Thursday, September 10, 2009

Brewday - College Debt Brett

So now that I'm back in a place where I can ferment beers at room temperature, and have a nice big basement to store things in, it was time to make my first ever (intentionally) soured beer! The original plan was to make a 10 gallon base beer and ferment 5 gallons with Roeselare Ale Blend as a Flemish Red, and 5 gallons with Brettanomyces Bruxellensis and pluots. Well, there was no Roeselare to be found. So brett it was! If you're not sure what a pluot is, here's a Slate article.

Brettanomyces is a wild yeast, most notably used in the sour Flemish ales and Lambics of Belgium. Bruxellensis is, as the name suggest, a strain harvested from the region around Brussels. Brett is a weird critter, in that it can digest more complex dextrose molecules, meaning that over time it will create a very dry beer. It takes a long time to work (3 months to a year) and likes acidic environments, so it's usually used in conjunction with good old S. Cerevisiae and often lactic or pedio bacteria cultures. Over time brett produces a wide range of interesting funks, including everyone's favorite "horse blanket" as well as spicy phenols and notes like pineapple.

The base beer was:
  • 4 lbs Pale Malt
  • 4 lbs Vienna Malt
  • 2 lbs Wheat Malt
  • 8 oz Carahell
  • 4 oz Aromatic Malt
  • 4 oz Cara-Vienna
  • 2 oz Special B
  • Hops were 1/2 oz Magnum at 90 minutes.
Mashed at 158 to encourage dextrine formation. Then decoction to knockout at 168 to further make some tasty dextrines. After all, once the ale yeast is done we want the brett to have something to eat. No fining or anything, again, more food for the brett later. After a week's primary fermentation it was racked and split into two carboys. One had 5lbs of pluots from the farmer's market. (Sliced in half and frozen first). The other had 5 lbs of blackberries I'd foraged from a local park. Again, frozen first. Added some brett to each carboy and here they will sit until sometime after New Years'.

Then I'll rack them off the fruit, add some oak chips, and let them sit another three months or so. Then into bottles and hopefully a glass by this time next year. Meanwhile these carboys (and everything else that touches the brett) will get a skull and crossbones on it, because it will never be used for normal beer again. But I'll be more on the ball next year and grab some Roeselare blend when it's available!

Oh yes: there's a lot of head-space. I purged it with co2 after racking. Oxidization bad.


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