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Brett yeast, anything to worry about?

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  • Brett yeast, anything to worry about?

    We'd like to start fermenting with brett throughout our brewery. We use multiple yeast strains (ale, lager, Belgian) and have had no issue with cross-contamination. So I figure brett should be much the same, yet I can't shake this paranoia I have about doing it...

    Are my fears founded or just needless concern?

  • #2
    no problem. go right ahead!

    oops, forgot to put up my Sarcasm sign again.
    Last edited by beerme; 09-19-2016, 08:39 AM. Reason: sarcasm

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    • #3
      Ha OK... anyone else just to totally put my mind to ease?

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      • #4
        Brett can really get deeply inbeded in wood, it can actually breakdown cellulose when there is nothing else to feed on so once it's in barrels, it's there to stay. Other than that, it's just another yeast strain.

        You could also plate your other strains on Lysine media to monitor for Brett contamination. I believe DBDM is also a good selective media for Brett against Saccharomyces.

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        • #5
          Thank you! We'd only be fermenting in stainless FVs... seems like all is a go.

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          • #6
            We've done some Brett ferments but have a whole set of tank parts valves,PRV's, pressure guages and gaskets that live outside of the brewery just for that purpose.Better to be safe than sorry...
            Hop It And Bitterness Will Come

            James Costa
            Brewmaster
            Half Moon Bay Brewing Co.
            El Granada,Ca

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            • #7
              this time maybe helpful

              there is an article in a recent MBAA technical quarterly:
              Wild Yeast and Bacteria (Intentionally) in the Brewery: Preventative Measures for Cross-Contamination
              Nicholas R. Mader. International Centre for Brewing and Distilling (ICBD), Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, Scotland; and Fremont Brewing Company, Seattle, WA, U.S.A.


              http://www.mbaa.com/publications/tq/...3-0803-01.aspx

              you need to be a member of the mbaa to read the whole thing. but maybe it is a good idea anyway.

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              • #8
                Worry more about your people, not the Brett

                In our experience, Brett lives and dies like yeast and does not pose as much a threat for cross contamination as bacteria in a mixed clean/sour brewery. Bacteria are much smaller and in my opinion, can live longer in less than ideal environments. However, the most important thing to consider is making sure the people who are working with the cultures, beer, equipment, etc. are highly aware of the contamination risks.

                The previously mentioned MBAA article outlines 7 points for a QA/QC program and I think the last point should be placed first:

                7. Education: proactive training and communication to pro- duction and packaging operators in regard to cleaning, sanitation, and sterility.

                You may be able to separate yourself from ongoing "clean" processes in your brewery, but can everyone else? We have never fermented with Brett or mixed culture in our main production brewery space, but do package all of those beers on the peripheral. We are moving to a completely separate facility, but even then, staff that work at both locations continue to be a risk.
                We require everyone that works with brett or mixed culture beer- either packaging or racking to shower and completely change their clothes for work the next day. No one working during the day is allowed to even walk through the clean cellar. Even for a post shift beer off the bright tank...

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                • #9
                  We use brett as the primary yeast in one of our year round beers and have not had issues as of yet. We have two dedicated brett tanks (white wine fermenters from St Pats, actually) and a dedicated brite (these tanks are used for all of our sour beers, not just the year round brett beer). We also make sure any equipment used on the sour side gets pasteurized rather than just chemically sanitized before being returned to general use. Most of our production is draft only, except for small runs of barrel aged and sour beers, which helps me sleep at night re: the brett. Kegged beer is (hopefully) stored cold after it leaves the brewery and is unlikely to show an infection before it is consumed. If we bottled our flagship clean beer production I would be a lot more paranoid. We also have two separate bottling machines so that we don't ever have to run clean beer through a filler that has seen brett or bacteria. We have never had an infection, but from what I have seen other breweries go through, a filling machine is your most likely point of contamination and should be your biggest worry. Don't worry about "brett in the air", or any of the people who act like it is some sort of unstoppable monster that is going to burn your brewery to the ground while your back is turned... lots of breweries work with it in a shared facility and even with shared equipment without a problem. As long as your sanitation practices are good and you are wary of critical control points (like the filler) you should be fine.

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                  • #10
                    Hmmm, the part that resonates with me is considering the packaging end of things... The keg filler, bottler, and things such as the carb stone all would require heightened attention. Considering we're working pretty dang hard as it is, not sure we currently have the facility for that added level of preventative work. I still think that the reality is brett wouldn't be any different than introducing a Belgian strain into our brewery, which we've done repeatedly with no issue, but somehow this discussion hasn't made me reconsider the fear I have of introducing brett - and I think is probably just not worth the risk for me.

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