Monday, 6 July 2015

Tasting Notes: Wheat Beer w/ Wyeast Brett. C

Here's some tasting notes for a beer I made with Wyeast's Brettanomyces Clausenii strain during its Private Collection release this spring.  To be honest, I'm no more or less interested in single-strain brettanomyces fermentation than I am in other pure cultures, which is to say that if I like the results I'll come back to a strain over and over again, but given the beers I tend to brew these days I'm quite happy with the English and Belgian strains I have in regular rotation.  In fact, now that Brett Trois has been outed as a saccharomyces strain in disguise, I can't have done more than a handful of all-brett beers over the past few years.

Of course, I'm very interested in what brettanomyces can contribute to mixed-culture fermentations, and I like to have various strains on hand to pitch into my beers.  The main reason I brew all-brett beers these days is because the bottle dregs provide an easy way of dosing other beers during fermentation. (I keep some half gallon jugs of strains I like going in my brew closet, but its generally easier to just drink a beer and pitch the dregs.)

After buying a packet of this yeast I wasn't sure what to do with it.  My ultimate goal was to use it to dose English stock ales for a traditional mixed fermentation, but I'm not planning on brewing any until the Autumn.  In the meantime I figured I could use it as a secondary strain in some saisons, and perhaps see what it was like fermenting a beer by itself (if only to use the bottle dregs later in the year).

Wheat beers seem like an obvious choice with brettanomyces, since their soft and fluffy mouthfeel can compensate for the fact that brett strains tend to produce less glycerol than their more familiar sacch. cousins.  I had a bunch of old but well-kept Galaxy hops, and a couple of citrus fruits (didn't note the variety but I think they were clementines), so I decided to throw it all together for a spur of the moment witbeer.  My original plan was to cut it with some no-boil sour to give it a slight tartness, but I didn't have enough heavy bottles to package it, so I didn't want to risk starting a secondary fermentation in the bottle.

The recipe was based loosely on this beer from Michael Tonsmeire's site, with the citrus and Galaxy hops thrown into the whirlpool.  The O.G. was 1.044, and the F.G. seemed to settle around 1.008.  I packaged the beer relatively quickly since the gravity remained stable over a whole week, but I was worried that putting the beer under pressure might start another fermentation.  It reached its apparent terminal gravity fairly quickly (within three weeks).  You can find plenty of people online stating that this isn't uncommon for brett beers, but most of them are talking about Trois, and the most recent interviews I've heard with Chad Yakobson suggest a primary fermentation with brettanomyces can take a little longer and go through a number of stages.  But I knew I was going to be drinking the beer quickly, so I aimed for a fairly low level of carbonation and hoped for the best.  The beer is about two months old at this point, and its carbonation has been consistent since bottling.

Appearance:  Soft yellow colour.  You can see a spiral of yeast because I wasn't careful with my pour.  Head recedes to about half an inch then lingers for most of the time I'm drinking it.

Smell: Unpleasant whiff of eggy sulphur when I first pour it.  As that dissipates a bit there's a lingering aroma of wheat and sweet oranges.  Maybe the slightest hint of musty funk, but could just be the sulphur.

Taste:  Clean wheat rounded out by a soft fruitiness.  Neither the hops nor the citrus are as pronounced as I expected.  Very subtle and smooth.  Light but lingering bitterness that might be from the citrus rather than the hops.

Mouthfeel: Very low carbonation, and a bit on the thin side (though not at all bad for a brett beer).  Still quite refreshing and drinkable.

Drinkability & Notes:  This was a bit of a throwaway beer.  I had the packet of yeast and didn't have any particular use for it, so I decided to brew something quick that I might enjoy drinking in the summer.  The result was a surprisingly clean wheat beer.  Nothing special, but perfectly enjoyable, thought the sulphur is a little unpleasant.  I think either blending it with some sour beer, or dry-hopping (or both!), along with increasing the carbonation, would have made it stand out more.  I managed to package a few in heavy bottles for longer-term ageing (though over carbonation is certainly not an issue so far).  As I mentioned above, this is mainly so I have an ready source of Brett C to dose other beers with, but it will also let me see how this changes as it ages.

1 comment:

  1. Love this experiment. I'm trying to gather a bunch of Brett strains to run an experiment for a 100% Brett Saison. It's fun to experiment with what we have available now!