Transcript: Brettanomyces as a Primary Fermentation Agent
The following is the transcript of the June 2006 on-line e-symposium feature our micro biologist pals N8 and AlB. It has been cleaned up a bit, but reflects the actual content of the event with 100% accuracy.
SteveG: I had a chance to sample Als brett beer about a week ago. After a few weeks the aroma was malty in a cake-like way. But the taste was well fermented - and sour! I tend to associate brett with flavors that involve a farm but I always attributed sour to lactobaccilus. Can you offer some clarificatio of bretts impact on a beers sourness profile?
N8: I think that Brett can start get the more sour flavors as they mature. The guy that I did the sour beer with that you tried Steve, he only added Brett. It's starting to get more sour now. I added lacto in mine and it was a more tangy right off the bat.
SteveG: Al, comment before my follow up?
AlB: It seems to me that all Bretts give off acids and then esters we are familiar with. Acids being both acetic and lactic.
Mykel_Obvious: ?
SteveG: Does it only go barnyard when interacting with other acid producing bacteria?
N8: I don't think it has to be interacting with other strains.
AlB: I beleive esters of barnyard are made from the acids/ethanol.
N8: When I had the original starter for the Brett it was over a year old. It was goat in a jar barnyard.
SteveG: ga Mykel
Mykel_Obvious: N8, did you mean mature in age/time, or in generations?
N8: Time.
Mykel_Obvious: How much time to get a sour flavor from brett?
AlB: For me, it was immediately
SteveG: I can attest to that!
N8: I've noticed it after about 5 months with Rod's beer.
SteveG: OK, ready to move on?
Chet: Sorry I'm late. On variability in brett - will the same strain throw the same characteristics each time?
N8: I haven't used brett that many times to know whether or not it will stray from the original flavors.
AlB: Good question, healthy yeast, same temp., same worts, same environment - theoretically I would say yeah.
Mykel_Obvious: ?
Brendan: I think it should show similar characteristics - but maybe if you get a few generations out it might begin to change/mutate.
SteveG: ga Mykel
Mykel_Obvious: How many generations have either of you used?
N8: 1
Chet: ie; I did an all brett brux beer that was intensley sour and unpleasantly smokey - I don't know that I want to try it again...
Brendan: I have gotten mine from NB beire de Mars and Orval- and have used it twice. I plan to keep going!
AlB: 3-4 generations for Mykel
SteveG: Before we move on Id like to address Chets comment.
SteveG: Not wanting to try again is too bad!
AlB: Chet - I have encountered what you experienced too.
SteveG: Guys, do you think you could account for his results?
AlB: I will ponder this...
N8: It could be pilot error. But also, when Rod's beer was first getting going, it was very smoky and cakey, almost pasty.
Brendan: I would guess it's a nutrient/FAN - wort environment - producing weird esters.
SteveG: Joe ga
JoeFleischman: Is it really necessary to make a starter a month(s) ahead? Are Brett really that slow growers?
AlB: No, they can be quite fast. My starter rocked in 2 weeks. Initially it was very slow.
Brendan: I cultured some in a mason jar- it got rolling around week 2- and built up a good cake. - it sat for 3weeks or so and was pitched into a cascade pale ale.
N8: I think it would depend on what you are doing with it.
JoeFleischman: Make beer? :D
N8: With my brett beer, I had the starter going for over a year. Mostly because I was culturing it up for the local Rogue brewer that wanted it to infect 2 barrels.
JoeFleischman: Ah, okay.
N8: He moved to Issaquah then I had 500mL of pure brett slurry.
Mykel_Obvious: ?
N8: Fortunatley for me I had a big slurry to play with that really sped things up when it was pitched. That might of been why it had good barnyard sorness from the get go.
SteveG: Mykel, ga
Mykel_Obvious: I make starters for my normal yeast, do you think it is important to make a starter for brett, or is pitching a White Labs vial enough?
AlB: Depends on time, it is rec. that a high pitch for all bretts is done though.
Brendan: Also N8, WildBrews talks about slowness being essential for propper ester formation.
Mykel_Obvious: How high a pitch?
AlB: Like a lager starter - they say.
SteveG: matt, if you have a question GA
mwsf: Does brett produce the same amount of CO2 as sacchromyces? When bottling a brett-only beer, is the same amount of priming sugar necessary?
AlB: It seems to me that it does, yes. Whoa, wait a minute...
N8: I haven't had to bottle yet, so I'm not sure.
AlB: Depends on how much dextrins are still in the brew.
N8: Ah,good point.
AlB: Make sure its well done.
Brendan: That's what I was going to say- since it's superattenutive.
mwsf: So if it's brett-only and fully fermented out, when bottling, the same amount of sugar should suffice?
Brendan: I would guess so.
AlB: Have not bottled, but I would think so - thats my plan too.
Mykel_Obvious: ?
SteveG: ga mykel
Mykel_Obvious: Do you find brett to be superattenutive without Sac present? WildBrews mentioned that at primary yeast it isn't.
N8: I'm wondering if you would need the same amount. Since the brett is much more attenuative it would eat more of the sugars than sacch. would?
Mykel_Obvious: AS primary
AlB: Are we talkin corn sugar or something else?
Brendan: I haven't taken a reading on my brett only brew but it's dry.. not orval dry. but I bet it's 1.008-1.010.
mwsf: Corn sugar.
AlB: Ok, corn suagr is simple sugar enough - I think.
mwsf: Sounds good. I'm done (with this question). Thx.
AlB: N8 - DME would be an issue yes
Brendan: Does Brett produce Acetic acid?- is that correct? - and if so could you end up with a vinegar solely with brett? Or is Acterbacter required?
N8: Yes, I thought about that after the enter button was pushed. Thanks
Brendan: And does it boil down to personal pref?
AlB: Nice. According to Wild brews, acetic acid is made aerobically but not to the extent of vinagar, in my experience so far!
Brendan: And the Pellicle protects the beer from Aceter. Do you use buckets? I have been.
N8: The pellicle protects from O2 if I recall correctly.
AlB: I used glass, but buckets are fine too and the pellicle helps there.
Mykel_Obvious: ?
N8: But I'm sure it protects against alot iof things. I use buckets to imitate the barrel aspect of oxidation.
AlB: Yeah, Acetobacter needs O2 to make vinagar.
Brendan: But plastic is more "breathable" than casks. anyone try the wooden plugs for a carboy bung- al a Raj - in wildbrews.
Brendan: ?
N8: Nope
Mykel_Obvious: I have a Flanders Red with 3 bretts, lacto and pediococcus and have zero pellicle... is this normal or will if form later? (2 months in glass as of now)
AlB: I am loosely capping my Flemish red though.
Brendan: It will form - I have a 6 month old plambic that has a THICK white Pellicle.
AlB: It will probably form in 6 months.
N8: My pellicle didn't start to form until about 2-3 months.
SteveG: I'd like to prompt something from Mykel if thats OK.
AlB: My lambic formed pellicle in 1 month ! yikes ga
Chet: ?
SteveG: Mykel, when did you add that stuff? Al, N8, would pellicle formation depend on how much stuff there is to work with in the wort?
AlB: Theoretically, and the population(s) of the Bretts.
Mykel_Obvious: I added it after primary fermentation with Sacch., it was racked into secondary then pitched everything.
N8: It might be, Steve. Since I pitch a HUGE amount of slurry to the wort, it probably had a head start. The starter had a pellicle on it before I pitched.
Mykel_Obvious: No starters though
Brendan: I would guess it's just waiting for the conditions to be right... ph/alcohol etc.
SteveG: Chet ga
SteveG: Brendan, thats my guess too.
Chet: Do all brett beers continue to develope (ie, lambic changes as various microbiota take charge)? Thinking over long periods...
AlB: My thought is that it will over time (ester production) ga
N8: Up to a point I would say so. When I was in Belgium, we toured through Boon brewery. Frank Boon said that after 3 years lambics are matured. But after about 10-15 years they don't get any better. They sort of pleateu off.
Mykel_Obvious: :o
Brendan: Plambics are way more complex though. - with so many different microflora - versus (hopefully) a single strain of Brett
AlB: Oh, I am getting buzzed - sorry ! ga
SteveG: Are we OK with this round?
Brendan: I think it'd be more solid than something with lacto.
SteveG: OK then, welcome Sean. Youre up, got a question?
Sean_Paxton: Outside of time it takes to ferment, how should brett vs yeast be treated? IE, Oxygen? Slury? Right out of the package? Yeast nutients? Rack to secondary?
N8: For the most part it can be treated the same. I didn't do anything special with mine.
JoeFleischman: ?
Mykel_Obvious: ?
AlB: I used yeast nutrients, CaCO3, lots of O2, 3-4 generations building up a slurry in 2 weeks.
N8: Keep in mind that when your using brett that your typically imitating the wild brewsin Belgium. When they cook their wort they just simply dump it in a cool ship then leave the window open over night then pump it into a cask for fermentation.
AlB: CaC03 in starter, not brew ga
Mykel_Obvious: How much CaCO3 do you use per ml in a starter? ga
AlB: 0.5% - 1.0% will keep the acidity above 3.4 and thus reproduce in higher numbers quickly under O2. ga
SteveG: Ga Joe
JoeFleischman: What is the optimal fermentation temperature to ferment with? Do the different Brett strains have different "best temp" ranges? Gee Eh.
Sean_Paxton: I know i already asked this question to N8, but my question also goes into where Belgium left off... As in new beers like Mo Betta Bretta and Vinnie's fun experiments. The next gen of sour beers.
SteveG: Actually I think that line of thinking may be more relivant then the lambic model.
Mykel_Obvious: N8, that only works for lambic styles don't you think? Flanders Reds are soured in secondary, no? ga
N8: True. MO. But I did state "typically". It wouldn't always be the straight and narrow answer.
AlB: Joe- unknown for optimum temp - depends on strain perhaps. Wild bres say high temps may give unpleasant stuff. ga
N8: I'm not sure either, Joe.
SteveG: If we are set here I have a follow up.
SteveG: Al, you made your brett beer a few weeks ago, end of May, early June. Were you very temperature controlled?
N8: Wyeast states that 60-75 is optimal.
AlB: Not really - primary 65- 68 in the basement.
N8: Same here on mine, same temps.
SteveG: That actually seems pretty controlled. I wonder what will happen when the thermometer hits like 80? Or more, DuPont temps!
N8: BTW, SteveG, my beer that you liked so much has a better lactic tang and sour farmyard flavors.
SebastianP: As a data point I am just finishing up doing the Clausenii strain at 2 weeks at 90*F, then ramp down to 78*F for a total of a month in primary.
N8: It's not bottled, but I can siphon a bottles worthn out.
AlB: Thats right I forgot about that !
N8: Why 90F?
SebastianP: Don't know about taste yet, this weekend I rack to secondary.
SteveG: Wow, please report!
SebastianP: b/c it was a multiple Saison yeast fermentation experiment.
Sean_Paxton: So how long are you keeping your brett beers in primary?
SteveG: It looks like we ran through everyone in just under an hour. Anyone for seconds?
SebastianP: I have started an "article" already to document the results.
mwsf: Do you treat the brett strains any differently during propagation? Do they differ in propagation rates?
AlB: Rate was similar to Sacch (with mixing and air). ga
SteveG: Are you guys OK with the answer to matt?
Mykel_Obvious: ?
mwsf: I had similar experiences with growth rates of claus but haven't grown lamb or brux. sounds like they're the same?
Brendan: Sounds like you'll have to try and let us know ! :)
SteveG: Definately! Mykel, ga
Mykel_Obvious: What do you do for long term storage of bretts... treat like Sacch? ga
N8: I've got some Brett streaked on plates for our club yeast bank. They are about a year old at this point and they still started up fine with no problems.
AlB: Sure, but resources I have use CaCO3 for storage as well. ga
Mykel_Obvious: Has anyone used the "sourdough" method? (for those of us without plates to streak yet)
AlB: Good job, N8
N8: As far in slurries, I left them in E flasks on the counter. sealed with airlocks, of course. Thank you, sir.
SteveG: OK, I have another if we are all set with the last one.
N8: I wouldn't leave this stuff on the cooter. That;s just just bad news there.
Mykel_Obvious: LOL so no Candida brews huh N8?
AlB: Not going there
N8: That's wrong on so many levels...
SteveG: So lets say you want those characters of brett we all know, the horse blanket thing and less sourness. Is that an O2 deprivation thing?
AlB: Possibly, time tells, but I think some acidiity is produced too under fermentation??
N8: I wouldn't know, Steve. ga
SteveG: Maybe it is a factor of brett playing well with others.
Brendan: I believe thta's strain dependant and also sometimes pedio. It's mentioned quickly in Wildbres. I think.. or I drempt it.
N8: Are not wanting the sourness in general, or a specific tang like that of lacto?
SteveG: So maybe the thing where brett is the hose blanket is sort of homebrewer urdan legend.
Brendan: Orval has it sometimes.
AlB: Horse blanket comes with time and ester formation, yes? ga
SteveG: OK - lets talk Orval, thats a good example.
N8: Yes, I agree, Al
Mykel_Obvious: Yes lets.
Brendan: It's used in secondard.. y
SteveG: Orval finishes with brett and it is "rough" but not sour.
Brendan: Right?
SteveG: So I guess it needs a bigger sugar engine to go sour?
Mykel_Obvious: Steve, do we know which brett?
N8: You can culture up the slurry in the bottle of Orval and brew a beer very close to that of Orval.
AlB: Bingo - more suagr, more acid.
SteveG: Orval uses one of the interser ones Im sure. more sugar - more acid. wow. so this barley wine I want to try with BC could be a real pucker monster!!
AlB: In the secondary - less suagr, more competion for suagrs.
Sean_Paxton: So with that thought, doing a BW with all brett would be too sour?
SteveG: I'll be finding out!
Mykel_Obvious: I'm gonna have to find out too!!!
AlB: Could be!
N8: That would explain why Berliner Wiess is very subtle and not really tart like other brettt beers. There isn't much sugar.
SteveG: Huh. good one!
Sean_Paxton: What is the highest gravity that anyone has brewed using brett or bugs?
Mykel_Obvious: Wha?
SteveG: I'd say 1060
N8: 1.075
Mykel_Obvious: Berliner with Brett??? new one to me... never knew.
Brendan: 1.056 or so- a pale ale.
Sean_Paxton: Mine was 1.056
SteveG: Looks like N8 wins!
Brendan: Hmmm
Mykel_Obvious: 1.080 here, but still in secondary till Christmas.
BillS: ~1.066 Maibock
AlB: Mine is 1.062
Sean_Paxton: Gold star for N8!
SebastianP: Brett is one among many bugs in Berliner.
N8: Mykel has me beat, Sean
SebastianP: Most Berliner sour is from lacto bugs & perhaps some acetic ones.
SteveG: Hey, since we seem to have gone through everyone I officially declar this chat a free for all.



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