Brett Beer Update – White and Nasty

In early October I brewed a batch of beer with 100% brettanomyces that I got from Crooked Stave Brewery.

For the first week I would go downstairs and look on in disappointment as there was zero airlock activity. Did I do something wrong? Was it a bad pitch?

After 9 days I decided to pop the top on the bucket and see for myself what was going on. Sure enough, there was a thick white pellicle on top which you can see in the image above. It’s both disgusting and glorious. (I’m betting the bucket lid didn’t fully seal, which is common and explains the lack of activity)

The second picture was taken last night and you can see it’s gotten even nastier, with little puss bubbles forming. My girlfriend is disgusted that I plan on drinking this beer.

In talking to other brewers 9 days is a super fast time for a pellicle to form, leading me to confirm what I already suspected – Chad’s got the good stuff.
Brettanomyces Pellicle on batch of beer

What’s next?

The plan was to add fruit. I found out my local homebrew store had a shipment of cabernet grapes coming in for their winemakers , so that sounded perfect. The store assured me they would have a few extra pounds, but it wasn’t meant to be. Greedy winemakers.

So now I’ve got a few options:

  1. Just wait on the fruit. There’s really no rush, so I could wait until the Spring/Summer when the farmers market opens back up and get something in season, like raspberries.
  2. Don’t add any fruit. I could just let it ride and save it for blending with younger sour beers, or even experiment with blending in some clean beers.
  3. Get fruit from the grocery store. Not what I had planned but if it’s organic it should be ok.

I’m patient so I’m just going to wait for now. I’ll probably do option #1 and split the batch – half fruited and half without.

What I do know is that this yeast has been a champion so far. The gravity reading last night was 1.004, although that was with a refractometer and the correction formula, which I don’t 100% trust. In tasting the sample, it has a distinctive barnyard aroma but the flavor doesn’t quite match it. There is still a strong pilsner malt flavor dominating.

What do you guys think? We also need to get Chris in here and see how his brett peach beer is coming, since he used the same crop of yeast.

About Billy Broas


He is the founder of The Homebrew Academy, a BJCP beer judge, and the homebrewing expert on the Rocky Mountain PBS television show Colorado Brews. He lives in the fine beer town of Denver, Colorado.

Comments

  1. Billy Ellison says:

    I like the idea of splitting the batch. Let half of it sit and use it for blending. That gives you the other half to go nuts with!

    • Yea exactly. You get more bang for your buck that way. The thought of spreading all this brett around (brettifying?) scares me, but as long as I’m careful all should be ok.

  2. That is so cool. It looks almost like volcano ash in the pictures.

  3. I just bought a refractometer (my hydrometer broke and since I’m in this hobby for the long run I bought the ATC model) and your comment about not trusting the correction formula has me a little concerned. Is there a version of the formula that you recommend? Also do you know what if any error factor the formula has? The formula that I am currently relying on is provided below.

    Brix (Plato) = -676.67 + 1286.4*SG – 800.47*(SG^2) + 190.74*(SG^3)
    SG = 1.001843 – 0.002318474(OB) – 0.000007775(OB^2) – 0.000000034(OB^3) + 0.00574(AB) + 0.00003344(AB^2) + 0.000000086(AB^3)
    where SG = Specific Gravity, OB = Original Brix, AB = Apparent Brix (Brix Readings During Fermentation)

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