Advent Calendars aren’t a new idea, but the idea of a homebrew advent calendar is a relatively new one to me. I took part in one last year with the regional SOB group. This year my local club in Toronto (GTA Brews) managed to get a full 24 people (and then some) together to exchange homebrew and create a club advent calendar. This post is about my submission to that advent calendar.
When deciding on a style of beer to brew for an advent calendar there are two approaches people take. The first is the brew something safe, something that can showcase your skill as a brewer. The second approach is to go outside the box and try something new and exciting. I decided to go with the latter approach on this one and brew my first brett beer, a 100% Brett IPA.
I had read enough to know that Brettanomyces Bruxellensis Trois (WLP644) is the most common strain used in beers like this. With this beer I decided I wanted to go with something fruity and tropical so I decided on Galaxy hops, then paired them with Simcoe to get the grapefruit and pine. This beer was brewed right before the local bulk grain buy so I was running low on 2 row (after brewing my Ten Fidy clone) so I was forced to substitute most of my grain bill with Pearl. I had also just run out of Crystal 45L, so I just went with the closest I had, which happened to be Caramunch III (65L). I used my usual Magnum US bittering hop, and threw a little bit of Cascade in for good measure.
Brett Brux Trois IPA
Brewed: Oct 28, 2014
Kegged: Nov 21, 2014
FG: 1.006 (actual 1.010)
Target ABV: 6.6% (actual 6.0%)
Batch Size: 6 gallons
Mash: 152°F for 60 mins @ 1.50 qt/lb thickness
Boil: 60 minutes
Pre-boil Volume: 7.25 gallons pre-boil
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70%
3 1/8 lbs 2 Row 1.8L (G&P)
7 3/8 lbs Pearl 2.5L (Muntons)
8 oz Carafoam 2.2L (Weyermann)
8 oz Wheat Malt 2L (G&P)
8 oz Caramunich III 65L (Weyermann)
1.50 oz US Magnum 12.2% AA @ 60 mins (59.7 IBU)
1 whirlfloc, 2 g DAP yeast nutrient @ 5 mins
1.00 oz Simcoe 12.7% AA @ 0 mins
2.00 oz Galaxy 14% AA @ 0 mins
1.00 oz Cascade 7.1% AA @ 0 mins
* Whirlpool for 20 minutes starting at 170°F
2.00 oz Galaxy 14% AA @ Dry Hop 3 days
1.00 oz Simcoe 12.7% AA @ Dry Hop 3 days
Water and pH
Mash pH target: 5.40 pH (Bru’n Water)
Water Volumes: mash 4.6 gallons, sparge 4 gallons
Gypsum: 2.3 g in mash, 2.1 g in sparge
Calcium Chloride: 0.9 g in mash, 0.8 g in sparge
Lactic Acid: 2.8 mL in mash, 1.7 mL in sparge
Water Profile: Ca = 79.8 ppm, Mg = 9 ppm, Na = 15 ppm, SO4 = 101.1 ppm, Cl = 51.8 ppm, HCO3 = -2.1 ppm, RA = -87 ppm, SO4:Cl = 2
WLP644 (~216 Billion cells)
Pitch at 64°F
Controller set to 68°F
Bump up to 70°F on Day 4
The brew day was fairly straight forward. I mashed in with 163.1°F water, and the temp settled in to 150.5°F. I figured this was a bit low so I added 0.75 qt of boiling water and brought it up to 151.8°F. Even though I had added 2.8 mL of lactic acid into the strike water, my mash pH still measured out to 5.67 pH, so I added another 1.5 mL and that brought it down to 5.51 pH, this is why having a pH meter is important. Doing water calculations theoretically doesn’t always work in the real world situation. Most calculators just have you select between base/roast/crystal malts then input the mass and the colour. This wouldn’t account for the difference in acidity between Canadian 2 Row and German Pilsner Malt, if there is one.
After the mash, vorlauf, and sparge I had collected 7.25 gallons of 1.046 wort, right on target! The boil proceeded as usual, netting 6.25 gallons (@boiling) of 1.056 OG wort in the kettle at the end of the boil. I started the whirlpool and chilled down to about 170°F before I turned off the chilling water and added the flameout hops. I let the flameout hops whirlpool at that temp for 20 minutes before turning the chilling water back on chilling the rest of the way down to 64*F. I decided to use a glass carboy with this batch instead of my usual better bottle because I didn’t want to chance infecting my other brews with brett, plus it was just sitting around asking to be used.
About 6 days before brew day I had made a starter using the vial of WLP644 and let it go for a full 4 days, then I crashed it in the fridge for 2 days. I had been told that brett takes longer to grow it’s cell count so I let it go for 4 days instead of my usual 24 hours before crashing. Brett is also less flocculant than saccharomyces so I crashed for 48 hours hoping that I wouldn’t lose too many cells when decanting. Back to brew day now, I pitched the brett into the carboy and then oxygenated for 90 seconds. That may have been a bad move since I didn’t end up with many esters.
After 9 days I took an SG reading and it had only attenuated down to 1.014 SG so I decided to let it be for a bit longer. I took another reading 10 days later (Nov 16th) and it had dropped a bit lower to 1.010 FG. I decided that even though this wasn’t the calculated 1.006, it was low enough and transferred it into my new dry hopping keg.
A few months earlier I read a blog post by Bear Flavoured and it inspired me to change up my dry hopping method. I had previously been using a stainless dry hopper, but I hadn’t been as pleased with the results as I had hoped. I also found that I was getting a lot of small hop bits floating in the beer. Instead I decided that I would dedicate a keg to dry hopping, even if it was going to be more work. I bought a liquid diptube and cut off the last 2 cm so that it would fit in the keg with the stainless filter (from the dry hopper). I also attached a dip tube filter. One improvement I implemented was to slide a nylon dry hop bag over the large screen so that no hops could come in from above. This setup is all stainless so I am not too worried about dry hopping both brett and clean beer in it. On Nov 16th I sanitized, purged, then siphoned the beer into the dry hop keg. Then I dumped the dry hops in and purged again.After dry hopping for 3 days I placed the keg in my keezer to cold crash for 2 days before racking into the serving keg. On Nov 21st I carefully lifted the dry hop keg out of the keezer and put about 2 PSI on the dry hop keg to help push it into the receiving keg. I was pleasantly surprised to see clear beer flowing through the jumper hose. I made sure to excessively purge the receiving keg, then I left the pressure valve open so that there wouldn’t be a build up of pressure and slow down the transfer. After the keg was full, I put it on 25 PSI for 2 days to help speed up carbonation before setting the regulator to 12 PSI to help finish up and avoid over-carbonation.
All in all I am happy with the way this beer turned out, it is a bit hazier than I would have liked, but that is probably because it has only been in the keg for a week and a half, plus you know it’s an unfiltered brett beer. The levels hop flavour and aroma came through very well, however the brett came through cleaner than I had anticipated. I suppose that should have been expected with a 100% brett brux trois fermentation, I guess I was just expecting it to be distinctly brett. I am planning to brew a Brett IPA for the wedding, so I will probably just tweak this recipe. Would definitely go back to 2 Row as the base malt, and probably replace with Caramunich III with another crystal malt, right now I’m thinking either C15 or Fawcett Crystal I (45L). Hopefully my fellow club members enjoy the beer, I know I do.
Here’s a bonus picture of what was left in the dry hop keg after transferring. Lots of sludge!