Here at Texas Brewing we have a catchy little phrase that has become sort of a running inside joke. You may hear it in the shop, you may hear it at a brew-in, or you might have even heard it on our podcast Come and Brew It Radio. “Throw some Brett on it” is the phrase I am referring too and it usually is prefaced with discussion on recipe formulation that has no home for Brettanomyces. But all joking aside, there are many of us who do brew those funky, Bretta forward beers and the science behind using this wild yeast captures the attention of most of us.

A few months back I was spurred to make a beer that was fermented with Brettanomyces and nothing more. I wanted to take my simple saison recipe and see what would come about using only the Brett. I knew that generally, fermenting a beer with only Brettanomyces should yield something on the more fruity side of things and at the very most have a subdued funkiness. Possibly capturing the characteristics of a beer aged with Brett post-Saccharomyces fermentation. So, out of curiosity and for the sake of science, I gathered three separate Brettanomyces cultures from The Yeast Bay--all of which fall under the strain B. bruxellensis--and I got to work.
Once I received the Brett blends, I started building up a healthy starter. My method for this was quite simple. Taking what I have learned from Chad Yakobson’s The Brettanomyces Project, I wanted to build these yeasties up with minimal exposure to oxygen to keep acetic acid production at bay. In application, I took 1 gal jugs, filled each one with 1L of starter wort (1.030), added the individual vial, and then capped with foil. That’s it!

After the first 10 days, I added another 1L each with 1.040 gravity starter wort and added an airlock at this point. Not once did I use a stir plate in this process and the only oxygen I gave was during the initial pitch by way of some quick shaking. In all, I gave the Brettanomyces four weeks to grow before I was ready to use the cultures. It is stated in some sources that a gentle agitation is best for cell count growth but for my purposes, leaving them alone worked like a charm!
The recipe I used for this experiment was simple: 70% Pilsner and 30% Wheat (15% white & 15% red), 15 IBUs and a low mash temp somewhere around 148ºF. However, I went big so I could try different things and I split off a 20-gallon batch into 4 equal parts. The Brett I used was all from The Yeast Bay and included the Beersel, Brussels and the Amalgamation Blend.
After fermentation, the finished products were all different but very pleasant in their own right. I ended up racking the beer I fermented with the Amalgamation blend onto a copious amount of local fresh peaches (link to peach brett blog). I made that choice because it was decidedly the fruitiest of the three. A beer that could have stood on its own, but which struck me as a great candidate for a fruit addition.

When it came to the Beersel and the Brussels batches, they were night and day different.  The Beersel had no funkiness, but did have a mild and unique fruit character. As far as the Brussel went, I unfortunately lost a sheet of my tasting notes. However, I remember it was a very different beer, but also enjoyable on its own. In the end, I felt the flavors of the two would be a good blend, so I blended them to make a single beer with more complexity. They were better together than standing on their own!

I felt that the results were wonderful. And I wasn't alone because the peach version received a medal at this year’s Minnesota Mashout scoring a 41! The blended version has also gone through and scored very well in other large format competitions. It is a different beer all together, but very refreshing and probably my favorite of the two final versions.

Tasting Notes for the Amalgamation Blend Peach Brett Beer
Aroma: Funky, hay, bready malt, fruity
Appearance: Yellow gold, thick white head, with great lacing
Flavor: Peaches come through in the flavor more so than in aroma. Hops are subtle but maintain a great balance.
Mouth: Medium light body
Overall: The peaches are a wonderful compliment to the base beer and the added Brett character.


Tasting Notes for the Beersel/Brussels Blended Beer
Aroma: Malty, with lemon notes
Appearance: Clear, pale gold with a rocky white head
Flavor: Bready, earthy spice with tons of lemon, and nice Brett tartness.
Mouth: Creamy, dry. Very refreshing
Overall: A very sessionable beer that has great balance.


Thanks for reading!


-Derek Jones


Derek Jones Bluebonnet Win

Derek is an accomplished homebrewer who won the San Diego State Fair homebrew competition with his American Double IPA Horseshoe Bender and more recently came in 2nd place as Bluebonnet Brew Off Homebrewer of the Year due to his wins in multiple categories, including American Wild Ale. He loves to brew and has been especially focused on wild ales.