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07/07/11 06:21 PM  
gravity stuck at 1.020!?!?!?!?!?
My first attempt at using Brett has hit a snag. I posted about this experiment before, but to recap:

Brewed on 2/21/11


40% Pale Malt

13.3% each of Vienna, Acidulated Malt, Wheat Malt, and Flaked Maize

6.7% Flaked Wheat


Protein rest @ ~130F

Sacch rest @ 160F

OG = 1.054

Fermented with Lallemand BM45 (Brunello wine yeast)

3/5/11 - SG = 1.022; Racked on top of 2.5lbs of cranberries, pitched 1 vial of Brett c. (WLP645)

I had a nice pellicle form and basically just left it alone. I checked it once on 4/16/11 and the SG was about 1.020. I checked again today, 7/7/11, and its still at 1.020. I don't get it, the pellicle seems to have dropped away and the sample tastes and smells "Bretty". Overall it tastes pretty good, but I am concerned that the gravity hasn't moved at all in 3 months. I figured for sure it would be much, much lower by now.

Any thoughts? Could the pectin from the cranberries be giving me an artificially high gravity reading? I racked it off the cranberries and my plan was to let it sit in the carboy for another month or two and then bottle, but now I am wondering if I am going to need to wait longer - though if it is only at 1.020 now how far should/could/would I expect it to go?

07/07/11 08:24 PM  
Re: gravity stuck at 1.020!?!?!?!?!?
positive that your hydrometer is accurate and didn't slip out?
07/07/11 08:28 PM  
Re: gravity stuck at 1.020!?!?!?!?!?
Pretty positive - I've been using the same hydrometer all along with other brews and they have seemed just fine - finishing as low as 1.012. Though, just to be sure, I'll go test it now.
07/07/11 08:39 PM  
Re: gravity stuck at 1.020!?!?!?!?!?
Well, the hydro is reading a little high, but only by a couple of points. Still doesn't explain such a high reading on this beer.
07/08/11 09:35 AM  
Re: gravity stuck at 1.020!?!?!?!?!?
There's several things in your beer that may be working against you:

1. 160F Sacc rest: that's the extreme end for a fermentation. You've got lots of dextrines, which will be difficult for any yeast to ferment.

2. Wine yeast: from what I've studied, wine yeast can't really ferment complex sugars. So combine 1 & 2 and you've got really tough stuff for the Brett to work with.

3. BrettC (by itself): some research points to Brett not being super-attenuative by itself. The few brewers I know (myself included) that have used WLP645 have not gotten extreme attenuation.

4. Cranberries: not really sure that the cranberries will offer much in terms of fermentable sugars.

My thoughts would be:

1. Put it somewhere a little warmer (if it's too cool) to kick start it. Let's say mid-70's.

2. Give it more time. I've had pure WLP645 and WLP645-in-secondary beers get down to 1.012-14 in ~4-6 months.

3. Toss the dregs of a couple bottles of commercial beers in. That's what I do with "stuck" beers. Jolly Pumpkin cultures will eat just about anything.

07/08/11 11:11 AM  
Re: gravity stuck at 1.020!?!?!?!?!?
Thanks for the insights.

Your points #1 and #2 were purposeful on my part - I wanted to leave plenty of residuals for the Brett to metabolize. It was my understanding that this wouldn't be a problem - that's what Brett does right? Eat the compounds Saccharomyces cannot? If I had mashed lower, and the primary yeast fermented it out to say 1.014, wouldn't the Brett still be expected to take it lower? I would think the compounds left behind by the primary yeast would be more or less the same (just in different quantities). At least that is what I assumed when I devised my procedure for this beer.

As for point #3 - I did not realize Brett c. was not highly attenuative. This certainly could explain things.

#4 - I wasn't really expecting much sugar from the cranberries - just mostly color, flavor, and increased acidity

For now, I will let it sit - it's been racked onto some oak for some more aging anyway. It's currently sitting at around 73-75F. I'm going to hold off dumping in some dregs since I am looking to add any Lacto or Pedio.

07/08/11 11:13 AM  
Re: gravity stuck at 1.020!?!?!?!?!?
last line above should read "...I am NOT looking to add any Lacto or Pedio"
07/08/11 05:43 PM  
Re: gravity stuck at 1.020!?!?!?!?!?
I'm going to go ahead and stress point #3 above. In my experiences, brett c has not been very attenuative, and in fact behaves pretty similar to a sacch strain.

Other factors:

most wine yeasts are "killer" strains. although most brett strains are neutral, make sure claussenii is not a "susceptible" strain.

13.3% seems like a lot of acid malt. With claussenii being one of the "weaker" and more sacch-like strains, I'd look into how acid tolerant it is, and check your current pH.

You could always pitch a heartier brett strain, like bruxellensis

07/09/11 10:10 PM  
Re: gravity stuck at 1.020!?!?!?!?!?
The acid malt was also purposeful - I was trying to mimic Ithaca's Brut in a way. I do not think any Brett is susceptible. Besides I clearly had a wonderful pelicle that persisted for months, so it clearly (?) thrived.

Maybe it is simply, like has been said, that claussenii is just not that "strong" a strain and just hasn't been able to do much. The beer tastes good. I'll let it go for a little while more and see what happens.

07/09/11 10:45 PM  
Re: gravity stuck at 1.020!?!?!?!?!?
One other thought. If you're really into the idea of sticking to Brett and not a total mixed culture, maybe you could think of culturing some Brett from bottles of Orval. That WOULD give you some decent attenuation without getting into Pedio or Lacto.
07/10/11 01:46 PM  
Re: gravity stuck at 1.020!?!?!?!?!?
With my 100% brett brews even using both strains of Brett L. and B. together I have only experienced moderate attenuation with FG in the range of 1.009-1.014. That is even with a low mash temp of 148 deg F for 90 minutes and 3 mos long primary on top of the yeast cake. Brett in the primary seems to behave more like regular sacch. strains when used in the primary and do not become over attenuative at least in my experiences.

If it were me, I would pitch the dregs of a couple of bottles of your favorite commercial sour beers and let those cultures bring your final gravity down a bit further. As is, brett in the primary does not typically lend an over the top sourness like many believe it to.

07/10/11 01:48 PM  
Re: gravity stuck at 1.020!?!?!?!?!?
You might make a starter with Brux and Lamb on a stir plate at 80 deg for a week. Then cool them and pitch a thick slurry.

I have done that for all brett beers fermented with cal ale yeast. Within a few hours a visible second fermentation was ripping through the remaining sugars.

Just a thought.


Mike T
07/12/11 08:55 AM  
Re: gravity stuck at 1.020!?!?!?!?!?
IIRC Brute only gets down to ~1.016, so you actually aren't that far off.
07/12/11 03:13 PM  
Re: gravity stuck at 1.020!?!?!?!?!?
I guess I am less concerned with the FG as I am surprised that it hasn't gotten lower. Just about everything I've read or heard about Brett is that it chews through everything. I'm going to let it sit a while longer and see what happens.
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