airlock to compare.
12/17/08 02:55 PM  
Re: 100% brett C Belgian IPA??
Markaberrant, personally I love brett C for a pale ale. I made one in September that I uber hopped with homegrown Cascades. I sent a small sample out to those participating in the last all-brett swap (a week ago Sunday involving Peter Bouckaert) for a very different reason ... it had no brett character at all. If I gave you a sample and said I used Chico I swear you would not question it. My point was that BC can be made to show no funkiness at all. If you can do that I think you can learn to "dail up" its wilder side. Control brett instead of it controlling you. So don't think I'm trying to discourage this run, at least my last 4 beers were all brett C. But there might not be much Belgianess to the end product.
Al B
12/17/08 03:00 PM  
Re: 100% brett C Belgian IPA??
I expected acetic, but I have never obtained it (good). I'm sure some strains are different, just as some will produce capric acid (goat) and others not. etc. etc.

To me its both. Its mentioned in "wild brew"s and seems to be consistent with every brett batch I've done. The bretts I've used have been clausenii, WY lambicus, and Fantome brett. I just did a gran cru split between clausenii and another brett from Ongefilted Palm. Both clean and no acidity to speak of. I once added maltodextrin to a witty clausenii brew that was clean - Surprise! tartness & some funk developed in less than 2 weeks.

So that's 7 or 8 batches 100% brett beers done, several more where brett was added in secondary or bottled.

But as I know, the right experiment w/ controls will have to be done. I have drawn up one such experiment - some day I'll execute it.

12/17/08 03:47 PM  
Re: 100% brett C Belgian IPA??
Al, here's a snpit from the last all-brett swap...

Mike Mraz: brett is still a yeast, I find if you treat it like a yeast it will act like one.

petec: i guess, how many people have actually got that BrettC pineapple on a homebrew scale?

SteveG: Actually it does taste a bit oxidized, weird though as it has been in a keg for a while.

PeterB: Ethyl lactate is a dominant flavor in all mixed fermentation beers. But my thinking is why not add the lactic first (pre boil - mash acidification with lacto to around 100 ppm) so you have some to lett the brett make the EL

SteveG: Interesting, I bet well have a board experiment going from that!

Mike Mraz: peter B tell us more

PeterB: I like the comment on Brett as a yeast

SteveG: Is that a little like what Ryan did?

petec: in all my sour beers, I have always used acid malt thus lactic is around preferment.

SteveG: But just with acidified malt?

PeterB: EL like any ester has a way lower taste threshold than lactic.

SteveG: What does EL taste like?

Ryan: Thats what I did with my beer

PeterB: so by make a bit and feeding it to an EL yeast like bretta, you will enhance

Mike Mraz: the acid side of brett is the side us home brewers don't know about

mtc: petec--what percentage of the grist with acidilated malt? Anthing over 4-5% for me has been too twangy

PeterB: EL ethyl lactate, I wonder, I assume it;s the tropical punch, the pineapple, never been able to confirm this

petec: we actually use EL at work. I rarely take a wiff of chemicals but maybe I will. not a taste though.

PeterB: Don't know about acidified malt, too German to me.

SteveG: huh. that is absolutely something to work with.

petec: our EL is about pure. so I could take a sniff.

Ryan: ethyl lactate is the coconut

PeterB: If there are lactic acid bacteria lets use those instead of all other BS

12/17/08 03:58 PM  
Re: 100% brett C Belgian IPA??
It sounds like one thing you're saying Al is that you routinely make brett beers with no acidity when you aerate the wort (I assume just one aeration, at the beginning, as for a "normal" beer). And that much is consistent with my experience.

What I wonder about is whether the opposite holds true--can you reliably generate sourness by depriving the brett of oxygen? I think some people have tried and failed to repeat your experience, so I suspect some other important variable must have been different. Maybe this is what petec and Mike Mraz are also getting at in the snippet above (BTW thanks for posting that Steve).

Al B
12/17/08 04:39 PM  
Re: 100% brett C Belgian IPA??
Baums -

I actually have done both. Silence of the lambicus was intentionally nonaerated in fear of acetic acid production. I can promise you it was tart from some kind of acids, I thought to be mostly lactic, but not entirely.

Bretts can produce fatty acids in lower amounts - esters of which are tropical, apple, pine-apple, juicy-fruit.

Depriving some bretts of O2 will lend a more sour brew. Just look at the first brett swap, or Steve's clausenii Berliner. I have done probably 3 batches this way intentionally. To minimize aeration, I siphoned slowly into the carboy and flushed with CO2 before pitching healthy brett slurry. It is becoming.... predictable.

12/17/08 04:53 PM  
Re: 100% brett C Belgian IPA??
That's really cool Al.

I suggested some "other important variable" may have prevented others from repeating your experience. Maybe the difference is the extra pains you've taken to avoid incidental aeration.

Al B
12/17/08 05:37 PM  
Re: 100% brett C Belgian IPA??
Its interesting about lactic acid/acid malt & the devlopment of EL stated above. But pine-apple esters were not typically derived from lactic acid as mentioned in "Wild brews". EL is characterized as soft, fruity?, butterscotch.

Other esters were characterized as pine-apple however were: ethyl caproate, ethyl caprylate, ethyl butyrate and ethyl isovalerate. Also, ethyl isobutyrate is characterized as "CITRUS" fruity. Alot of Ethyls here, but no mention of any from citric acid interestingly....I wonder.... if these have any impact here.

12/17/08 06:06 PM  
Re: 100% brett C Belgian IPA??
My commentary on EL was associated with some talk (not shown above) surrounding some non-Diacetyl related almost buttery notes in my brettC beer that had 10% acid malt in it.

I asked what would give the buttery notes. someone said EL. I said, well, I add lactic acid to the mash via acid malt and thus the connection was made.

I also wonder if some people interpret or are more sensitive to "pineapple" esters verses just "tropical fruity" esters. This maybe why some people say fruity and a small limited # say pineaplle.


12/17/08 06:13 PM  
Re: 100% brett C Belgian IPA??
Yeah there is a lot of unknown. Like you say it seems there are a lot of things brett is known to produce, that could be interpreted as citric or pineapple--but the sourness is the tough question. What acid does brett produce in sufficient quantity to create sourness?

I think in many cases the answer is of course "none" but there seem to be exceptions like we've been talking about. In those cases, what acid is behind the tartness?

Lactic? I've never seen any measurement of brett producing more than 400 ppm lactic acid, which I don't think is enough. But, I haven't seen an exhaustive set of measurements for every scenario of course.

Acetic? It's been definitively shown (wine lit) that brett can produce acetic but that's with oxygen... which is an opposite scenario from what we're talking about.

Citric? The only reason I bring that up is that old patent from the 70s where a ton of citric acid was supposedly produced by brett c. But that mysterious finding seems to have been entirely left behind.

So yeah, a mystery for sure, until someone volunteers some chromatography.

12/17/08 06:15 PM  
Re: 100% brett C Belgian IPA??
Pete I don't know about drinking it, but if you have access to EL and could dose it into some beer and smell it, that might shed light on some stuff.
12/17/08 06:15 PM  
Re: 100% brett C Belgian IPA??
Sounds like its time to reread the old AcidAles of Rodenbach thesis.........

since that had some good info on production of acids and esters from teh funk.


Al B
12/17/08 06:16 PM  
Re: 100% brett C Belgian IPA??
Interesting on the EL. I see.

Yeah, I dunno 'bout all of the descriptors either w/ fruity. All I know is the first brett brew w/ claus was like someone with a large sledge-hammer smashing a ripe pine-apple.

12/17/08 06:34 PM  
Re: 100% brett C Belgian IPA??
I will try and do the EL dosing. We use it at work so do have the near 100% stuff.
12/17/08 09:57 PM  
Re: 100% brett C Belgian IPA??
peterB thought there might be some citric acid in my berliner that we tasted that night....Always thought it was primarily lactic with a tad of acetic, but he perceived it differently...
12/17/08 10:02 PM  
Re: 100% brett C Belgian IPA??
PeterB: sourness is interesting and weird, not really lactic, what else?

bpotts: possibly some acetic I think

PeterB: citric?

He asked where the brett was from next...

12/18/08 10:08 AM  
Re: 100% brett C Belgian IPA??
Very interesting Potts.

To me, this is the most interesting open question about brett. Knowing what acid brett is producing in this quantity would have a lot of real practical implications, potentially saving brewers a lot of trouble one way or another, or opening new doors.

12/27/08 09:58 AM  
Re: 100% brett C Belgian IPA??
In your respecting your experiences AlB I want to pose a question.

How sure of your non-aerated worts are you? What about exchange through plastic or leaky opening in equipment. Because based on all scientific research conducted it is the other way around. It is the aeration of worts which cause the acetic acid which eventually becomes a limiting factor in allowing fermentation to finish and full production of ethanol possible. When up to 300L/hr are added to fermenting wort, glucose is not fully used up and acetic acid is around 37g/L. In a non aerated wort or even a wort aerated up to 30L/hr which is about 23mg of O2 per litre per hour 100% of the glucose is used no acetic acid is formed and ethanol is at its highest. Oxygen plays the largest role in biomass formation of brett. Hence the benefit of about 60L/hr oxygen for biomass formation during culturing. This is why brett observes negative pastuer effet and observes cuter effect.

The formation of the pine-apple flavors is being derived from esterase activity of brett var. by acids and ethanol present. Peter talked about it, the formation from the acids already present like acetate, to produce iso-amylacetate, ethyl acetate and in the acidic ales ethyl-lactate even phenolethylacetate. Also it has been shown that other factors are at play like the formation of glycerol in the absence of O2..

But it is more complicated then just an ester by formation of a keto-acid with a higher alcohol like with Sacch.

PeterB was onto it. Ethyl Lactate is un-fermentable by Sacch. but is partially fermentable by certian var. of brett. This is why brett ferments take 6-12 months for full conversion in a commercial setting. (Mileage may vary) Iso-amyl and other ethylacetates take months for estarases to convert while some other are more rapid.

This is very hard thing to explain as short as this so I may come across very jumbled. As my grip on it is from my readings which are not all at hand.

AlB what do you think? Have any new ideas what you may be observing and why?

Bpotts I think experimentation with multiple var. of brett is your only way and the conditions at which you ferment will make as great an impact on the final product as the var. you use. Try Brett B and Brett L next as they are the two classics and most at play in acidic ale ferments in Belgium.

Also does any one have "Microbiology and Biochemistry of The Acid Ales of Roeselare" by MARTENS Hilde, January 1996? I think this is what you were referring to petec...

And SteveG when will the transcript from the whole tasting be availabe. Think you could send it un-edited my way if I send you my email? I would have given anything to have a beer ready for swap and chatted with the legendary Peter Bouckaert.


PS. I have many hard to find scientific papers on all things Brett if anyone is looking to get some reading in and maybe a better understanding of what they are observing...

Al B
12/27/08 11:06 PM  
Re: 100% brett C Belgian IPA??

Once I conduct my experiment w/ controls and measurements, I feel I will be more sure on my experiences.

All brett species do not exhibit the same amounts of compounds as other brett species. If they did, then all strains or species would taste the same. So it is clearly possible that several strains will not produce alot of acetic acid with O2. Glucose will be totally utilized, acidity of any type would not have been accumulated that fast to be a limiting factor in a n all-brett ferm.

Its certainly a possibility though after several starters over a period of time will produce acetic acid to a larger level, since this environment is a continuous aeration step unlike wort which is O2, then as the yeast uses the O2, respiration/fermentation begins. Although, I have cultured bretts on agar w/ 2% CaCO3 and have not seen any clear zones around colonies where acids would dissolve the CO3, it may be more apparent in broths.

There is no question that atmosphere plays a key role, but how and on which strains is to be experimented on.

12/28/08 07:18 AM  
Re: 100% brett C Belgian IPA??
I think your mentioning of the growing of brett cultures with 2% CaCO3 and seeing no clear zones of acid dissolving is important. Do you recall which var. they were by any chance?

I think your experiments with controls would be fascinating. Especially detailing use with B. clausenii because almost all research is on B.l and B.b which seem notorious for their acid production under aerobic conditions which is why they flourish and have such an impact on flavor within production of the acid ales and lambics.

I have found no data to date on aeration with B. clausenii. (very little in the way of anything actually beside here in these boards) But I have noted how variable Brett var. are with the amounts of compounds produced and their ability to ferment different substrates even within sub species of B. lambicus sp and B. bruxellensis sp.

So you would say atmoshpere is one of the most important roles in brett ferments? Care to expand on possible test measures that could be taken to better understand this within a lab/brewery setting?


Al B
12/28/08 10:35 AM  
Re: 100% brett C Belgian IPA??
I do feel atmosphere is the most important variable, yes.

Test measures will include SG, pH, temperature, population pitch, and approximate amount of pure O2 (flow rate vs time duration using a specific pore stone - I don't have a more specific instrument for dissolved O2, but I think for homebrewing porposes it will suffice). A batch of 1060 -ish brew will be split for the experiment which will span over the course of 6 months. Other variables may include dextrin content, etc. The starter culture(s) will be carefully monitored.

I am confident that most bretts will behave similarly in regard to atmospheric conditions. This was evident in the first brett swap w/ Tomme. Only brux beers had some classic barnyard aroma which are associated w/ the other compounds like 4-ethyl-phenol, guaiacol, fatty acids, and tetrahydopyridines. Beers that were pitched anaerobically were nicely sour, those pitched aerobically were more neutral.

01/05/09 11:10 AM  
Re: 100% brett C Belgian IPA??
Hi Chad. I have a few comments on your interesting posts.

I think an important point is that while, as you say, folks do understand production of acetic acid by some bretts, I don't think we know two related and important things:

1. Which exact brewing strains (i.e "Wyeast b. lambicus" or "WLP b. lambicus", etc) produce acetic and in what quantity under what conditions?

2. What *other* acids may be produced in significant quantity, and under what conditions by what strains?

Personally I'm not that worried about the first question, since it takes a LOT of air (gallons) to produce significant acetic acid. (I did the simple stoichiometry on that and it's posted in the archives somewhere.) So anyway we can avoid it easily if we want to.

I think the second question is more interesting--and pretty wide open. Mainly, some people have gotten sourness from WLP claussenii that reportedly does not seem acetic to tasters, and under conditions that seem pretty anaerobic--so what's going on? I don't think we know.

Another open question: Do ANY strains of brett produce significant lactic acid? (And can you prove it!) A definitive answer might be out there, and hopefully someone has it--I just don't think I've seen it here or in other common places.

I find it surprising that answers to these questions are not commonly available. On the other hand, I'm not sure how important these questions are unless you're brewing an all-brett beer. In mixed ferments you can/do get your acid from another bug--though do I think it might get more interesting if something like citric acid were produced by brett.

01/05/09 03:48 PM  
Re: 100% brett C Belgian IPA??
"I think the second question is more interesting--and pretty wide open. Mainly, some people have gotten sourness from WLP claussenii that reportedly does not seem acetic to tasters, and under conditions that seem pretty anaerobic--so what's going on? I don't think we know."

Yesterday I pasteurized and bottled a batch of beer that got re-infected with Brett. It was a blend of stale Porter that was vatted for about 8 months. After treating a portion with Campden I blended it with newly fermented Porter and dry hopped for 1 month. After a month, I pulled the hops and noticed a slight transparent film on the surface. Long story made short, the film was not hop oils or anything of the sort. B. Claussenii was not dead and refermented the blend from 1.019 to 1.012 in the month after I pulled the hops (ran out time to bottle).

The odd thing is how the taste is more more sour than the vatted Porter which took on a musty cellar like flavor. pH of the pastuerized beer was in the 4.6-4.8 range (assuming I tested correctly). Is this high, low, or normal for typical beer?

01/06/09 12:36 PM  
Re: 100% brett C Belgian IPA??
That's on the high end but not crazy.
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