After a few beers Chad gave a rather detailed talk about brewing with Brett and I wanted to share a few of the highlights that might help home brewers with their own Brett creations.
- Brett can eat/breakdown/modify glycol which in beer provides mouthfeel. This often causes all Brett beers to have a dry finish or not have a nice mouthfeel. To counteract this use oats, rye, or spelt. All of these grains add proteins that will help boost the mouthfeel.
- Brett may also by able to modify compounds contributed by spices and fruit, so these additions may add additional complexity to the beer.
- Brett works well in dark beers as it highlights coffee and chocolate flavors, however it can also lead to increased perception of astringency so don't go crazy.
- Brett has the ability to modify some phenolic compounds. This may be the cause of many of the off flavors associated with Brett (Goat, Band-Aid, Horse, Cat piss). If you can keep the precursors low in the base beer than they will not be present to be modified into off flavors (this is more for using Brett as a secondary yeast). (So take note that Belgian strains produce these initial compounds when using all Brett, may be why Orval has some of these flavors)
- When using Brett the first 10-14 days should see a very large drop in the gravity. However, after that times Brett slows down. It will take an additional 2-3 weeks for Brett to finish.
- Brett is excellent at scavenging oxygen. This means that you can but it in a barrel and not have to worry so much about oxidation as Brett will continue to use up all the available oxygen as it makes its way into the barrel.
- Fermentation should be conducted around 68-72 F.
- More oxygen in the initial wort will lead to more acetic acid, which is rather pleasant in low levels and is present in all beer. (Yes, even when using just Sacch. It is below threshold)
- Pitch in a quantity equal to what you would use for Ale yeast. 1 million cells/mL/degree plato.
- When bottling with Brett you may be able to calculate just how much more the gravity will drop and use that change to condition the beer.