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Old 04-01-2013, 12:59 AM   #1
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Default The Great Brettanomyces Experiment

Preface: I started writing this post this morning before I pitched yeast and over the course of the day, I filled it out with my thoughts and results of pitching yeast. I plan to update it with the results of this fermentation and ensuing tasting, and perhaps future fermentations with additional strains. This post has also sort of become a listing of all of my favorite resources on Brettanomyces and wild fermentation.

The Great Brettanomyces Experiment: I started playing with Brettanomyces fermentations last summer and now I'm ready to really figure this yeast out. I listened to a Brewing Network show (probably Sunday Session) a few months ago that spawned this idea - an experiment in exploration of the flavors that the various commercially available Brett strains kick off during an all-Brett fermentation.

Let me say, first, that I think it is interesting how many Saccharomyces strains we have available commercially compared to the number of Brettanomyces strains available. There is most certainly a world of yeast that brewers have yet to experience. The range of flavors from Sacc covers a huge range - including spicy, peppery, fruity, malt-enhancing, hop-enhancing, clean, the list goes on and on. What if Brett opens a new realm of flavors. There are countless strains of Brett that we have yet to discover that will throw off amazing flavors.

I'm starting this journey with four commercial Brett strains widely available:
WLP 644 - Brettanomyces bruxellensis 'Trois'
WLP 645 - Brettanomyces claussenii
WLP 650 - Brettanomyces bruxellensis
WLP 653 - Brettanomyces lambicus

Thanks to BKYeast I will be adding C1 - Brettanomyces 'Iris' to this experiment in due time. Also, thanks to some beeradvocate trading, I'll be building cultures from Crooked Stave bottles to plate/slant and ferment with. (Chad Yakobson is a wealth of knowledge and quantitative data on fermenting with the "wild" Brett. I highly recommend this

filmed by ETF and visiting Chad's website - The Brettanomyces Project.) The objective is to gain some information on how these different strains behave, smell and taste in all-Brett fermentations.

The recipe I've built is intended to highlight the yeast flavors more than anything, but also be an enjoyable beer. I very loosely based the recipe on Vinny's Sanctification recipe, as blogged about by Embrace the Funk. I say very loosely, because I omitted the vienna and replaced the base malt with Maris Otter. I kept the wheat and acidulated malt at 5% of the grist. I also omitted the late-kettle addition and opted for a 25 ibu addition at 60 minutes with Columbus. For yeast, instead of a blend, I'm using pure cultures of the aforementioned White Labs Brett strains. I brewed 20 gallons of this recipe yesterday and split it into four carboys.

I put the carboys into my fermentation chamber and set the temperature to 72 and allowed the chamber to stabilize at that temperature overnight. I pitched the yeast this morning. I'm going to allow it to free rise to 78 F.

The starters allowed me to take some preliminary notes on the following. The Brettanomyces bruxellensis 'Trois' was a slurry from a previously brewed all-Brett pale ale (that turned out fantastic, by the way). Here are my notes:

Brett bruxellensis: Barnyard, hay, and fruit aromas. Lemon and melon flavors. Starter finishing gravity: 1.015. Pretty good/clear flocculation
Brett classenii: Melon, pineapple, and sweet nose. Mango, earth and melon flavors. Starter finishing gravity: 1.010. Best attenuation and hazy/low flocculation
Brett lambicus: Wet hay and a tiny bit of fruit aromas. Wet hay and crackery flavors. Starter finishing gravity: 1.011. Hazy/low flocculation

With these initial data points, I was a little surprised to find Brett bruxellensis exhibit such poor attenuation - that is, after a 10 day starter, so who knows what the full-scale batch will end up at.

I have a few more names to drop - I should say that I've been reading The Mad Fermentationist for a while and if this sort of experiment even slightly interests you, I'd encourage you to read his blog.

So, here we go - The Great Brettanomyces Experiment. I am very excited to see what happens and what this homebrew-scale research results in. At the very least, it'll result in some interesting beers. At very best, I will have some real quantitative and qualitative data to work with when I start brewing on a commercial scale within the next year. If you've read this far, you'll be interested in knowing that this beer will be served (pending the results of fermentation) at the Southern California Homebrew Festival in Ojai on the Cinco de Mayo weekend.
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Old 04-01-2013, 03:37 AM   #2
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Cool experiment. I've got a similar one with a split batch and brett B. and brett L. Please keep us updated on the progress of the beers.

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Old 04-01-2013, 12:41 PM   #3
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Looking forward to updates.

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Old 04-01-2013, 08:54 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tagz
Looking forward to updates.
After 24 hours fermentation has clearly kicked off...

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Old 04-01-2013, 08:58 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by passedpawn View Post
Cool experiment. I've got a similar one with a split batch and brett B. and brett L. Please keep us updated on the progress of the beers.
Nice! I've done side-by-sides before; almost every 10 gallon batch I've brewed has compared one yeast against another. It's a great way to both experiment and add some variation to your tastings. This is the first time I've ever done four variations simultaneously. I can't wait to replicate the recipe with some additional Brett strains, too.

We also brewed 15 gallons of saison for our solera wine barrel and 10 gallons of honey cream ale for the Homebrew Fest in the same day, so we were quite busy!
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Old 04-02-2013, 07:10 AM   #6
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I am also very interested in this. I just brewed a 10 gallon batch that was loosely based on the Zombie Dust clone floating around here (but with Amarillo and Cascade added to the heavy Citra dose for depth). Half my batch got Brett L, and the other half with Chico. I'm really excited to see how the Brett L plays with the bitter, but very fruity hop bill in this IPA. This is my first 100% Brett primary beer. Looking forward to your results!

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Old 04-02-2013, 07:20 AM   #7
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What in all that is holy is going on with that flask of brett trois? Or is that just trub?

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Old 04-02-2013, 07:21 AM   #8
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never mind, I can't read

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Old 04-02-2013, 10:13 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by woknblues
What in all that is holy is going on with that flask of brett trois? Or is that just trub?
Hahaha! It is slurry... The big spots in there were actually air bubbles. I thought they were hop particles when I first looked at it, but then I looked closer... Bubbles stuck in the slurry.
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Old 04-02-2013, 10:17 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OCBrewin
I am also very interested in this. I just brewed a 10 gallon batch that was loosely based on the Zombie Dust clone floating around here (but with Amarillo and Cascade added to the heavy Citra dose for depth). Half my batch got Brett L, and the other half with Chico. I'm really excited to see how the Brett L plays with the bitter, but very fruity hop bill in this IPA. This is my first 100% Brett primary beer. Looking forward to your results!
Awesome! I love the way all-Brett fermentations pair up with hoppy American style beers! What part of Orange County are you brewing in? I'm in old town Orange near the plaza.
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