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.

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