It's been 77 days since I brewed my 100% Brett-fermented beer and I'm happy to report three things:
- I did not, in fact, get arrested for burning my house due to marauding Brettanomyces.
- The beers I've brewed since I turned Brett loose in my house and Erlenmeyer flask have turned out precisely how I wanted them to, which is to say they have not been tainted.
- My Brett beer is currently carbonating and is incredibly delicious.
In other words, my first experiment with a 100% Brett fermentation was a success!
After two months of glancing at the carboy storing my Brett beer, last weekend I decided that the time was right to take a sample of the beer to see where it was in the process. I was also starting to worry a little about autolysis, which is when yeast gets old enough that it begins to self-destruct. I don't think Brett yeast is affected the same way as ale or lager yeast is by autolysis, but I also didn't want to find out that it was when the beer developed off-flavors associated with autolysis. Thus, I decided to transfer it off the yeast and trub into a keg.
Although I couldn't capture it very well in a photograph, the beer seemed to have something large floating in it just below the surface, which we lovingly nicknamed "The Host." It was starting to creep me out a little bit, so I was also happy to transfer out of a transparent carboy into an opaque stainless steel keg. When we started to siphon the beer out of the carboy, I was half-expecting (fearing) that The Host would let out some unearthly screech, but it did not. The transfer went pretty unremarkably.
You guys. The Brett carboy was GAH-ross. It may be the dirtiest carboy I've ever had. Surprising no one, when you leave beer in a carboy for over two months, the carboy gets a little grody and stuff has plenty of time to dry up and get stuck really well. However, we gave it a couple rinses to get the yeast cake and trub out, and then I left it to soak overnight filled to the brim with PBW. It cleaned pretty easily after that.
So how did it taste?
SO GOOD. There's really no better feeling than to have an idea of how a beer will turn out and then having it turn out exactly the way you had envisioned it. Right now, it's got those fruity, pineapple, tropical flavors for which I was hoping, with just a *touch* of horse blanket funkiness starting to develop. At this point, I don't know how identifiable it is as a 100% Brett beer. I think a lot of people would taste a light-bodied, tropical ale and find it refreshing and different, but not be able to pinpoint quite what it was. I'm excited to see how it develops. I've already entered it in a homebrew competition, so I am very excited to see what feedback I get.
The biggest lesson I learned from brewing a 100% Brett-fermented beer is that I don't need to be afraid of experimenting with brewing different types of beer that seem intimidating. If you're interested in brewing with Brett, then I recommend doing what I did - start with a basic grain bill and recipe, add a hop profile that will complement the Brett flavors you're wanting to highlight, and then make sure to clean everything thoroughly. If all else fails, I'll be your alibi if you have to burn your house down for Brett-related reasons and start a new life somewhere else.