Saturday, June 30, 2012

Multigrain, 100% Brett Farmhouse Ale

Apparently my brewing and my blogging isn't going to be as regular and as often as I had hoped. Oh well. Guess, I'm just going to have to make due with what I can, when I can. I thought I would have brewed more this Spring in anticipation of the hot summer months when I usually take a hiatus from brewing since I lack any real fermentation temperature control. However, since I didn't and since I was itching to brew something, I figured some sort of Saison/Farmhouse-style beer would be perfect to brew while the outdoor thermometer was hitting the mid-90s. Besides, I had never brewed something like this. Only recently has my palate started to appreciate the flavors associated with farmhouse beers, so it was time to brew one up.

Actually, the impetus for this particular beer came several weeks ago. I had read some of Phile Markowski's Farmhouse Ales and then found myself staring at all the raw "alternative" grains in the bulk food aisle of my local Whole Foods. Spelt. Buckwheat. Amaranth. Quinoa. I couldn't help myself, so I grabbed a few pounds of a variety of grains and headed home to research what to do with them.

It took me a while to come up with a plan - reading through Farmhouse Ales some more, perusing various homebrew blogs, searching HBT and Google for any info I could find on using non-barley adjuncts and saison yeasts and cereal mash technique. I finally had a plan and headed out to my local homebrew shop of choice to gather up the rest of the ingredients...only to find that it was closed for a week of vacation. My window to brew was small and I was determined to brew this up, so I headed to another shop which I try to avoid since every time I am there they tend to have about half the ingredients I was looking for. Of course, this time was no saison yeasts of any kind and no Saaz hops. No big deal on the hops, I could sub out something else I had at home already, but I was stuck on the yeast. After looking through their tiny yeast library, I found a vial of wlp644 Brettanomyces bruxellensis Trois. I was intrigued. I had been thinking about doing a 100% Brett beer and here might be a great opportunity. So, I grabbed a vial (along with some wlp072 French Ale yeast in case I got cold feet about using the just the Brett...I didn't, so now I'll need to brew up a Biere de Garde or something with that extra vial...foreshadowing of a future blog post)

Most folks seem to recommend giving a Brett starter 7-8 days before pitching, but I didn't have the time since I was headed out for some vacation with the family. Instead, I made the starter on Saturday, brewed late Sunday night (didn't get to bed until 2:30 am!) and then pitched the starter Monday night, giving ti a full 2.5 days to get going. The starter looked great - just like all my non-Brett starters - and fermentation was going by Tuesday morning, so I am hoping things will turn out OK despite not giving the starter enough time.

I should point out that this was also my first attempt at a cereal mash...which is one reason my brew session took so long. I followed the steps outlined in How to Brew by John Palmer. However, I really didn't know what temp my main mash was supposed to be at. I used the decoction formula presented in How to Brew to calculate it, but I must have done something wrong since I ended up WAY overshooting my target saccharification rest of 150°F ( I hit about 175°F). After 30 seconds or so of unmitigated panic and cursing, I dumped some room temperature spring water into the mash, bringing it down to a respectable 152°F. I let it go for an hour and a starch conversion test with some iodine showed a successful mash. Whew.

It has only been fermenting for about 6 days now and the gravity is down to about 1.020. The sample smelled and tasted fantastic - full of tropical fruit. I am very much looking forward to seeing how this one turns out.

Threshing Ale
brewed on 6/24/12 (and into the morning hours of 6/25/12)

Recipe Specifications
Batch Size: 3.75 gal
Estimated Color: 5.8 SRM
Estimated IBU: 30.8 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 65.00 %
OG: 1.045 SG
FG: 1.010
ABV: 4.6%

2.5 lbs Pale Malt - 32.3 %
2.5 lbs Pilsner Malt - 32.3 %
1 lbs Spelt, Raw - 12.9 %
1 lbs Red Wheat, Raw - 12.9 %
8.0 oz Red Quinoa, Raw - 6.5 %
4.0 oz Acidulated - 3.2 %

7 g Magnum [14.00 %] - 60.0 min
6 g Saaz [4.00 %] - 15.0 min
4 g EKG [4.50 %] - 15.0 min (I didn't have 10 grams of Saaz on hand)
20 g Motueka [7.10 %] - 1.0 min
8 g Motueka [7.00 %] - Dry Hop
4 g Goldings, East Kent [4.50 %] - Dry Hop

Brettanomyces bruxellensis Trois (White Labs #WLP644)

Mash Schedule
Infusion Mash with Precooked Adjuncts
- pulsed the raw grains in a food processor
- ran a cereal mash with the raw grains and 1 lb of the barley malt
- held at ~119°F for 15 minutes
- held at ~152°F for 15 minutes
- boiled for 1 hour
- added cereal mash to main mash sitting at ~127°F (TOO HOT for this mash schedule)
- overshot target sacc. rest - hit 175°F - needed to add ~3/4 gallon of room temperature spring water to bring it down to ~152°F


Jeffrey Crane said...

Looks great and I look forward to hear about your results.

I just brewed a very similar beer, but with a more basic grist and my house version of Brett Drie. It is amazing how much flavor can come from the yeast. I used a much bigger starter (~1/4 gal) and fermentation was done in about a week. I still need to check my final gravity.

Jim Lemire said...

As I mentioned in the post, I am very excited for this beer - the yeast flavors right now are unlike anything I've had before. Of course, it could also be from the late addition hops...

Was that a typo in your comment about the size of your starter? Mine was 1/4 gallon as well. I'm just not sure that I gave it enough time to get a high enough cell count.

FA Brewer said...

Great post look forward to your results. I have bought the makings for my first sour but have yet to brew it.

Jim Lemire said...

@FA Brewer - the results are most excellent...I will post some tasting notes soonish, but the beer turned out quite nice. Not sour, which one shouldn't expect with Brett, especially as a primary strain. For true sourness, you'll need the services of Lacto and/or Pedio. Brett may give a little acidity, but is best known for the flavors it supplies - earthy, leathery, funky, barnyard - depending on the strain and the conditions. This particular strain is full of ripe tropical fruits with some earthy undernotes.

Anonymous said...

How long was fermentation before bottling? How much priming sugar? Won't Brett continue to chew through the dextrins and create bottle bombs?

Jim Lemire said...

@Anonymous - I let this go about 4 or 5 weeks before bottling. I was concerned about the Brett continuing to eat away at things, so I purposely under-primed. I used enough sugar to get 2.3-2.4 volumes of CO2 if the Brett did nothing additional. I did not get any bottle bombs...the Brett did continue to work, but not to that extreme. If you haven't seen it already, here are my tasting notes on this beer at 10 months - Bret Trois Farmhouse Ale Tasting

Jim Lemire said...

updated link to tasting notes -

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