I was lucky enough to have Dmitri of BKYeast grow up a culture of his Cantillon Iris 2007 Brettanomyces strains (C1). Brettanomyces, while generally feared when brewing standard “clean” beers, is quickly becoming the darling of the (adventurous) brewing world. I thought I would further experiment and see what kind of flavors I could brew up. I chose to loosely follow an all brett witbier/saison recipe by Chad Yakobson in an article he wrote for Zymurgy recently. One of his suggestions was to supplement the grain bill with something brett couldn’t chew through (flaked rye, naked oats) in order to leave behind enough body and mouthfeel in the beer. My goal was to produce this beer in time for the National Homebrew Conference, but this strain had other plans. Primary fermentation took seven weeks to get down to final gravity and missed being ready 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 bottle this batch in thick-walled corkable belgian bottles.
Appearance. Hazy golden hue with very little head retention. Looks like a Belgian witbier.
Aroma. Very pleasant aromas of hay, citrus, peach, mango, and a slight musty funkiness that isn’t off-putting. Very distinct brett aroma.
Taste and Mouthfeel. Lemon verbena, sweet apple and pear notes with a slight astringency in the mouthfeel. There is a very cider-like quality to this beer. The brett has seemingly disassembled the malt profile of this beer leaving behind a thin to medium body. Carbonation is slightly lower than I think it should be, but I purposely used less priming sugar because of brett’s tendency to chew through everything. I plan to age a few bottles for a while to see how they hold up.
Overall Impressions. Very appetizing beer that has grown on me over the few bottles I’ve tried. To me this beer seems like a hybrid of beer, cider, and wine. You’re never sure what to expect with brett fermentations and it is surprising that this beer is even drinkable considering this is a somewhat randomly sourced strain of brettanomyces. I recently read an article in Brew Your Own magazine where David Logsdon of Logsdon Organic Farmhouse Ales mentioned that he doesn’t find the flavor profiles of 100% brett fermentations desirable and so he’ll typically only use them in secondary, after primary saccharomyces fermentation. I tend to agree with him, but had to try it for myself. I am interested in brewing a 100% Brett IPA as the mingling of flavorful hops and interesting brett esters seems appealing. The low finishing gravity and minimal malt profile also seem in line with an IPA as well.