100% Brettanomyces Beer

All Brett Beer

Dmitri (of BKYeast) dropped off some Brettanomyces cultures at Brooklyn Homebrew a few months back.  He had isolated three cultures from a bottle of 2008 Cantillion Iris (C1, C2, and C3) and one from a smack pack of Wyeast 3191 PC Berliner Weisse.  I decided to brew an experimental 100% Brett Beer using the C2 and C3 cultures. I pitched both cultures into a singe 2-liter starter on a stir plate for ten days.  I tasted the finished starter wort, and there was a distinct sourness along with some earthy, peach and apricot fruit aromas.  I then brewed a simple recipe of 75% German Pilsner malt, 8% wheat, 8% munich, and per Chad Yakobson’s recommendation, 8% golden naked oats to boost the body and mouthfeel.  Since the beer was experimental by nature, I decided to make it a single-hop beer as well and used all Meridian hops.  I fermented the beer for four weeks and then dry-hopped for two weeks using a big dose (5 oz. in 5 gallons) of Meridian pellets in the fermenter.  I then kegged and cold-crashed the beer for two weeks.

Appearance.  Hazy golden amber with a dense rocky head.  Despite two weeks of cold crashing at near-freezing temperatures, the low-flocculating nature of Brettanomyces left the beer cloudy even until the final pour from the keg.

Smell.  When I first tapped the keg, the massive amount of dry hops gave the beer a huge aroma of grapefruit, citrus, and lemon.  Towards the end of the keg, the citrus notes receded slightly and the telltale aroma of Brettanomyces — barnyard, pineapple, and mango — came strongly to the forefront.  This is the most aromatic beer that I’ve ever brewed, which I think is due to the combination of Brettanomyces and big dry-hopping of the Meridian hops.  The beer definitely had the wow factor upon the first sniffs of members of my homebrew club.

Taste and Mouthfeel.  Because the beer finished at 1.003, the first thing I noticed about this beer is how dry it is.  The citrus aromas carried into the taste, along with some strawberry-like flavors, which I think was the result of the Brettanomyces and naked oats.  The addition of oats was important in this recipe because of the low finishing gravity.  Brettanomyces is known to thin out beers because it is so attenuative, so the oats allowed for a fuller body to counteract the Brett.

Overall Impressions.  One of the most refreshing, aromatic, and easy-drinking beers that I’ve brewed.  About halfway through the glass every time, I would get the distinct impression that I was drinking a wit beer.  Because of the risk of contaminating my other beers and long turnaround time, this 100% Brett beer probably will not make it into my regular rotation.  But when I’m ready for more experimenting, I’d like to try this again with some of Dmitri’s other cultures and some of the commercial Brett cultures that are available.

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14 thoughts on “100% Brettanomyces Beer

  1. Ben Maeso says:

    Looks like a great experiment. I just made my first 100% Brett IPA (Brett Brux Trios) over the weekend. Though I’m familiar with the Brettanomyces Project, I must have overlooked the naked oats suggestion. Gotta try that next time. I’m considering using some Malto-dextrin at kegging depending on where it finishes, but I have to do research on how easily brett will cut through it. I’ll keep you posted.

  2. kylers says:

    Yeah dude! Let me know how it turns out (maybe we can arrange for a bottle exchange or something?). Did you use the White Labs Brett Trois? I think I remember reading about the naked oats in a BYO or Zymurgy article that Chad wrote. I think you would be okay dosing it with maltodextrin at kegging, if you keep it cold it would take forever for the brett to eat through it and I think even if you left it warm it would still take a long time to eat through it.

  3. bkyeast says:

    Sounds like a great beer! Would have loved to taste it. I’m glad you liked these cultures.

  4. Thanks for the write up. How sour did this end up? I’ve been considering doing a Berliner Weiss type beer but with Brett instead of Sacc.

    • kylers says:

      It actually wasn’t sour at all, but had tons of esters, fruity being the most prominent. I know that Brett will create acetobacter in the presence of oxygen (the stirred starter I made tasted sour to me, which makes sense). Maybe if you gave it an extra dose of O2 after fermentation starts it would get sour, but that’s not really the flavor most people look for (lactic) in a Berliner Weiss, but it could be interesting. It would also be cool to sour with lactobacillus (sour mash or in the fermentor) and then ferment with Brett. Either way, let me know how it turns out!

  5. […] Impressions from other people: It was described as strawberries, bubblegum, green apple, pear, apricot, peach, wet sock/good cheese and slight vinegar. Strawberry, peach, apricot and pineapple were the most common descriptions. Finishes dry. Seems to be a good strain to use with fruity hops. Check out Kyler’s post about a beer he made with C2/C3 mix and Meridian Hops (https://haydtsbrewing.com/2013/02/13/100-brettanomyces-beer/) […]

  6. bkyeast says:

    I’m crashing starters right now and should be able to bring C1 slurry to Brooklyn Homebrew on Sunday. Let me know what’s the best way to pass you the yeast.

  7. Ben Maeso says:

    Update on the 100% brett IPA – Came out great. Huge Melon/Mango/Pineapple aroma and flavor wasn’t far behind. While fresh, for fun i would pour the beer for people saying it was a regular IPA and they were shocked when I revealed it was all Brett. I split the batch and made a control with chico and the Brett version was far better. Obviously, the Brett was more prominent as it aged lending to a tart, yet slightly funky flavor that I loved.

    What was really fascinating was that the Brett continued to work quite a bit in the keg at 30F. Also, the beer was calculated around 85 IBU which was apparent in the control, but hardly showed up in the Brett version..not that it was sweet by any means.

    Unfortunately, I only have a few bottles left. If you give me your address (perhaps FB message me) I’ll be happy to send you one.

    Also, I would love to get my hands on some of BK’s cultures

    • kylers says:

      That’s awesome! I will most definitely send my address along. I can’t wait to taste it. I just did a 100% Brett saison this past week but used restrained hopping to try to let the Brett shine through and get some feedback to BKYeast. I’m sure if you contact him you could get your hands on some stuff. I also have a few pretty old vials that I used for a bottling dosing that I could send to you if he’s out, so let me know. So stoked! You going to NHC by any chance?

  8. […] for the conference.   I was expecting a lower finishing gravity (1.008) based on my one other 100% brett fermentation (and a bit of research).  With quite a bit of residual fermentables left behind I decided to […]

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