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Old 01-17-2012, 02:25 AM   #1
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Default Planning Brett Old Ale; Questions

After reading alot of the 11-11-11 Old Ale swap threads, I have been inspired to brew a beer along these lines. I have been researching a bit about brewing with Brettanomyces, but I still have a few questions.

-I want the Brett "funk", but not too much. My thought is that I will mash high and use a low attenuating yeast, and then add the Brett in secondary. Is this the best way to do this?

-I want to secondary in a corny keg. I finally have enough corny kegs that i feel comfortable making one into a dedicated "sour" keg. Any issues with bugs in kegs? I will occasionally purge the pressure (well away from my other wine/beer production), and it will be well protected from light.

-I would like this to be a fairly big beer, maybe finishing at 9% ABV or more. I have read that Lambics usually have very low IBU's because sour and bitter do not work well together. Will i have the same issue with Brett? If my OG is 1.075 or so, where should my IBU's be?

-I want a little bit of funk, but not too much sour, which Brett strain should i use? the PC-Old Ale Blend is no longer available.

-Realistically, how long before i can bottle this?

I'm sure i'll have more questions, thanks in advance!

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Old 01-17-2012, 02:41 AM   #2
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Generally, the more you leave for the brett to munch on, the more brett character you can expect to get. So if you start with a high gravity, mash high, and use a low fermenting yeast, you're going to leave a lot for the brett to eat, which means bigger brett character. You may want to rethink this plan.

Wyeast doesn't plan to release the Old Ale strain again anytime soon. I asked. They did say that a combination of 1084 and 5526 would get a similar result to using the 9097.

Most brett strains don't make sour beers, not by themselves anyway. They can make some sourness under certain circumstances, I'm told, but generally speaking will not. I'd stick to the original recipe, as it's known to work, and not worry.

As for bottling, I'd give this 6 months in a secondary carboy, minimum. It took my 11-11-11 around 6-8 months to stop dropping gravity quickly enough for me to easily measure. I'm sure it's still going, but it's so slow at this point that I'm not worried about bottle bombs.

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Old 01-17-2012, 03:18 AM   #3
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what was your final gravity at bottling time?

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Old 01-17-2012, 04:49 AM   #4
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Somewhere around 1.010-1.012, down from 1.084, if memory serves. The gravity was at 1.022 or a bit higher when the sacc petered out. It's a bit light bodied for an old ale, but it's delicious. The brett character is prominent, maybe even the dominant flavor, without being overwhelming (i.e., covering up the other flavors).

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Old 01-17-2012, 12:40 PM   #5
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Damn that sounds delicious. Are there any recipe changes you might suggest?

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Old 01-17-2012, 03:00 PM   #6
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Interesting that wyeast recommends brett lambicus over claussenii. Makes sense for the cherry pie type flavor, though Brett L is not what one would normally associate with old ales.

My 11-11-11 brews turned out well, though the brett did take it down farther than I wanted to 1.008. If I were to re-brew this, I'd drop the sugar for something like a dark crystal malt and try to get the primary yeast to finish a bit higher so the brett doesn't turn the beer into a belgian. I wouldn't use 9097 again if they released it.

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Old 01-17-2012, 07:34 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tdogg View Post
Are there any recipe changes you might suggest?
Honestly, not really. I might bump the amber and brown malt up a bit, by around 25-50% more, just to increase the malt presence (and hence overall balance), but that's about it. I'm actually very pleased in the way it turned out. The brett character is strong for an "old ale" in the usual sense, but whatever it is, I think it's damned tasty. Bierhaus feels differently, it seems, so who knows which side of the fence you'll fall on. A lot of it might depend upon your expectations. Mine vaguely resembles Bell's 3rd Coast Old Ale - it's big but well attenuated, just a little boozy, and has a great melding of malt with brett stone fruit funk (almost a sherrylike quality).

If you want a mild brett character, though, try to get your normal fermentation to finish low. The brett is going to take a beer like this low anyway, given sufficient time, so the only way (that I know of) to limit the intensity of the brett is to use a mild strain (which 9097 apparently did not do) or give it little to go on. Think Orval: the brett character is noticable, but mild, as the sacc fermentation left little for the brett to eat. Alternately, try Wyeast's brett C, which people report as being milder in character.
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Old 01-18-2012, 12:33 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bierhaus15 View Post
Interesting that wyeast recommends brett lambicus over claussenii. Makes sense for the cherry pie type flavor, though Brett L is not what one would normally associate with old ales.

My 11-11-11 brews turned out well, though the brett did take it down farther than I wanted to 1.008. If I were to re-brew this, I'd drop the sugar for something like a dark crystal malt and try to get the primary yeast to finish a bit higher so the brett doesn't turn the beer into a belgian. I wouldn't use 9097 again if they released it.
what would you use?
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Old 01-18-2012, 12:47 AM   #9
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ok, so if i mash high and the sacc finishes at 1.025, or i mash low and the sacc finishes at 1.015, will the brett still finish at around the same gravity? what won't brettanomyces eat?

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Old 01-18-2012, 02:14 AM   #10
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ok, so if i mash high and the sacc finishes at 1.025, or i mash low and the sacc finishes at 1.015, will the brett still finish at around the same gravity?
Given sufficient time, yes, or at least they'll be very close. That's my understanding, anyway, though I haven't experimented myself. That's not to say there aren't a number of reasons why the brett might stop fermenting. There are: high alcohol levels, wrong pH, wrong temperature, that kind of thing (i.e., the usual stuff). In lambics this process takes about 3 years to complete, though there are other bugs at work in lambics that might alter the results. It's complicated stuff, and I am by no means an expert, so take all of this with a grain of salt. Maybe post again in the "lambic & wild brewing" section for a more informed answer.

Quote:
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what won't brettanomyces eat?
Most all the non-carbohydrate substances floating around in the wort. Most sugars, though, they'll take care of when used with sac yeast.
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