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Thread: Playing with Brett

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Solon, IA
    Posts
    260

    Playing with Brett

    Has anybody in the wide world of Probrewer used Wyeast 5526 as a primary yeast? I'm giving it a shot, but one of the QC guys out in Boulder believed it was a creeper. Any other experiences with this strain would be useful; otherwise, I've got to get serious about finding another one.

    Happy Brewing,
    Bill

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Dublin, Ireland
    Posts
    144
    I have used it for some time and still do. If you do a total brett fermentation, you are really going to get some funk. It's a lot more common to do a secondary fermentation with it, or to blend beer with a percentage of your all-brett wort, possibly pasteurised to prevent over-attenuation. That's what I do. That is, I do all-brett fermentations, but not an all-brett beer.

    If you want the flavour to be good, you will have to be very patient and not give it much oxygen, warmth, etc. Basically, the more you mistreat it, the better it will taste. I know that sounds odd, but it's true: the rules are different.

    It will take what oxygen it needs through the pellicle, and this is the way to go. The pellicle needs to be in contact (at least periodically) with fresh air once it has formed. Never disturb it; draw samples from the side of the vessel. The pellicle will protect it from infection by acid lovers like acetobacter, lacto, pedio.

    Keep your hop rate at or above 20 IBU to guard against bacterial infection ... unless you want bacteria like lacto or pedio to establish themselves, in which case, do the opposite, staying under 10 IBU. Aceto can tolerate a high hop rate, however.

    Keep it at 62 F. It will take months to work, but this is how it should be.

    It is extremely attenuative. It can feed on cellobiose, so it will infect barrels. This might be good or bad, depending on your setup and goals.

    You can cheat a little when preparing a starter, using hopped, oxygenated wort and maintaining a temperature around 72 F. But only for a starter. Brett will reproduce fast under those conditions, but by no means as fast as sacchro. It might take two weeks to develop a good starter, but that is quite fast by brett standards.

    Feel free to PM me if I didn't answer enough of your questions.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Greensboro, VT
    Posts
    190
    You can do all brett fermentations. In fact, people have been doing it for many years. Think of it as a belgian yeast strain - you can do as the former poster suggests, if you like, but you could also just treat it like a normal yeast strain, ferment it at 20-22C, or higher, and see what happens. It is a bit more difficult to obtain a great harvest of the yeast for repitching, as it is not so flocculant, but always worth a try! It all really depends upon what character you are hoping to get out of the yeast...

    Shaun e.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Greeneville, TN
    Posts
    230
    Don't play with Brett... he is an A-hole!

    Seriously though... how do you make sure that brett cultures do not travel to other fermentors and thoughout your process?

    I want to start playing with some but am not willing to specify a certain set of equipment that can only be used for brett processes at a later date.

    Mike
    Mike Pensinger
    Chief Brewer
    Holston River Brewing Company
    Bristol, TN

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Solon, IA
    Posts
    260

    Just quoting...

    When I first started asking around about brett, I got this response from someone with lots of experience:

    "***As far as containment is concerned, I always tend to laugh at these
    kinds of questions. Do you trust the work you and others do regarding cleanliness?
    All air is full of bretts and other bugs and if you do a thorough job cleaning
    and sanitizing then you will have nothing to worry about. Yes, we treated
    everything the beer touched as if it had the plague, but we do that with
    every piece of equipment and beer around here."

    I figure that, so long as I don't age it in something that it can make a hiding place for itself in (such as wood), and maintain my cleaning regimen, it shouldn't be a problem. Most brewers use rather virulent sacc strains all of the time (think Hefeweissen and Belgian strains) but are unconcerned about contamination.

    Take this with a grain of salt: I've only been using brett for about a month now. There just isn't sufficient data to categorically deny cross-contamination.

    Happy Brewing,
    Bill

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Dublin, Ireland
    Posts
    144
    Mike,
    Brett can be killed. It's not the Andromeda strain.

    Its reputation as an unstoppable biohazard comes largely from the wine community, where it's a major problem because it can infect barrels, and when it does, it can be impossible to eliminate without actually destroying the barrels. (In France there are experiments with microwaving barrels now; perhaps that will work.) There probably are wineries that have gone bankrupt due to brett. But if you don't use barrels, or use them exclusively for bretty beers, then the chief vector is shut off.

    Obviously, you want to limit its access to porous surfaces and tight little nooks and crannies where it can hide. Still, it dies at 151 F; it also dies in contact with most cleaners, sanitisers, etc. It needs moisture and food, like any other yeast, and it dies without them. It can thrive on whatever supports sacchro, plus some dextrins and cellobiose, but it can't live on virtually "anything", as it is reputed to do.

    Your brewery doesn't have to operate like a Kosher kitchen. You do need to keep brett away from wood and other porous surfaces, especially moist porous surfaces. An SS air diffuser is as porous as it gets, but it can be boiled; that will kill the brett. Dekkera spores are actually rare, but they can be killed with saturated steam, boiling under pressure, and most chemical sanitisers.

    Yeast don't have wings or legs; they don't fly, leap, crawl, or run the 40-yard dash. They piggyback on dust particles, and they travel by surface contact. This can be managed.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Posts
    35
    Quote Originally Posted by beermkr
    Don't play with Brett... he is an A-hole!
    I resent that!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Greeneville, TN
    Posts
    230
    If you have ever spoken with me then you will know what I am talking about Dont take it personally!

    Mike
    Mike Pensinger
    Chief Brewer
    Holston River Brewing Company
    Bristol, TN

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