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10/24/10 08:53 PM  
Starter for all brett beer
I'm planning on brewing an all brett IPA in a couple weeks using both the bruxellensis and claussenii strains from white labs. From what i've read, I understand I need to build up a pretty big starter. I'm planning to start with 1 liter, then step that up to 3-4 liters. Couple questions:

How long should i give it to ferment out at each stage?

What temperature should i shoot for?

Should i use my stir plate?

These questions are in reference to the starter only.

Having spent $15 on 2 vials of yeast, i want to make sure i do this right. TIA

10/25/10 10:32 AM  
Re: Starter for all brett beer
I think brett starters take at least 2 times as long as sac starters. I always freak out that nothing's happening, then it starts. Be patient. I think you're fine fermenting at room temp. Theoretically, using a stir plate will add more oxygen, which will make it more sour (as compared to growing same amount of cells w/o stir plate), but from my experience and from what I've read from other homebrewers there is still some debate/unknowns here. I've enjoyed my all-bretts both ways. FYI, I recently did an all-brett IPA w/ 2 brett stains, and it was one of the best beers I've ever made in the 15 years of homebrewing.
10/25/10 01:51 PM  
Re: Starter for all brett beer
As a point of reference, just yesterday I brewed a batch of beer that is fermenting with a starter made from the dregs of Avery 15. Brett B is I believe the yeast type. It was approximately a 5 pint (.6 gal) starter, actively fermenting when I pitched it, and I got a nice fluffy yeast head on the beer by the next morning. Pitched at about 73 degrees. Starting gravity of the beer was 1050.

Grew the starter on the stove, so about 85 degrees. Oh, and and this yeast takes a REALLY long time to ferment with just intermittent shaking. We're talking weeks.

10/25/10 05:29 PM  
Re: Starter for all brett beer
Thanks for the replies. So if i'm planning to brew in a couple weeks, it sounds like i should get the starter going asap.

sl8w: Care to share your IPA recipe? I got caught up in the hype of "super friends" from Ithaca, so i'm basing by recipe off that with a pretty simple grain bill (80%2row, 16%wheat, 4%caramunch) and all citra hops.

10/25/10 06:54 PM  
Re: Starter for all brett beer
When I brew my all brett beers I usually make a 1 qt starter of each strain 7 days prior to brewday (no stirplate). On brewday, I pitch both quarts (not decanted or chilled) and have fermentation the following morning. Granted these beers take about 2 mos to reach terminal gravity in primary but they come out delicious and stepping up of starters is avoided. If you do make large starters for these (step up or not)I would presume that your fermentation would occur a bit more normally.
10/25/10 07:08 PM  
Re: Starter for all brett beer
Is there any reason why you separate the starters for each strain? I was planning to throw them into the same starter together. I suppose is one strain tends to grow faster and hog the sugars, it might result in a disproportionate amount of each. Is this the case?

I've read and heard that with a large enough starter you got get these to ferment out nearly as quickly as saccharomyces.

Al B
10/25/10 08:33 PM  
Re: Starter for all brett beer
Brett starters should be the same as regular beer yeast (with the exception of some environmental strains). Aeration, extra nutrients, and malt are key to any primary yeast pitch slurry. Aeration cuts down time significantly.
10/25/10 10:01 PM  
Re: Starter for all brett beer
I brewed a 100% brett c and 100% amarillo beer two springs ago. It turned out amazing, an honorable mention at NHC this past year. I did not use a starter because I wanted to stress the yeast and get funky, sour, fruitiness, all of which I got. Both judges even mentioned pineapple as well as other fruits. So in my experience (somewhat limited) on 100% brett beers if you want funky, sour, fruity flavor from the yeast, stress it out and don't use a starter. The beer did take almost 72 hours to show any signs of visual fermentation and took about three months to clean itself up and become drinkable (my wife and friend described it as vomit-like at 3 months). By 6 months it was drinking awesome.
10/25/10 10:12 PM  
Re: Starter for all brett beer
Don't have my recipe handy, but the grain bill and hops were loosely based on a Northern Brewer Belgian IPA kit. I used Brett C and Brett L. An interesting combo, but I thought the bretts played very well with the cascades and saaz.
10/28/10 01:39 PM  
Re: Starter for all brett beer
Just and FYI for anyone interested- I emailed WL and asked if it was OK to combine multiple strains of brett into a single starter. They suggested NOT doing this since the strains will tend to compete and one will outgrow the other.
10/28/10 07:44 PM  
Re: Starter for all brett beer
So what does WL think about multiple strains in a wooden barrel?

Even while the slow one is competing, they are giving off flavor. *-)

10/28/10 07:57 PM  
Re: Starter for all brett beer
Sorry for being harsh. I was thinking of another thread.

I keep my bugs in separate containers also.

10/30/10 11:47 PM  
Re: Starter for all brett beer
Right on, wish I done some more digging on this topic before I rushed into my first all brett beer last weekend.

Just getting into mixed fermentation and brett over the past year, but one thing I would add is that Wyeast Brett. packs seem to have a much higher cell count than the White Labs vials. At least with the B. brux. and B. lambicus that I've purchased. Definitely makes for a quicker amplification when doing the 100% brett. thing...

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