Brewing with Brett - Part 1 By: Fred Brown
The allure of Brettanomyces was one from which I could not hide. The call from these “wild bugs” has grown louder. I have tried many beers fermented or conditioned with Brett. These tastings have only drawn me closer to using them at home. How could some of the complex and distinct characteristics I taste impact the beer I brew at home? Will I be opening a can of worms by allowing these wild things into my home? Will they take over everything?
I have recently opened my doors and have been using more and more “Brett” in my fermentations. I once was fearful of this wild yeast but after much deliberation, research and drinking (lets be honest this is what its about!) I fully “embrace the funk!”
In this three part series I will break down this wild wild brett, brethren of our beloved saccharomyces cerevisiae while debunking some of the myths and calming your nerves. I hope I can encourage you also to “embrace the funk” giving Brett a try and create some of the most complex and delicious beers you have made at home!
In the next three posts I will discuss:
A brief history of Brett:
There are two very different but vital enzymes which differentiate Brett from our regular brewers yeast.
Lactose- milk sugar
Cellobiose- found in oak/wood
Glycosides- found in hops, fruit and spices
What is responsible for these distinctive characteristics?
4-Vinylguiacol - clove
4-ethylguiacol - spice/clove
4-vinylphenol - smokey
4-ethyphenol - spicy, horse blanket
4-vinylcatechol - Bitter, smokey
4-ethylcatechol - medicinal, barn yard
Get all that? There are a few words in there that I am still working on pronouncing myself. However I feel it is all very important to understand or at least have a grasp on what is happening to your beer. The more you know the better equipped you will be to tweak the flavors in your beer. Next time I will discuss how to do exactly just that!
Sources: “Brewing with Brettanomyces the horse the goat and the barnyard”, Chad Yakobson, 2011 NHC
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