Thursday, January 13, 2011

Brett Brux Belgian Pale Tasting

One of the most important factors in making good sour/funky beers is using the right bugs (they are the ones doing the hard work after all).  I've slowly been trying to figure out which microbes impart characters I enjoy the most. The session Belgian pale that I brewed with my friend Pete last summer was my first beer with White Lab's Brett bruxellensis (a sister to the strain used in Orval).  It is supposed to impart a complex "classic" funk (the sort of leathery-horse-blanket-funk people imagine when they think of Brett), but I assumed it would be restrained (mellow even) in a low gravity (1.042) beer mashed at 147 (for high fermentability), boy was I wrong.

Brett Finish Belgian Pale

Yes that is a Curb Your Enthusiasm reference, with some poor spelling...
Appearance – Pours from the tap with an attractive golden hue. Slightly hazy, but much clearer than it was when it was tapped. The head pours short, but it sticks around and clings nicely to the sides of the glass.

Smell – Big aggressive aspriny/yeasty/horsey funk. Slight toasty malt backbone. Not much else going on.

Taste – Complex funk, farmyard, hay, hints of fruit, minerals, slight urinal. Toasty/yeasty finish (the Vienna malt comes through nicely). The finish is pretty dry, but it isn't grating. Slight hop bitterness, but not much other Saaz hop character left (I was originally planning on drinking it fresher, but I kept waiting for the funk to get to a happier place).

Mouthfeel – Light body but it avoids being watery or tannic. Moderate carbonation.  About right for a borderline table strength beer.

Drinkability & Notes – Should have been a refreshing beer, but the aggressive funk gets in the way. Seems like a solid recipe, I think the issue may just be the strain of Brett Brux. I've used it on a few other beers and don't really love any of them. I might have to dump my culture and give the Wyeast version a shot in a few beers.

13 comments:

Patrick said...

Interesting. When I cracked my vial of Brett. B. from White Labs all I got on the aroma was pineapple and tropical fruit.

Randy said...

I love the Curb Your Enthusiasm reference.

Jim Lemire said...

I looked back at your original recipe and brew notes and saw you mentioned you used the Brett yeast cake from a previous batch. Was this at the same time as the Sacc yeast? Did you use the whole cake? Even though the original beer was only a gallon, I wonder if the amount of Brett was too much?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

You're right, I'd been thinking this batch had just received some of the Brett B starter. It did get the whole cake, but that shouldn't have been too much since it was from less than 1 gallon of beer. Not sure if the amount of Brett was the issue or not.

Marco Aurélio Piacentini said...

Mike, I must say I really envy your kegerator!!!

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

The spraycan of chalkboard paint was a nice addition. The labels always look a bit nicer when Audrey is in town.

danger said...

never tried the white labs, but i love the wyeats brett b. made some great brett-fermented and brett aged with it.

Seanywonton said...

I had good luck with the Whitelabs version of Brett B, You tried the beer in fact when you were out here for a visit, MIke. It was the strong saison with brett that I was just calling the "brett bomb" It is really tasting good after a little more time in the bottle. Not too much brett or aggressively funky flavors.

Just a thought, could it be that maybe it aged on the brett a little too warm? I have heard you can really get too much funk form going higher than 72 degrees.

Jeff said...

I have had good luck getting fruity, funky, sour beers from Brett c (WYeast). I always thought that Brett brux gave way too barnyard-like characteristics.

smokingbottle said...

has this beer improved at all since this tasting?

Now I am a little worried about choosing Brett B for a session pale I just brewed. I did use the Wyeast Brett B, not whitelabs. I hadn't heard of either really giving off an aspriny or urinal character. Mine is also fermenting on the cool side for brett so hopefully any aggressiveness may be held back.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I think it might just be an issue with me, I've had a number of other homebrewers tell me I'm crazy for not loving it. It certainly has improved a bit for me, but it is still just a bit too mellow of a base beer to support the amount of funk.

Amos said...

I know this is an old post, but I was wondering if you'd do anything differently if you were making a beer like this now? I have an Orval clone ageing at the moment. It's my first time using Brett Brux (Wyeast), and it already has strong barnyard flavours like the ones you describe in this beer. Stonger than I really enjoy.

I was hoping it might turn round a bit with some more ageing, but it sounds like yours didn't? Is this just what you can expect from Brett B? I've never had a bottle of Orval that tasted this funky (I've had some other beers, but I didn't like them much).

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I'd probably pitch less Brett, and wait until after primary fermentation if I wanted to brew something similar again. I've had good luck waiting until bottling to pitch Brett (as Orval does), but this an be very risky if there are excess fermentables left in the wort. Brett doesn't generally mellow, although the character certainly an shift with more time. Good luck!

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