Beers fermented with only Brettanomyces (as opposed to the more traditional secondary fermentation following brewer's yeast) are starting to really gain some traction. There was an initial wave of excitement in 2004-2005 when Pizza Port (Mo' Betta Bretta) and Russian River (Sanctification) released two of the first 100% Brett beers. I started this blog not much after by posting a recipe for my first 100% Brett beer, a fruity low-gravity saison.
Recently there seems to has been another wave of interest in 100% Brett beers, thanks in no small part to Chad Yakobson’s research and enthusiasm for the technique. Chad is fermenting almost all of his beers at Crooked Stave with a variety of Brett strains, most of which he has isolated from beers and wines. Rather than featuring funky Brett byproducts as the dominate flavor, he is making spiced, hoppy, and dark beers that gain fruity-complexity from the unique fermentation. It is also exciting to see the recent re-release of Mo’ Betta Bretta (I'm looking forward to trying the bottle Jacob picked up for me... assuming Peter and Tomme were joking about the pineapple, garlic, and oregano?).
The batch I brewed last weekend was inspired by one of my favorite 100% Brett beers, the 2010 New York ultra-collaborative Super Friends IPA. Brewed at Ithaca with help from the brewers of Captain Lawrence, Ommegang, Southampton, and Flying Fisher, it was hopped with Citra and fermented with BSI Brett brux var. Drie and smaller amounts of a few other strains. Bright and citrusy hops with a complementary fruity-funkiness made for a unique IPA. With the release of White Labs Brett brux Trois, their version of Brett Drie, I decided to brew something similar. Hopefully White Lab's strain has similar characteristics to the original, which was isolated from a bottle of Drie Fonteinen J&J Blauw at the behest of Adam Avery. It will be interesting to see, especially considering Chad identified two separate isolates in the BSI culture.
I played around with the hops a bit, adding some Centennial to the Citra for complementary citrus character, and a bit of Chinook to keep it from being too fruity. I liked the combination of Citra and Chinook in the second runnings American Bitter I brewed two years ago, but I wanted to reduce the resiny/grapefruit character from the Chinook. I added a half pound of acid malt after starch conversion to provide some lactic acid for the Brett to create the fruity ester ethyl lactate.
This batch was my first time using some new equipment, a HopRocket (hop back) and Therminator (plate chiller). In this setup the wort flows from the kettle, propelled by the March pump (mounted on the black tote), into the hops in the hop back, and finally through the plate chiller on the way to the fermentor. This configuration allows the hot wort to flow through whole hops before being immediately chilled. With warm (~85 F) ground water this time of year I usually rely on a pump recirculating ice water through my chiller to drop the wort the last few degrees, but this time I immersed my immersion chiller in a bucket of ice water to serve as a pre-chiller for the ground water. The wort only got down to 78 F (in just seven minutes though), a few hours in my spare fridge brought it down the rest of the way. I’ll do a more detailed write-up of my new chilling process once I make a few adjustments and get a bit more practice.
The biggest challenge of fermenting with only Brett is growing enough cells to pitch. While suggestions vary, most brewers pitch somewhere between ale and lager cell counts. I bought from White Labs, so I had to grow 3 billion cells into close to 150 billion. A two stage starter on my stir-plate at around 80 F was enough to do the job in about 10 days. The 1.5 L starter had the beer rocking by the following morning at 66 F. This morning I moved the still slowly fermenting beer out of the “cold room” and into the basement where the temperature is in the mid-70s to help the Brett finish. In another week or two I’ll dry hop the beer and get it on tap as quickly as I can.
Super 100% Brett IPA
Batch Size (Gal): 5.25
Total Grain (Lbs): 13.50
Anticipated OG: 1.064
Anticipated SRM: 4.3
Anticipated IBU: 96.5
Brewhouse Efficiency: 69 %
Wort Boil Time: 75 Minutes
70.4% - 9.50 lbs. Canadian Pale "2-Row"
22.2% - 3.00 lbs. German Wheat Malt
3.7% - 0.50 lbs. Cara-Pils Dextrine Malt
3.7% - 0.50 lbs. Acid Malt
5 ml HopShot (Extract) @ 60 min.
1.50 oz. Centennial (Pellet, 8.50% AA) @ 60 min.
2.00 oz. Centennial Pellet (Pellet, 8.50% AA) @ 0 min.
1.00 oz. Citra (Whole, 10.00% AA) @ 0 min.
1.00 oz. Chinook (Whole, 13.00% AA) @ Hop-Back
1.00 oz. Citra (Whole, 10.00% AA) @ Hop-Back
2.50 oz. Citra (Whole, 10.00% AA) @ Dry Hop
1.50 oz. Centennial (Pellet, 8.50% AA) @ Dry Hop
1.00 oz. Chinook (Whole, 13.00% AA) @ Dry Hop
0.50 - Whirlfloc @ 15 min.
0.50 tsp - Yeast Nutrient @ 15 min.
WLP644 - White Labs Brettanomyces bruxellensis Trois
Profile: Pliny the Water
Sacch Rest - 60 min @ 153 F
6/22/12 300 ml starter of WL Brett Trois, started.
6/28/12 Stepped up to 1.6 l (pitched .1 L into Berliner weisse)
7/1/12 Brewed with Keith
4 gallons distilled plus 5 gallons filtered DC tap water. 10 g gypsum, 3 g CaCl.
Added acid malt for the last 20 minutes of the mash since the pH was already low enough without it.
Fly sparged into Peter's keggle. Hot break.
One bag of ice was not enough for the pre-chiller for the plate chiller, only got the temperature down to 78. Put in the fridge for four hours to bring it down the rest of the way.
65 F ambient temp for fermentation.
No apparent fermentation the next morning, but when I shook the Better Bottle there was a huge CO2 release that cause it to blow off.
7/9/12 Moved out of cold room to 75 F to help finish fermentation.
7/12/12 Gravity down to 1.010, fermentation appears about finished. Big fruity flavor, hard to distinguish hops from the Brett.
7/22/12 Kegged with the bagged dry hops. Extra 3 cups put into a plastic bottle with 6 Chinook cones, force carbed.
8/23/12 What a terrific, tropical-fruity, balanced, quenching, summer IPA!
7/2/13 This recipe was reincarnated as Modern Times Neverwhere!