Sunday, May 3, 2009

Brett Brux brewday, and a Brett homebrew tasting

This lovely pic is the Oak-aged brett beer I brewed with Ray over a year ago. It was my last bottle and damn, it was really tasting good. I decided to crack it open today as inspiration for the all-brett ale I was brewing.

  • Aroma: Light sweetness, apricotty esters, low tartness, some oak. Very little classic brett aroma, just a little hint of something wild.
  • Appearance: Great head, clear copper color. Head recedes but lacing is good.
  • Flavor: Bubblegum / fruity, soft malts, light spice from hops. Bitterness is very low due to age. Well blended & subtle oak finish. Very complex. Not much of the classic brett horseyness or sourness that I would have expected.
  • Mouthfeel: Soft and velvety up front with expanding bubbles, high carbonation and a very dry finish. Light tannins, spice, alcohol warmth.
  • Overall: Incredible beer, but the brett is not really noticeable, at least not in a classic brett sense. My theory is that the brett was not "stressed" enough during fermentation, and it fermented very clean during the secondary. This may have been from making a starter from the pack of brett to split it into 2 beers. Maybe we pitched too much?

The idea for this 100% Brett beer today started with an urge to make some tasty, tart session beer for the summer drinking season. I was gung-ho for making some Berlinner Weisse, but I got a little daunted when I found out Wyeast was not releasing their seasonal Berlinner Weisse yeast blend this year. Yeah, I know I could have bought a tube of lacto and a tube of ale yeast, but then I remembered the tube of brettanomyces I had in the fridge. So I decided I'd do something in-between a B-wiesse and a historical saison. Something, low-gravity, funky, light, and kind of hoppy.

I've only done one all brett beer before, and I ended up dumping it down the drain because it tasted like a hairy Band-aid. So I did a little more research this time, on sights like the Burgundian Babble Belt, The Mad Fermentationist blog, and I even pestered Chad Yakobson via email for some information. Fermentation is the key with all-brett beers, probably even more-so than for standard ales and lagers. Brewers report a wide variance of fermentation profiles, even using the same strain of yeast in different conditions. I was looking for tart, fruity, and clean with low levels of funk.

Here is the recipe. The name comes from the fact that I spent all day listening to the Beatles Abbey Road, The White Album, and then the JZ / Beatles "Grey Album", which I highly suggest taking a listen to if you haven't already.

Helter Skelter ale:
All-grain, 6 gallons post boil, 5.25 in the fermenter
O.G. 1.039 F.G. 1.012 ABV 3.9% (including priming sugar) IBU's 13

3 lb. American Pale malt
3 lb. German Wheat malt
1 lb. Munich malt 8L
4 oz. Sauer malt
3 oz. rice hulls

56 gr. Sterling pellets 6%AA 15 minutes

Mash: 3.5 gallons H2O + 1tsp gypsum
150 for 60 minutes, raise to 170 over 15 minutes.
Checked pH, a surprisingly low 4.7 due to the use of sauer malt. But I did an iodine check for conversion and it was complete.

Sparge: 4 gallons at 170
Collect 6.3 gallons at 1.037 = 86% efficiency

Boil 20 minutes, hops at 15 minutes, 1/2 tsp. Wyeast nutrient at 5 min. No Whirlfloc.

Aerated by shaking for 7 minutes. Pitched yeast when wort was at 66 degrees. Planning to ferment at 72 degrees.

1 tube of WLP 650 (Best By April 30th) in 1 qt. wort on a stirplate.
Fermented vigorously within 16 hours.
Stepped up with an additional quart of wort, and let it settle out at room temp for a week.
Starter wort tasted very tart, like a slightly funky sweet-tart. There was some sulfur smell from the airlock, but I did not detect sulfur in the wort. Only a little horseyness.

This is a little close up detail of my fermentation-guarding piggy. He actually serves a purpose which is to keep the cooling unit of the fridge off the top of the airlock, which would otherwise block up the airlock holes. He started hanging out there because he was just the right size, but now he is a bit of a good luck charm. Jamil had the Celebrator goat,
but to my knowledge I'm the only one with a pig.

5/5/09: The first 36 hours showed almost no signs of fermentation. Only an airlock bubble every minute. No krausen. When I came home on Tuesday evening after a full 48 hours, it was churning away at 72 degrees. The krausen was still very low and it appears to be a bottom fermenting yeast! I turned up the thermostat to allow it to reach 74 in the primary.

6/29/09 Racked to a keg with 4 oz. of priming sugar to keg condition. I also racked .5 gallons to a swing-top growler with a half ounce of sugar. the gravity is still only at 1.012 and the brett flavor is light and unimpressive at this point. I hope it drops a few more points! I did not purge the keg of oxygen, because I'd like to encourage a little more brett character and I think a bit of O2 will help. I did purge the head space after it was filled. I did not secondary this beer, due to lack of time. I did not detect any autolysis flavors. The keg is at room temp, which is pretty warm right now, but there's not much I can do about it except RDWHAH.


Dan said...

Just stumbled on your blog, it's really great. I've got a couple Brett L beers going and making a Brett C one next week.

Seanywonton said...

Thanks Dan. I checked out your blog just now. I'll be sure to stay tuned. I commented on your B-weisse too.


Mike said...

Hey Sean - Nice to meet you down at Sixpoint the other day -- I'm the dude you sessioned those brews with, mine was the "bitter Belgian Pale Ale." Nice post on the All brett beer -- I have a post on mine here: -- cheers!

Seanywonton said...

Hey Mike,
Bring some more beers down!

reader said...

Gonna come down this Saturday. Will have some Rye Saison and Spontaneous Cider.

Chad Yakobson said...

Hey Sean the brew sounds like it is off and running! I found B. bruxellensis from White labs to be a full bottom fermenter. It was even weird as it was clumpy in the bottom not the smooth collection that you normally see when the yeast falls out. Bubbles of CO2 should collect up top the wort though. Anyways bad ass brew and hope it comes together well in the coming months. Let me know how it turns out!

Luck E. Seven said...

Lucky 7th!!


Seanywonton said...

Yeah Chad, this yeast was totally flakey chunks at the bottom. I've only seen that in one other brew that I've done...a tripel that I think caught a minor infection.

Fermentation seems to have subsided for the most part but I'm sure it's still working on some level. I let it get up to 74.