Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Great EBY Brett Experiment: Brew Process and Bottling

This post was months in the making, so I'll do my best to keep it edited (Background info here). I tend to lean towards pictures for most of my explanation as I work better that way. And most of the focus for this post will be about the organization/logistics of a complex fermentation experiment. The brewing of the beer was uneventful.

I received the Brettanomyces strains from Sam at Eureka Brewing on August 29. They came in 1.5 ml vials that were all sealed with wax tape. All of the vials, but one were completely full. The one vial that leaked still had some starter liquid left in it (and eventually took off).
09/13/13 - The first step was to get a starter going to build these yeast up to pitchable quantities. I came up with an idea to do this very inexpensively. I used plastic water bottles. The bottles are probably already sanitized, if not sterile (I still soaked them in sanitizer) and the screw tops can be manually loosened to release CO2. I labeled the bottle and each cap with the EBY #. I filled each bottle with 2 oz of 1.020 wort, sanitized the outside of the 1.5 ml vial and then poured the vial into the bottle. I closed the cap and gave each a good shake.
09/24/13 - There was already obvious yeast growth that could be seen on the bottle of each bottle. No krausen that I can remember. Each bottle got 4 more oz. of 1.030 wort. The caps were burped each morning and I never had any issues with too much pressure.

09/30/13 Brewday -
Belgian Brett Single

IBU: 25       SRM: 4.5      Batch Size: 10 gal  (20 - .5 gal) 
O.G.:1.050              FG: Varied

Name                            Amount 
Pilsner                          11.000 lb 
Munich Malt                    2.000 lb
Wheat Malt                     4.000 lb
Acid Malt                      12.000 oz

Name                 Alpha      Amount      Use      Time
Styrian Golding   4.5%        2 oz       Boil     60 min
Saaz                   4.5%        2 oz       Boil     10 min


Brewing Process 
Mash at 152 grain for 60 min

I decided to stay with my plastic water bottle method and purchased 1 gal water bottles with a screw cap. They cost me $0.89 each and I was able to use the water for this batch (I prefer soft water for my Saisons/Pale Sours - see profile below). This also worked very well as it was cheap and I can just recycle the plastic bottles and not worry about cleaning them or future contamination. (I don't need 20 stoppers dedicated to sours - and yes they become contaminated). The bottles were also burped everyday for the first week and every 2-3 (couple of two-tree) days after that. I definitely noticed a difference in lag time, fermentation vigor and pellicle formation between the strains. (One bottle got destroyed so I used a 1 gal glass container, which I then forgot to put on an airlock, sorry EBY 048 you got acetobacter bombed.)

11/7/13 - Bottling Day(s) (close to a month later) - Well, this sucked. Once I got my system laid out (see below) it wasn't too awful. I decided to only bottle 3 - 12oz bottles of each strain. I probably could have squeaked out 4, but it was pushing it. I poured myself a taster of each while bottling and then I have a bottle to taste 1 month after bottling, 6 months and 1 year. Since I was bottling I took brief notes and compiled them in the table below. I will note that a majority of these except a few tasted pretty similar.

And the first official tasting is scheduled for this Thursday night (12/19/13). So expect a follow-up post in the not too distant future.And I'll be filling out this form:
Brettanomyces Score Sheet - Google Doc Version


  1. Good writeup. I like the idea of water bottles for the 1 gallon fermentors. Have you found any data on their oxygen permeability? It's also nice to see that all of yours attenuated. I had one stop at like 1.040, and it smelled like goat ��.

    1. It seemed to work pretty well. No data on permeability, but I'm not too concerned with it for quick aging. I was pretty surprised that they all worked and made pretty drinkable beer.

  2. Great post Jeff, I like the 1 gallon water bottles to. I haven't brew mine yet, will next week, but I will probably steal this idea.

    1. You should. It made the process much easier just for the whole ease of cleaning (or lack of). The smaller water bottles worked well too.

    2. Great post Jeff. About to bottle and taste all 20 (day job got in the way of bottling sooner) so mine are at 6 weeks. I have some micrographs, PCR data (presence/absence of Brett and Sacch.. as well as FG for the 20 soon.

    3. Exciting. We just did our tasting last Thursday. If possible, get as many palates (we had 12) as possible and if you can break it into 2 sessions of 10 I would recommend it. Our palettes got very fatigued.

  3. Great post! I was sad I didn't see Sam's post until it was too late. Hopefully he'll have some more strains available in the future.

    1. I could send you some if you're interested. I have a few people that asked. What till I post the results and let me know what you want.

    2. Thanks! I'd love to try some of the strains.

  4. The mango strain intrigues me quite a bit

    1. That mango did not taste the same at our recent tasting. Some of these changed quite a bit after bottling. I'll have updated notes shortly

  5. Awesome procedure and great patience on your part for doing this. I'll be interested to see the followup notes on each of these, especially the feet/pineapple strain.


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