Saturday, 14 March 2015

Brettanomyces and Oak Old Ale Brewday

I've been wanting to brew this beer for a really long time. Now that I have a nice pipeline of sours lined up for every few months, I wanted to make something funky but not so sour. As much as I like Orval, I find the belgian yeast character kind of distracting, so I would like to make an English stock ale with some brettanomyces character and some oak. The grainbill for this beer is very simple with just some base malt and a bit of crystal malts thrown in for colour and complexity. I'll be doing primary fermentation with Wyeast Scottish ale, but adding a few bottles worth of Orval dregs once the primary is slowing a bit.

One reason that a belgian yeast would be better is that it seems that the phenols made as a by-product of belgian yeast serve as precursors to the funky compounds produced by brettanomyces. Brettanomyces uses esterases to synthesize ethyl or vinyl esters of phenols and guaiacols which lends the smokey, horsey, funky, fruity wild flavors that are associated with brettanomyces.

The hops bill is also simple as of now. I added 2 oz of fuggles at 60 minutes in order to give the beer a decent background bitterness. I didn't add any late hops additions because I feel that the long aging time with the brettanomyces will cause whatever hops flavor to fade over that time. Instead I may dry hop it with more English hops - either challenger or target. Once upon a time when I was a beginner brewer I made a one gallon batch of a pale ale which I added oak cubes to. I didn't sanitize the oak cubes, and after a month I added an ounce of willamette hops as a dry hop. I was aware of my oaky mistake, and knew that those lignin cube bastards were infested with something or another.. Of course after a month in the bottle I noticed that the carbonation was getting a little high, but I had them in 1 L fliptop bottles, so every few weeks I would vent it a little.

The flavor of that oaked pale ale was unlike anything I had ever had.. There was this apple flavor alongside the hops, and this odd juicy-fruit and citrus flavor with some minor funk and oak vanilla flavors. I have not succeeded in replicating that experiment since, but maybe one day I will serendipitously end up with something similar.. 

Maybe this beer is just reaching for that lost love of a beer that has since been drank..

I know that old ales are typically associated with barleywine and strong ales but I wanted to keep this a bit more moderate.. I'm not a huge fan of drinking strong beers often, and would rather be able to sample a couple of interesting beers rather than one alcohol bomb. That being said, i'm aiming for an OG of 1.060, but with the enzymes in Brettanomyces being able to digest large sugars I'm wondering how low the FG will go and where my alcohol content will end up with it's hyper attenuation..

Brett Old Ale
OG 1.060
26 IBUs

Mashed at 154*F:
10# 2-row
0.5# crystal 40
0.25# crystal 120
0.25# Amber malt

2 oz Fuggles - 60 mins

Wyeast Scottish Ale @ Basement temps (~65*F)
Dregs of 2 bottle of Orval added after one week, along with 1 oz oak cubes.

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