Posts Tagged ‘brettanomyces’

cabrillo II, blanc updates; diacetyl observations

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

a little while back I decided it was time to rack cabrillo II onto cherries and oak.

  • primary fermentation had been chugging along for close to four months, and since my first batch‘s ten months on fruit and wood imparted plenty of cherry and vanilla notes, I figured it was time to act.
  • this time around I went with around 116oz of tart cherries (likely closer to 100oz after separating the juice/water) and 1.5 oz of toasted french oak.  the initial batch of cabrillo’s 2.5 oz of oak initially dominated the beer with intense vanilla and took a few months to tone down, so I’m hoping the lower amount and shorter exposure complements the final product while allowing the cherries to shine a little more.

after racking cabrillo II, I decided to rack blanc onto the lees, oak, and remaining cherry pomace in cabrillo II’s primary fermenter.

  • I figured the bugs from cabrillo had already proven themselves as reliable and could only add more complexity to blanc.  since blanc was fermented in three separate containers, I also had a feeling that the three portions would need to be blended together in order to achieve a more consistent final product.  to test this theory, I compared samples from each fermenter during racking:
    • blanc A (3 gallon better bottle):
      • visible pellicle during fermentation
      • funky, sour aroma
      • aggressively sour body and finish
      • FG: 6 brix
    • blanc B (sealed corny keg under slight CO2 pressure):
      • no pellicle visible upon opening
      • burst of bretty diaper upon opening keg
      • strong brett/funky nose with hint of fruit
      • more fruity sourness with a dry, bretty finish (not as acidic as A)
      • FG: 7 brix
    • blanc C (sealed corny keg under slight CO2 pressure):
      • fruity brett aroma
      • acidic, fruity sourness
      • clean, bretty finish
      • FG: 7 brix
  • based on my observations, it seems that the additional oxygen allowed in by the better bottle increased both attenuation as well as perceptible sourness in the beer.  I should note that both the aroma and the taste of the better bottle-fermented portion seemed similar to my sanke keg-fermented sours (each of which had significant headspace in the keg).  since brett is anerobic, it seems that it thrived in the pressurized CO2 environment provided by the sealed corny kegs.

as a side note, after perusing some articles on homebrewtalk and the BBB I have come to the realization that the initial buttered-popcorn-jellybean flavor that initially dominated cabrillo I in the bottle was likely diacetyl produced by pediococcus, accentuated with vanilla imparted by the oak.

  • after checking my notes, it seems I didn’t notice any buttery flavors out of the fermenter, but after a few weeks in the bottle the flavor was dominant.  it seems that the pedio kicked out a lot of diacetyl upon bottling (maybe due to oxygen exposure during the bottling process?) and that the brettanomyces still in suspension cleaned up most of the diacetyl while in the bottle (I still can taste a fleeting note of sweet butter every now and again while pouring cabrillo I on draft, but it is hard to find in the bottles).
  • the lesson here? if the diacetyl was noticeable in the fermenter I would have likely waited it out while the brett cleaned up, but it is nice to know that the brett can still perform cleanup in the bottle/keg if need be.


eagle rock brettanomyces event, project updates

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

yesterday AP and I finally made it up to eagle rock brewery to attend their latest beer education lecture on brettanomyces.

additionally, I made some headway on a couple of side projects this weekend.

  • since my last update, my hops have been growing aggressively, and when it came time to harvest my chinook variety I ended up with 2.5 oz of dry, dank cones that I vacuum sealed and tossed in the freezer for an upcoming batch.  there look to be around three times as many cones on my cascade plant, so I am looking forward to another picking session in a week or two once they mature a little more.
  • I also had an hour or two to kill on saturday and, thinking back to a thread on homebrewtalk, I ran over to home depot and picked up a hand pump sprayer and adapter which I turned into a pump line cleaner in about five minutes flat.  this $15 investment should pay for itself a million times over now that I don’t have to use CO2 to clean my draft lines or beer out dip tubes in my kegs…

bottling the imperial espresso stout

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009


christmas is upon us, and while brewing my partial mash IPA I decided to bottle a case of my imperial espresso stout as a gift for my pops.

  • CB was over and volunteered to help out.  I’m glad he did, since the whole event turned into a fiasco.
  • when I originally brewed this stout, I pitched a smack pack of wyeast 9097-PC Old Ale Blend that never seemed to take off, so I repitched with a vial of white labs high gravity ale yeast and kegged after a primary of over a month.
  • evidently, the brett in the original smack pack must have kicked in after kegging and went to town over the next 7 months.
  • I should have known that something was wrong when I went to charge the keg with a little CO2.  as soon as I stuck the ball lock on the gas in post, it popped right off.  I just shrugged it off and proceeded to plug in my cobra tap into the beer out post.
  • in true overcarbed fashion, as soon as the ball lock was seated, the keg pressure blew open the cobra tap and thick stout foam violently shot out of my attached bottling tube.
  • luckily, the whole assembly was in a bucket of sanitizer, so the mess was minimal, but if I had just hooked up the keg to my kegerator was I had originally planned, it would have been catastrophic.
  • after forcing the ball lock off after a couple seconds of panic, I tried purging the keg, which resulted in a blast radius of foam a few feet in diameter.
  • finally, CB came up with the idea of hooking the cobra tap to the gas in post.  we did, and after 5+ minutes of foam constantly pouring out of the tap, the keg was in equilibrium and ready to bottle.  phew!
  • however, the beer ended up tasting great and the brett gave it a little earthy funk that fit in with the roasted malt and heavy dose of espresso.  I think JF will enjoy this pitch-black brew after work or as a nightcap.
  • MERRY XMAS EVERYBODY! enjoy some great brews with some great company!

blowing off some foam in the keg

bottling the stout

the end result

orval trappist ale

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

orval in the glass

I have a confession to make – throughout my years of beer-drinking and research, and my general love for all things belgian, I had never tried orval’s trappist ale.

  • I think it was the beer’s general accessibility that encouraged me to keep putting it off – it was one of the first trappist ales I ever ran across in stores (aside form the omnipresent chimay line), and I always spotted it when out on beer runs.
  • I still didn’t seem to be motivated after my latest trip to belgium, where I noted many a local with an orval goblet in their hands.
  • finally, after reading about it’s unique production in brew like a monk (it is dry-hopped and local wild yeasts including brett are added during secondary fermentation), I figured I could put off a tasting no longer.
  • I’m glad I finally came to my senses – orval definitely puts out a unique trappist ale.  it had a funky nose and rocky head, with clean, earthy, funky flavors.
  • in fact, the brew tasted much like a saison, but had a cleaner finish and was infinitely drinkable.  I would love to get my hands on a fresh sample, as any dry-hopping aroma was definitely absent from my bottle.
  • the bottom of this page describes how the beer changes over time.  I wonder if I can line up a 3 bottle, 6 month interval flight?

look at that head!

orval bottle

deschutes the dissident

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

up close pour of the dissident

last weekend I managed to crack open a bottle of deschutesthe dissident.

  • the dissident is a great example of an oud bruin, aka an east flanders brown ale.
  • east flanders brown ales are traditionally more malty and bitter than their west flanders red ale counterparts, and are fermented in stainless steel tanks using a mixed culture of yeast and bacteria (here, presumably brettanomyces) that gives them their sourness. thanks wild brews!
  • in the case of this beer, evidently some of it was aged in pinot noir and cabernet barrels, and washington cherries were added to secondary.
  • when this beer came out it was seriously hyped, both online and in local stores.  it lived up to it though by being a relatively sessionable brown with just the right amount of sourness.
  • I believe deschutes called this beer “the dissident” since it was their first brett beer and they isolated it from their main brewing equipment during aging and bottling.  their label is one of the best and most unique I have seen on a commercial beer.
  • this beer was on the shelves everywhere for a couple of months, but supplies went fast and pretty soon there was none to be found.  long after I had given up hope of cracking another bottle of this guy, AP, CB, TB and I rolled up to santa rosa for their beer fest.  while up there, we stopped by their friendly neighborhood beer store.  while we were kicking around the store looking for brews, I noticed that one of the cases of red chair on display looked a little different from the rest.  I looked a little closer and had an indiana jones moment – it was an unopened case of the dissident!

dissident artwork

dissident pour

dissident bottle