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08/19/09 04:16 PM  
Re-fermenting with Brett
Howdy! Long-time lurker and I finally have enough conditioning space (built a walk-in) to do some long-term wild and sour beers (have two fermenters going now). I have a problem I hope y'all can solve.

I have four different beers (Saisons and BGSs) in 12-oz bottles (about two cases in total) that five months after bottling have either low- or no-carbonation. I bottle prime with cane sugar and all of the larger bottles were correctly carbed (I use 1L and 2L PET), so I beleive the problem is a bad batch of caps, which means that the priming sugar is probably gone. The beers are 7-9% ABV with FGs 1.005-1.008.

Of course, I could pour the bottles into a 2L and force-carb but whats the fun in that Id rather try re-fermenting with Brett and take advantage of the new walk-in. So I'm thinking about chilling the bottles, popping the caps, and spiking each with a little Brett, either from a fresh smack pack or bottle dregs, and then cellaring at 60F for a while. So here are my questions:

If bottle dregs would work better than a fresh pack, any suggestions on a particular beer?

Do I need to make a starter?

What's a good amount to spike? 1-2mL per btl?

Assuming that there is little or no cane sugar left, do I need to add some to ensure reasonable carbonation or will the Brett be able to eat enough of the .005-.008 when stored at 60F?

Any other suggestions on what to do? A different yeast or a blend perhaps?


08/24/09 12:09 PM  
Re: Re-fermenting with Brett
No one adds Brett at bottling? Guess it's not as common a practice as I thought...
Rob B
08/24/09 12:48 PM  
Re: Re-fermenting with Brett
I can't address all of your topics but I would suggest pitching some more sugar when you add the brett. At 1.005-1.008 there really isn't much for the brett to chew on. Depending on how old the original yeast is though, it may consume the new sugar before the brett develops. I would also warm them to room temp or around 70F.

Personally I prefer to pitch brett in secondary and have never added brett at bottling. I am not sure how consistent the result will be in adding a bit to each bottle.

08/24/09 02:59 PM  
Re: Re-fermenting with Brett
I have a saison that I would like to add some brett c to a small portion of the bottles from a 5 gal. batch. So any info on this would be nice.
08/24/09 03:51 PM  
Re: Re-fermenting with Brett
I just bottled two saisons using Brett c and Brett l for bottling strains and it worked perfectly fine. For 4 gallons, I used ~200-300 ml of Brett starter that had been growing ~5 days in a 1.045 wort. I pitched a few ml from a slurry I had from previous culturing into that starter.

I added this to the keg I was bottling from as opposed to adding it into each bottle, but if you want to add it to each bottle then I would go with 1% inoculating volume to match my volumes. I suspect you can go lower, but I havent tested that yet. Took about 1.5 months for the bottles to clear and they were carbonated fully after 1 week.

As for priming sugar amounts... I base it off of the gravity at time of bottling vs expected terminal gravity vs volumes of CO2 desired. For example, my Brett C bottles where at 1.016 at time of bottling and I expected it to finish around 1.008; I also wanted 3.5 volumes of CO2 in the bottle, but wanted a little cushion (up to 4 volumes) in case the strain went below 1.008. So I did not add any sugar to that beer. But the Brett l beer was at 1.012 at time of bottling, so I added some table sugar to match my previous 1.016 bottling gravity. My Brett l beers did carbonate more than the Brett c beers, so I would use 1.005 next time for a terminal gravity.

I hope this makes sense, but if not I can explain further and if you want more specifics into my calculations then I can explain further on that too since I have left that out.

08/24/09 11:59 PM  
Re: Re-fermenting with Brett
JWW - that makes sense to me. You had a reasonable amount of fermentables left so didn't need much sugar.

Rob B - yes, I agree with you. Not much left in my beer at this point, so sugar is probably a good idea. The 3787 / 550 / 3864 in the various bottles may eat it up though, as you mention. Worst case is I end up with over-carbed beer.

Guess it's just an experiment - the beer is undrinkable now, so what is there to lose?

08/25/09 10:02 AM  
Re: Re-fermenting with Brett
"As for priming sugar amounts... I base it off of the gravity at time of bottling vs expected terminal gravity vs volumes of CO2 desired."

Wow, you are a brave fellow! The risk of under- or over-carbonation in such a situation would make me shy away from such methods, though I suppose they are traditional (Spunding). I guess keggers could minimize problems with some kind of relief valve, but you are really committing to your FG prediction by doing this, eh?

08/25/09 01:43 PM  
Re: Re-fermenting with Brett
Well under-carbonation never really was a worry for me, I was more concerned with over-carbonation. But I worked through the math before hand and felt that even if I was wrong on terminal gravity the most carbonation I would see would be about ~4 volumes, which I was comfortable with. Thats why is said I calculated a cushion into the carbonation.

I have been carbonating this way (bottle and keg) for a while with very few issues.

09/01/09 12:06 AM  
Re: Re-fermenting with Brett
So my saison finished out at 1.005 from 1.043. I think I will let it go just a tad longer, but I think it is pretty dry and has a strong hop bitterness. If I add some brett c at bottling will it have enough to eat? Or will I not get much out of it?
09/01/09 12:26 AM  
Re: Re-fermenting with Brett
<<hope this makes sense, but if not I can explain further and if you want more specifics into my calculations then I can explain further on that too since I have left that out.>>

If you don't mind I would like to try this soon with a 3711 Saison and brux and am curois about how you figure the fg with brett.



09/01/09 12:18 PM  
Re: Re-fermenting with Brett
JeffB, I would concur with Rob B's response above. At 1.005 I would personally want to add at least some priming sugar to ensure carbonation. You will note also from JWW's posts that he considered 1.005 a reasonable terminal gravity to expect.

If you are uneasy about overcarbing you could maybe dial back the sugar amount a bit (~1 atm?) but I don't think you should have much to worry about.

09/01/09 12:36 PM  
Re: Re-fermenting with Brett
JeffB, You will probably not get much more out of it at 1.005 gravity, you will have to add some sugar to prime from there.

B-Dub, I ballparked the terminal gravity by averaging what others on this board posted based by species being used. I'd dig around in the archives here to see what others have seen brux finish out at and go from there. I personally havent played with brux myself but would expect it to be somewhere between 1.005-1.008. Also for the first bottling, you can always go with a lower CO2 volume level to ensure they dont overcarbonate.

09/02/09 01:50 AM  
Re: Re-fermenting with Brett
So would I be right to assume 1.005 worth of fermentation in the bottle would give me 4 vol Co2 if bottled at 70 degrees? This is about what 8oz of white table sugar would give you in 5 gallons of beer at 70 deg.

This sounds a lot like a guy might have to do some experimenting for himself to find what works.

Any good reading on the subject? No bottling calculators for brett conditioned brews yet.



09/02/09 10:39 AM  
Re: Re-fermenting with Brett

Sorry misunderstood the question. How are you determining 1.005 will give you 4 volumes of CO2? Using a priming sugar calculator and what info you provided, yes 8 oz of white table sugar will give you 4 volumes of CO2 in 5 gallons of beer at 70 degrees F. But from my calculations, 8 oz of white table sugar should yield 0.012 SG increase from estimated Terminal gravity. This would mean you need a specific gravity of 1.017 at bottling to get 4 volumes of CO2 at 70 degrees F for 5 gallons of beer.

Heres the math:

Specific Gravity = density of beer/ density of water = (mass of sugar in beer /volume of beer)/ (density of water at temperature of beer)

At 70 degreesF/21.1 degreeC density of water = 133.26 oz/gallon

So 8 oz of priming sugar/5 gallons of beer = 1.6 oz/gallon

then (1.6 oz/gallon)/ 133.26 oz/gallon =0.012

this then needs to be added to your expected terminal gravity 1.005 + 0.012 = 1.017 specific gravity at bottling

Depending on how you measure (weight vs volumetric) the priming sugar, the accuracy of your thermometer, accuracy of your hydrometer and method of mixing, some experimentation/caution may be necissary for the first attempt at using this method for bottling, but if everything is calibrated and performed correctly there should be no problems.

Let me know if further clarification is needed.


09/02/09 02:50 PM  
Re: Re-fermenting with Brett
JWW I think your numbers are not correct because they don't account for the change in volume when you add the sugar.

We know sucrose is 100% fermentable and adds ~45 G-pts/lb. So 8 oz in 5 G of water should give SG 1.0045.

I believe 2.35 ounces of sucrose in 5G gives 1 volume C02.


Adding brett to bottles for refermentation is a great/easy way to compare strains and see what you like. I add different strains to different bottles and then blind taste after some aging. Never, with 4 brett strains, have I experienced overcarbonation when priming normally (for ~2.5 vol) -- but note that I've only done this on beers fermented with the highly attenuative WY3787. I would be pretty afraid to add brett to a WY1968 ESB at bottling.

I add a brett colony to 10 mL of sterile wort and let it ferment out. At bottling I shake this up and add 1/2 mL to each bottle. This is more than enough, and way more than Orval uses.

09/03/09 12:04 AM  
Re: Re-fermenting with Brett

Would you feel comfortable bottling a Saison fermented with 3711 with a fg of 1.008 with brux and/or brett C? I plan on keeping the two strains separate.

You would plan on 2.5 vols co2 and heavy bottles?



09/03/09 09:31 AM  
Re: Re-fermenting with Brett

Yea I see that now.. Went home and plugged the mass into my brewing software and got the same thing...0.005 is the additional gravity the sugar gives... Not sure where my above calculation went wrong.. But in any case, add this to the expected terminal gravity of 1.005 to yield 1.010 going into the bottle for 4 volumes of CO2.

If you have allowed the fermentation to go to completion as most do, then you can prime as any typical brew. Its only when you start to account for fermentables in the beer plus additional priming sugar that the possibilities of overcarbonation come into play.

09/03/09 10:33 AM  
Re: Re-fermenting with Brett
BW: personally I wouldn't worry much about doing what you propose, as long the bottles are heavy. I also like to keep some "control" bottles with no brett and age them alongside the brett versions. An interesting blind tasting comparison is WLP claussenii vs. control. Different people seem to have very different impressions. If you give this a shot I'd be interested to hear your results.

JWW: that calculation is tricky cause the volume of beer changes when you add sugar. If you're working with specific gravity this makes a big difference because if the volume changes by say 0.5% then your answer is off by 5 SG points.

You can avoid this problem by working in degrees Plato/Balling: (grams extract)/(100 mL of beer). (Now if the volume of beer changes by 0.5%, your answer in degrees Plato is only off by 0.5%.) With 8 ounces of sugar in 5 G of water you calculate ~1.2 Plato. A decent approximation from Plato to SG is [ SG = 1 + (4*Plato)/1000 ] which gives 1.0048 (close enough).

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