Monthly Archives: April 2016

Brett IPA brew

It’s amazing how web forums have become an amazing resource for everything from food and drink to tech and knitting. Homebrewtalk.com has an epic thread on WLP644 Sacc trois (formerly Brett trois) currently standing at 105 pages long, starting in 2011 up to present. I mean, where to begin? At the start, I guess. The posters – including Mike Tonsemire of Madfermentationist and Jeffrey Crane also an active blogger – discuss recipes and experience brewing with the yeast. I gave up on the post around 60 pages in when the posters weren’t adding too much information about the yeast and just chatting. This can tend to happen. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to have an abridged version of these epic posts? The information is all experiential so in a way, it’s proper crowd-sourcing data. You can’t always rely on it to be perfect. The posters may have neglected to talk about or weren’t aware of variables that changed the results of their beer.

I’ve made one all brett beer so far with the Yeastbay Beersel blend. I was hungover when I made the recipe and chucked in too much chocolate malt. I’ve ended up with some sort of tangy American brown ale – due to the fact that I put 200g of acidulated malt in there. I’ve had a bunch of beers sour on me these last 6 months as I’ve been brewing sour beers and haven’t paid enough attention to sanitation, so I though that this happened in this case, but I think that the drying out and 200g of acidulated malt probably contributed to the flavour. Brett can add some acetic character to a beer if it’s well oxygenated, so one has to be a little careful about that if this isn’t desired.

Jacques Sacc Trois Yeast Starter

A fellow brewer friend of mine Jacques came to visit recently and brought a bunch of bretty style beers with him. I’ve cultured a few of them up now, including the above one – a Sacc Trois black IPA. He wasn’t too impressed with the final beer, but the starter I made had some lovely typical ripe pineapple aromas coming off it. Hence, the trawl through HBT before brewday to get some info on what to expect from this yeast. Here’s a few things I learnt from reading through the post:

  • It goes really well as a primary strain in all brett style beers. Actually, it’s been classed as a sacc yeast but in behaviour it’s pretty much the same as a brett yeast.
  • It doesn’t really add much as a secondary strain to beers.
  • In primary it puts off lots of tropical fruit flavours – sometimes even almost a little too overripe fruit flavours.
  • Aerated it can produce some acetic character (another typical brett aerobic fermentation trait). It will produce a tang if aerated but not a bite, just a small tangy character.
  • Fermentation is done at typical English ale temps – 18-21C. I’ve not read of any people fermenting hot, and apparently below 18C is tough for the yeast to work at.
  • Heavily hopped beers can have a positive effect on this yeast – Kiwi hops being particularly complimentary to the ripe fruit flavours it produces.
  • Unmalted grains can help give the beer some body which it may lack due to high attenuation of brett. The high attenuation of brett in primary is a little disputed though. Someone presented a chart of all their homebrew club’s experiments with the trois and the average FG over around 20 beers was 1.010. The lower end being 1.006 to 1.008, with some reporting stalled fermentations.
  • Acidulated malt (or adding lactic acid) is said to (in Chad Jacobsen’s research) improve attenuation but most people seemed to be getting 80% without it. They may however, increase expression of fruity aromas. This isn’t verified though and could be due to other factors.
  • Anaerobic environments are said to improve “funky” aromas from the brett-type yeast.

With all that in mind, phew (!), I put together a recipe. Motueka and Nelson Sauvin hops were used, with the former as bittering and both as aroma hops. Pale malt was used for the base, but other malts (wheat, vienna, munich, rye and carapils) were used to add body and I threw in some aromatic malt to add a little complexity on the nose.

crooked stave, beer, dregs, brett, brettanomyces,

On brewday, I remembered that I had some cultured up Crooked Stave dregs and decided to split the batch between the trois and the CS brett blend (12 different strains!). This also worked out as I was concerned about underpitching the cultured up dregs. Half the volume of wort to ferment effectively doubled my cell count.

Update 23/4/16 (brewday +2 days)

brett IPA fermentation

Lag time on the Crooked Stave dreg culture was an amazing 3-4 hours to get started. It was powering away very quickly. Sacc trois took a little longer to get going but was up and running after about 18hrs.

Update 28/4/16 (brewday + 7 days)

Gravity is standing at 1.010 for the CS culture and 1.020 for the Sacc. trois. Samples are both smelling delicious but very different. 5 days in, trois was smelling as reported – of ripe pineapple and that smell hasn’t abated. It’s still here after a week and likely to get stronger as the gravity drops down further. The CS sample I took 5 days in smelt vinous – like a white wine. Perhaps that was still some of the Nelson Sauvin hop oils present in the aroma, 7 days in that’s still there but has died down a little and been replaced by a fruitier aroma reminiscent of passion fruit and fresh figs. Can’t wait to see how it develops. Will keep updating here.

Update 1/5/16 (brewday + 11 days)

Decided to chuck on the heat to the trois for a week or so. Stepped up from 23-25c over a couple of days. Fermentation seemed to have restarted a little bit judging by the airlock activity.  Tasting very good. Lots of ripe pineapple. CS more vinous with a slightly tart note now. 

Update 10/5/16 (brewday + 20 days

Took a gravity reading on the trois a few days ago and it looks good. Down to 1.011 from 1.020. Didn’t take one from the CS version as I was concerned about acetic production from O2 ingress. As I had a little O2 come in, a nice little pellicle formed on the Trois. Don’t worry kids, it’s all under control!


Without further ado here’s the recipe – please ignore the grains of paradise I didn’t chuck them in – (and the first American brown brett thing below it):

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
19 L 60 min 27.581562 5.814925 1.051 1.012 5.117967
Actuals 0 0

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
Brett Beer 28 A 0 - 0 0.75 - 0.75 0 - 0 0 - 0 0 - 0 0 - 0 %

Fermentables

Name Amount %
UK Pale Ale Malt 3 kg 50
UK Wheat Malt 1.2 kg 20
UK Vienna Malt 720 g 12
UK Rye Malt 500 g 8.33
UK Munich Malt 380 g 6.33
German Carapils (Weyermann) 100 g 1.67
Belgian Aromatic Malt 100 g 1.67

Hops

Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
NZ Motueka 20 g 60 min Boil Leaf 10.5
NZ Motueka 20 g 5 min Boil Leaf 10.5
NZ Nelson Sauvin 20 g 5 min Boil Leaf 12.5
NZ Nelson Sauvin 20 g 0 min Boil Leaf 12.5
NZ Motueka 20 g 0 min Boil Leaf 7

Miscs

Name Amount Time Use Type
Grains of Paradise 2 g 60 min Boil Other

Yeast

Name Lab Attenuation Temperature
Sacc Trois 75% 0°C - 0°C

Mash

Step Temperature Time
Rest at 68°C 60 min
Raise to and Mash out at 0°C 0 min

Fermentation

Step Time Temperature
Aging 0 days 0°C

Notes

Soo.... it?s recommended that I use some galaxy or motueka hops here as apparently they go very nicely with the sacc trois flavours. Could use willamette and nelson sauvin as well. Mosaic too!

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
19 L 60 min 14.198061 11.112302 1.055 1.012 5.640267
Actuals 0 0

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
Brett Beer 28 A 0 - 0 0.75 - 0.75 0 - 0 0 - 0 0 - 0 0 - 0 %

Fermentables

Name Amount %
Belgian Pilsen Malt 4 kg 68.55
UK Crystal Rye Malt 500 g 8.57
Belgian CaraPilsner Malt 300 g 5.14
UK Munich Malt 500 g 8.57
UK Flaked Oats 300 g 5.14
German Sauer(Acid) Malt 235 g 4.03

Hops

Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
US Northern Brewer 20 g 60 min Boil Leaf 7.1

Yeast

Name Lab Attenuation Temperature
White Labs WLP645 Brettanomyces Claussenii 77% 0°C - 0°C

Mash

Step Temperature Time
Rest at 66°C 60 min

Fermentation

Step Time Temperature
Aging 0 days 0°C

Notes

Based on the Mo Betta Bretta inspired beer in ASB. Difference being the NB hops and the crystal rye malt.

For Autumnal version (split batch?) add 32ml/l pinot noir + 0.3kg/l dried sour cherries.

Wine / Beer Blending Notes

So the next step on from brewing and secondary fermenting the Kiwi saison was to blend it with some Sauvignon Blanc wine from Marlborough, New Zealand. My friend Simon worked for a winery in NZ and amazingly managed to blag us some wine for the purposes of these trials. Thanks very much to the good folks at Saint Clair winery for providing the bottles for sampling.

I decided not only to trial the Sauv/Saison blend (inspired by the Mad fermentationist post) but also to trial some Pinot Noir blended with a Flemish Red I made in August 2015, as well as a porter of mine that soured through my poor sanitation practices that I was trying to rescue instead of chucking down the drain. It’s hard to say goodbye to something you’ve laboured over so much! In this case I was hoping the wine would boost the beer rather than just polish a royal dog turd.

As Simon is an experienced winemaker, I thought it would be great to have him along and show us the basic proceedings of a simple wine blending session. We decided to go fairly simple, with trials blending the wine with the beer at 5, 10, 15 & 20% by volume so for example, we’d add 5ml of wine and 95ml of beer, 10ml plus 90ml and so on. This was all done by using scales (1g/ml) as they’re more accurate than measuring. Only problem is if you add too much it’s difficult to correct if you’re blending directly.  I’d bottled and carbed a litre of each beer a few weeks previous especially for the session. The saison had been conditioning for 3 months with brett in a keg, and the Flemish red had been ageing for around 8 months – and 2 with a small piece of oak wine barrel stave. The sour porter was brewed in November and started souring after about a month.

Saint Clair Malborough Pinot Noir Sauvignon Blanc

The wine was measured out and blended with the beer at the percentages proposed. We had 6 glasses in total for each beer blending session. Taking care to make sure that the glasses were all identical for consistency. The first was unblended beer, the second through to the fifth were beer/wine blends of 5, 10, 15 & 20% by volume, then the final glass was wine only. We didn’t worry too much about blind tasting tests for simplicity’s sake and also because we didn’t have so many glasses, and the purpose wasn’t isolating a specific flavour – more looking for a sweet spot within the blending percentages. Having the ‘naked’ beer and wines as a comparison, then being able to walk upwards through the blend strengths was enough for the purposes of the session.

First up was the Kiwi Saison. The aroma of NZ hops had died down considerably since I had kegged it – not surprisingly after three months in the keg. I also understand that brett can interact with the various hop oils to produce aromas of it’s own. The beer had aged with the brett very well, there were still some classic saison peppery notes, however there was a light fruity aroma on the nose reminiscent of apricot, as well as a light tartness present. All in all, I was very pleased with the results and it was one of the best saisons I’d brewed to date. The NZ Sauv Blanc was a classic example of the wine – one of my favourites: minerals, passion fruit, lime on the nose, a real fruity punch. Light, crisp and refreshing. Gorgeous.

Tasting the beer in the 5-10-15-20 steps was a very interesting process. At 5%, the wine aromas were perceptible but not really adding too much, at 10% the aroma starts to come into play, at 15% the blend was perfect – a wonderful interplay between the fruity/pepper of the beer and the bright, zesty aromas of the wine. At 20%, the wine overwhelms the beer flavour. There was quite a strong cutoff here and everyone agreed on the 15% as being just right.

The sour porter was a bit of a rescue case. The aromas were a mix of roasted malt, some acidic brightness and something else that wasn’t so nice for me – maybe some parmesan or something funkier. I’m not so familiar with the Pinot Noir grape, and expected a fruitier wine based on two bottles I’d recently had from Naked Wines. The Saint Clair pinot is a much more subtle beast. As Simon mentioned – it’s a wine comparable to old world wines like French Burgundy. Complex with a moderate body, the aroma is subtle and delicate. I was worried that the wine would be overwhelmed by the beer, and unfortunately a wine with a full-bodied fruity hit was what was needed for the sour porter. We found that 20% was the sweet spot for this one. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough to mask that unknown aroma, although it did improve the beer, I didn’t think it right to throw away such a large amount of good wine to improve a below average beer. We decided that maybe it was worth trying with a punchier, fruitier red wine. I’m either going to do that, chuck some rosemary in, or just ditch the batch and chalk it up to experience.

As a side note, I’d put aside a gallon of the Flemish red to age with some damsons and was hoping that this bottle might be the magic bullet to go with the sour porter. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case, and it was still a bit naff. The damson aroma seemed very muted after chilling in the fridge and even when we warmed it up, it didn’t seem to make much difference. A turd is but a turd, by any other blend, it seems.

wine beer blending session

The Flemish red I had more hope for. The beer itself had been massively improved by the addition of an oak stave. The sweet vanilla aromas really rounded the beer out a lot and made what seemed quite a simple malt/lactic tartness on the nose into something more complex and satisfying. We found something similar in this case as well, there was a sweet spot that we all agreed on, around the 10% mark. The wine added some depth, a slight astringency as well as an amazing red tint to the beer, however, at 15-20%, the wine overpowered the beer, pushing those vanilla notes down and masking their presence.

I had considered blending the wines into the keg but I’m going to blend a couple of gallons of the saison and the Flemish red and a keep a couple of gallons of them without the wine blended in to see if they’ll age differently in the bottle and have another side by side comparison to do in several months when they’re ready. Watch this space!

I’ve included the Flemish red recipe below. After primary fermentation with WYeast Abbey 1214, it was aged with a vial each of White Labs Berliner Weisse blend WLP630 (I needed to use it up!) and White Labs WLP655 Belgian Sour Mix for around 8 months.

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
23 L 60 min 10.275584 13.469416 1.063 1.016 6.275050
Actuals 0 0

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
Flanders Red Ale 23 B 1.048 - 1.057 1.012 - 1.014 10 - 25 10 - 16 0 - 0 0 - 0 %

Fermentables

Name Amount %
Belgian Pilsen Malt 2 kg 30.89
UK Munich Malt 1.8 kg 27.8
UK Vienna Malt 1.8 kg 27.8
German CaraMunich I 250 g 3.86
Belgian Special B 125 g 1.93
UK Light Crystal 500 g 7.72

Hops

Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
Australian Helga 20 g 60 min Boil Leaf 5.5

Yeast

Name Lab Attenuation Temperature
Wyeast 1214-Belgian Ale 74% 0°C - 0°C

Mash

Step Temperature Time
Rest at 66°C 60 min

Fermentation

Step Time Temperature
Aging 0 days 0°C

Notes

14ml of Lactic acid to add.