Thursday, January 31, 2013

Barrel Pilot Batches: 100% Brett Beer Trials

It has taken some time for the group to decide on what to make for the second fill of our Chardonnay barrel. After we emptied the American Saison we noticed there was still plenty of oak and Chardonnay flavor remaining so the next batch will need to go well with those flavors. We are planning to eventually do a pale colored sour in the barrel, but if there is too much wine character still remaining it might over power the beer with the long contact time needed for souring. We thought a hoppy 100% brett beer would work well and really doesn't need much time in the barrel. The only issue is that none of us have that much experience with the style to jump right into a 60 gal batch. Therefore,Steven (the barrel babysitter) and I have been working on a couple pilot batches.

The first batch we wanted to build up and test that new strain of Brett Custersianus (Yes, Custer's anus) sent to me by Don at Small Place Big Brews. Steven had already planned to brew a Belgian Wit beer and both of us thought the description of ECY019 Brett Custersianus sounded like it would work well. So here is the recipe for that beer:

Recipe: Belgian Wit

Batch Size 12.0 gal         O.G.-1.057       F.G.-TBD
IBU-18.6                          SRM-5.4         ABV-TBD

Grain Bill (77% Efficiency):
11 lb Pilsner Malt (52%)
6.6 lb Raw White Summer Wheat (31%)
1.65 lb CaraRed (8%)
.9 lb Acid Malt (4%)
.9 lb Flaked Wheat (4%)

.55 oz Pacific Jade, 14.2%, pellet, 60 min 16 IBU
.3 oz Pacific Jade, 14.2%, pellet, 15 min 2 IBU
.3 oz Pacific Jade, 14.2%, pellet, 10 min

10 g Coriander Seed
.5 lb Crushed Kumquat
1 g Black Pepper

WLP400 Belgian Wit Ale - 5 gal
ECY019 Brett Custersianus - 5 gal

Mash/Boil Details:
Protein Rest. Temp/Time: 122F @ 30min
Sacc Rest. Temp/Time: 148F @ 75min
Boil Time: 90min

So that plan didn't work too well, the gravity didn't move and no change in taste for a week  We think we tried to step it up to 5 gals too quickly and didn't have enough yeast (This is a time when the brew day was planned before the beer). Thankfully Steven is an extremely clean brewer and nothing else started to ferment. At that point, we talked and decide to add some wine yeast. I've wanted to experiment with wine yeasts in beer (some good info here and here) and this seemed a good time. The wine yeast kicked in and fermented to 1.020 (it is incapable of fermenting maltotriose), so we are hoping the Brett will kick in (per Steven's last check it seems so). This might be an interesting beer that will need some time to finish out. Not sure how this will turn out, so we decided to start another batch.

We decided to go with the Brett Drie strain since I have a good amount of experience with it. The flavor profile we really want to hit with this beer is " intense juicy tropical fruit flavors in a well balanced, medium mouthfeel beer". We have picked out the malt bill to help with building body (Because Brett can't produce glycerol, which helps with mouthfeel). We also wanted some complex sugar (from CaraMunich) because in my experience that helps Brett Drie produce more fruit esters. We plan to mash a tad high at 153-154 to prevent the beer from drying out too much.

Next the hop bill, we want to hop burst this for max flavor and aroma with just enough IBUs to help balance the beer. I'm thinking around 30, since Brett seems to accentuate bitterness and we will have some "perceived" bitterness with the flameout and dry-hopping. We are thinking of a blend of hops:
  • Belma for its round tropical notes and it's cheap ($5/lb when it was available)
  • Citra for the melon notes
  • Nelson for the passion fruit (matches well with the esters from Brett Drie).
I found both Citra and Nelson in bulk, so we'll have plenty when we step it up to the barrel. I got them from Label Peelers, which also had some Amarillo and Mosaic so those will find themselves in some beer soon. I'm think of making a series of single hop pale ales to have on draft. I'm think they will be super short brew sessions with extract, a 15 min boil, and lots of late hops - my goal is to brew under an hour.

Recipe: Hoppy Brett Beer

Batch Size 5.0 gal         O.G.-1.065          F.G.-TBD
IBU-33                          SRM-7                ABV-TBD

Grain Bill (77% Efficiency):
2 Row Malt Grain 8.000 lb
Wheat, Flaked Grain 2.000 lb
Caramunich Malt Grain 8.000 oz 56 L
Oats, Flaked Grain 16.000 oz
Acid Malt Grain 6.000 oz

2 oz Belma 9.8% -15 min 23 IBUS
1 oz Nelson Sauvin 12.5% - 5.000 min 10.2 IBUs

0.5 oz Nelson Sauvin 12.5%
0.5 oz Belma 9.8%
0.5 oz Citra 12.0%

Dry Hop
0.5 oz Nelson Sauvin 12.5%
0.5 oz Belma 9.8%
0.5 oz Citra 12.0%

Drie Brett

Mash/Boil Details:
Sacc. Rest 153 F

As we I'm writing this, we just decided to make this a 10 gal batch and try the Alchemist's Heady Topper, Conan yeast that Derek at Bear Flavored Ales sent me recently.

I'll post tasting notes of the two pilot batches soon.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Homebrew Tasting: Bkyeast Brett Strains

In the middle of October a fellow homebrew blogger, bkyeast (Dmitri), offered up strains of Brettanomyces that he isolated from a bottle of Cantillon Iris. He did some minor experimenting to make sure they were viable. He was also generous enough to ship 4 different strains from NY to San Diego and was looking for some feedback. 

Here were his brief (and edited) descriptions:

C1: ferments fast, produces some acid. very bright, very tart and lemony.

C2: The starter still emits that forest strawberry aroma.

C3: 1st week the beers smell very sulfurous and even vomity. 2nd week sweet, dark berry kind of thing. Then so much pineapple gradually gives way to mango and orange 

I made a simple starter (re-boiled from frozen 2nd runnings of my Spelt Saison) back in October. I pitched the yeast right out of the vial into .5 gal containers. I swirled each container to aerate and then added an airlock.  I had grand plans to use the strains pretty quickly in a large scale Brett experiment, but that has been delayed by boring life events like a new house and baby on the way. 

The starters are all 3 months old. They have gone through a move and as you can see in the pictures (below), all have great clarity. C1 and C2 do not have a pellicle and I never remember them getting much of one. C3 has a very thin patchy film that I'm not sure that I would consider a pellicle. 

Here are my quick tasting notes:

C1: High intensity aroma of apples and pear with just a hint of tartness. The tastes start with a light tartness that is well rounded (so maybe low amounts of acetic acid) and the esters are all apple and pear. I bet I could tell some people this is apple cider and they would believe it. There is very little traditional Brett (barnyard) aromas or flavors. I think this will perform well as a primary yeast strain

C2: Low intensity aroma with some slight sulfur notes and very pleasant traditional Brett (like Orval or like Wyeast Brett B finished beers) notes. The taste is lightly tart and has the similar well rounded (non-harsh) character. It has a nice balance between the Brett phenolics (smoky, barnyard) and Belgian esters (again apple and pear). I think this would work nicely in secondary with a Belgian Blonde or Saison 

C3: Medium intensity aroma with dominate smoky phenols. Flavors are slightly tart (same as C1, C2) and the phenol/ester balance is more toward the smoky/plastic. There is a slight astringency in this sample that has a medicinal flavor.

You will notice that my descriptions are surprisingly pretty different from what Dmitri has posted. It has me scratching my head a bit about reasons why. It will be interesting to see if the yeast profiles change as they get stepped up and used in an actual batch. As a science person, this is only one data point for each of these yeasts and I have more testing planned in the future.
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