Brew Day: Featured Creatures IPA

This time around I’m looking to do a 100% Brettanomyces IPA. In fact, the first 100% Brett beer I brew, so this should be interesting.

First things first: What flavors can be expected from a 100% Brettanomyces fermentation? In reality, it’s all sorts of flavors, except for neutral such as with the Chico strain of brewer’s yeast.

As with saccharomyces, brettanomyces is able to produce various esthers and polyphenols. Different strains and species of brettanomyces are produce different kinds of flavors. Brettanomyces is just a yeast after all, not a bacteria as is often believed to be.

One of the exciting aspects of fermenting with Brett is that it is in fact a wild yeast. As such it can take it’s own course, and the brewer must be somewhat on top of the flavors that it develops, paciently waiting for the right time to drink. While I have no experience with brett fermentation yet, I expect the flavor of this beer to change over time, and that’s plain thrilling.

Brettanomyces can develop horsey, barnyard, fecal, sweaty, plastic flavors, as well as pineapple, pear, stone fruit, sour and vinegar flavors.

While it is a wild yeast, I have chosen a known strain for this beer that should not be very heavy on the barnyard flavor and more forward with fruit. I hope this to be a very fruity IPA, with enough funk and dynamics to make it interesting. Whatever comes out, I’m up for the journey.

Because of the fruit aromas and flavors expected from the brett fermentation, I chose to use hops that would accentuate and play well with that profile. Amarillo is flowery and citrusy, and one of my favorite hops to use I may add. To that I’ve added Galaxy for its passionfruit and again citrus character, and finally chinook to layer in some spice and pine character along with it’s subtle grapefruit notes. My hope is I won’t really be able to tell where the brett starts and the hops end - they should play together to create some nice complexity unlike anything I’ve only ever read about, such as Crooked Stave’s 100% Brett Citra IPA. Finally, Brett beers' perceived bitterness is lower than that of saccharomyces, so not only did I first wort hopped this beer, but I also added a doze of high alpha acid Warrior at 60m.

When making a 100% Brett beer, I consider production of wort as a primary driver for creating the right medium for brett to do it’s thing. First of all, Brett chews up all sorts of sugars, unlike saccharomyces. Further, brett does not produce any glycerol, which contribute to saccharomyces beers' mouth feel. To top that off, brett can dry beers way out, so we want to help it out on the mouth feel front. For that reason, I mashed at a higher-than-usual temperature, and I added fermentables that aid in mouth feel such as carapils.

Another important consideration for 100% Brett beers is that pitching rate is very high, and therefore it’s required to build up a good starter. Brett is also slower in general than sacc, so building up the starter will require a bit more planning, and fermentation itself will take about twice as long. I plan on letting this ferment at least 4 weeks, if not more.

The resulting recipe is as follows:

Fermentables

Name Amount Percent Use
Rahr 2-row 10 lb 70.2% Mash
Vienna Malt 2 lb 14% Mash
CaraPils 1 lb 7% Mash
Wheat Malt 1 lb 7% Mash
Acidulated Malt 4 oz 1.8% Mash

Hop Schedule

Variety Time Amount Form Alpha Acids
Amarillo FWH 1oz Whole Hops 7.1%
Galaxy FWH 1oz Pellets 15.3%
Warrior 60m 1oz Pellets 17%
Chinook 5m 1oz Whole Hops 13.3%
Amarillo 5m 1oz Whole Hops 7.1%
Chinook 1m 1oz Whole Hops 13.3%
Amarillo 1m 2oz Whole Hops 7.1%
Galaxy 1m 2oz Pellets 15%

Other

Name Amount Use
Whirlfloc 1 tablet 15m left in boil
Yeast Nutrients ¼ tsp 15m left in boil

Yeast

Name Lab Attenuation Quantity
WLP648 Brettanomyces Bruxellensis Trois Vrai White Labs 85%+ 1.8l starter with one vial

Mash at 156F for 60m.

Brew notes

September 1, 2015

Created a starter with 300ml of 1.040 wort and one vial of WLP648. Kept starter agitated on a stir plate.

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This starter formed a pellicle, and lots of condensation in the flask in about 3 days.

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September 5, 2015

Created a larger 1.8l starter and pitched 300ml on it. During the transfer, I did not notice any acetic acid/vinager aroma which is great.

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Left starter on stir plate.

September 6, 2015

Moved starter off of stir plate and placed in fermentation chamber (ahem, closet). Left it there until brew day.

September 12, 2015.

A few hours before pitching, I moved the starter to the stir plate again. There wasn’t a large pellicle to speak of, but there was plenty of activity and CO2 production.

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I started this brew with RO water. Initial water pH was 5.7, which required no further acidification nor other salt treatments as this water has very low alkalinity.

I heated strike water to 174F, and doughed-in, resulting in a mash temperature of 156F.

Mash pH was 5.4.

Sparged for about 55 minutes and collected 7.5 gallons of wort.

Added 1 tsp of gypsum and ¼ tsp of Calcium Chloride to kettle for flavor.

Added boil additions per recipe.

Cold-crashed with a plate chiller, and moved wort to fermenter.

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Aerated and pitched entire starter. OG was 1.060.

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September 14, 2015

First signs of activity in fermentation. Creamy pellicle starting to form.

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