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Burgs 01-06-2012 02:27 PM

Brett noob w/ questions
 
I'm resolving to make 2012 a year where I make brett beers. Having never done one, naturally I have a couple of questions.

Buying a fresh Wyeast or White Labs culture makes the price of entry a little bit higher than just buying saach strains - in the case of Wyeast it's like $10 a pack vs. $7-ish. To make the most of my money, is it possible/common to either save and re-use brett slurries and/or build up the dregs from my bottle-conditioned beers into new starters? How much does the strain tend to change when you do this over a few generations?

I've also read about people using bottle dregs from commercial sours in various ways, and the one that I think sounds really cool and would like to experiment with is adding them @ bottling time. What effect can I expect this to have on my beer - extra carbonation/effervescense? Souring over time (if there are bacterial strains in there as well)?

If I choose to do the above, should I segregate that bottling wand/bucket away from the one I want to use for 100% brett beers? I ask because I'm not really interested in making sour beers really, more so in doing just 100% brettanomyces fermentations - mainly due to the fact that it sounds like a 100% brett beer has a faster turnaround time than waiting on something to sour (please correct me if I'm wrong there). Most of the commercial sour/wild beers I can get around here are probably going to have lacto, pedio, etc. in them a la Jolly Pumpkin - and that's what I'd likely be using as my bottle dregs. (Is Orval 100% brett in the dregs or are there other bugs in there too)?

I am excited to go down this route! If I brew some gross beer then hey, at least I'm experimenting & that's what this hobby is all about, right? I guess I'm just tired of playing it safe and brewing stouts and pale ales and stuff that I can easily go out and buy a six pack of. I'm not discounting the opinions of people who enjoy doing that, but in the words of Workaholics' Adam Demamp - I'm ready to get WEIRD!

Burgs 01-06-2012 02:45 PM

To clarify one part of this that sounds kinda confusing as I re-read it:

I say that I want to do 100% brett beer, but then I talk about using the dregs from sour beers like Jolly Pumpkin. I guess what I'm considering here is that I don't want to shoot for a high level of initial sourness in any of these beers that I make, but if I can add a subtle tartness, even if it increases over time being in the bottle, by adding sour dregs @ bottling time - then that sounds good to me.

ReverseApacheMaster 01-06-2012 05:58 PM

100% brett beers do not attenuate like sours; they attenuate more like regular sacc fermentations so if you're adding sour dregs at bottling you might get too much fermentation in the bottle and produce bombs. There are probably some people around here who have added dregs at bottling with no problems but I'd rather not risk glass shrapnel in my house, especially if it blows while opening a bottle right in front of me. Depending on what is in the dregs you could get just sourness and no extra carbonation but if there is brett it's very possible that brett will kick off a superattenuative fermentation in the bottle and cause bombs.

If you are just doing brett (no sour bacteria or dregs) then you can get away with having one set of equipment as long as you practice good sanitation. You could use one set no matter what you are using if you follow proper sanitation but having a second set of post-fermentation equipment is a cheap and worthwhile insurance policy, especially when you have bacteria in the mix because they can hide out in smaller crevices, making them harder to clean out.

I think 100% brett beers are different from sours. There's not a lot of sourness involved (usually) more of a slight to moderate funk. Personally to get some sourness I'd do a sour mash/sour wort pre-boil and then just ferment with brett. (You could also use acid malt or make acid additions pre or post fermentation.) Brett needs a more acidic wort to ferment than sacc so you might find yourself needing to do something to acidify the wort pre-fermentation anyway.

You can definitely harvest brett by yeast washing in the fermenter or bottle harvesting, although anything you take from a bottle that had dregs will carry those additional critters into the next fermentation. With the all brett beers coming on the market you might be able to find an unfiltered, unpasteurized strain in a commercial bottle. I've harvested out of Orval with good success. Orval dregs will give you brett brux that has that very funky, barnyard flavor. (I believe Orval dregs have some live sacc but my attempt to harvest definitely did not produce anything reminiscent of sacc.) You'll want to look at the brett strain in anything you try to harvest because they all produce different flavors. E.g. brux and lambicus produce very different flavors. You'll also get different flavors and levels of acidity based on the grains you use, the volume of pitching, degree of oxygenation, and initial acidity in the wort.

Burgs 01-06-2012 07:05 PM

First off, thanks for taking the time to reply, I appreciate it! Lots of good stuff here for me to digest.

Quote:

Originally Posted by ReverseApacheMaster (Post 3634978)
100% brett beers do not attenuate like sours; they attenuate more like regular sacc fermentations so if you're adding sour dregs at bottling you might get too much fermentation in the bottle and produce bombs. There are probably some people around here who have added dregs at bottling with no problems but I'd rather not risk glass shrapnel in my house, especially if it blows while opening a bottle right in front of me. Depending on what is in the dregs you could get just sourness and no extra carbonation but if there is brett it's very possible that brett will kick off a superattenuative fermentation in the bottle and cause bombs.

Would this also be true if the initial fermentation was 100% brett as well - i.e. I have a beer that brett has already attenuated to a low FG, but if I introduce a small amount of fresh yeast + sour bugs & whatever else from bottle dregs - I'd still run the risk of bottle bombs?

I would not be doing saach for the initial ferment and then brett @ bottling - I definitely see what you're saying there.

Quote:

Originally Posted by ReverseApacheMaster (Post 3634978)
If you are just doing brett (no sour bacteria or dregs) then you can get away with having one set of equipment as long as you practice good sanitation. You could use one set no matter what you are using if you follow proper sanitation but having a second set of post-fermentation equipment is a cheap and worthwhile insurance policy, especially when you have bacteria in the mix because they can hide out in smaller crevices, making them harder to clean out.

I think to keep it simple at first, I will just focus on doing a 100% brett fermentation and bottling without adding anything extra.

Quote:

Originally Posted by ReverseApacheMaster (Post 3634978)
I think 100% brett beers are different from sours. There's not a lot of sourness involved (usually) more of a slight to moderate funk. Personally to get some sourness I'd do a sour mash/sour wort pre-boil and then just ferment with brett. (You could also use acid malt or make acid additions pre or post fermentation.) Brett needs a more acidic wort to ferment than sacc so you might find yourself needing to do something to acidify the wort pre-fermentation anyway.

The slight to moderate funk is what I'm after. I've had some sour beers that I've liked a lot, I enjoy a lot of what I've tried from Jolly Pumpkin, but I've also had some that I just haven't acquired the stomach for quite yet.

Quote:

Originally Posted by ReverseApacheMaster (Post 3634978)
You can definitely harvest brett by yeast washing in the fermenter or bottle harvesting, although anything you take from a bottle that had dregs will carry those additional critters into the next fermentation. With the all brett beers coming on the market you might be able to find an unfiltered, unpasteurized strain in a commercial bottle. I've harvested out of Orval with good success. Orval dregs will give you brett brux that has that very funky, barnyard flavor. (I believe Orval dregs have some live sacc but my attempt to harvest definitely did not produce anything reminiscent of sacc.) You'll want to look at the brett strain in anything you try to harvest because they all produce different flavors. E.g. brux and lambicus produce very different flavors. You'll also get different flavors and levels of acidity based on the grains you use, the volume of pitching, degree of oxygenation, and initial acidity in the wort.

Cool. So if I start with 100% brett and then I want to wash and re-use yeast from the fermenter, I don't really run any greater risk of picking up lacto or other bacteria - than I would with doing the same thing with saach, correct? Obviously if my sanitation practices suck then there's always a risk. I think I'm pretty solid there. I guess what spurred me to ask that question is specifically this:

Brettanomyces Lambicus Bacteria Culture - Wyeast 5526 - Rebel Brewer

vs.

Wyeast Laboratories. Brettanomyces lambicus

Rebel Brewer is incorrect in calling Wyeast 5526 a bacteria culture, aren't they? To be fair, it does look like the same verbiage copy/pasted on every product page that isn't straight up saach - so I get that the warning may just be on there because it was easier to put it on everything. I just want to make sure that the yeast I buy, be it brett l. or b. or c. (which I'm having fun reading me about & thanks for the heads up on what Orval contains) - doesn't have any bacteria in it. Cause like I said before, I'm going for the funk & fruitiness and not sourness.

Thanks again for your post! :mug:

Burgs 01-06-2012 07:46 PM

Ordered the American Farmhouse Blend (wlp670), Brettanomyces Claussenii (wlp645) and Belgian Bastogne (not wild, but still excited) just a bit ago. Can't wait to use 'em!

I think for the 670 I want to do like a rye saison, with the brett c. I want to do something simple like a patersbier almost but with fruity hops, and I might try an Orval clone with the Bastogne & do that as the primary + bottle dregs in secondary?

ReverseApacheMaster 01-06-2012 08:18 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Burgs (Post 3635227)
Would this also be true if the initial fermentation was 100% brett as well - i.e. I have a beer that brett has already attenuated to a low FG, but if I introduce a small amount of fresh yeast + sour bugs & whatever else from bottle dregs - I'd still run the risk of bottle bombs?

Brett on its own won't superattenuate. You could easily end up with a FG in the 1.020-1.010 range. When you add dregs you're going to activate the souring bacteria to the extent they can survive in the environment but since you're likely also adding brett the new brett will want to function like brett does in a secondary fermentation and superattenuate down to 1.000. I don't understand the science behind it I just know it tends to happen.

Quote:

Cool. So if I start with 100% brett and then I want to wash and re-use yeast from the fermenter, I don't really run any greater risk of picking up lacto or other bacteria - than I would with doing the same thing with saach, correct? Obviously if my sanitation practices suck then there's always a risk. I think I'm pretty solid there. I guess what spurred me to ask that question is specifically this:

Brettanomyces Lambicus Bacteria Culture - Wyeast 5526 - Rebel Brewer

vs.

Wyeast Laboratories. Brettanomyces lambicus

Rebel Brewer is incorrect in calling Wyeast 5526 a bacteria culture, aren't they? To be fair, it does look like the same verbiage copy/pasted on every product page that isn't straight up saach - so I get that the warning may just be on there because it was easier to put it on everything. I just want to make sure that the yeast I buy, be it brett l. or b. or c. (which I'm having fun reading me about & thanks for the heads up on what Orval contains) - doesn't have any bacteria in it. Cause like I said before, I'm going for the funk & fruitiness and not sourness.

Thanks again for your post! :mug:
Yeah rebel brewer is incorrectly labeling the product. You can compare the product number. Unless it says blend it is a pure culture.

You can follow the same wash process on brett as you would for sacc. You will keep a clean culture as much as your sanitation allows. I have washed brett in my fridge and it's lasted without any problems as well or better than sacc.

Calder 01-06-2012 11:07 PM

My 5 cents worth.

100% Brett beers are great. Very different from using Brett as a secondary yeast.

Using Brett as the only yeast:

- Start with a simple saison recipe (experiment after that).
- Add half pound of acid malt to the bill.
- Make a big starter.
- Take 8 ozs of the starter and put in mason jar and store in fridge (you can use this to make a starter for your next beer).
- Aerate well. Then aerate again.
- My experience is it will ferment well for a couple of weeks and take a couple more months to completely finish.

Good luck.

Burgs 01-07-2012 02:21 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Calder (Post 3636085)
My 5 cents worth.

100% Brett beers are great. Very different from using Brett as a secondary yeast.

Using Brett as the only yeast:

- Start with a simple saison recipe (experiment after that).
- Add half pound of acid malt to the bill.
- Make a big starter.
- Take 8 ozs of the starter and put in mason jar and store in fridge (you can use this to make a starter for your next beer).
- Aerate well. Then aerate again.
- My experience is it will ferment well for a couple of weeks and take a couple more months to completely finish.

Good luck.

Sounds good, thanks! What's your reasoning behind acid malt - just complementary to the flavor the brett provides? Or are you looking for some kind of sourness/tartness?

Burgs 01-07-2012 02:23 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ReverseApacheMaster (Post 3635481)
Brett on its own won't superattenuate. You could easily end up with a FG in the 1.020-1.010 range. When you add dregs you're going to activate the souring bacteria to the extent they can survive in the environment but since you're likely also adding brett the new brett will want to function like brett does in a secondary fermentation and superattenuate down to 1.000. I don't understand the science behind it I just know it tends to happen.

Interesting on the fresh brett taking things down further. Sounds like it would be best to add dregs to secondary and let things stabilize for a bit before bottling then.

Quote:

Originally Posted by ReverseApacheMaster (Post 3635481)
Yeah rebel brewer is incorrectly labeling the product. You can compare the product number. Unless it says blend it is a pure culture.

I thought that seemed like the case, thanks!

thebadpun 01-07-2012 03:14 AM

If you are looking for something along the lines of Jolly Pumpkin funk/sourness with a relatively quick (~4-6 weeks) turnaround, I suggest you check out the "Can You Brew It" episode where they clone Bam Biere. I've brewed the recipe twice with Bam dregs in the secondary/keg. Both of my batches resulted in a beer that was refreshing, mildly tart, fruity, and funky (especially as the bottles aged).


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