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12/03/10 04:03 PM  
Mixed Fermentation Old Ale
I don't have a malt bill together yet, but I wanted some input of mixed fermentation.

I have a good starter of both WLP Brett C and WLP005 separately.

I definitely want some Brett character to come out in this beer.

From my understanding Brett gets most of its character when the yeast is stressed. Is the reason it is produces the characteristic flavors during secondary (when it really needs to work hard to break down the longer chain sugars and no oxygen) instead of primary when it has plenty of simple sugar and oxygen?

My worry is if I pitch both to start with, that they will both drop out after a couple weeks and I won't get a nice Brett flavor.

Would it be better to pitch in the normal way, Sacc first, Brett second?

When these beers first started I guess Brett was mixed with Sacc in the primary because it was already in the brewing barrels. But was it in small enough quantities that it didn't grow enough until the Sacc was done and therefore acting more like a Brett pitched in secondary.

12/03/10 05:27 PM  
Re: Mixed Fermentation Old Ale
I've never really gotten much "brett character" from WLP brett c. It's more fruity thank funky. But I've never done a mixed primary with it, so it may behave differently in that scenario.
12/03/10 06:43 PM  
Re: Mixed Fermentation Old Ale
on this topic, does Brett C attenuate like Brett B when added to secondary? I was going to do an Old Ale with it but didn't want it to dry out all the way.
12/04/10 10:51 AM  
Re: Mixed Fermentation Old Ale
IME, Brett C. does NOT dry out near as much as Brett B. But it does seem to offer up some interesting tropical fruit aromas when used in secondary, albeit subtle.

Almighty, in regards to your question, I think your best approach for what you are looking for would be to mimic the historic aspect of these old ale beers by innoculating your beer with brett C. in the secondary for long term aging. Be sure to give the beer at least 6 mos to develop the aroma and flavor. I currently have an Old Ale (1.084 OG) which I used WY Old ale blend for. It has an english ale strain blended with Brett L. for added character during aging. I believe this Private Collection strain is still available.

I did a split batch with half getting London ale yeast and the other getting the OLd ale blend. At first sampling I enjoyed the old ale blend better as it had a bit of cherry like fruitiness in the aroma (Brett L.) that the straight london batch did not. I will be oak aging the brett batch for a few mos to see where it goes. Do you plan on using any oak for your brew?

12/06/10 01:10 PM  
Re: Mixed Fermentation Old Ale
Almighty, I have not seen any indication that any Bretts do better when they are stressed. Its not a yeast that seems to really get stresses actually... Smaller cell counts are sufficient during secondary fermentation because the sugar content is lower so its not fermentation that you're interested but the secondary compounds which are being hydrolyzed and synthesized. Brett will grow from small number to larger numbers by slowly consuming other dead yeast cells, cellobiose and what is left in the beer matrix (which with and old ale tends to be a lot due the the flocculent english yeast strains) So numbers will grow and the ester profile along with higher alcohols and other various compounds will change and a new equilibrium will be established depending on the exact strain and its abilities. This is why a long aging is typical with Brett as first numbers become sufficient and then the esterases take time as well.

I would advise a lower cell count because IMO a Brett bomb is not a tasty beer as it is one dimensional. Unless you have a hemocytometer and are taking cell counts its going to be hard to say how much Brett you're adding. The cells are sometimes half the size of normal Sacch so simply pitching half the quantity wont be the same. If you do you have the ability to count cells, try adding 100,000 cells/ml and seeing what kind of development you get. Ever strain is different but the Brett c. tends to take longer to develop "complimentary" flavors.

Both the WhiteLabs and the Wyeast Brett c. will eventually give nice subtle fruit notes as well as a metalic aroma in a finished beer. If barrel aging I tend to see a month or two of a garbage smell before that seems to be replaced by the more pleasant aroma.

12/08/10 05:03 PM  
Re: Mixed Fermentation Old Ale
Brewinhard isn't using the Wyeast blend the same as a mixed fermentation? I would like the fruity notes from the Brett but also want this beer to keep developing flavors over time. I was afraid if I pitched the mixed fermentation that the Brett would flock out.

I guess what I am having a difficult time understanding is what is the main mechanism behind Brett flocking out or continuing to work? (From what I understand in the absence of sacc it will flock out at a certain gravity but with the presence of sacc it will continue to work to an even lower gravity).


So if I'm going to use around 150 ml slurry of WLP005 then is it about right to use around 30-40 ml (half of a half) slurry of the Brett C assuming similar viscosity? And when should that be pitched?

Also congrats on the brewery can't wait till San Diego gets your beer.

12/08/10 06:24 PM  
Re: Mixed Fermentation Old Ale
Almighty, The Brett wont flocc out, its flocculation isn't dependent on other yeast strains presence. It most definitely has a completely different mechanism for flocculation then Sacch and I don't believe its dependent on depletion of sugars either. Some strains pretty much do not flocc at all while others seem to flocc after time and with a drop in temperature. Also just because a yeast floccs doesn't mean its not still working away. I have seen lots of Brett strains to be bottom fermenters forming a chunky/clumpy yeast layer at the bottom while keeping many cells in solution as well.

Just pitch the Brett at the same time, you'll get it acclimated to the environment and started growing so that it can sustain its long secondary fermentation. This is the same or similar to what many US brewers are doing.

Not sure off the top of my head but 150ml seems small (say you're starting plato is 15*P and you pitch at 1x10^6cells/ml/*P then you need 15x10^6 x 19,000 (5 gallons into ml) which is 2.85 x10^11 cells, on an average propagation there may be 7x10^8 cells/ml so you have 1.05x10^11 cells total at 150ml) I'd step it up again to about 300ml to get to a standard pitching rate... as well I'd step up the Brett from 30 ml to say 100ml and let that propagate for about 7-8 days while giving it a good shake each day if you don't have a stir plate or oxygenating device.

Either way you'll get what your looking for in this beer as the Brett will keep going long after the Sacch finishes and will even consume some of the sugars like trehalose released from the Sacch cells as they die.

12/09/10 08:43 AM  
Re: Mixed Fermentation Old Ale
Thanks Chad for the reply.

I'm still confused why when Brett is used as the only yeast that it will stop fermenting at a higher gravity than when in conjunction with sacc. Is it just that different types of sugars are left? So can Brett ferment every sugar sacc can plus more or can each only ferment certain types? I'm thinking if you had an all Brett beer finish too high can you add a sacc yeast to lower the gravity?

Maybe this is described in your paper. I sent you a message through your website for a pdf copy.

Also for the yeast pitch amount. I assumed 1.077 OG in 5.75 gal and 95% viability. Using the MrMalty calculator defaults for slurry it was right around 150 mL. I may pitch a bit more because I'm not sure about my viability.

12/09/10 11:41 AM  
Re: Mixed Fermentation Old Ale
email me chadyakobson at gmail dot com and I'll send you the paper.

Brett doesn't usually "stop" fermenting at a high gravity but it may take a long time as in 3 plus months to fully attenuate a beer. This is strain dependent so it depends which strain was used. Also the temp at which you ferment can be crucial in the time it takes to attenuate as well as all the physical conditions of they yeast cells as in how they were propagated, if they reached stationary phase before being pitched, was the vitality good, and are there enough cells for fermentation, etc...

I'm a proponent of the mixed fermentation. Think of it like those Dupont strain Sacch's. Often with a high gravity beer you also pitch a clean ale yeast to aid in the attenuation and completion of the fermentation. With Brett there is two ways to think of it with many variations to each: Brett first Sacch Second or Sacch first then Brett second. Think about what your trying to accomplish and work out what works best.

Simply pitching Brett in Secodary, after transfering off the yeast cake will also get you results due to the estareses which change the ester profile. during the Brett secondary conditioning.

12/09/10 05:30 PM  
Re: Mixed Fermentation Old Ale
I don't have too much useful information to add, but I did want to point out that WLP645 does put out noticeable funkiness if used in secondary. Doesn't make it taste Belgian funky, but it certainly doesn't taste like a typical brewer's yeast beer.

I also found out that WLP645 can also put out a good amount of acetic acid when it's got access to oxygen (confirmed by Neva Parker at White Labs). I found that out by leaving 2-3 gallons of Porter in a plastic bucket for about a year. Very sharp tasting now.

On the up shot I now have 2 gallons of malt vinegar. All I need is 300 lbs of fish and chips. :)

Chad, do you have an idea of what WLP645's upper alcohol limit is? I'm thinking I may use WLP023 to brew a big Burton Ale and then age it in secondary using WLP645.

12/13/10 04:19 PM  
Re: Mixed Fermentation Old Ale

The WLP645 that I'm using is actually cultured from your Batch 20&21 beers. I built it up in 22 oz of an English Mild. Then I pitched it into a gallon of Brown Ale. So far the beer is very clean maybe because there was some sacc left in the bottles. I have never seen a krausen like those dregs produced (very frothy and large).

That brings up a good question, if you have a 2 year old bottle that had both sacc and brett yeast, what is left? When I build this up in a starter is it safe to say that all the sacc is dead or eaten and I will have all Brett?

And also I'm going to use the Avery 15 dregs you gave me on a separate gallon of the Old Ale wort.


I read through your paper on my plane ride and it was very well done. And much more interesting than my thesis and more relevant to my life now, funny how that works.

I have a good list of questions for you. Let me put them into cohesive sentences and I'll get back to you.

12/13/10 11:43 PM  
Re: Mixed Fermentation Old Ale
Ah yes. Good to hear you were able to culture something from the bottles. As for what you cultured, it could be WLP645, WLP023 or S04.

20 and 21 were blends made up of different ratios of 8, 16, and 17. 8 was initially fermented in Dec 2007 using WLP023. It was later treated with WLP645. 16 and 17 were fermented with S04 (Sept 2008). 21 was heat pasteurized after campden tablets failed to kill off the brett in 20. I bottled 21 with S04.

As for the krausen, WLP023 makes a very large yeast head that looks like beige meringue. WLP645, I think, looks more like medium sized sticky translucent bubbles. At least it does in secondary. I've never made a starter of WLP645.

Let me know how the A-15 dregs work out. Neva over at White Labs says the sample I gave her was viable and that she's looking forward to checking the yeast out in depth. (Chad, I sent her a link to your blog to point out the research you've already conducted.)

12/14/10 05:57 PM  
Re: Mixed Fermentation Old Ale
I will get a picture of the krausen up shortly. This beer definitely had a big frothy, airy head. It seemed to grab and suspend a lot of particles. When do you think the beer was bottled?

Within a year or two you would think that the sacc yeast lost most of its viability. I was just curious, Mr Malty shows anything over 1 year has 1% viability. And you would think that the Brett has grown considerably.

Now I'm wondering if this is even worth pitching into the Old Ale. Maybe I should build up the Avery 15 dregs and pitch them instead.

12/14/10 08:34 PM  
Re: Mixed Fermentation Old Ale
20 was bottled in October 2008

21 was bottled in January 2009

12/15/10 04:40 PM  
Re: Mixed Fermentation Old Ale
I put some pictures up on my blog. Not sure if we can tell if it is a Brett or Sacc krausen. I don't have enough experience with Brett Only.


12/15/10 06:28 PM  
Re: Mixed Fermentation Old Ale
Hmm... I'm not so sure that yeast head is from WLP645. And it doesn't really look like WLP023. In my experience the head on WLP023 is really sticky, dense, and gooey looking and doesn't usually drop out very quickly.

I'm guessing the S04 from #21 took over and hogged all the sugars. WLP645 might show up if you let the carboy sit long enough.

To me S04 gives a strong bread dough character to beer when it's fresh. WLP023 has more of a bright fruity character. S04 also sticks to the bottom of bottles like glue.

What do the rest of you think?

If you need more WLP645 to culture, let me know. I can give you another bottle of #20, or give you some oak cubes that have been soaking in Brett'ified Porter for the last year or two. Or I could skim some of the pellicle from the top of that bucket and build up a small starter.

12/16/10 12:36 AM  
Re: Mixed Fermentation Old Ale
Well from the taste of your beers I know that there is some Brett alive. I'll just let it go and see what happens. I think I'll carb up a few right now, so I can get a better idea of the flavor. I'll bring one by when they are ready.
01/03/11 01:09 AM  
Re: Mixed Fermentation Old Ale
Brewinhard, did you use a starter with your Old Ale blend? Just wondering with the brett.mix if the brett start-up would be affected. I am going to brew with this strain soon also.
01/03/11 07:42 PM  
Re: Mixed Fermentation Old Ale

I did make a 2 qt starter with the old ale blend with brett. I did this b/c I was brewing up a big 1.084 gravity beer and wanted to make sure that there was a healthy enough pitch. I only pitched the chilled decanted slurry into half of the batch though (3 gallons). I don't believe that there was really any issue with making a starter as the both the brett and sacch. benefitted from it. I had a nice pellicle after about 3-4 weeks in my primary already upon racking into a keg with some oak. The way I look at it is like this-

if you are brewing a brett beer then starters can only help to wake up and build the populations in the blend. Now does this mean that the brett got a bit of a head start more than it would've without a starter? Sure, but keep in mind you are brewing a beer with brett in it so why not get the brett rolling along, right? If you are worried about your brett imparting too much flavor/aroma characteristics, then when you are happy with the progression of the final product, simply crash cool the beer, and force carbonate in a keg to enjoy. The cold temps will keep the brett from working that much faster and help to stabilize the flavors/aromas you already have, at least for a bit.

01/04/11 11:01 AM  
Re: Mixed Fermentation Old Ale
I am brewing the Old Ale on Sunday, so I thought I'd post my recipe to see if anyone has some input.

OG-1.081 IBU-35 5.75 gal @ 77%

83.2% 13lbs Maris Otter

7.2% 1.2lbs Crystal Malts (Equal Blend of 60,120,Special B)

Added at High Krausen

6.4% 1 lb Treacle

Mash at 156.

2 oz Goldings 4.75% - 90min

Boil 90 minutes.

Cool to 60 and ferment @ 60-62 with above yeast blend of S04, (maybe WLP023) and WLP645.

Add 1 oz boiled French Oak cubes after initial fermentation

Added at 6 months

3.2% .5 lb Turbinado

01/04/11 07:50 PM  
Re: Mixed Fermentation Old Ale
Recipe looks good, but I think a 156 deg. mash temp might be a bit high depending on how much you want it to dry out. When I brewed mine, I used Maris otter for the base malt, 1# D2 candi syrup, 1# melanoiden, and 1# crystal 80. My beer only dried out to a 1.030 even after adding some champagne yeast to further help it along. I mashed at 152 deg. and next time would mash below 150 to dry out the beer into the 1.020's or so where I wanted it. I wasnt too worried as the brett L in the blend will help to knock off some extra points in the long run.
03/08/11 01:33 AM  
Re: Mixed Fermentation Old Ale
Brewhard, how long are you aging on oak?
03/09/11 09:37 AM  
Re: Mixed Fermentation Old Ale
I only have 3 gallons on oak (1 oz french med toast) with the Wyeast Old ale blend. Currently it has been sitting on the oak in stainless for about 3 mos or so. I have not checked it yet, but will let it go for another mos before beer gunning the blend into bottles for further aging. I am planning on a large contribution from the oak which is fine with me. It really depends how you treated/sanitized the oak before adding to the beer as to how long the aging will be needed. Now, off for a taste!!
03/10/11 01:30 AM  
Re: Mixed Fermentation Old Ale
Mine has been 3 weeks @ 2oz boiled and drained. 5 gallons , will taste soon also.
03/10/11 01:30 AM  
Re: Mixed Fermentation Old Ale
Mine has been 3 weeks @ 2oz boiled and drained. 5 gallons , will taste soon also.
03/11/11 09:51 AM  
Re: Mixed Fermentation Old Ale

So after 3 months you have already seen the gravity stabilize?

03/11/11 08:21 PM  
Re: Mixed Fermentation Old Ale
I have not yet taken a gravity reading. But will account for some continued fermentation when packaging with regards to pressure. I just don't want it to get overly oaky. My plain batch finished at 1.030 and the beer surprisingly did not taste cloying. Even if the brett drops this one another ten points I will be happy! :)
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