So I’ve decided to make the plunge into the world of possibly contaminating my equipment with things that are not standard beer yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae/pastorianus). Yes, it’s time for a beer with brett. I decided on a saison with brett for a couple of reasons: (1) I wanted to use WLP670 American Farmhouse Blend; (2) it’s summer an keeping fermentation temperatures down is a pain; (3) I love saisons with a brett funk to them.
To keep things simple I’m sticking to a pretty standard Dupont-ish recipe I’ve used for saisons before so I can really gauge how the yeast tastes. Remember, brett is not a souring agent, so the funk should be subtle until a couple of months of bottle conditioning. Otherwise it should just be a super dry saison.
For a 20l batch.
Mash in 10.5l carbon filtered water at 159F to a step temperature of 148F.
8lb 2-Row (82%), 0.5lb vienna malt (5%), 0.25lb caramunich malt (3%)
Batch sparge with 6.5l/13.5l at 168F.
Add 1lb (10%) brewer’s dextrose to the boil then start 90 minute boil.
With 60 minutes left add 28g Styrian Goldings, with 15 minutes left add 14 East Kent Goldings (EKG), Irish Moss, and 8g bitter orange peel, and with 5 minutes to go, 7g EKG.
Pitch a 2L no-stir starter of WLP670 (American Farmhouse Blend) into 18C wort.
Primary for 2 weeks at 24-26C.
Bottle with 110g brewers dextrose (corn sugar).
The brewday went well. I ended up shorting the final volume a little bit because I didn’t figure in my stock pots limitations on the first sparge and could only get around 4.5l in there. I didn’t adjust the later volume and ended up a -slight- bit under my 20l batch size.
My efficiency, despite the slight under volume issue, seemed to work out well. I had planned on around 1.052 at 20L and ended up with 1.060 at ~19L. Even if I’m being stingy and overcounting the volume of my starter that puts the efficiency at somewhere between 75-80%, which I’m pretty happy with. I -could- have added some water to bring me up to volume, but well, I’d rather the extra few points of ABV – it’s still within style, so I don’t really mind!
The yeast starters, which are just shake starters, seem to be working quite well. As the picture above shows, I had lots of nice healthy yeast (and brett!) to pitch. The starter had more of a banana note to it than I expected, which I wasn’t crazy about. I’m hoping it was just because it was really young yeast. I don’t want any banana in my saison, but that’s the risk you run playing with new yeast.
Everything was pretty nominal when brewing, so I don’t have much to say. In my last saison I regretted not adding sugar to dry it out, so I made sure to include it this time. I’m normally not a fan of bitter orange peel in saisons, but I had some around so I popped a little into this recipe. It should help bring out the fruity aspect of the brett a little, maybe.
Either way, it’s been fermenting quite well for the last week. I brewed on Saturday (2013/09/17) and it seemed to have all settled down – after a very vigorous effort – by Wednesday. I’ll test the gravity on Sunday and let you know how it’s going. Here’s hoping for some funk!
Update: September 1, 2013. Bottled the saison. It’s tasting like a very classic saison with the expected pepperiness. Very dry. It finished somewhere around 1.006 which I’m happy about.
December 2013 Update: This beer is drinking really well. Big earthy Brett character on a very classic, crisp and clear Dupont-ish saison base. The American farmhouse blend is almost calling for American hops or some other bigger notes to play off that aggressive brett. Next time, perhaps hop with simcoe?