Monday, September 30, 2013

Brettanomyces naardenensis - 100% and Bottle Conditioned Beers

Here is the second in my series of three “other” Brett species tastings (B. custersianus last week, and B. nanus next week). Brettanomyces naardenensis was originally isolated from a soda producer. The exact context is not available, but it is certainly the strangest source of a brewing microbe I’ve used. The culture I used in all of these beers came from East Coast Yeast.

This tasting is a good example of how Brett can continue to slowly change a beer in the bottle. When we tasted through all of these beer at Modern Times, the saison bottle conditioned with B. naardenensis was the least popular of the six. It was strongly “footy” as someone described the unappealing sweaty aroma. A couple months later the beer is much better, mellower, and actually pleasant!

100% B. naardenensis

Appearance – The haziest version so far. It looked clear in the bottle, so it may just be that this strain is particularly easy to accidentally rouse.

Smell – Bright indistinctly-citrusy fruit, with chemical and sweaty elements. Not entirely unpleasant, but it telegraphs “weird.”

Taste – Surprisingly tart for a 100% Brett beer. It is certainly not a full-blown sour, but tangy. Tastes lactic to me, but it is hard to be sure. Otherwise the flavor isn’t hugely exciting, although I get a bit of the strawberry that the ECY description mentions. A bit too sweet. The finish is slightly goaty

Mouthfeel – Medium body, somewhat thicker than I’d prefer. Solid carbonation.

Drinkability & Notes – Meh. An interesting result given the acidity, but not a really great beer to drink. Could do well with a more complex malt bill and some more bitterness to fight the sweetness.

Bottle Conditioned w/ B. naardenensis (Winner)

Saison finished with Brettanomyces naardensis.Appearance – Beautiful streaming lines of bubbles rising through the crystal clear yellow body. Solid retention and lacing from the white head.

Smell – My first impression was that the smell balanced the peppery phenolics of the saison yeast (WY3711 – French Saison) with additional fruity and phenolic from the Brett. However, when I opened a bottle of the “clean” saison (same batch, with no Brett added at bottling), it had little of the character of the version with B. naardenensis.

Taste – For how weird the 100% fermentation with this strain is, the flavor when bottle conditioned is pretty restrained. The inverse of the way things normally work. Not much fruit or classic Brett character. I know some people hate the descriptor “rustic,” but that is exactly what this beer is. The Brett provides an edge of interesting hard-to-pin-down (Spice? Mineral? Fruit?) character without getting in the way.

Mouthfeel – Thin, crisp, very good medium-high carbonation.

Drinkability & Notes – The B. naardenensis did a very nice job as a saison enhancer, boosting the character of the primary yeast without making it taste like a “Brett” saison. I'll be interested to see how this beer continues to change.

Updated Tasting Notes 11/18/15 


Cole said...

I'd be curious to see a follow-up on this brett strain in the future as Al mentions it is quite unpleasant until after ~6 months of aging. This is a bit shy of that time frame, so it would be interesting to see if something develops in the next few months.

Anonymous said...

Yeah it was a real change-over and was well - received at the NHC earlier this year. Very acidic but not puckering, estery. Started off acetic with a mousy-taint. Six months was completely different.
Al B.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Ikea, although I don't see that design on their website anymore.

Aaron said...

Hey Mike,

Great info on the more esoteric wild yeasts! I've exhausted the bourbon flavor out of a used barrel and now want to use it for souring. I tend to make more lambics than Flemish sours. So, would you recommend just Brett. lambicus to start?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I like a blend of microbes. You'll need some lactic aid bacteria (Lactobacillus and Pediococcus) for acidity. I also tend to do multiple Brett strains for a long-aged sour beer. Something like Wyeast Lambic Blend is an easy place to start, but I'd add the dregs from a bottle or two of your favorite gueuzes to add depth.

emmur0 said...

Do you think you'd expect similar results as the bottle conditioning version by fermenting with Belgian Ardennes strain and Naardenensis as a secondary strain in a Belgian pale?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

These are my only experiences with this strain, so it is hard to say with any certainty how your batch would turn out. That said, with a similar beer and a similar yeast, I have no reason to believe it wouldn't produce a similar set of flavors. Let me know how it turns out!

xfbbx said...

Have you revisited these beers at all? I'm curious if they have changed much since the first tasting.
I'm interested to know if the 100% version has become more enjoyable and if it's become more expressive in the 2nd version.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I haven't gone back to do a really structured tasting of these, I will eventually. No big changes off the top of my head.

xfbbx said...

It's been over a year on these.. any change? Any of them jump out an surprize you over time?
Just by chance I noticed I asked almost this same question a year ago! ha ha.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

OK, OK, I'll go back for another tasting of these soon!

xfbbx said...

You make it sound like a chore! ;-)