Nanobrewery Quality Control

For anyone interested in opening a nano, currently running one, or just interested in improving their homebrewing process, read this post.  It could save you hours of heartache.

In my previous posts, I had mentioned that quality control has been my greatest priority and struggle since I opened.  When I first opened the doors, I had my Belgian single and English pale ale on tap.  I had brewed them a week before, and they were the first beers I had made on the 1.5 BBL system.  Fortunately they turned out perfect, so opening weekend went well. This did not last very long, however.  Around batch number six, I started encountering some problems.  Acrid, overly bitter beers, green-tinted, plastic-y tasting paler beers, beers with apple cider flavors, and a pervasive smoky flavor in my beers.  Suddenly I started having to dump batches of beer left and right.  The first three things I always do when I encounter a problem is to research it myself, ask another brewer that I know, and post a question on probrewer.com.  With a little help, I quickly managed to solve the problems of cidery and smoky flavors–beers weren’t fully fermenting, leaving acetaldehyde, because my fermentation temperatures were too low.  Smoky flavors were coming from the electric coils in the boil kettle, which I wasn’t cleaning thoroughly, leading to charring of dried wort.  I addressed these issues and they went away. Infection with brett still remained a constant threat, though.  I was still losing a batch fairly often.  Fortunately, I can produce more than enough beer at the brewery to keep up with demand, so I was able to dump the bad beer and still keep good beer on tap.  Every so often, though, I’d be forced to put a batch on that had some off-flavors.  This was bad, not to mention the ingredients and hours of labor I was losing to infection. Over the months, though, I developed a few methods which have greatly helped

Yeast: Don’t reuse yeast.  Larger breweries reuse yeast fairly regularly, but without a lab tech and with a less-than-clean environment, reusing yeast is just way too risky.  I switched to mostly dry yeasts, which is pretty common for brew-pubs.  I still use liquid yeast for my Belgian ales because dry yeast won’t deliver the same results for those beers.  I use S-04 and US-05 for most of my non-Belgian beers now.  They are inexpensive to buy from my supplier at about $12 for a 40 gallon pitch.

Make sure you rehydrate properly first by mixing the yeast with 10 ml of sterile water per gram at between 90 and 110 degrees half an hour before pitching.  I use a butane stove for this.  It also works great for heating water for PBW.  Many commercial beers are still contaminated with wild yeast and bacteria.  Even when buying yeast, you can check the packaging for threshold populations of lacto, pedio, etc.  In low populations, they aren’t going to have much of a chance to alter the flavor.  However, through subsequent repitches the populations can increase to a level where they ruin your beer.  On a nano scale, your beer is never going to be that clean.  Your best bet is to clean as thoroughly as you can and only pitch new yeast, giving it a head-start over other microorganisms.

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Fermentation: Install thermowells.  Getting the temperature of the beer vs. ambient is just too unpredictable, and considering how inexpensive putting thermowells in your fermenters is, I really wish I had done it sooner.  I have a JC controller hooked up to a fan that pulls air from my cold room.

CIP: Clean as much as you can.  At a larger brewery, you have a lot more tools and chemicals at your disposal to clean and sanitize.  I’ve had to improvise a bit.  First, during a brew I leave some hot water in the HLT.  I will cut it with a bit of cold water to reach 120 degrees and 5 gallons of volume, and then add PBW.  I will recirculate the PBW through the entire system, minus the BK where the beer is currently boiling.  I put it through the heat exchanger forwards and backwards.  Then I will dump the PBW and run star-san through the system.  This has two effects.  Most importantly, it neutralizes the alkalinity of the PBW and rinses it off.  Second, it helps get things a bit cleaner.  Then, before I am ready to start chilling the beer, I run hot wort through the chiller at 170 degrees for one minute as extra insurance.

After the brew is done, everything gets cleaned and vacuumed out.  Your best friend in a nano other than PBW is a pressure washer.  I use a small electric model from Karcher.  It has worked pretty well for a few months and is inexpensive enough so that if it breaks it can easily be replaced.

For cleaning fermenters after packaging, I first will clean off surface dirt with the pressure washer.  Afterwards, I use a sump pump cleaner to wash them down with PBW.  One of these can easily be built with a sump pump, pvc pipe, and 1/2 inch ball sprayer.  I use a 1 HP sump pump, which provides more than enough power.  20 minutes of cleaning usually leaves the fermenter spotless.  I will then rinse with water.  Fittings and clamps go into a bucket with PBW overnight.  When it is time to transfer wort into the fermenter, I give it a good spray-down with star-san using a two-gallon sprayer.

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New Beers in Development

I’m working on a lengthy and detailed post on nanobrewery quality control, but to tide you over until that is ready I thought I would post a bit about some of the more interesting beers I’ve been working on, recipes included.

1. Nature’s Wrath

I do a double IPA called Force of Nature that has been hugely popular.  This is my upcoming triple IPA.  I’ve done this at home before, and I actually never thought I would do this at the brewery, but based on the feedback for FoN I think this will be a big hit.

This is triple IPA that is fermented with both Brett Trois and French saison yeast simultaneously.  The population of the Brett yeast is a bit higher, and the saison yeast is there to make sure that the beer finishes dry in a reasonable length of time.  There are no aroma hops in this beer because it needs to age about two months before it is ready.  All of the hop flavor comes from dry hops added about two weeks before packaging.

Recipe: Nature's Wrath
Brewer: 
Asst Brewer: 
Style: Imperial IPA
TYPE: All Grain
Taste: (30.0) 

Recipe Specifications
--------------------------
Boil Size: 14.65 gal
Post Boil Volume: 13.52 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 12.00 gal   
Bottling Volume: 11.25 gal
Estimated OG: 1.102 SG
Estimated Color: 8.6 SRM
Estimated IBU: 80.9 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 75.5 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients:
------------
Amt                   Name                                     Type          #        %/IBU         
34 lbs                Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM)           Grain         1        77.3 %        
8 lbs                 Munich Malt - 10L (10.0 SRM)             Grain         2        18.2 %        
4.00 oz               Warrior [18.90 %] - Boil 60.0 min        Hop           3        80.9 IBUs     
1.0 pkg               French Saison (Wyeast Labs #3711) [50.28 Yeast         4        -             
2 lbs                 Turbinado (10.0 SRM)                     Sugar         5        4.5 %         
1.0 pkg               Brettanomyces Bruxellensis Trois (White  Yeast         6        -             
4.00 oz               Centennial [10.00 %] - Dry Hop 4.0 Days  Hop           7        0.0 IBUs      
4.00 oz               Galaxy [14.00 %] - Dry Hop 4.0 Days      Hop           8        0.0 IBUs      
4.00 oz               Simcoe [13.00 %] - Dry Hop 4.0 Days      Hop           9        0.0 IBUs      

Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Light Body, No Mash Out

2. Carrera Torcida

Vienna lager is one of my go-to styles.  Malty, satisfying, and easy-drinking.  Vienna lager kind of has it all for me.  I’ve actually never brewed a lager, so this will be my first.  This is a special beer that I am brewing for Cinco de Mayo.  I decided I wanted to brew lagers after visiting Paulaner’s new brew-pub in Soho.  After talking with their brewer, I learned that they used a dry strain, saflager 34/70, for their beer at the pub and at the other breweries as well.  Paulaner makes some very tasty lagers, so I figured why not give it a shot?  Working with dry yeast is quite a bit easier for me, so this sealed the deal.  Plus, it’s supposedly WLP830 in dry form, which is the lager strain I always planned to use.

There are two approaches for Vienna lager.  One is to brew a 100% vienna malt beer with a small amount of caramel and de-bittered black malt for color and complexity.  The other is to use a combination of Vienna, pilsner, and Munich malt with de-bittered malt.  I think the latter is the best approach, having brewed 100% Vienna beers before…they can be a bit bready.  Plus, you get the full spectrum of German malts, which are really wonderful.

Carrera Torcida means “Crooked Run” in Spanish.  (It’s not a perfect translation but it sounds good.)

Recipe: Carrera Torcida
Brewer: 
Asst Brewer: 
Style: Vienna Lager
TYPE: All Grain
Taste: (30.0) 

Recipe Specifications
--------------------------
Boil Size: 14.65 gal
Post Boil Volume: 13.52 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 12.00 gal   
Bottling Volume: 11.25 gal
Estimated OG: 1.049 SG
Estimated Color: 12.5 SRM
Estimated IBU: 22.0 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 72.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 78.0 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients:
------------
Amt                   Name                                     Type          #        %/IBU         
11 lbs                Pilsner (2 Row) Ger (2.0 SRM)            Grain         1        49.7 %        
8 lbs                 Vienna Malt (3.5 SRM)                    Grain         2        36.2 %        
2 lbs                 Munich Malt (9.0 SRM)                    Grain         3        9.0 %         
12.0 oz               Aromatic Malt (26.0 SRM)                 Grain         4        3.4 %         
6.1 oz                Carafa III (525.0 SRM)                   Grain         5        1.7 %         
0.75 oz               Warrior [18.90 %] - Boil 60.0 min        Hop           6        22.0 IBUs     
1.0 pkg               Saflager Lager (DCL/Fermentis #W-34/70)  Yeast         7        -             

Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Medium Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 22 lbs 2.1 oz

3. Singularity

Oh boy.  This is going to be a really cool beer.  I scored some Brett Anomala from East Coast Yeast, along with a few other vials of other cool strains.  I’d been trying to get their stuff for a year.  It usually sells out in under one second when it is posted.  Two days ago I finally got some!

Brett Anomala: “Formerly known as Brettanomyces intermedius, this strain was first identified in Adelaide, Australia. Displays moderate funk and acidic tones, some slight acetic acid may be encountered.”

I’m going to use this yeast to make a black Belgian single 100% fermented with Brett.  When I brew my Brett pale ale, Free Yourself, I intentionally underpitch and oxygenate to very high levels to get lots of fruit flavor and acidity out of the brett to balance the malty sweetness of that beer.  On this beer, I’m going to pitch at ale pitching rates with moderate (4 PPM) oxygen levels.  This should mostly eliminate ascetic acid and give me the flavor profile I want.  I also may add the Carafa at the end of the mash to minimize roasty flavors.

Recipe: Singularity
Brewer: 
Asst Brewer: 
Style: Belgian Specialty Ale
TYPE: All Grain
Taste: (30.0) 

Recipe Specifications
--------------------------
Boil Size: 14.65 gal
Post Boil Volume: 13.52 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 12.00 gal   
Bottling Volume: 11.25 gal
Estimated OG: 1.042 SG
Estimated Color: 23.0 SRM
Estimated IBU: 15.5 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 81.3 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients:
------------
Amt                   Name                                     Type          #        %/IBU         
10 lbs                Pilsner (2 Row) Ger (2.0 SRM)            Grain         1        54.8 %        
7 lbs                 Vienna Malt (3.5 SRM)                    Grain         2        38.4 %        
1 lbs 4.0 oz          Carafa III (525.0 SRM)                   Grain         3        6.8 %         
0.50 oz               Warrior [18.90 %] - Boil 60.0 min        Hop           4        15.5 IBUs     
1.0 pkg               Brettanomyces Anomola (East Coast Yeast  Yeast         5        -             

Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Medium Body, Batch Sparge
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Running a Business

Brewing beer is fun.  It’s rewarding, and it always makes me feel proud to be able to share a good beer with someone.  I thought I’d talk for a bit about the other side of the coin: running a business.  Since I have to do both at once, they are completely intertwined.  While I feel pretty comfortable with the brewing process, doing it professionally is quite a bit different, and there are a lot of aspects to it that customers never get to see.

Crooked Run opened in July 2013.  When I opened the doors, I had two weeks to make rent, or I was going to be in a lot of trouble.  I had been paying rent with no revenue for two months during the licensing process.  At that point when I opened, I had no money left whatsoever.

Starting a business with no money is infinitely harder than starting a business with lots of money.  If you are starting a brewery and are properly capitalized, everything you need is available.  Equipment, staff, merchandise, furniture–you can have all of it when you open your doors.  If you’re not ready to open, you can wait.  I didn’t have any of those options.  I had to open immediately, and I had to wait for a lot of things, and I’m still waiting.

Fortunately, business was pretty good from day one.  Even though the place looked pretty rough (and it still does), people mostly cared about the beer.  Most of the beer was good, and some was not so good.  I thought brewing beer at a nano would be just like brewing at home.  It’s not a huge leap, but there is a lot that I have learned over the past year.

Making sure good beer is on tap has been my number one priority; when people ask about promotion and advertising, I tell them I have done almost none, because I haven’t had the time.  Quality control has occupied, or rather, preoccupied, everything that I have done over the last eight months.  I have dumped hundreds of gallons of beer down the drain.  Although not every beer I have served has been up to par, I have made every effort possible to only put the best beer I can on tap.  This is important to me, but it’s also just good business sense.  If you are serving four beers and even just one isn’t good, if that is the only beer someone tries, they probably aren’t coming back again.  If you’re reading this and thinking, “Gee, this guy sucks at sanitation,” keep in mind that I brewed hundreds of batches as a homebrewer before I started the nano, and never had any problems with fermentation.  This is a different ballgame.

Now, I think things are starting to come together.  I feel pretty confident that I probably won’t lose so many batches, which means I’ll have time and money to spend elsewhere.  Another limitation I have had is that with no money and a lot of work to be done, I have been stretched extremely thin.  If you’re ever wondering why I didn’t do something, chances are that I’m probably aware of it.

Things are different, now.  My next priorities are to improve the decor of the place, plan more events, and to start distributing.  This week my black Belgian tripel, Shadow of Truth, hits a bunch of bars in the DMV area.  Having this excellent beer on tap elsewhere is going to really help bring people into the brewery.  This is perfect timing, too, since all the beers on tap now are really strong.  I have my first two events planned for this month: St. Patrick’s Day Ale-Fest and Belgian Beer Night on March 15 and 29.

I’m very excited for this summer.  This winter was a bit of a trial period, but I think things are going to be very busy very soon!  Already, each week more people are coming through the door.

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Brewing Black Beer

shadow

It’s been a while since I posted.  Things have been very busy at Crooked Run, preparing for World Beer Cup, really refining our process, and getting everything ready for the first beer we are going to distribute.  Shadow of Truth is a black tripel, a big Belgian beer that is a simple twist on a traditional style.  The result, however, is quite complex.

I remember when black IPA’s were getting real popular, there was a lot of hate going on.  I tended to agree with people who thought they were a bit gimmicky; I liked them, but I questioned whether adding debittered black malt to a beer had really created a new style.  After all, couldn’t you do that to many different kinds of beer?

The answer is yes.  I actually started doing it because of how much I liked my dark saison.  I’ve put a black IPA, black ESB,  and Shadow of Truth, the black tripel, all on tap at different points, with great feedback.  Why have these beers turned out so well?

First, you only want to use debittered black malt.  Carafa special will add a smooth coffee flavor which stops short of roasty.  Roasty flavors from roasted barley or black patent are going to drastically alter the flavor profile, and are also pretty much impossible to balance with hops.  This is the downfall of many a black IPA.  Use enough to get the SRM value you are shooting for.  5% is a good number.

Debittered black malt is a great flavor by itself, but Vienna malt backs it up.  By using 20-40% Vienna malt, you can give the beer a maltier profile without adding caramel sweetness and keeping it nice and dry.  Exceptions are if you are using Maris Otter as a base malt, which has a toasty sweet flavor that will work perfectly by itself.

Shadow of Truth black Belgian tripel hits bars in the DMV area next week.  This is a really cool beer that I’d describe as like a quad minus some of the sweetness.  The result is something pretty unique.  There are plenty of other styles that I think would do well getting the black treatment, too.  I think a black pale ale is next on the list!

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Industry Trends

Craft beer continues to grow, with the number of breweries in the United States increasing each year, and the volume of craft beer sales increasing as well.  What does the future hold?  Let’s gaze into the crystal ball…

First, the obvious questions: is the market getting over-saturated, and will the bubble burst?  Of course, but let’s not get worried.  First, a statistic I love to trot out whenever this subject comes up…in Virginia, the percentage of craft beer sales reached the highest level yet over the summer, at 6% of market share.  In Oregon, it is 38%.  There’s plenty of room to grow in a lot of states.  Second, some breweries may lose some market share, but overall, the industry will probably keep growing.  My prediction is that as more great local breweries in the east start popping up, you’ll probably see less taps with west coast IPA’s as there will be some fresher local alternatives.  Breweries will also need to work harder to differentiate themselves and create a unique identity.

So if the industry continues to grow, what can we expect to see?  For years, craft beer has been dominated by IPA–the style has been ubiquitous on the scene since the beginning of the craft beer explosion.  One of the reasons for this has been that brewing an IPA was a great way to differentiate yourself from BMC.  IPA’s are high in alcohol and IBU’s, two things that BMC is not.  IPA has been the figurehead of the ship, and has lent itself well to the bold attitude of American craft brewers and consumers.

I really think that savvy brewers would do well to explore new areas in brewing, though.  I believe that the way the industry is headed, you aren’t going to do yourself any favors if you go the typical brew-pub line-up with a pale ale, IPA, wheat, and porter.  Does this mean it’s time to get crazier?  I hope not.  I think a better idea would be to explore some of the many traditional styles that have been neglected in the bigger-is-better craft beer movement.  How about a nice helles lager or altbier as a flagship?  What about making a nice, malty American blonde?  I would absolutely love to see a classic American pilsner as a brewery flagship.

Breweries have to meet their sales goals, though.  However, look at the success Devil’s Backbone has had with Vienna Lager in Virginia.  Over last summer, Vienna Lager actually outsold BMC for a brief period!  That is pretty incredible.  I am a big fan of this beer: a nice, malty lager that really hits the spot.  Craft beer is undoubtedly becoming more mainstream, and I am sure that there are plenty of drinkers who would much rather throw back some bottles of a flavorful session ale or lager than Bud Light or Coors.

I also hear this every so often: “Sours are the next big thing.  In two or three years they will be as popular as IPA’s.”  Well, I heard that three years ago, but sour and brett beers are definitely gaining popularity.  I do a 100% brett brux beer called Free Yourself that has gotten such good feedback I recently did a double batch of it.  I also have a great recipe that I developed for a sour brown that is a great introduction to sours: lightly tart, with a nice malt sweetness and no ascetic acid.  I think most people would like a sour beer if they tried it and kept an open mind.

Right now, it seems like big, barrel-aged beers continue to create the most buzz in the beer-drinking world.  These beers appeal to beer geeks, and some well-crafted offerings can be a hit with casual beer drinkers as well.  There’s nothing wrong with pushing the envelope, but my hope is that brewers and consumers alike will stop letting the Ratebeer community be the tail that wags the dog and take a more balanced approach to beer.  Even with traditional styles, you can still do something really different.  How about a black American pale ale, or a session basil saison?  There really are limitless possibilities, and one thing is certain.  It’s a great time to be a beer drinker!

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2013: A Year in Beer

freddy

What a year!  It’s hard to believe that last year this time I was huddled in front of my computer in similar freezing weather, wondering whether my Kickstarter campaign would be successful or not.  Fast forward six months, and I was opening the doors on July 19th.  My first two offerings, Hopsail and Logan’s Song, turned out very well, if not a little bit under-carbonated.  Over the last six months, I’ve gotten to brew and offer a lot of beers.  I love all my customers and want to extend my thanks to you all for staying with me through the good and the not-so-good.  I feel like I am starting to get pretty comfortable with the system, and I have been really happy with what’s been on tap lately.  And I think you have, too, because the feedback and word of mouth has gotten really good!  So thanks!

Let’s take a look at what’s been put on tap:

Hopsail–Belgian single

Logan’s Song–English pale ale

Thunder–American pale ale

Summer Night–Raspberry dark saison

Logan’s Bite–English IPA

Heartsong–Belgian dubbel

Storm–American IPA

Logan’s Mild–English mild ale

Bad Boy–Black ESB

Time Byder–Old ale

Jake o’ Lantern–Pumpkin ale

Hellfire–Black IPA

Wishing Well–Dry stout

Shadow of Truth–Black tripel

Dawn of Summer–Blackberry saison

Free Yourself–Brett brux pale ale

Seek Truth–Cherrywood tripel

Pure Fiction–Sour Belgian tripel

Coconut Boy–Coconut ESB

Force of Nature–Fresh hop double IPA

So that’s 18 beers so far.  About half of those were recipes I had previously nailed down, and the other half were totally experimental ten gallon batch beers that I would put on tap over the weekend.  Out of all of those experiments, I only had to make one minor change to Free Yourself–the rest turned out absolutely perfect the first go and sold out over the weekend.  This is my favorite part of this whole thing: experimenting and creating interesting new beers.  If you’d like a recipe for any of these beers, feel free to reply or send me a message.

So what does 2014 hold?  First, we’ll be brewing the first 30 BBL batch of Shadow of Truth with Beltway Brewing in Sterling this Friday, which will go out for distribution to many area restaurants and bars in a month from now.  Once it warms up, we’ll start up with Summer Night instead.

And, of course, I am going to offer a lot of new beers.  Here are some of the new ones I am working on for this year:

Realize Truth–Elderberry quad

Stoicism–Coffee quad

Infinity–Brett C version of Time Byder

Unleashed–Brett C version of Logan’s Song

True Vision–Belgian blonde IPA

Universal Religion–Brett brux blonde ale

Senbonzakura–Cherry Tripel made with rice

Nature’s Wrath–Triple IPA

Witchcraft–Brett trois quad

I’m a Pirate–Coconut lemonbalm American blonde

Maple Man–Maple porter

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Making Brett Beers

photo

It’s been two years since I started this blog, so I thought I’d  share some about some very special beers I have been brewing lately.  Brett beers.  Brettanomyces, or brett, is a different species of yeast in the same genus as Saccharomyces, the species traditionally used for beer and bread making.  Brett has some similarities and differences to sacc that make it very interesting to work with.

First, brett wasn’t really domesticated like sacc.  Saccharomyces has evolved over thousands of years to be a very good and dependable fermenter in part due to its working relationship with humans.  Brettanomyces has mostly been an undesirable contaminant in the alcohol industry.  It can survive in wood, such as wine barrels, and eat sugars that other yeasts can’t, so it can pop up after fermentation and begin a new fermentation.  It produces drastically different flavors than sacc, so it can ruin your product, and it’s difficult to get rid of.

However, brett can be used to produce some very unique beers and wines.  There are many commercial strains available, and more and more are being isolated and utilized every year.  When brewing with brett, you can either use it as the sole yeast strain, in combination with a Saccharomyces yeast, or after primary fermentation is complete.

If you use it as a primary strain, it will behave much like sacc, although it can ferment much more slowly.  You will get some degree of fruity flavor initially, which will become less fruity and more funky over time, although this varies between strains.  Underpitching brett vs ale yeast pitching rates yields better flavors, in my opinion, but fermentation will be much slower.  If you pitch at ale yeast rates, you can get to a stable gravity in two weeks or so, but underpitching will tack on a few more weeks.  You should oxygenate your wort well and ferment at temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees.  You can expect an attenuation of 75-80%.  Brett is known for eating long-chain sugars that sacc can’t, so the beer can continue to ferment once krausen has dropped and you’ve reached a stable gravity.  This happens really slowly, though, so if you’ve gotten decent attenuation and a stable gravity you can safely bottle.  You might have some gushers in a few months, though, so if you want to age the beer for extended time, don’t do this in the bottle.  Without pediococcus, the beer won’t superattenuate, though, so bottle bombs are unlikely.

The second common way to use brett is to pitch it once primary fermentation with a sacc strain is complete.  This is the method used by Orval.  The brett will slowly go to work in the beer, eating leftover sugars.  Since this occurs in an alcoholic, anaerobic environment, the brett will be put through stress and can contribute even more funky, solventy flavors than it would as a primary fermenter.  This process can take several months.  To speed the process up, pitch a higher quantity of brett.

The last way is to use brett in tandem with a sacc strain.  This is what I am working on right now.  I love brett beers but I don’t like how long they take to make.  My method is to underpitch brett, let it go to work for two to three weeks, and then pitch a dry, vigorous sacc strain.  (French saison yeast in this case)  Hopefully this will get me a stable beer in a reasonable amount of time with some good flavors.

The last thing I’d like to add is that there is a lot of variation between brett strains.  My favorite commercially available strain so far is brux, but I haven’t had a chance to try nanus or some of the other new ones.  Furthermore, the commercial strains I have tried can’t hold a candle to some of the brett strains I have harvested from Jolly Pumpkin, Crooked Stave, and Russian River, which are much faster and more aggressive.  I would highly recommend using Jolly Pumpkin dregs to create a culture…you will love the results.  Read Mike Tonsmeire’s excellent blog for a lot more info on Brettanomyces: http://www.themadfermentationist.com/

Here are some brett beers I am working on.

Free Yourself: Brett brux pale ale.  5.5% ABV.  20 IBU.  100% Vienna malt and brett brux create a really nice, easy-drinking pale ale.  I had this on tap for my grand opening and it was delicious.  I was really surprised how much people liked it…I figured it wouldn’t be everybody’s cup of tea, but I had many people order seconds.  I’ll have this on tap semi-regularly.

Universal Religion: Brett brux imperial blonde.  8% ABV.  20 IBU.  A stepped up version of Free Yourself, with a little bit of light candi syrup.  I’ll use brux to start this, and add Wyeast 3711 French saison yeast one week into fermentation to finish it off.  We’ll see how it goes, but I’m sure it will be tasty.

Infinity: Brett C old ale.  7% ABV.  30 IBU.  A 100% Brett C version of Time Byder, my old ale.  Brett C was isolated from English barrels, so it seemed appropriate to give this a shot.

Provisionale: Sour brett brux mulberry brown ale.  6% ABV.  15 IBU.  I love this beer, it’s one of my favorites, but it is pretty hard to make.  It starts as a super malty sweet brown ale.  Half the wort is left unhopped and soured with lactobacillus at high temperature, and the other half is fermented with brett brux.  The two halves are combined and left to finish fermentation on the fruit.  It’s a really nice, easy-drinking lightly tart brown ale.

Nature’s Wrath: 100% brett triple IPA.  14% ABV.  80 IBU.  Will this beer ever see the light of day?  Probably not.  I made it at home with Jolly Pumpkin dregs because I knew commercial brett strains couldn’t handle the job.  The stepped up JP dregs tore through this beer, taking it from 1.100 to 0.998 in one month.  This beer was delicious and probably one of the most unique beers I’ve ever made/tasted, but it is far too difficult to do on a large scale.  Maybe some day.

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