Posts Tagged ‘brettanomyces’

brett pale ale variations

Saturday, February 1st, 2014

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as you may have guessed from my earlier posts, I have a thing for pale ales that have brettanomyces added in secondary.

  • as a result, I was motivated to create something in the same vein as beers like orval, rayon vert, brux, etc.
    – beers that are somewhat sessionable yet earthy and spicy, with a rocky head and a funk that grows over time in the bottle/keg.
  • I was also intrigued by beers such as the historic ballantine IPA that was supposedly aged for a year in oak and aroma hopped with hop extract, and wanted to incorporate some of those unique characteristics as well to create a unique “wood aged brett pale.”
  • I ended up going with a grain bill of maris otter, vienna, crystal 80 and 40, and wheat for a solid malt backbone, with a starting gravity of 1.062.  I bittered with columbus and added late aroma additions of chinook and simcoe for layered pine notes and a smooth bitterness (~55 IBU).
  • for fermentation purposes, I split the batch between ECY17 burton union and WLP510 bastogne.  I had originally planned to go with ECY10 old newark (one of the original ballantine strains) but my starter was so violently active (after less than six hours) the majority of top cropping yeast blew out of my erlenmeyer flask and my leftover pitch didn’t go anywhere.  east coast yeast is the only provider whose vials I will directly pitch into wort without stepping up (the ECY17 vial took off in only an hour or two after pitching).
  • after two weeks in primary at a controlled 65F, the WLP510 fermentor was at 1.01 and the ECY17 fermentor was at 1.013.  I racked both into corny kegs, primed with 2.5oz. sugar, and pitched orval bottle dregs into each.  I was planning on adding an american oak cube to each keg as well, but didn’t have any lying around.  I am also tossing around the idea of dry hopping them before serving (which might be challenging now that I primed the kegs).
  • I’m planning on tapping the kegs after three months and seeing which version works better with brett.  the base beers both tasted great during kegging, so hopefully they’ll keep improving!

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IMG_4919               IMG_4931

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bkyeast experiment update

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

a copy

it’s hard to believe that it has been over eight months since I first pitched bkyeast’s isolates into some neutral blonde wort to experiment with.

  •  the initial tasting was a little underwhelming, likely due to the fact that I hadn’t given each strain enough time (only about a month) to work its magic.  therefore, I stashed some bottles aside and promptly forgot about them until a few weeks back, when I popped them into the fridge to chill.  here are the results.
  • Picture 153WY3191 brett isolate
    • appearance: fluffy white head that lasts, good clarity
    • aroma: citrus, lemon, earth
    • taste: dry, lemony, slight mustiness, great prickly carbonation, slight acidity
    • overall: very tasty, great end product, good option for a long-term saison

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Picture 156

  • cantillon iris isolate C2
    • appearance: bubbles rush to top of bottle when opened, fluffy, fine head
    • aroma: complex dirty funk with slight medicinal edge, unique, almost floral
    • taste: creamy, coating mouthfeel, slight perceived sweetness
    • overall: interesting aroma, lacks the dry effervescent brettiness that I prefer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Picture 164cantillon iris isolate C3
    • appearance: vigorous, fluffy, long-lasting head
    • aroma: chalky, fruity hard candy, medicinal finish
    • taste: creamy, sweet, floral
    • overall: another interesting result with good carbonation, just not as exciting or dramatic as WY3191

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • in the end, I preferred the carbonation, finish, and acidity of the WY3191 isolate.  who knows, maybe it will make another appearance in the future…

rye bottling, bkyeast brett tasting, bottle waxing

Saturday, January 5th, 2013

tasting the all brett trio

during the last couple of weeks I set aside some time between the lights and action of the holiday season to finish up some projects from the last few months.

  • first up was the bottling and kegging of the three variations of the rye amber I brewed a month ago.  the five gallons of all-brett B (FG: 1.008, ABV: 5.83%) and standard saison  (FG: 1.005, ABV: 6.3%) each went into kegs, while the two gallons of saison/brett blend  (FG: 1.006, ABV: 6.14%) were bottled.  after some thought, I primed with brown sugar for a little extra depth in the finished product – the molasses in the sugar seemed to complement the nuances of the saison in particular.
  • upon tasting samples of each variety, the saison predictably produced the most assertive aroma and flavors, while the brett B variety was somewhat neutral.  however, after recently tasting a matured version of my all brett B blonde,  I’m confident that the brett complexity will develop in the rye amber (the blonde had a very refreshing, funky, and dry brett character after a month in the fermentor and another in the bottle).

I also set aside part of an evening to review the three bkyeast variations I had bottled up about a month ago.  here are some thoughts:

  • WY3191 brett isolate: decent carbonation, clear gold, transparent; lemony, tart aroma; clean taste with a slight bretty lemon back; mellow and drinkable
  • cantillon iris isolate C2: very little carbonation, amber gold, transparent; funky fruit nose; floral earthy taste; pretty good depth/complexity, may add something interesting to a saison or wild beer, seems like it would take a while to fully develop
  • cantillon iris isolate C3: very light carb, amber gold, transparent; light stone fruit, characteristic brett finish; like C2, would make a good complementary fermenter, like C2, may have to wait a while for all the flavors to round out here

in addition, I finally got around to waxing a bunch of bottles for the long haul.

  • I waxed up my mead, banning, and apricot lambic bottles with dark grey wax, which represented the last of this year’s vintage.  I hit my bottles with a different color wax for easy age identification and display consistency.  I also buy my wax in big bulk chunks that I melt down in a larger coffee can over the stove and then pour into a small tomato paste can for bottle dipping so that the melted wax can reach further down the neck of each bottle.

bottles waiting to be filled               kegging

adding brown sugar to the bottles               waxed up and ready for the shelf

 

rye amber ale three ways, blonde tasting

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

last weekend I decided to rehash my all-brett amber ale with a couple of variations.

  • first, I decided to spice up the mash with the addition of 20% malted rye.  I also went with some spicy/earthy hop additions late in the boil to impart those aromatics into the finished product (12 gal, 80% efficiency):
    • 14 lbs Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 1 58.1 %
      5 lbs Rye Malt (4.7 SRM) Grain 2 20.7 %
      2 lbs Caramel/Crystal Malt – 80L (80.0 SRM) Grain 3 8.3 %
      2 lbs Munich Malt – 10L (10.0 SRM) Grain 4 8.3 %
      1 lbs Caramel/Crystal Malt – 40L (40.0 SRM) Grain 5 4.1 %
      1.6 oz Chocolate Malt (350.0 SRM) Grain 6 0.4 %
      2.00 oz Palisade [8.00 %] – Boil 60.0 min Hop 7 22.2 IBUs
      2.00 oz Palisade [7.50 %] – Boil 15.0 min Hop 8 10.3 IBUs
      4.00 oz Williamette [5.00 %] – Boil 0.0 min Hop 9 0.0 IBUs
      2.00 oz Tradition [6.00 %] – Boil 0.0 min Hop 10 0.0 IBUs
  • I mashed in at 154F and had a post-boil OG of 13 brix (1.053 – I blame my extensive use of rice hulls for the loss of a couple of gravity points).  Once the wort was chilled to 71F, I oxygenated by shaking the fermentors (my oxygenation stone is all gummed up at the moment) and fermented the wort three ways – 5 gals with a stepped up vial of WLP566, another 5 with a stepped up vial of WLP650, and another 2 with a blend of both yeasts (I transferred some wort from each fermentor once they both reached high krausen).  although both yeast vials had been sitting in my fridge for quite some time, they took off without any hesitation on the stirplate and had the wort going within ten hours.

during the mash I used some down time to taste the three all-brett versions of the blonde I bottled a week ago.

  • I’ll save an in-depth review for a couple more weeks to let each of the beers fully develop, but after just one week I was excited to find that the WLP644 trois strain had carbed up nicely and left a dense white head in the glass upon pouring.  its overripe, earthy guava aroma and flavor really impressed me, especially for a brett beer just under a month old.  I’m really happy with this strain and am looking forward to using it a lot more in the future (maybe in a citrus-hopped pale or IPA?).

              

 

brettanomyces project updates, mead bottling

Sunday, November 25th, 2012

I wrapped up a long weekend of turkey and football with an intense bottling session down in the basement.

  • I kegged and bottled each of the three versions of my all-brett blonde.  after three weeks in the fermentor, the WLP644 trois strain finished at 1.006, the WLP653 lambicus strain finished at 1.011, and I was surprised to find that the WLP650 brux strain finished highest at 1.012.  the brux batch finished high enough that I placed all the brux bottles in a cooler to carb up (these should get consumed pretty fast, but you can never be too safe!).  I’m planning on trying a bottle of each variety in a week for a comprehensive tasting/comparison.
  • I also bottled each of the bkyeast half-gallon test batches that had been fermenting for about a month.  each half-gallon batch yielded four 12oz bottles and about 10oz of slurry.  the C2 cantillon isolate finished at 1.010, the C3 cantillon isolate finished at 1.012, and the wyeast berliner isolate (which had a pretty impressive pellicle and was crystal clear) finished at 1.008.  each sample had a unique and exciting flavor profile that I will elaborate upon in a week or two once the bottles carb up and I can get a proper tasting in.

after bottling and kegging the cornucopia of brett variations, I tossed some corks in my bucket of sanitizer and jumped right into bottling the last iteration of my mead, which entered the fermentor sixteen months ago.

  • mead is great for the holidays – it can be substituted for white wine at the dinner table and it also makes a great gift that can be stashed away for decades.  after a long secondary in a keg, my mead turned out crystal clear and managed to finish at 0.997 for an abv of 13.59%.  my sample had an intense honey and wildflower aroma.  I think my next mead will be a melomel (fruit mead) – maybe I can make use of some of my persimmon stash

               

               

 

 

all brett blonde, LACBB summit at beachwood

Friday, November 9th, 2012

last weekend I kept rolling with the funk and put together an all-brett blonde split three ways.

  • I based my grain bill on various recipes for brett blondes (which all seemed pretty homogeneous), but kept to a 60 minute boil and mashed at 151F (in hindsight, I could have kicked it up to around 154 or 155F, since all-brett beers tend to finish a little thin).  my starting gravity was 1.055 and I kept the IBUs to around 27.
  • after cooling the wort to the mid-70s, I divided it up into three fermentors (two 5gal and on 2.5gal), aerated, and pitched a different isolated brett strain into each fermentor.  a vial of WLP653 went into five gallons, my ramped-up starter of WLP644 went into another five, and a vial of WLP650 was pitched into the smaller 2.5 gal better bottle.
  • the 644 took off vigorously within hours, while the slightly underpitched WLP650 took a day or so to get going.  I had read that the 653 was a notoriously slow starter, which rang true – it took three days to see visible activity, but by that time the airlock was churning and there was a healthy krausen.

after hosing down my brewstand, ML and I headed for beachwood BBQ long beach to meet up with the LACBB crew for our monthly summit.

  • julian shrago (brewer), gabe gordon (owner), and daniel drennon (writer) all spoke at the event, although I arrived late and was admittedly distracted by a killer brisket sandwich and tasty house IPA.  kip’s article over at bierkast summarizes the event nicely (and includes a pretty unflattering profile shot of me at the bar).  not a bad way to spend a sunday!

               

 

 

banning II, bkyeast

Saturday, November 3rd, 2012

last weekend I put together the second incarnation of banning, my wild blonde that I bottled the week before.

  • the grain bill was the same as last year’s batch, but I switched up the hop additions toremove later hops that I feel would be underrepresented anyway after a year in the fermentor (13 gal batch):
    • 26.00 lb Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 94.55 %
      1.50 lb Wheat Malt, Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 5.45 %
      3.00 oz Aged Saaz [1.00 %] (60 min) Hops 3.7 IBU
  • I also added a pinch of raw wheat berries, mashed higher (158F), and hit an OG of 1.068 (16.5 brix).  after a few days on just the slurry from the previous batch I pitched a single vial of WLP655, which took off shortly thereafter.

while I was brewing, the mailman delivered a much anticipated package from the east coast.

  • a few days earlier I had come across bkyeast’s blog via a post off embrace the funk’s facebook page.  dmitri, the man behind bkyeast, is a cell bio PhD student who isolates and banks yeast strains in his spare time.  he was generously sending out brettanomyces isolates as a community service, and I managed to score two isloates from cantillon iris dregs and one from WY3191.
  • after finishing up banning, I split two gallons of the wort into four sanitized gallon jugs, and each was inoculated with a different bkyeast isolate (I pitched my vial of WLP644 into the fourth jug).  banning’s neutral character, low hopping, and diverse sugar chain makeup should make it ideal for comparing the performance of the four different yeasts.  check in soon for an update!

 

monkish brewing tour, brett amber kegging, white tasting notes

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

last weekend AP and I headed over to torrance to check out monkish brewing co’s tasting room and facility.

  • after sampling a few beers we toured the facility with none other than henry nguyen, who runs the place with his wife adriana.  henry also sourced and assembled every piece of the fifteen barrel brewery himself, and indulged me with some some details about his regular brewing practices.  the beers were great, the tour was fantastic, and the hospitality was unmatched.  thanks again!

I also finally got around to kegging the secondary-brett and all-brett versions of my amber ale after a couple months of exposure.

  • I dry-hopped each of the 5 gallons of secondary-brett and the 2.5 gallons of all-brett with 1 oz. of fuggles for five days, then racked them into 5 and 2.5 gallon corny kegs, respectively.  both beers finished at 1.009, which was the same FG for the non-brett control beer I kegged a month earlier (which may mean the brett needs more time in secondary, or just that the WLP575 is unusually attenuative, since according to my notes I mashed at 156F!).  the fuggles added a great earthy spiciness to the beer’s aroma, and samples of both were promising.  I’m planning on serving the all-brett version soon and giving the secondary-brett version a little more time to work its magic.

additionally, I cracked a bottle of white (blanc) last night for review (and to test for carbonation):

  • appearance: dark brown with reddish hue when held to light, bubbly white head that quickly fades to lacing, great carbonation
  • aroma: fantastic assertive brett, slight fruit
  • taste: intense but satisfying acidity, light oak and stone fruit elements that increase as beer warms, good body with lingering sourness
  • overall: I’m very satisfied with this beer’s interplay between brett and acidity.  the light oak and fruit from racking onto cabrillo’s dregs and cake could be increased for greater effect, especially the cherries, which could really shine here.  I’m thinking about racking onto a bunch of sour cherries during the next batch or serve this batch through a randall stuffed with cherries…

              

              

 

belgian brett amber

Sunday, June 10th, 2012

after pondering secondary brett additions last week, I put some ideas into production by brewing 12 gallons of an amber variant of the pales I had tasted:

  • 16 lbs 8.0 oz Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 1 73.0 %
    2 lbs Caramel/Crystal Malt – 80L (80.0 SRM) Grain 2 8.8 %
    2 lbs Munich Malt – 10L (10.0 SRM) Grain 3 8.8 %
    1 lbs Caramel/Crystal Malt – 40L (40.0 SRM) Grain 4 4.4 %
    1.6 oz Chocolate Malt (350.0 SRM) Grain 5 0.4 %
    1 lbs Cane (Beet) Sugar (0.0 SRM) Sugar 6 4.4 %
    4.00 oz Hallertauer Mittelfrueh [4.70 %] – Boil 60.0 min Hop 7 26.1 IBUs
    1.50 oz Fuggles [4.50 %] – Boil 20.0 min Hop 8 5.7 IBUs
    1.50 oz Fuggles [4.50 %] – Boil 5.0 min Hop 9 1.9 IBUs
  • the recipe was inspired by my previous amber ale batch, which was a great drinker but lacked a little yeast complexity and could have used some dry hopping.  MS stopped by and took some great shots of yours truly in action.  coincidentally, he also brought along a 750 of commons brewery’s flemish kiss, another pale with brett in the secondary, from up in portland.  thanks again!
  • I decided on three separate fermentation schedules for different portions of the batch: five gallons were fermented out with WLP575 belgian blend and will be dry hopped with an ounce of fuggles; five were fermented out with WLP575 and will be racked off the yeast cake into secondary, where WLP650 will be added with some bottle dregs and left to percolate for six months or so; and two gallons will be fermented entirely with WLP650.
  • After twelve hours or so, the 575 had gone to town, blowing out both airlocks and streaming down the sides of the carboys.  The 650 took a bit longer, but after three days a pellicle had formed and after a week a healthy krausen has taken over.  The straight belgian will hit the keg in a few weeks, but the waiting game begins for the other two…

              

secondary brettanomyces addition analysis, tasting

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

after sampling an older bottle of temptation last week, I was inspired to delve more into secondary brettanomyces fermentations.

  • initially, I read up on temptation’s powerful effervescence and dry, earthy funk.  it turns out that although most all clone recipes for temptation call for healthy additions of lacto and pedio, the real star in temptation is the brett.  in fact, vinnie himself notes that he “like[s] the Temptation for its straightforward Brett character” and that “[o]ver time, some Lacto and Pedio have infused in the beer, but it is minimal.”
  • tasting temptation made me realize that having a brett-specific beer in the lineup could be a refreshing accompaniment to sour-focused beers.  in fact, although I only detected a mild acidity in the beer, the complexity of the oak, carbonation, and earth made for a great experience.  therefore, I compiled a group of beers that included brett-based secondary fermentations for comparison:
    • orval (~1 yr old based on label)
      • appearance: amazing fluffy head that keeps expanding after the pour, vigorous fine carbonation, darker golden color (likely from an extended boil)
      • aroma: subtle, rich earth with spicy european hop notes
      • taste: spicy hop back with subtle, balanced earthy brett notes, delicate esters when glass warms
      • overall: I can see why this brew’s reputation precedes it – there is a very well balanced interplay between the hop bitterness and brett
    • rayon vert (relatively fresh)
      • appearance: slightly lighter than orval, still a solid gold with great head and carbonation
      • aroma: fresh, vibrant earthy hops
      • taste: less bitter hop back than orval, more assertive funk, still well balanced
      • overall: a great west-coast twist on a classic, fresh, balanced, and drinkable
    • matilda (2010)
      • appearance: golden color, almost identical to rayon vert (orval is darker)
      • aroma: sweet, oxidized malt
      • taste: sweet (almost cloying), slightly estery, oxidixed like an old barleywine
      • overall: not in the same ballpark as the other two, no brett character at all (maybe earlier versions are more bretty?)
  • In the end, I walked away with some observations and a few ideas for the future:
    • I was amazed by how well the fresh earthy dry-hop character of rayon vert complemented the earthy funk provided by the brett.  it was my favorite of the bunch, and gave me a little insight as to what orval may taste like before its journey westward.  I definitely need to set aside a four-pack to see what some age does to the bottles.
    • as much as I enjoyed the “slight brett in the pale ale” profile, I preferred the overwhelming brett character provided by the long-term oaked secondary fermentation of temptation to the at-bottling brett dosage from orval and rayon vert.  as a compromise, I’m thinking of mashing high (~155F), fermenting out with a belgian sacc strain for a week (or maybe just 2-3 days), adding brett B and orval dregs, letting the brett work itself out for six months, then dry hopping for a week and bottling/kegging.  that, and darkening the grist to add a little more body.  stay tuned…