I’ve made several batches of beer with a blend of yeast strains from a few previous batches. The blend consists of Saison Dupont yeast, Brettanomyces claussenii and Brettanomyces bruxellensis Trois. The dominant organism, by far, in the mixture is the Dupont strain (see Recipe #1, Recipe #2, and Recipe #3 for examples). This has become my “house culture” and the majority of my beers hoppy and or light beers are made with this blend. People really enjoy and respond well to beers made with this mixture of yeasts…and I really enjoy it.
My main complaint has been that the character from the Brett strains is really subtle and only really aficionados of funky beers can pick it up…mostly on the finish of the beer too. I gave it some thought and decided that I would split the yeast cake into two cultures and brew different beers to develop these two yeast cakes into independent house blends. I would select for the growth of the Brett strain in one fermenter by mashing the grains at higher temperatures (156-160 °F) and allow for longer fermentations, the other half would continue to receive wort from lower temperature mashes (148-152° F) and ferment out faster. The difference in mash temperatures will result in a different activities from the β- and α-amylases that break down the starch into shorter chain sugars. As most all-grain homebrewers know, the α-amylase is the enzyme that breaks down starch into larger oligosaccharides and the β-amylase breaks down those oligosaccharides into mono- or disaccharides that can be consumed by yeast strains. Fun experiment you can do at home to see the effect of amylase on starch, hold a piece of popcorn in your mouth for a few minutes. You may notice it begins to taste more like sugar. That is because there are amylase enzymes in saliva that start to break down starches as you chew your food. Same process is happening in the mash.
This batch is the first wort in this experiment, mashed at 156° F, the next wort used for this batch will be mashed at 156 – 158° and subsequent batches will continue to be mashed at high temperatures as this yeast cake develops.
Batch # 2013.20
4 Gallon Batch (boiled too long…oops)
Brew date: November 17th, 2013
Keg date: December 17th, 2013
FG: 1.005 (measured)
SRM: 3.0 L
IBU: 60ish (calculated)
8 lbs of Pilsner malt
3 lbs of White wheat
Mash used distilled water with a pH stabilizer (pH 5.2) at a 1 qt / lb ratio. Mash temp was 156° F for 60 minutes. Sparge was with 5 gallons of 180° F distilled water (no pH stabilizer in the sparge). About 8 gallons was recovered for the boil.
Nothing to odd to report here. 2 ounce of gypsum added to the boil with the hop additions below. 70 minute boil overall.
This beer only utilizes Belma hops. I made a saison (no Brettanomyces) last year using Blema and was pleased with the subtle fruitiness of the hop but it is overall a milder variety. Anyway, I have some left over and have to use them before they get oxidized and decided this might be a good match if some Brett character sneaks through.
Belma hops Belma pelleted hops
About 5 gallons of the beer was recovered and transferred to the fermenter. A portion of saved yeast (about 24 ounces of liquid from the cake of Recipe #2) was used. The yeast had not been washed since it was harvested the previous day only. Fermentation started after about 12 hours and continued for several days until krausen fell. The beer was left in the fermenter for an entire month around 70 – 74° F. After a few gravity readings, the beer was transferred to a keg where two ounces of Belma hops were added for dry hopping and the beer was force carbonated.
After 4 weeks in the fermenter, the beer appears to have a lot of yeast still in solution. A sample was removed with a wine thief and the gravity was measured at 1.010, so fermentation is mostly done. I assume the Brett strains are the yeast still in solution but I don’t know that for a fact.The sample tasted like a Brett c beer so that is exciting, seems like the experiment worked. At this point I decided to transfer the contents to a keg and start carbonation / chilling to see if I can get some of the yeast out of solution. The yeast cake was saved in two jars for the next high temperature mash (the following weekend).
Beer served in a cervoise. Beer has the clarity of a witbier…not at all clear, has a significant haze throughout the beer and is completely opaque. Moderate to high carbonation, nice soft white head, small bubbles, a lot of lacing.
Beer is dry and light in body, effervescent throughout. Brett comes through in the mid- and late- palate. Beer is really smooth, no aftertaste at all. While the Brett character is there, and is a major component, I think the level could be a little higher. The Belma hops play well with this strain and I think it is a good beer.
Four out of Five Stars on this one.
Possible improvements (for future batches):
I’m pretty pleased with the results on this one. Belma was a good choice for the hops in a Brettanomyces claussenii beer and the Brettanomyces had a great comeback. This beer is pretty Brett forward in the end, but I enjoy that flavor a lot. This is a successful beer. I am pushing this yeast blend forward with another high temperature mash but using motueka hops from New Zealand. Not as aggressive or fruity as other Kiwi hops but a great variety that I feel would pair well with this yeast character. So expect that in the near future.
“When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading.” ―Henny Youngman