Key points for key pints
- Yeast starter for the Brettanomyces claussenii. To offset its slower rate of fermentation, and to help head off any inclination to turn leathery or smoky instead of pineappley, we’ll want to propagate the Brett a couple days in advance of brew day—a couple liters of water, 6–8 ounces or so of DME, and away we go.
- Still a dog/Saccharomyces person? If you absolutely don’t want to introduce Brett into your home brewery, sub in a nice, not-quite-neutral American type ale yeast (Wy1272 would be good).
To the homebrewery
Note: these steps are general guidelines and assume you’re already familiar with the all-grain brewing process. Refer to the instructions for your brew system, and adjust as needed based on experience with your own particular equipment.
1. Make a yeast starter prior to brew day—the Brett culture will need a leg up.
2. On brew day, collect strike water (I use 1.3 quarts per pound, YMMV) and heat to approximately 165°F.
3. Mill the grains, or have it done for you at the shop.
Mash & sparge
1. Add all grains to strike water and mix to achieve a uniform temperature of 151–153°F. Rest the mash at this temperature for 60–90 minutes.
While the mash rests, collect and heat sparge water.
2. When the mash rest is complete, heat it to 170°F for mashout.
3. Sparge and collect the wort in the boil kettle.
1. Bring the wort to a boil, scratch your dog’s ears, appreciate not having to clean a litter box.
2. Add the entire 3-ounce dose of hops five minutes before the end of the boil.
3. Cool it!
Fermentation and beyond
1. Transfer the cooled wort to a sanitized fermenter, aerate well, and pitch the Brett culture.
2. Aim for a fermentation temperature of 70–75°F. Watch the specific gravity rather than airlock, since Brett’s slow and steady pace can make the bubbles (or lack thereof) deceptive.
3. When the beer’s SG is stable and bright enough for your liking (this might take a few weeks), rack and package.
4. Our session Brett IPA will be ready to drink as soon as it’s carbonated; while the hop flavor will fade fairly quickly, the Brett character will continue to evolve with time.
Until next time: Drink it like you brewed it.
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