Saison Brett (Bruxellensis & Lambicus)

It was time. I was ready for my first “proper” sour/funky beer rather than dicking around with those quick sours. First off let me say that I’m not a huge fan of the run-of-the-mill saison without some use of aging in a barrel, or with some Brett in it (a saison is a saison is a saison…please god someone show me otherwise. I want to believe). Second, I wasn’t quite ready to go the full-length with a proper sour. A secondary aged Brett beer seemed like the best option to get my feet wet in the world of funk as I was hoping that it would be done in 2-4 months rather than a year or longer.

There is a flavor and aroma compound produced by grain and by certain yeast strains. This compound is called 4-vinylguaicol, which is the clove and spice flavors and aromatics (for beer largely comes from grain and/or certain yeast strains). When Brett gets a hold of this 4-vinylguaicol it converts it into 4-ethylguaiacol, which is barnyard, smoke, horse blanket, etc. These phenols are one of my favorite things ever in beers (especially ciders using whatever was on the apples to ferment). That being said, up to this point I honestly haven’t explored more of the fruity sides of what Brett has to offer with 100% fermentations. Ironically one of the Brett IPAs I made later on ended up tasting like a saison, yet as I stated in that post, that could have been due to some minor skunking. Either way, for now I just wanted to get my feet wet with some barn poop goodness.

I split this with up with White Labs WLP650 Bruxellensis and WLP653 Lambicus. I wanted to see what each yeast would contribute separately. I will add that there were days where it easily got to the high-80s in my garage, but thankfully according to White Labs they can handle that range, in fact it seems like they prefer it.

Recipe:

Batch Size: 5 Gallons
Target OG: 1.054
SRM: 8.2
Est ABV: 6%
IBU: 30
Boil Time: 60

Malt:
79.5% – 2-Row
6.8% – Red X
6.4% – Flaked Oats
5.5% – Caramunich Malt (56L)
2% – Acid Malt

Hops:
.75 oz Saaz (4% AA) @ 60 Min
.75 oz Fuggles (6.25%) @ 30 Min
.5 oz Saaz (4%) @ 15 Min

Yeast:
WLP566 Belgian Saison II
WLP650 Bruxellensis
WLP653 Lambicus

Here’s what went down:

Brewed 8/30/15

Everything went according to plan on brew day. Hit the numbers.

9/17/15: Split the 5 gallons into three secondaries:

2 Gallons got WLP650 Bruxellensis
2 gallons got WLP653 Lambics
1 gallon without Brett

11/14/15: Pellicle has formed on the WLP650 Bruxellensis one. The airlock I was using had a leak and kept running out, so oxygen got in. Thankfully Brett can handle it, and will even form the pellicle in oxygen defense.

11/18/15:

WLP650 Bruxellensis: Gravity at 1.007. Pellicle still there. Nice funk aroma and taste, little pineapple and fruit, slight tartness. It’s a little watery seeming, but we’ll see after carbonation.

WLP653 Lambicus: Gravity at 1.007. Ever so slight film on top. Apple pie-ish, not much funk or tartness. Also slightly thin.

1/30/16:

WLP650 Bruxellensis: Gravity still at 1.007.

WLP650 Lambicus: Gravity at 1.007.

1/31/16: Bottled the WLP650 Bruxellensis with 1/8th teaspoon of Champagne yeast re-hydrated in the priming sugar water for about 10 minutes. Never bloomed. Not the way to do this. Put a certain IPA experiment onto the leftover slurry.

2/6/16: Bottled the WLP653 Lambicus with a sprinkle of some Champagne yeast re-hydrated in warm water. Put the slurry of this into the IPA that already had WLP650 in it.

2/20/16 Tasting notes no Brett:

At first this had a papery taste to it, but that faded over time. I’m sure this could have been better, but I did leave it in a jug covered with tinfoil rather than an airlock for over a month and in a garage in the the mid-80s. I’m surprised this wasn’t terrible given how poorly I treated it, but it wasn’t that bad. It had the usual saison smell and taste, but nothing special. I am not the one to really judge this style, but basically it tasted like a clean saison.

3/7/16 Tasting notes WLP650 Bruxellensis:

This is stellar. Great funk horse poop to it. Some might call it too funky, but it’s all palate dependent. It’s a great “balance” and perfect for what I like in a funky saison. There is almost a lactic and pineapple thing going on as well. Maybe something got in, or that’s just what this strain of Brett did this time around. The girlfriend almost teared up because I actually made a good beer. Miracles do happen. The only change I’d make is transferring it and cold crashing before bottling. There is some white pellicle goop that floats on top in the glass after it’s poured.

4/10/16 Tasting notes WLP653 Lambicus:

A few of the bottles are over-carbonated and gush when opened. I think the Brett wasn’t fully fully done even though the gravity was stable (granted 1.007 is still a bit high), but then again it was only a few bottles.

As far as the funk goes, this is more subdued than the WLP650 version when it comes to the horse taint. It’s there, mainly in the aroma, but it’s not as smashingly predominant. I will say though after it had aged some (5 months in the bottle) the aroma got a lot more pineapple and guava and less pig nut. For those who like more of a subtle Brett character would probably like this, especially with some aging patience.

It’s amazing how different these beers are.

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