Old Ale Blends

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DBhomebrew

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We've got two different Old Ale blends available to us this holiday season. Wyeast is releasing their 9097-PC and Bootleg Biology has a possibly one-time limited release of an Old Ale blend as well. Both blends are some sort of English Sacc with some sort of Brett.

As described by the manufacturers...

WY9097-PC
To bring in a bit of English brewing heritage we developed the “Old Ale” blend. It includes an attenuative ale strain along with a small amount of Brettanomyces. The blend will ferment well in dark worts, producing fruity beers with nice complexity. The Brettanomyces adds a pie cherry-like flavor and sourness during prolonged aging.

Bootleg Biology BBXOLD Old Ale *Beta*
There are few beer styles that show the perfect blending of time, malt and microbes like English Old Ale. Sometimes aged for years, this style is big, bold, malty, sweet and FUNKY.

This original blend of Ale and Brett cultures produces a mild leather and dried apricot funk that nicely compliments this malty and boozy rare English ale style.


These may be, no certainty...
WY9097-PC 1098/99 + Brett L
BBXOLD London III + Brett C

I'm not quite sure what I'll do with these, but I'm definitely picking up a pack of each. The HBT 11-11-11 Gunstock Ale will almost definitely be one of them, likely the WY as called for in the recipe. For the Bootleg? Probably some 19th century stock ale pulled from Pattinson's recipes.

Or maybe put the Bootleg in the Gunstock WY into a fresh batch Ron's 1914 Courage Imperial Stout.

What are you all going to do with your pack of Old Ale blend?
 

mashpaddled

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We see these released every few years but they never seem to sell very well because just like you said, nobody is really sure what they are supposed to do with it and there just aren't that many of us who enjoy brett beers. These blends are designed to recreate the classic English vatted or aged beers that are nearly extinct. That puts barleywine/strong ale, stout/porter, even english-style IPAs appropriate for the blend but you can do any style you might want to develop brett character in.
 

Argyll Gargoyle

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I found wy9097 on aih, if anybody else is looking for it.
Usually, I bank my yeasts, but I’ve never used mixtures, much less brett. Do you think you could bank these successfully?
 
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DBhomebrew

DBhomebrew

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In one of the 11-11-11 threads there was direct communication from Wyeast saying a starter is A-OK, the balance of sacc/brett would be fine.

To me, that seems like saving some overbuilt starter to be re-started in the near term wouldn't be a problem.
 
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DBhomebrew

DBhomebrew

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Well, there's at least some interest in these old ale blends. I ordered one of each from my LHBS as part of regular group buys. Wyeast had it in stock when ordered on Monday and were out of stock by Wednesday ship day. Oh, well. I didn't really want to tie up two fermenters for that long anyway.
 
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DBhomebrew

DBhomebrew

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Alrighty then. This year's cellar beer is on its long way to the glass.

89% Simpsons Best Pale Ale
4% Fawcett Amber
4% Fawcett Brown
3% Homemade Invert #4
Target 41 IBU @ FWH (figured as 20m)
Target 21 IBU @ 60m
EKG .25oz/post-boil gallon @ 0m

Mash 60m @ 156°F
120m boil
2qt 1st runnings reduced to 1pt

3.3 gallons into the fermenter
1.091 OG - 62 IBU
Pitched a 500ml SNS starter - Bootleg Old Ale

I'll rack to secondary in 3 or 4 weeks adding oak and EKG dry hop for the long brett sleep.

20220101_163327.jpg
 

Gus_13

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I've used the Wyeast Old Ale blend in the past. Two different brews. One was a 1.085ish OG and the other was a smaller 1.065ish. The 1.085 brew never really came around to being great. Honestly the brett in the blend chewed the beer so dry that it had fusel alcohol flavors and nothing I did aging wise fixed it. I did primary around 65 and it sat room temp (around 68-70) for a few months bulk aging. When it came time to package, it was plain offensive with alcohol notes and really dry around 1.002. I think I used too much crystal in the beer as well that didn't mix well with the brett character.

The smaller beer was great though. Still fermented pretty dry to 1.004 but I mashed it higher and packaged it sooner than the other one. It drank well for about 3 years until I ran out of bottles.

I have the Bootleg one in my cart while I'm deciding on other things to order from them. Old Ales (or stock ales) aren't a supremely popular style so I get why a lot of folks don't buy these. I like them but often like clean ones better than ones with brett. Still won't keep me from trying this one from Bootleg in a split batch though. I like my base recipe I have for my old ale now so since it's about time to brew it again for this year might as well try the blend.
 
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DBhomebrew

DBhomebrew

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Day 11 or so. Down to 1.034. Suspended particulate has slowed its churn. There's still a thin sticky looking layer of krausen. 1318 really does seem like a strong contender. Low to moderate fruity esters. Very malty, bready. Barest amount of roast, slightly smokey. Low to moderate hop bitterness.
 
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DBhomebrew

DBhomebrew

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4 weeks since brewday. 1.091>1.023. Racked into secondary over 1/8oz EKG and 3/4oz medium Hungarian oak. Nearly 10%, it's fairly boozy. Yeast cake smells spicy, Belgian-y.

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DBhomebrew

DBhomebrew

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Six months into fermentation, down to 1.014, 11%ABV, still visibly effervescent.

20220626_112347.jpg


Aroma full of toasty malt, toffee, and spice.

Medium body, dry, leathery. Malty, toffee, moderately sweet, spicy. Like a well-browned, dense, spiced (and spiked!) honey or molasses cake.

It'll be perfect for a holiday/winter warmer.
 
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DBhomebrew

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Another 1+ month later. Down to 1.012 with just a very few itty, bitty bubbles rising.

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I have no adjustments to the tasting notes above, just a feeling of the malt, spice, and "maturity" all coming together into a really fine beverage. I'm really looking forward to trying this carbed up.

I'll test the gravity again in a month or so. If it's stable, or less than a point difference, I'll package then and let it sit until a first bottle on Thanksgiving.
 

mashpaddled

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You are probably getting very close to end of brett fermentation where a few more points will crawl off with months to years of aging. You're getting to the time to think about whether you want to continue to bulk age with oak and microoxygenation or move over to bottles and wind down any meaningful oxidative reactions. There is no right answer. I tend to let my brett and sour beers age in bulk for 12-18 months before bottling and usually giving them another six or so months before I start thinking about drinking them. (Some of that is just a function of how much beer I have in the house.) I like giving brett a lot of age because I find it takes a lot of the rougher barnyard character out in most cases.
 
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DBhomebrew

DBhomebrew

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rougher barnyard character

I'm getting none of that! I'm so pleased with the flavor and melding that I would bottle right now if I weren't shy about bottling with fermentable sugar remaining. Then again, considering I'll target no more than 1.7vols or so, I've got plenty of room for safety. I'll probably bottle Labor Day weekend. That'll be 9 months since brew day, 8 in secondary.

I appreciate your experienced input. This is my first  brett.
 

mashpaddled

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I'm getting none of that! I'm so pleased with the flavor and melding that I would bottle right now if I weren't shy about bottling with fermentable sugar remaining. Then again, considering I'll target no more than 1.7vols or so, I've got plenty of room for safety. I'll probably bottle Labor Day weekend. That'll be 9 months since brew day, 8 in secondary.

I appreciate your experienced input. This is my first  brett.

Brett strains differ as much as sacc so what flavors you get and when can differ although most brett strains tend to get lumped in to their subspecies rather than a strain specific name like sacc. I really like when brett reaches more of the leather notes (or the elusive cherry or sandalwood). Some brett strains pump out a completely different set of flavors entirely.

If you have thicker bottles, consider bottling soon targeting normal carbonation rates. You don't know if the beer will go much lower and IMO brett benefits from a little higher carbonation. If the beer is on the thinner side, as is usually the case, higher carbonation will also help give the beer a little fuller feeling, like Belgian abbey/Trappist beers.
 
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DBhomebrew

DBhomebrew

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I plan on getting a new  brett (a 19th century Fullers XXK) going within a month or so of bottling this one. Do you think I should/could save these cubes to inoculate the new batch, or should I start fresh? How best to store them? I'm not looking for or expecting the sacc strain to carry over, just the  brett. For primary, it'll hopefully be a fresh pack of Pub.

If not, which Brett do you prefer to use? Your description of leather and sandalwood is exactly what I'm getting in this one. Loving it. Cherry would be excellent! Sadly, I don't know what this is. Bootleg doesn't share what's in their blend.
 

mashpaddled

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You can save the cubes but I would just save some of the slurry. Brett reportedly doesn't hold up to fridge temp storage but in my experience that doesn't seem to be true. Room temperature storage would be fine, too.

I haven't found my dream brett strain/mix for these types of beers yet. I used Imperial's Suburban Brett that had some of the cherry pie flavor but not quite as much as Wyeast Brett L can produce. I've only ever pulled sandalwood in prominent notes from wild fermentations and sadly I didn't keep any of the cultures that had it. I don't know of any of the labs that propagate a good option.

Most of my non-sour brett beers these days tend to be brett'd saisons which use a mixed culture I put together that includes a weird brett strain out of a Perennial bottle. It gets weirdly sweet for a long time before the beer dries out and develops hay and blueberry notes. I've never had any other beers like it. I have a truly wild brett culture that I haven't brewed with yet that has a lot of barnyard and black pepper. I hope to adopt that as a constant culture for these types of vatted ales.
 
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DBhomebrew

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I reached out to Bootleg about how they would go about reusing the Old Ale Blend with a few months between bottling one batch and brewing the next.

Jeff Mello, Chief Yeast Wrangler, responded.

Ideally...

If you haven't bottled yet, you could rack a new beer on to the slurry from this one and dose it with the Fullers strain to create a unique blend for a future batch.

With some amount of storage between batches...

It'll be fine if it's kept in the fridge. You may want to make a starter now with the slurry and then refrigerate that if you won't use it for a few months.

So, that's what I'm going to do. Bottle on Labor Day, pitch some slurry into an SNS starter, ferment that out, and store it in the fridge for a Christmas/New Year brew day.
 
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DBhomebrew

DBhomebrew

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Bottling Day. Still at 1.012, no change since mid-August. Smelling and tasting like spiced fruit cake. Smooth also warm at 11.2%. Primed for 2.0vols and put them downstairs for another few months.

Inoculated a 1.040 SNS starter with a bit of slurry.
 
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