Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Updates on the Three "Other" Brett Species

If there are any batches that I’ve gotten the most requests to update it would be the fermentations with the three “other” Brettanomyces species from East Coast Yeast. In 2013 I obtained samples of B. nanus (aka Eeniella nana), B. custersianus, and B. naardenensis from Al. I put each to use in two split batches: one with each Brettanomyces alone, and another where I waited to pitch until bottling.

With six beers to taste through, I’ll forgo the full tasting notes in favor of a 10-word highlight reel for each.

Naardenensis 100% – Small head, tart, white grape juice, cherry, mineral, thyme, effervescent.

Naardenensis Bottle Conditioned – Creamy head, Belgian yeast, peppery, mushy apples, honey, wet paper.

Nanus 100% – Average appearance, ripe orchard fruit, spice, mild tartness, faint urinal.

Nanus Bottle Conditioned – Beautiful lacing, cardamom, black pepper, mild oxidation, earthy, highest bitterness.

Custersianus 100% – Gusher, red grape juice, tropical, Smarties, metallic, perfume, refreshing, prickly.

Custersianus Bottle Conditioned – Bright, airy, spice, stale malt, sweaty, apple-berry, clean ethanol.

I avoided rereading my old notes until I was finished tasting to avoid unduly influencing myself, but I'm happy to see many commonalities in the words used. I should also note that as these ran through my “sour” gear, there is a decent chance that the results are not entirely the work of the single strain pitched. This would especially apply to the acidity in the 100% B. naardenensis fermentation. This is one reason that some breweries (like Russian River) maintain three separate sets of gear: clean, sour, and Brett (no bacteria).

The 100% B. custersianus is my favorite of the bunch at this stage, but sadly none of these strains turned out to shine with extended aging.We think of Brett through a particular lens (Orval, gueuze etc.), but it may be that many of the strains out there don't do well under these conditions. Obviously the species and strains that survive in beer for an extended period will be hardier under those conditions that strains isolated from other sources.


Hunington said...

I admire and appreciate your work, but what a waste of time to evaluate ANYTHING from East Coast Yeast, as it's just not routinely available unless you live next to Love2Brew or Princeton Homebrew, or happen to be friends with Al. For us mere mortals, it's a longshot to get any. I've scored once in 3 years of trying, and as such will no longer consider ECY when I'm looking for bugs, especially since there are now good reliable vendors like Yeast Bay for funky stuff. I'm sure Al's a great guy, and sincerely hope he decides to partner with White Labs or another vendor to become a reliable supplier. Until then, ECY=Frustration. Thank you again for your expertise and dedication!

Unknown said...

I've bought large pitches from him
As a home Brewer and the results were astonishing. All I had to do was email him
And he built them for me. It's a good option if you're working on a scale bigger than 5

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I certainly understand the frustration! Although I can also understand why Al wants to have complete control over his products. I also understand why Nick has taken a different approach for The Yeast Bay.

For what it's worth, I don't brew for the blog. I brew what I'm interested in, with what I have access to, and write it up. I would have shut down a long time ago if I was doing this for other people!

javieron said...

Nice post. I've also brewed a 100% B. custersianus beer. I was impressed how pleasantly dry the beer is. I also agree with the metallic taste, it reminds me a very clean and crisp lager.

Brian said...

I have a vial of EC30 (Naardenensis) and was thinking of adding it to a secondary that is fermenting now with Wyeast Belgian Ardennes 3522. I would probably let it sit in secondary until sometime in the summer. Was wondering how that might work out or if you recommend a different approach altogether. I don’t have any experience with the EC30 and little experience with Brett at all.

Unknown said...

Any update/info on ECY04 Anomala? That's the one strain I can't find a lot of info on.

Dan said...

Spot on Mike! I always love reading your posts whether or not they directly impact my homebrewing. And I'd say posts like this are generally inspiring. While I may not be able to get the exact microbes you used, your experience makes me consider ideas for similar projects I could do.

Eric Branchaud said...

Even if none of these shine on their own, I can't help but wonder if some may still have their place as part of a mixed culture with several Brett strains (i.e., pitched alongside some bottle dregs or a house culture).

Thanks for sharing your notes!

J. Karanka said...

Nanus and Brett c sounds like a good combo for a British style old ale. Maybe I should have phrased that like a question :D