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Old 03-28-2014, 01:30 PM   #1
tagz
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Default Brett Starter Strain

I'm thinking about taking he plunge into Brett. So here are a few questions:

1. Any suggestions for a starter strain? I'd be using it as a secondary pitch. Should I go with a wlp/wyeast strain, or just use some bottle dregs?

2. Suggestions for primary strain? I assume I'll do a belgian base beer. I could go with something like 3787. Lately I like using 3711 a bunch, but I sense that it won't leave enough gravity for the Brett. I've also read that Brett funk is mostly a function of sacc byproducts; so does gravity matter?

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Old 03-28-2014, 02:37 PM   #2
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It would help if you could tell us some beers you know you like, or give us a sense of the kind of beer you want to end up with.

Bottle dregs will work fine, especially if they are relatively fresh and from a beer with low alcohol. If you just want to use brett, make sure you're not using dregs from a sour that have other organisms too. But if you're looking to make something sour rather than just funky (i.e. something with more than just brett), Jolly Pumpkin dregs are great. I think the CYBI Bam Biere clone is a good first sour beer. You can gather a lot of helpful information by listening to the interview with Ron Jeffries, and if you can get fresh dregs from a bottle of Bam Biere, the beer can be ready relatively quickly. Another option, if you just want to use brett, is to do an orval clone, or just pitch dregs from a bottle of orval into another beer like a saison.

Both the yeasts you mention will do fine. You're right that gravity doesn't necessarily matter that much, since brett can apparently work on sacch by products and other compounds in the finished beer (it does matter if you want to make a sour though). I like using 3711 because you can bottle pretty quickly even when using brett since the attenuation is so high, and people say brett performs better under pressure in bottles. In my experience, you get a fairly light but complementary funk from doing this. I've never got a full on and assertive funk from doing it this way though (for me that's a good thing, but YMMV), and I wonder if you don't have to leave a few gravity points, or pitch brett early in primary fermentation, to get this. I'd be curious to hear other people's experience here.

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Old 03-28-2014, 02:45 PM   #3
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You could also look at the flavour descriptions in this brett strain guide to see the flavours you can get from different strains.

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Old 03-28-2014, 04:59 PM   #4
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I'd probably be happy with either the barnyard aromas from Brett B/Orval or the pineapple of Brett C. I don't think I want to get into any of the lacto/pedio right off the bat, as I'm a little gun shy about cross-contamination. Do you think it's feasible to just buy an extra bottling bucket, do a secondary in it, and then bottle straight from there? I'd like to minimize the extra equipment.

So perhaps, I'll do a 3711 with some Brett B. Any recommendations as far a source goes? Is it worth while to spend the extra money on a vial, or should I just pick up an orval from the store in town?

Also, how do you figure out the priming? Is there a calc that will account for the residual gravity and priming sugar? If I stick to Duvel bottles will I be good to go as far as pressure goes?

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Old 03-28-2014, 05:27 PM   #5
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It depends how long you're going to keep it in secondary, since you'll get some oxygen ingress with a bottling bucket. Should be fine for a month or so, but any longer than that and I would be a bit worried. Typical brewing sanitizers will kill brett, but I think its good to be cautious since a small number of cells can completely change a batch of beer. That said, I share some better bottles between funky beers and other non-funky but highly attenuated beers without any noticeable contamination so far.

If you can get fresh bottle dregs, I don't see any advantage in getting a commercial strain (maybe others disagree?). But if the bottles you have access to are likely to have been sitting on the shelves for months, it might be worth getting a proper pitch.

A rough guide for priming is 2 volumes of CO2 for each gravity point in the beer. Depending on your OG, there is a good chance that the brett will eventually take your beer down to 1.000 or lower. So if you were bottling at 1.004, you should assume that you'll get 2 extra volumes C02 as the brett takes the beer down to 1.000 in the bottle, and you should take that into account when calculating your priming sugar: say you wanted 3.5 volumes, you could add enough sugar for 1.5 volumes and then wait for the brett to do the rest.

That said, the nice thing about 3711 is that in my experience it reliably takes beers all the way down to ~1.000, so there shouldn't be too much extra C02. (If you plan on keeping bottles around for a while its good to keep an eye on carbonation levels by drinking one occasionally: I read something by Chad Yakobson somewhere that said that sacch cells can release sugars as they decompose, so you might eventually get a bump in C02 if you keep the beer around long enough).

Duvel bottles should be good to at least 3 volumes CO2, probably higher. One thing I do, if I know I'll be drinking some of the beer young, is to only use heavy bottles for the ones I'll be aging (and to plan aging based around how heavy the bottle is, e.g. a champagne bottle should be good for a long time).

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Old 03-28-2014, 05:28 PM   #6
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Oh, and there are many strains that fall under "Brett B", but Orval is a good source for one of them.

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Old 03-28-2014, 05:35 PM   #7
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Another thign you can do, if you don't want to buy extra equipment, is to simply add the brett to the bottles.

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Old 03-28-2014, 05:40 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by metic View Post
Another thign you can do, if you don't want to buy extra equipment, is to simply add the brett to the bottles.
If youre going to do this Please make sure the beer is bone dry prior to bottling/adding the Brett. If youre going this route then use 3711 in primary, it will dry the beer out plenty well.
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Old 04-15-2014, 01:50 PM   #9
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Well, I grabbed some wlp645. Now I'm debating between using it as a secondary or primary. The original plan was secondary, but I thought it might be good to do a 4-6 week all brett beer before tossing some into a secondary for the long haul. I've read mostly positive reports about Brett C as a primary, but a few people had issues with band aide flavors. What can I do to minimize this? Starter size? oxygen exposure? Temp?

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Old 04-15-2014, 02:03 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tagz View Post
Well, I grabbed some wlp645. Now I'm debating between using it as a secondary or primary. The original plan was secondary, but I thought it might be good to do a 4-6 week all brett beer before tossing some into a secondary for the long haul. I've read mostly positive reports about Brett C as a primary, but a few people had issues with band aide flavors. What can I do to minimize this? Starter size? oxygen exposure? Temp?
You might check out The Yeast Bay as well. I've been singing their praises a fair amount lately, as they have some great unique strains. I just ordered their Lochristi and Brussels Brett strains and will be throwing them (separately) into a saison that had 3711 in the primary. I can't wait to see how they turn out.
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