Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Yeast Bay Beta Testing: 100% Brett Pale Ale (It's not a sour Bro)

Four Carboys, one mini-fridge.
The second round of Beta testing for The Yeast Bay is the one I was most looking forward to. The four strains we tested in round one were all Sachromyces Saison strains used in the split batch Les Quatre Saisons, all very unique and a great learning experience. For this round Nick sent us 4 new strains of Brettanomyces that he has isolated and built up for us. In my opinion the tide has shifted, brewers are no longer content with only 3 strains of Brettanomyces available in pure culture, especially with a seemingly infinite selection of Sacchromyces strains to choose from. The Yeast Bay are doing their part to grow the library of available Brettanomyces cultures and I am happy to be a part of it. Maybe one day we will be free of the "Brett beers are Sour", or "Brett is always funky", stereotypes because Brettanomyces can be oh so much more than just barnyard funk.

We set the experiment up similarly to how we did Les Quatre Saisons, we would all brew the same recipe with only small variations in both mash and primary fermentation temperatures. We were each assigned a mash temp, and a primary fermentation temp range so that Nick could get a feel for how the strains work in a slightly varied wort. This time it was decided that we would keep the mash temps within a more typical range of 150F-152F, as opposed to the 148F-156F range we employed for the Saison. We just felt that there was more to be learned from the fermentation temps then the vast differences in the mashing temps.



No rubber bands were harmed
in the making of this beer.
Nick sent us some healthy vials but we all decided to get them going in some starter wort in advance of brew day anyway. The brewday was uneventful, in a good way, I mashed at 151.1F (0.1 above my target temp of 151F), chilled the wort and pitched each culture into its own ~3 gallons of wort in 3 gallon Better Bottles. Prior to pitching I aerated each carboy with only 15 seconds of pure o2, on normal batches I would aerate longer but I fear the acetobacter monster. As fate would have it, all 4 Better Bottles fit snugly into my little fermentation fridge, so a consistent fermentation temp of 71F was maintained throughout.

I took gravity readings and samples to taste at 8 weeks, preliminary tasting notes are below. I was comfortable with the gravity each one was at, but since we don't know the true attenuation of the strains I decided to let them ride a bit longer, then life got in the way and they rode longer yet. All told they spent just under 3 months in primary before I packaged them, that may seem long and maybe it is but I've went that long with 100% Brett beers in the past without issue (never for a sole Sacchromyces ferment however, unless you like the taste of burnt rubber). I am glad that I waited though because the gravity moved at least a point (3 points for 2B)  by the time I packaged, these Bretts were working for a while.

Fermentation went as expected, all four strains kicked off in the same amount of time with very little lag times. I brewed at 6am and pitched the yeast mid day after I let them cool longer in the fermentation chamber, all four showed activity within the few hours before I went to bed. There was noticeable activity for up to 5-6 weeks with some small tiny bubbles shooting up, especially in strain 1B which seemed to the most active the longest, and the numbers show.

8 Week Samples with Tasting Notes:
There's that window shot again, real original Ed.

  • Strain 1B- 1.007 the most clear. Lactic acidity, fruity nose. Stone fruits, sweet tarts, dry, pepper in background. Really awesome.
  • Strain 2B- 1.014 woody funk, cedar!, subtle acetic nose. Sweet upfront, medium body, light tartness, fruity with a bit of spice on the back.
  • Strain 3B1.013 body odor, sweaty aromas but not overpowering. Candy like tartness, a bit sweet on the back.
  • Strain 4B1.014 earthy, dirt, wood-y nose. Earthy, woodsy, some malt balance not in others.

All four seem to run the gamut of Brett flavors/aromas, some really unique stuff from the early tasting especially with strains 1B and 3B. But I would think that they will vary by the time I do a final bottle conditioned tasting next week. Below are the final numbers for myself, Marshall, and Brian, you can look forward to tasting notes and more info from them on their blogs. You can see how much each strain dropped over that last 4 weeks or so from the samples I pulled above.



Where some of the Saison strains we tested last were hit or miss I think all of these Brett strains are a hit in one way or another. Now I cant be certain until we taste all four in their final state, but the early tasting notes have me optimistic. As of this posting they have been in bottles for ~3 weeks so I will get to tasting shortly, we are all really excited about these strains. I will leave you with a slide show of fermentation and pellicles, really only 2B had a cool pellicle but its very wild looking (probably because it was the only one with an orange carboy cap).



TYB Beta 100% Brett Pale Ale

Brew day: 5/25/2014
Packaged: 9/1/2014

Recipe Specifications
--------------------------
Boil Size: 15.20 gal
Post Boil Volume: 12.50 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 12.00 gal 
Bottling Volume: 11.60 gal
Estimated OG: 1.055 SG
Measured OG: 1.055 SG
Measured FG: 1.006/1.011/1.012/1.013
Estimated Color: 6.3 SRM
Estimated IBU: 23.5 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Grain:
70% - 16 lbs 7 oz - Pale Malt 
20% - 4 lbs 11 oz - Munich 10L
10% - 2 lbs 6 oz - Oats

Hops:
Boil: 60min - 0.81 oz Magnum [14.20 %] - 20.0 IBUs
Boil: 15min - 2x Whirlfloc + 2tsp Yeast Nutrient
Boil: 10min - 1.00 oz Cascade [5.50 %] - 3.5 IBUs
Boil:  0min - 1.50 oz Cascade [5.50 %] - 0.0 IBUs

Yeast:
The Yeast Bay Beta Brettanomyces - #1B, #2B, #3B, #4B

Mash:
Sacch rest - 60 min @ 151.1 F 

Sparge:
Fly Sparge 10.55 gallons of 170f

Misc: 15 seconds of pure O2 per carboy. Filtered Philadelphia Tap water, Baxter Plant, no salt additions.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Barrel Aged Saison: It's All Gravy, Delicious Gravy.

Crushed Sunflower seeds, absolute bitch to crush.
It's been a while since i updated on the barrel aged beers, with Barrel #1 we have already aged the Philly Breakfast Stout  and the Quad (tasting notes coming soon), both beers holding a fair amount of oak and whiskey flavors, but the whiskey aromas are waning. I have been a bit anxious to get some Brett into this barrel and felt it was about time to get going, a nice Saison with some fruity Brett strains seemed appropriate. I am a still a bit concerned that there is too much whiskey flavor hanging in there but we will monitor it and hopefully not over do it, I certainly do not want whiskey overpowering this beer.

We came up with a recipe that wasn't too high in ABV but something that packed a punch and can withstand the flavors/aromas that we will be pulling out of the barrel. I had a few pounds of Malted Sunflower seeds that I used in a very floral delicate Saison a while back, they add a grainy-ness to the flavor of the beer, and help to add body so we tossed a bit of them into the grist. The base grain was Pilsner malt of course, with some White Wheat, Naked Golden Oats, and Munich for some malt complexity, finished off with Turbinado for dryness and because we are snobs.
Frothy, fruity, funky starter of
the Beersel blend.

A fruity, tropical, Brett barrel aged Saison needs Nelson Sauvin if you ask me, we bittered with Magnum and late hopped the beer with Nelson at 5 minutes and flame out. Going into the barrel this thing was more Nelson forward than I could have hoped for, which is great because we want it to hold up for a few months in the barrel.

I distributed some Wallonian Farmhouse slurry (and some Sunflower seeds) to the group, four of us each brewed 5 gallons again with portions of each racked to the barrel and some not barrel aged. On barrel fill night we sampled each of The Yeast Bay Brett blend beers I brewed to decide what blend would be best, the group favored the Beersel blend over the other two so I built up a starter and added it to the barrel. I may have thrown some Brett Brux Trois dregs into the starter as well! 

There was a bigger difference in all of our beers going into the barrel then we have experienced in past group barrel projects. One was a bit more astringent, another was darker then we expected, another was lighter and way more Nelson forward (was awesome actually). I kind of like the variability in the batches, its interesting having each brewers own stamp on the portion being blended in and see how it all comes together in the end. There were aspects of each that I liked, or felt the Brett would enjoy working on, pretty excited for this one to finish. Now we wait...

It's All Gravy, Delicious Gravy

Brew day: 6/28/2014
Kegged: 7/12/20134


Recipe Specifications
--------------------------
Boil Size: 8.00 gal
A keg and 3 fermenters waiting to be racked and
Brett'd. 
I cropped Chris' face out of this one,
it was not pretty.
Post Boil Volume: 5.80 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 5.50 gal
Bottling Volume: 5.00 gal
Estimated OG: 1.060 SG
Measured OG: 1.064 SG
Measured FG: 1.007 SG
ABV: 7.5%
Estimated Color: 6.3 SRM
Estimated IBU: 36 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 80.00 %
Boil Time: 75 Minutes



Grain:
64.8% - 8lbs 8oz - Pilsner
  9.5% - 1lbs 4oz - White Wheat 
  9.5% - 1lbs 4oz  - Golden Naked Oats 
  4.8% - 10oz - Malted Sunflower Seeds
  3.8% - 10oz - Turbinado

Hops:
Boil: 60min - 0.35 oz Magnum [14.20 %] - 17.5 IBUs
Boil: 15min - 1 Whirlfloc Tablet + 1 tsp Wyeast Yeast Nutrient
Boil:  5min - 2.00 oz Nelson Sauvin [11.20 %] - 0.0 IBUs
Boil:  0min/Whirlpool - 1.00 oz Nelson Sauvin [11.20 %] - 0.0 IBUs


Yeast:
Generation 5 - Wallonian Farmhouse Slurry - 250ml/5 gallons (230b cells)
The Yeast Bay Beersel Brettanomyces Blend (100ml slurry woken up in 250ml starter, pitched into the barrel)

Mash:
Sacch rest - 60 min @ 149 F 

Sparge:
Fly Sparge 5.75 gallons 170f

Misc: 60 seconds of pure O2. Filtered Philadelphia Tap water, Baxter Plant. 

Notes: Pitched 250ml of healthy Wallonian Farmhouse slurry, then 500ml starter of the Beersel Brett blend + Trois dregs.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

We share 'round these parts: Lambic via Brouwerij-Chugach

The entrance to Brouwerij-Chugach.
The other week I had the pleasure of enjoying a few of Marshall's sour beers , and to complete the trifecta on The Yeast Bay beta testers tastings I was granted the opportunity to try some Lambic brewed by Brian from brouwerij-chugach.com. Brian was actually the one who started our little cross country beer sharing thing here. He reached out to Marshall and I and said he would be sending us some bottles of his beautiful Lambic. Who in their right mind would not be excited about an email like that, come on.

Brian and I share a lot of similar views on Farmhouse brewing and the sense of place you get from the house character of someones mixed fermentation beers, and food. Since Nick "introduced" us we chat regularly about all things beer and baking, bouncing ideas off of each other etc. Brian's site is new but already has a wealth of information on mixed culture fermentation practices and bread/pizza baking. He has become a mentor of sorts for me when it comes to baking bread and pizza, I went from making some mediocre stuff to blowing my own mind, he even sent me some of his leaven to get me going.

But we are here for the Lambic, and it comes from his rustic cellar from which , I imagine, many a bug thrive. Brian adheres to most traditional methods of wort production/and sour beer aging, turbid mashing, aged hops, and barrels upon barrels are used to create this LambicI would love to visit and get a tour, but unfortunately its quite a drive to Maine from Philadelphia. Who knows, maybe I will get a chance to try some of these commercially some day :) But for now I am perfectly happy receiving bottles of Lambiek Zomer in unlabeled bottles, you should be jealous.

Lambiek Zomer

Appearance: A brilliantly clear straw yellow color, very minimal carbonation as is appropriate for an unblended Lambic. Thin white head that dissipates pretty quickly.

Aroma: More fruit than funk, the funkiness is very subdued, I get a fair amount of stone fruit with a hint of lemon, some toasted malt aromas even. 
Picture courtesy of Brouwerij-chugach.com, because I
neglected to snap a photo that did this beer justice.

Flavor: Nicely tart, but not mouth puckeringly sour. There is a nice sweetness that cuts the sourness just as it starts to pucker, a good balance of fruit and sourness going here. 

Overall: This is a very well balanced unblended Lambic, its actually pretty impressive how balanced it is with it being, obviously, unblended. It can be difficult to get those bugs to do what you want, not saying that balance is what Brian was going for but its a difficult thing to nail on these beers, thats just the nature of mixed fermentation. 

It is certainly to style as far as unblended Lambic is concerned, I've only ever had one commercially and it was at Brasserie Cantillon pulled right from the barrel. Brian's version is much more fruit forward than that of Cantillon where the funkiness was more dominant, which I am sure varies barrel to barrel. This stands alone very well for me though, but would be a great blending component as well. Its not overly sour (which I've had issues with) although some sips I took I did want a little more pucker I think that the balance is what makes this pretty special. Great stuff Brian.

Friday, August 29, 2014

We share 'round these parts: the Brulosopher's bugs make it to the east coast.

If you follow the blogs Brulosophy and Brouwerij-Chugach you'll notice that the three of us have been sharing some beers with each other lately, particularly "sour" beers. Marshall, Brian and I have been working together this year as Beta testers for The Yeast Bay (thanks to Nick for introducing us!) throughout the process we have all been keeping in contact and sharing brewing (and baking) notes on both Beta testing rounds and general beer stuff a like. We all have a slightly different style when it comes to brewing, Brian and I share similar mixed fermentation obsessions while I stray into the hoppy spectrum at times his cellar is a veritable Colosseum of bugs. I will get to Brian and his Lambic in a later post.

Marshall's, aka the Brulosopher, is one of the most methodical, organized, and process driven brewers I have come across. His penchant for simplicity and optimization should both be admired and imitated by beginner and experienced brewers alike. I have adopted a few of his practices of late, specifically the Brew/Dad life balance type tips. He is doing some great things for the homebrewing community on his blog by dispelling myths and proving/disproving theories via his ExBEERiments Series. You might call him a mythbuster of sorts...

Marhsall sent me three beers, two Flanders Red's from a split batch he did with Wyeast's Roselare and WLP655 Belgian Sour Mix, I love a good split batch comparing yeast so thats right up my alley. He also sent a Funky/Sour Blonde Ale using Roselare as well, more on that one later.


Flemish Red - Roselare

Appearance: Deep mahogany reddish color, thin off white head leaving a small ring around the edges. Leaves decent lacing, but very significant legs on this one, almost like a big red wine. Steady carbonation shooting up the sides of the glass.

Aroma: Caramel malts on the nose, no acidic like or Brett aromas present. There is something that reminds me of fall, I get a really unique Squash note, by nose alone this is a Thanksgiving dinner drink.

Flavor: Nicely tart, almost surprised me actually. It's tart on the front of the tongue and on the sides of the mouth there is a pucker, right over the tongue it's smooth and silky then finishes with a maltiness to cut the acidity. 

OverallI wish that there was a bit more malt left to this beer, it would cut the acidity a little bit and make for a much more enjoyable drink. The pucker finish on the back sides of the mouth don't really make you reach for another sip quickly, not that its a chore to drink but its a sipper. In the end the beer is defined by its sourness and really nothing else. Its one of those that you have you're thinking "Damn, this is so close.", being close is a success if you ask me.

Flemish Red - WLP655
Appearance: Basically the exact same appearance as the Roselare batch. Deep maroon reddish mahogany. Thin off white head, legs similar to the Roselare on the side of glass when swirled.
AromaToasty bready malts, Carmel, dark fruits, raisin, dates. More intriguing than Roselare batch.
FlavorModerate acidic note upfront, then the malt hits the middle of the tongue, just as you think the malt is there to stay the acid takes over again in the finish with a soft subtle pucker. Some dark fruits and sweet malts mingled in there, much more in balance than the Roselare.

Overall: This was great, slightly tart that balances well with the malts. Some dark fruits, no acetic character (which I hate), no oak or hop character. I like a little oak in this style but that's just a personal preference. This one far exceeds the Roselare, and is a pretty special beer on its own.

I really enjoyed trying these two beers side by side, its always amazing how different a beer can be a variation in yeasts/bacteria pitched. I was pretty surprised that the Roselare was as sour as it was, I am not sure if it was a repitch but I had always heard that the first pitch of Roselare was a but under whelming on the sourness but would increase in subsequent pitches. I really like how WLP655 accentuated the malt and the dark fruit notes while balancing it out with the acidity, pretty great beer.

Funky/Sour Blonde - Roselare

Finally we have the Funky/Sour Blonde, which unfortunately was a miss for me. But some of the characteristics I experienced reminded me of a sour I brewed a few years ago. I emailed Marshall, and talked to Brian, to see if my notes were in line with what they had from this beer and they were not similar at all which leads us all to beleive I caught a bad bottle. I thought about not posting the notes on this beer because its obviously just a bad bottle and not what he had intended but Marshall thought it would be a good talking point, and I agree. My guess is some sort of oxidation, as the color is significantly darker than what Marhsall and Brian (link to Brians tasting notes on these beers) had experienced with this beer, paired with some cardboard and soy sauce aromas and a sweet almost under conditioned finish. 

Appearance: More amber than blonde, I wonder if there was some oxidation issue here, I've had some funky beers get dark bc of oxidation. Decent amount of tiny bubbles shooting up the glass and a small ring of head settles on the edges once it all calms down.
Aroma: Soy sauce? and malt, some cardboard, raisin, figs. I would say caramelized Figs and Raisins with soy sauce drizzled over them. Something weird going on.
FlavorSlight dryness on the tip of the tongue gives way to a sweetness that's distracting, similar flavors to the nose. It almost tastes like a beer that was only bottle conditioning for a few days.

Overall: I think something went wrong with this particular bottle. There wasn't any real sourness to speak of, it was not overly funky either, but the soy sauce and sweetness might be overpowering any of those characters. 

Ive experienced this type of discoloration in some mixed fermentation beers, and I know some other folks have as well. If anyone has some insight on what the cause could be, again I'm guessing oxidation, chime in. 



Friday, August 22, 2014

Tasting Notes: Le Quatre Saisons (The Yeast Bay Beta Testing Round 1)

All four of the Saison strains that Nick from The Yeast Bay isolated, and so generously shared with us Beta testers, have been thoroughly reviewed, analyzed, and tasted by we the Beta testers, among other folks. I waited as long as I have to post tasting notes on the batch so I could allow the beers to spend some time in the bottles and see how they changed, since there really is something magical about bottle conditioned Saison. 
Tasting I did by myself at six weeks in the bottle,
the night before the Google Hangout.

I did my own little tasting alone to start, prior to sharing them with anyone, then Marshall, Brian and I each shipped a few bottles to Nick for his review. We scheduled a mutually agreed upon, which is always difficult, to do a little Google Hangout video session tasting and discussion on the beers. Some of us had our personal preferences but if memory serves me, since my dumbass forgot to document the other folks opinions that morning, there were at least one clear favorite and one "dumper" if you will, those being strains #1 and #2 respectively. 

We had some differing opinions on strain #3, Brian and I quite enjoyed it while Nick was repulsed and I believe he said "I would never sell that". We all seemed to really enjoy strain #4, which with strain #1 seemed to be the most complex and interesting yet exhibiting some classic Belgian/Saison-esque characteristics. Here are some tasting notes that I took at the time of the Google Hangout, June 29th which was a little over 6 weeks in the bottle.

Les Quatre Saison - 6 week tasting notes:
  • TYB Beta Saison Strain #1: poured with a nice head that settle down relatively well straw yellow color moderate clarity. Aromas of lemon, bready malt, peppery spice. Subtle bitter up front, clove, some fruit and pepper. Kind of cloying. Under attenuated but some nice aromas and classic Saison flavors, could do better with a warmer ferm and low mash temp obviously.
  • TYB Beta Saison Strain #2: Pours with almost no head, there is a light carb though, somewhat hazy compared to #1. Aromas are subdued, mildly earthy, distant fruits. It's very sweet, extremely cloying, has a tartness to it that seems to cut the sweetness though. You get sweet then it's instantly cut off with a pucker. Bile, it tastes like bile, and I can't drink it. Could work in a blend though, aromas were mildly enticing.
  • TYB Beta Saison Strain #3: Pours with a head that lasts throughout, haze similar to all 1 and 4, perfect carbonation. Most appealing visually. Aroma is pepper and Corriander, and some kind of funk I cant pinoint. Spicy, clove, pepper, dry but could be more so, really nice. This is uniquely weird, I'm not sure how it would go over commercially but its bizarre, and I like it.
  • TYB Beta Saison Strain #4: Nice effervescent carbonation, same color and haze as the prior. Head is more soapy looking, lays a little flatter than #3 and #1. Smells similar to Palm to me, clove, hay, some fruit, no pepper spice. Medium bodied, slick mouthfeel, clove and spice, picking up some coconut to (suntan lotion). Would pair really well with #3. One of the winners.

Unfortunately all of these bottles are now gone, save for a keg that I racked 1 gallon of each batch into with some Lochristi blend that I plan to share with my fellow Beta-dudes. But before the bottles disappeared from my cellar I got the chance to present our experiment to the members of my club, Philly Homebrew club, and of course share the last 5-6 bottles of each to get some objective feedback from folks other than Nick, Marshall, Brian and I. 

I was really hoping I would get a consensus on 1-2 of these but the feedback was all over the place, it seemed there was someone who liked at least one of the strains. I had a slide up on all of the data points for each strain and how they performed up till that point so some opinions could have been a bit skewed. Unfortunately some people actually neglected to taste strain #2 because I lamented about how it showed some low attenuation numbers, I didn't do a good job selling it I guess. I was a little busy opening the bottles and talking to the group, mostly deflecting inquiries on where the strains were isolated from, to take down any new tasting notes but they all changed for the better with time. 

This is all based on memory - 3 months in the bottle:
  • TYB Beta Saison Strain #1: The aromas are classic Saison, peppery spice, very reminiscent of DuPont. So much so that people were very surprised that I shot down their guess at this being a DuPont strain. This is a real serious winner, but is it unique enough to sell? Not sure, especially since so many people really thought it was Dupont.
  • TYB Beta Saison Strain #2: So odd, so very odd, people loved this one. The sourness that I noticed 2 months back is even stronger now, it has completely cut the residual sweetness of the beer and its actually quite balanced now. One of the group mentioned the beer was very "Citric".
  • TYB Beta Saison Strain #3: This was another group favorite, for me it seemed to be less interesting than I had remmebered but there was still a spice character that grabs your attention. Its weird, but unique, however hadn't changed as much as the others.
  • TYB Beta Saison Strain #4: This once again is proving to be a winner, a fellow club member Kirk (who knows his way around a Saison) was quite intrigued by this one and mentioned "...fullness and most desirable-ness of 4's clove-y bubblegum-y complexity". Still picking up a lot of the same notes as the earlier tasting. Probably stands out as the most unique of the 4, and could be a good one as a commercial strain.
Final opinion is that Strains #1 and #4 are the best candidates for single strain production, with strain #4 being the most unique of the two but Strain #1 has the most classic Saison character. Strain #3 would come in third for me, its very unique and weird, but I wouldn't expect to see it commercially because Nick was really repulsed by it, maybe it'll make it into a blend. Finally strain #2, oh what a fickle little strain. I think this could definitely work in a nice sour blend, or something with just a couple Brett strains. Its odd and unique leaving the beer nicely tart, but needs help attenuating. I plan re-use all of these strains and see how they pair in some of my own blends. I hope some people will be able to get their hands on some of these, if Nick ends up selling any I will post and update on what is what.

Check out Brian's tasting notes over at Brouwerij-chugach.com.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Solera pull #1, bottling straight.

It feels like a lifetime ago since I started this Solera Project in a sanke keg. I have been really anxious to remove the first portion to bottle but I wanted to stick to my plan of waiting a full year to remove a portion. Now that a year has past (plus 3 weeks at the time of bottling, shoot me) of aging in the Sanke keg I removed a sample to taste and bottle off 3 gallons, I started with ~14 gallons in the keg. The last time I tasted it was when it was 6 months old, and seemed to be coming along despite a lingering sweetness on the back end of the palate. I am happy to report that sweetness is gone, completely, taking its place is even more sourness. Wow! This is a really sour beer, definitely the most sour beer I've ever brewed, as you can tell by that 3.32PH at the time of the pull. 
It could go lower, but I would prefer it not at this point.
I'm glad that I chose to package the first pull prior to brewing the top off batch, post on that is coming soon after, because this may actually be a bit too sour. This give me the opportunity to modify the wort in hopes of dialing back the acidity a little bit and increasing some of the funky/sweaty/horsey aromas, based on tasting notes I took at bottling.

I bottled up all 3 gallons straight, so to get an idea of what has been going on in there over the 12 month aging process. I would have loved to get some of this on fruit, and there really is plenty, but I would prefer to tackle that with the next pull which I hope will be in 6 months time. I re-yeasted with Champagne yeast as I did with the Lambic blend a few months ago, and primed some heavy Belgian/Champagne bottles to ~3.7vols of co2. This will be a highly carbonated, highly acidic beer, fingers crossed.
Filling a mix of reclaimed bottles, some green some brown, all 29mm caps.
I'll go into more detail on my top off batch in the next post but my goal will be to minimize the sourness and increase the funky flavor/aromas. To do that I'll try to implement a few methods that I have gathered through a few different sources I've read over the years. For starters I plan to turbid mash this batch, half will be fermented aside from the Solera for blending and the rest will be for the top off. I also plan to hop the hell out of this batch, I recently purchase a ton, ok only 10lbs, of de-bittered aged hops and I plan to use a full pound in a 10 gallon turbid mashed batch. I will start fermentation in a stainless kettle with Abbey Ale Yeast and TYB Brussels Blend and then transfer to the Sanke just as fermentation is slowing but is still active. I believe this plan should help me get to where I want to be for the next pull.

I am getting close to the first tasting of this beer, its been a long wait but I think it will be worth it in the end. I will judge the beer on first taste, although I probably shouldn't because I expect this should age well for quite some time, well hopefully.


Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Yeast Bay Brett Blend Review: Beersel, Lochristi, and Brussels

Prior to becoming a strain Beta tester for The Yeast Bay, I was intrigued by the descriptions of the three new blends of Brettanomyces Nick had to offer and placed an order with plans to do a split batch review. Over the years I've learned that blending Brett strains results in much more complex flavor/aroma profiles then single strain additions, especially in Saison. With these blends already being prepared for us, I was excited to see how each one differed and which I liked the most. All three blends offer something different in the descriptions ranging from Barnyard Funk (Brussels Blend), a Fruity/Funky balance (Beersel Blend), to finally a a moderate funky/fruity blend with hints of strawberry (Lochristi Blend). 

Based on that I was most excited for the Beersel, but of course I would reserve judgement until I finally tasted the beers. To get the best idea of how each blend reacts without the distractions of other new/aggressive ingredients I chose to use my Farmer in the Rye recipe since its is a beer I am most familiar with and should allow me to evaluate only the Brett blends and ignore the base beer. I used Wyeast 3711 for the primary ferment prior to splitting into 3 separate carboys and pitching each blend. I wanted an absurdly dry beer so I could secondary with the Brett and bottle in a relatively quick amount of time (4 weeks or less, not the case with the Lochristi though) without having to wait for the Brett to munch the last few gravity points.


Brussels Blend

FitR Brussels notes:

A: Straw yellow, much better clarity then the others. Spritzy, beautiful, perfect to style carbonation with a solid white head that lasts throughout.

A: A bit of orange, wet hay, with an overall classic funkiness rounding out the aroma, a little bit musty. This is classic straight funk, complex but all funk.

F: dry, light spice on the tongue and subtle fruit on the finish, not as dry a finish as the other two.

O: This is pretty similar to Beersel but with more funk in aroma and less fruit. It's quite nice when youre looking for a complex barnyard character.







Beersel Blend



FitR Beersel notes:

A: Straw yellow, slightly cloudy, with a high level of visible carbonation and a thick frothy white head that lasts throughout the glass leaving significant lacing.

A: lemony, citrus, mint?, very subtle background funky sweaty feet but it's hidden behind the more prominent aromas, helps to remind you this is a Brett beer with some complex rusticity.

F: Dry peppery spice up front, slight acidity, citrus fruits. Finishes dry and refreshing.

O: This is my favorite of the 3 blends. It's not overly funky but there is a sweaty note hanging behind lemon and citrus fruits. It's a really nice blend of subtle funk and citrus/fruit, I have already re-pitched it into 3 different beers.


FitR Lochristi Notes:

Lochristi Blend

A: FitR classic straw yellow with a white frothy thin head. Moderate visible carbonation.

A: Aroma is pretty interesting but there isn't a ton there, some light tropical fruit and peppery spice, a very faint mustiness, something that resembles earthworms on the sidewalk after a summer rain. Its actually bordering on clean smelling.


F: Prickly carbonation on the front of the tongue, peppery spice, very dry, giving way to pineapple, bitter orange peel, very dry on the back of the palette.


O: This is a pretty subtle blend, at least in this beer, but I think it would pair really well in a beer with some delicate fruit. It would compliment Apricots or Peaches really well in a supporting role. Certainly for the more subtle Brett fans


All three of these blends are very interesting and quite unique, but the Beersel and Lochristi are my favorite of the three, and actually the most unique if you ask me. The Beersel has a great balance between fruity Brett notes and some of those weird musty/funky notes, and the Lochristi is something that might start slow but evolves into something I have not experienced in any blend or strain available.  If youre looking for a more Rustic funk then the Brussels blend is perfect, there was something about it that smelled/tasted familiar. It reminded me a lot of the rustic nature of a few month old bottle of the Bruery's Saison Rue I had not too long ago.
Brussels Pellicle
The Lochristi is an interesting case for me, of the three its been in the bottle the shortest amount of time so it may still need some age (although it was in secondary for longer than the other two so it has plenty of age but not under pressure). TYB mentions that it can be a slow starter, and I experienced just that, not that there was a ton of activity in any of the three fermenters but Lochristi took the longest to show its character in the beer. I really enjoy the subtlety of it, it is perfect if you want to avoid an overpowering Brett character to a beer. It really would be a great blend to use with a fruited Saison, its subtle with a distant funkiness to it and some fruit notes that would go well with Peaches. Or maybe a lightly hopped Grissette with the Lochristi blend added at bottling, where it will evolve but not completely dominate a more delicate beer. But you really need some patience with it, I was pretty underwhelmed with my first tasting of it, and its the reason I delayed this post for a few months. Be patient, you will be rewarded.


Beersel Pellicle
Really all three of these blends are great, but my style leans more towards the Lochristi and Beersel as I stated before. I have my personal preference and I hope that the review helps people decide which to chose for their own beers. Or try all three of them, I would love to hear other folks experience with these blends. I will continue to use the Lochristi and Beersel in beers down the road, not to say the Brussels blend isn't good, it is, but the other two are more my style. 


Lochristi Pellicle