Brewing with Brett Part 2 - Recipe Formulation By: Fred Brown

In part one of “Brewing with Brett”, I discussed much of the nomenclature of the brettanomyces species and its components which produce such a great and unique character.  In this next part I will talk a bit about designing your recipe to be fermented with these wild guys.

You will find in the Brewers Association 2013 Beer Style Guidelines that Brett beers are covered under “American-Style Brett Beer”.  The style is detailed with a lot of room for interpretation.  The style is relatively new and brewers are constantly pushing the boundaries.  It is quite fun and exciting to see what others are doing with Brett.  

American-Style Brett Beer defined:

American-style brett ales or lagers can be very light to black or take on the color of added fruits or other ingredients. In darker versions, roasted malt, caramel-like and chocolate-like characters should be subtle in both flavor and aroma. American-style brett beers may have evident full range of hop aroma and hop bitterness with a full range of body. Wood- and barrel- aged sour ales are classified elsewhere. The evolution of natural acidity develops balanced complexity. Horsey, goaty, leathery, phenolic and light to moderate and/or fruity acidic character evolved from Brettanomyces organisms may be evident, not dominant and in balance with other character. Acidity may also be contributed to by bacteria, but may or may not dominate. Residual flavors that come from liquids previously aged in a barrel such as bourbon or sherry should not be present. Wood vessels may be used during the fermentation and aging process, but wood-derived flavors such as vanillin must not be present. Estery and fruity-ester characters are evident, sometimes moderate and sometimes intense, yet balanced. Diacetyl and sweet corn-like dimethylsulfide (DMS) should not be perceived. Chill haze, bacteria and yeast-induced haze are allowable at low to medium levels at any temperature. Fruited American-style brett beers will exhibit fruit flavors in harmonious balance with other characters.

Original Gravity (ºPlato) Varies with style ● Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (ºPlato) Varies with style ● Alcohol by Weight (Volume) Varies with style ● Bitterness (IBU) Varies with style ● Color SRM (EBC) Varies with style

As you can see there is a lot of room to experiment in this category!  Keep the barrel and wood out of these beers and you should fall pretty much on target.

Brett can produce a wide range of flavors.  It can also produce a very clean beer.  It all depends on which strain you choose as they will impart different flavors and aromas.  When you developing your grain bill you should take these flavors into consideration.


  • Pilsner or Pale are good choices for your base.  In my experience I find Pilsner malt produces a fuller more rounded out base in my beers.

  • In addition to your base, consider using Vienna and Munich.  These help to add a little bit of complexity if you like to keep your malt bill simple.  

  • Special B, Crystal malts, Honey, CaraVienna and CaraMunich will add color and complexity to the beer.  However be careful when adding specialty malts that contribute a “bready” type character as fermentation will create some of its own.

  • Roasted Malts from the dark brett beers I have tried I have found them to be quite complex.  I really enjoyed the great layers of aroma and flavors produced.

        Disclaimer- I have yet to brew my own dark brett beer.  Its in the works!  I would suggest a debittered malt such as carafa I,II or III, blackprinz or midnight wheat.

Mash techniques:

A single infusion mash will result in adequate conversion with most of the highly modified malts we use today.  Temps in the 150-153 range will produce a nice fermentable wort.  I have seen friends use mash rests as short as 30 minutes and they get full conversion.  However this was on a RIMS system.  I am more comfortable using a rest closer to 60 minutes.  I mash in with about 1.25/1.33 quarts per pound.  Mashing too thin may create a beer that is over attenuated.  Brett can really dry a beer out!  Sparge as normal, about 168-170.  If you measure your runnings stop your sparge as you get in the range of 1.008 and 1.012.


  • I find this to be the most fun part of my recipe creation.  Brett can do some great things with hop oil compounds.  Experiment!  I have found aroma hops with citrus, spicy, piney and fruity characters really pop.  Big dry hops are good!

At this point you should have mashed and boiled.  Your wort is cooled and ready to be pitched!  What about fermentation?  Next time!

Till then I leave you with a nice amber brett ipa perfect for the fall season!

Bretty Carpet Rye’d

Batch Size:5.5 Gal

Boil Size 7.11 Gal

Boil Time: 60 Min

Brewhouse Efficiency: 72%

Mash Ingredients

9lbs 6 oz Pale Malt

2 lbs 10oz Rye Malt

12.4 oz CaraRed

8.3 oz CaraRye

8.3 oz Melanoiden Malt

5.5 oz Chocolate Rye

Mash with 1.25 qts/lb @ 150 degrees for 60 min.  Fly sparge to collect 7.11 gals pre boil volume at a pre boil gravity of 1.051

Boil Ingredients

1 oz Sterling-20 min

1 oz Cascade-15 min

1 Whirlfloc Tablet-15 min

1 tsp Yeast Nutrient-15 min

2 oz Sterling - Hop Rocket

1.5 oz Cascade- Hop Rocket

Chill to 68 degrees and Pitch:

Yeast: White Labs Brett Trois-WLP 644 (1 liter starter on stir plate for 5 days)

OG 1.062