Funk In The House Part II

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Funk In The House Part II
Funk In The House Part I (found here), covered a very brief introduction to Brettanomyces and and overview to the Funk In The House Experiment.
To recap, Brettanomyces is a wild yeast, robust and versatile enough for use in primary fermentation (100% Brettanomyces Beers), mixed/secondary fermentation (Lambic, Gueuze, Flanders Red, Oud Bruin, Farmhouse Ale, and American Wild Ale), and even bottling conditioning.
To date, several species of Brettanomyces have been identified, with B. bruxellensis and B. anomalus most widely available from commercial yeast suppliers. Recently, several commercial yeast suppliers have introduced new strains of Brettanomyces, available in pure isolate or mixed culture forms. I became intrigued and designed an experiment to evaluate the impact of these various strains.
Funk In The House Experiment Methods
The primary goal of this experiment was to assess overall characteristics of various Brettanomyces strains used as the sole fermentation organism. Secondarily, I planned to separately condition each strain with a unique fruit, in an effort to enhance perceived flavors and aroma from the Brettanomyces strains.
The base beer for this experiment was a neutral, 1.053 OG, Belgian Pale/Blonde Ale recipe (87% German Pils, 8% Belgian Vienna, 5% US White Wheat, and 19 IBUs Belma Hops). A single infusion mash was held at 152F for 60 minutes. Belma hops were added at the start of the boil, which lasted for 60 minutes. After flameout, wort was chilled to 68F using a plate chiller, pumped into its respective bucket, and aerated for 60 seconds using pure oxygen. Each Brettanomyces culture was pitched at rate of approximately 10 million cells per milliliter.

Fermentation And Conditioning Processes
The "mother wort" was split among seven 5-gallon homebrew buckets. Seven unique pure Brettanomyces isolates or mixed cultures were pitched into each bucket. These strains included ECY03 - Farmhouse Brett, WLP644 - Saccharomyces "Bruxellensis" Trois, WLP645 - Brettanomyces Claussenii, BB01521 - Local Massachusetts Microflora, ECY03-B - Farmhouse Brett Isolate, WLP560 - Brettanomyces Bruxellensis, and ECY04 - Brett Anomala. Raspberries, mangoes, pineapples, kiwi fruits, blueberries, blackberries, and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes were uniquely paired with a portion of each of the seven beers, respectively.
Fermentation and fruit conditioning was conducted over four months and each beer was bottled in the late Fall. The samples have been review by friends and family and comprehensive tasting notes (to the best of our abilities - none were BJCP certified!) can be found below.
Funk In The House Experiment Results
This first section is a review of the seven beers WITHOUT fruit added. This provides a good understanding of each strain's influence on the appearance, aroma, flavor, and mouthfeel of the beer.

All Seven Non-fruited Beers
ECY03 - Farmhouse Brett:
Pours a moderately clear, straw-like color with fleeting head. Very aromatic, with dominant Belgian saison yeast notes of spice and pepper. Hay and week-old grass clippings are also noted. The flavor is aggressively herbal and peppery, very saison-like. There are mild signs of farmhouse flavors. Slight acidity is evident as the beer finishes extremely dry. pH 4.13.
WLP644 - Saccharomyces "Bruxellensis" Trois:
Less hazy than the Farmhouse Brett version, with a more aggressive head. The nose is not overwhelmingly aromatic, but waves of tropical fruits, most evidently mango, is present. There is also a subtle citrus fruit aroma. Taste is prevalent on the front of the palate with flavors of citrus fruits (orange, lemon, lime) and tropical fruits (papaya and mango). Creamier than most others. pH 3.59.
WLP645 - Brettanomyces Claussenii:
Similar appearance to the Farmhouse Brett version with an impressive rocky head. Smells very funky in the barnyard sense. One taster described the aroma as "hot attic" or "warm summer car". Also unmistakably present in the aroma is pineapple. The taste in underwhelming and muted. More neutral flavors, almost is like a blend of the first two versions. pH 3.80.
BB01521 - Local Massachusetts Microflora
Pours the clearest into the tasting glass with almost no head. This version has a neutral nose with the faint smell of crushed Sweet-Tart candy and Granny Smith apples. It flavor is the most complex of the seven; sweetness rushes the palate, followed by hot/wet dog, and tart, artificial green apple candy flavors. Not the most funky or tart, but certainly the most interesting. pH 3.49.
ECY03-B - Farmhouse Brett Isolate:
Very similar in appearance to the Farmhouse Brett version with similar carbonation levels and haze. The aromas on this version are unmistakably earthy, swampy, and damp. The flavor is unlike the aroma, with high levels of acidity, tartness, and fruitness. The fruit flavor is incredible, reminiscent of blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries. Arguably the favorite of the bunch. pH 3.30.
WLP560 - Brettanomyces Bruxellensis:
This one pours the haziest, with zero head. The aromas are more assertive than previous versions, with "damp wet basement" being the most forward. The classic wet blanket aroma is also noticeable, as is a faint herbal/floral smell. The flavor is very earthy, with one taster describing it like a "mouthful of mossy dirt." Even as a 100% beer, Brux displays its classic flavors and aromas. pH 4.48.
ECY04 - Brett Anomala:
The appearance of this version is very much in line with the rest of them; straw-like color with moderate clarity and effervescent head. The least aromatic of the bunch. The only aroma that can be picked out is Lemonhead candy. The flavor is also underwhelming, with citrus fruit on the front of the palate that gives way to a dry finish. Lack of funk in this batch leaves it pretty neutral. pH 3.48.

All Seven Fruited Beers
This section is a review of the beers WITH fruit added. This provides a good understanding of how a specific fruit pairs with the inherent Brettanomyces characteristics. Fruit was selected based on descriptors from the commercial yeast supplier as well as the color wheel.
Red: ECY03 - Farmhouse Brett with raspberries (6 lbs):
Pours a clear, cranberry-red hue with a bubbly pinkish head. Nose is dominated with raspberry and a delayed herbal aroma not unlike fresh jalapeno or green bell pepper. The flavor is evident mid palate, where raspberry is dominant. There is an earthy sweetness on the front of the tongue. The finish is somewhat chemical or solventy. Mouthfeel is dry and tart. Mild funk.
Orange: WLP644 - Saccharomyces "Bruxellensis" Trois with mangoes (4 lbs):
Hazy lemonade-colored. Foamy head which leaves a thin film on the glass. The nose is full of tropical fruit aromas. As it warms, there are hints of barnyard funk, described as an "open door summer breeze". Flavor is complex; funk, barnyard, and hay-like with a candy tartness. Fuller, creamier mouthfeel on this version, with yeasty overtones and acidity on the finish.
Yellow: WLP645 - Brettanomyces Claussenii with pineapples (1 whole, chopped):
Mellow yellow appearance with a crystal light feel to it. Subtle pineapple is the most pleasing aroma, with metallic, damp attic, mouse taint, and Cherrios overwhelming the nose. Flavors are most evident when warm, but at best, a faint taste of pineapple. Refreshing, prickly carbonation is perhaps the best aspect of this beer as it is the least interesting and complex.
Green: BB01521 - Local Massachusetts Microflora with kiwi fruits (10 lbs):
Pours the clearest of all the beers with almost zero head. Nose is dominated by sulfur and leather. Definitely the most aggressive nose. Flavor is identical to the aroma, with sulfur, salt, and acetone leading the way to a mild sweetness in the finish. Mouthfeel shows a good body a touch of tartness. Overall this one is fairly neutral.
Blue: ECY03-B - Farmhouse Brett Isolate with blueberries (6 lbs):
Similar in appearance to the Raspberry version, this pours a nice ruby/burgundy color with haze. Aroma is just like a blueberry pie with undertones of potpourri, chapstick and hay/straw. Some detect "meaty and peppery aromas". Delayed blueberry flavor with increasing intensity as the beer warms in the glass and on the tongue. Slightly acetic with good carbonation levels.
Indigo: WLP560 - Brettanomyces Bruxellensis with blackberries (6 lbs):
Murky brown/purple color. Nose starts off neutral but progresses into a dirt, earthy, blanket aroma. Some waves of metallic and ever-so-slight aroma of blackberry and roses. Flavors are somewhat metallic, with good blackberry flavor. The beer is mildly tart throughout with a dry finish. Well carbonated beer with fine carbonation and creamy mouthfeel.
Violet: ECY04 - Brett Anomala with Cabernet Sauvignon grapes (4 lbs):
Pours a rich peach skin/peach tea color. The nose is full of classic bretty aromas; horse sweat, worn leather, and wet carpet. Lactic acidity is prevalent in the nose as well. Taste is led by hay, grass, and grape juice. There are tannic elements from the grapes/stems which lead to a noticeable wine "feel" to this version. Tartness on the front of palate leads way to a "cloyingly dry wine finish".
Rainbow: Blend of Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet beers:
Pours a murky brown/purple/burgundy color with a rocky white head. The aroma is much more inviting than the appearance, reminiscent of day-old fruit salad. No one particular fruit stands out in aroma or taste, however a bracing acidity and tartness is felt on the finish. There are mild elements of Brettanomyces, but nothing noticeable enough to pick out as a distinct flavor.
Double Rainbow: Chinook Dry Hopped Rainbow:
Pours identical to Rainbow but with excessive dry hop haze. The nose is beautiful on this beer; pine forest with earthy spices battle overripe fruits. The flavor is similar, where the dry hop really shines on the front of the tongue, and the fruit flavors and acidity breakthrough on the finish. The Chinook hops do a good job at balancing this version out.
Triple Rainbow: Rainbow with ECY20 added for 12 months:
No tasting notes to date since this blend is happily souring away in a glass carboy for 6 more months.
Funk In The House Experiment Conclusion
Overall, the results were pleasing. The following are the takeaways from the Funk In The House Experiment:
ECY03 produces a classic Saison beer with slight Brett influence.
WLP644 has the best combination of flavor, aroma, and mouthfeel.
WLP645 was the most aromatic, but the least flavorful.
BB01521 was the most complex, but may have under attenuated.
ECY03-B had undesirable aromas but tasted the best; very fruity.
WLP560 is your classic Brett strain, leather, horse blanket, and wet dog.
ECY04 was the most neutral, least interesting, and balanced of the bunch.
Raspberries at 3lbs/gallon is magical.
Mangoes didn't add much complexity to the WLP644 beer, consider 3-4lbs/gal.
Pineapple needs to be 3-4X the amount, consider frozen in the future (fresh is too juicy).
Kiwi fruit is too neutral, wouldn't recommend it since so much is needed (20lbs?).
Blueberries are faint, recommend 2lbs/gal for mild flavor and 3lbs/gal for aggressive flavor.
Blackberries lead to a nice tart beer at 3lbs/gal but aromatics are not as strong.
Wine grapes are hard to come by and I honestly prefer the ease of adding wine directly to the fermenter as it is cheaper and easier to dial in to your exact preference (1-2 c/gal).
Everyone has a unique palate and preference to beers, especially wild ales. From our tasting, WLP644 and ECY03-B were the clear favorites for the non-fruited versions, mainly due to approachability and perceived fruitiness. Similarly, the Raspberry and Blueberry variants were considered the winners for the fruited versions.
Hopefully this experiment has shared some insight to the nuances of each of these unique yeast strains. I encourage you to try your own experiments with Brettanomyces!
 
This absolutely amazing. It makes me want to split my batches down to do 5 small 1 gallon batches from a 5 gallon mother.
 
This is fantastic, I am about to start a sour program with brett and other bugs and this run down makes me excited for my run at it.
 
Thank you for the fantastic experiment. Very nice rundown of the yeasts and fruits and what they add to the beer. Makes me want to start a sour right now!
 
Congratulations. This is a GREAT job/write/article. It should be placed in a "wall of fame", made sticky, put in wiki or something.
I , personal, wait for other experiments like this. ( i know that is hard to make something like this, but the results are very helping to the "poor" ones).
 
Nice breakdown. Part 1 inspired me to do this on a smaller scale with 3 one gallon fermenters and a 5 gallon "rainbow". Sampled a bit from each last week and they taste so good that I'm holding off on adding any fruit. Thanks for the inspiration and ideas!
 
@Arrheinous A high-res image can be found here:
<a href="http://thirdleapbrew.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/FITH-flow-chart.png">http://thirdleapbrew.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/FITH-flow-chart.png</a>
 
What a marvelous experiment (and article)!
Super impressed.
[edit] BTW, I fixed your name at the top of the article so if you click on it both your articles come up.
 
Killer! This is making me rethink my 100% ECY04 beer and head straight for secondary in something more fun. Cheers.
 
Great work. Great application of scientific method. I have just one problem with adapting it to my own brewing....I don't like Brett beers and am probably too old to change. I started brewing at age 62 and am now immersed in it 4 years later. I drank session pilsners until I started homebrewing and now do mostly IPA variants, Porters, Red ales etc.
How about a similar article with more mainstream ales?
 
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