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Brewing my 1st 5 gal batch, and first brett beer & need some help

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by od_sf, Jan 25, 2013.

  1. od_sf

    od_sf Savant (440) California Nov 2, 2010

    I'll soon be brewing a Orval clone using these ingredients:


    and this recipe:


    This will be my first 5 gallon batch (i live in a studio apartment so due to space restrictions have done 1 gallon batches only so far) and I have a bunch of questions for the experts

    1. I bought a nice stainless steel 5 gallon bew pot but my weak ass electric stove can't seem to get a vigorous boil going with it due to the very large surface area of the bottom of the pot. So I plan on using my 2 gallon brew kettle. I will split all ingredients from the kit in half. I'll do 1 60 minute boil, then chill the wort, then transfer to carboy, then clean kettle, do second boil, second chill, and second transfer of wort from kettle to carboy. Any potential issues with this plan?

    2. As per the clone recipe's ingredient list, I'll be using both Wyeast 1214 Belgian Abbey and Wyeast 5112 Brettanomyces Bruxellensis. I'd like to do a yeast starter for this batch to insure vigorous fermentation. I've never used two different yeasts before. Do I create 1 starter for both strains together? I know that Orval uses 1 yeast strain at primary, and brett is not used until secondary. Should I pitch both strains at primary? The recipe instructions don't mention this. What would be the pros and cons of pitching the brett at primary vs secondary?

    Many thanks for any tips and insights.

  2. If you want an Orval esq beer that doesn't start peaking it's brettyness till 1 year then just pitch the brett vile in the bottling bucket. Pitching rate on brett will depend on how bretty you want it. Stress it out and it gets funky, huge pitches end up more like an overly fruity sacc strain.
  3. “Should I pitch both strains at primary?” If you want to get a beer that tastes like Orval the answer to that question is no.

    “What would be the pros and cons of pitching the brett at primary vs secondary?” I brewed the Oval kit using Wyeast 3789 which is a blend of brewer’ s yeast and Brett (I have brewed this twice). My personal experience is that if you add the Brett to the primary you will end up with a very funky beer that is similar in flavor to Green Flash Rayon Vert. It is my understanding that if you add the Brett as a secondary ferment you will have a more restrained funky flavor.

    I took note of the advice to: “pitch the brett vile in the bottling bucket.” That process is indeed what is done at Orval. I personally wouldn’t make this recommendation since I don’t know how you could predict carbonation levels in the bottle. If you add both priming sugar and Brett to the bottling bucket there are two aspects to the bottle secondary fermentation: the brewers yeast and Brett will consume the priming sugar and the Brett will also consume residual sugars in the beer that the brewer’s yeast didn’t consume. You have the potential for bottle bombs here. Have you ever noticed that Orval bottles are extremely thick walled?

    So, if you want to make an Orval beer I would suggest:

    · Make a starter of 1214 and primary ferment with that strain.
    · Once primary fermentation is complete add the Brett either to the primary or transfer to a secondary and add the Brett
    · Give the Brett plenty to complete what it wants to do before you bottle

    I have no idea whether a starter is needed for the Brett in the above scenario.

    Good luck with your Orval clone!

  4. od_sf

    od_sf Savant (440) California Nov 2, 2010

    Thanks to both of you for the advise. JackHorzempa, that seems like a good plan. I'll be taking hydrometer readings of course, but I'm thinking 4 weeks in primary on the 1214, then another 4 weeks on the 5112 before bottling. Does that seem about right? What will happen to the beer's gravity while its on the brett in the secondary? Should I expect it to drop a couple more points?
  5. Brett will eventually ferment out to almost complete dryness. I brew pretty much every beer with brett. Most of mine end up between 1005 and 1000.
  6. VikeMan

    VikeMan Poobah (1,030) Pennsylvania Jul 12, 2009 Beer Trader

    Can your stove get half a batch boiling in the new pot? If so, why not split into two pots and boil both at the same time?
  7. od_sf

    od_sf Savant (440) California Nov 2, 2010

    Thanks for the info. Do you think 4 weeks on the brett in secondary before bottling would be enough time?
  8. od_sf

    od_sf Savant (440) California Nov 2, 2010

    Yes, the pot can get half a batch boiling... but its not a very vigorous boil, and more importantly I only have 1 sink. o_O So I could do 2 partial boils at the same time but I can only cool 1 batch at a time. I would think I would significantly increase the chance of infection if I let one of the 2 worts sitting in the covered pot at room temp while the other batch cools in the ice bath. No?
  9. VikeMan

    VikeMan Poobah (1,030) Pennsylvania Jul 12, 2009 Beer Trader

    Why couldn't you pour them together into the larger pot at the end of the boil, before chilling?
  10. od_sf

    od_sf Savant (440) California Nov 2, 2010

    Brilliant! :) I had not thought of that. I feel pretty stupid right now.
  11. od_sf

    od_sf Savant (440) California Nov 2, 2010

    Question about this step. Once I have the beer transferred to the secondary fermenter, I should not aerate the beer before pitching the brett to prevent oxidation, correct?

    Thanks again!
  12. ‘ …but I'm thinking 4 weeks in primary on the 1214, then another 4 weeks on the 5112 before bottling. Does that seem about right?”

    The ‘proper’ answer is to let the yeast decide when it is ‘done’.

    I will provide an ‘improper’ answer of:

    · I suspect that 1214 will reach final gravity in about 7 days. I would suggest that you permit additional time to allow 2124 to condition on its own. Let’s say you let the primary go for 2 weeks.
    · I have never added Brett during secondary so I really can’t provide a good guess here but I suspect that something like 2 weeks will do the trick. The Brett will consume the sugars that 1214 can’t metabolize.

    I would guess that your primary will finish somewhere in the neighborhood of 1.010 and the Brett will take it below 1.005. My most recent batch of Oval using 3789 went from 1.060 to a final gravity of 1.003 over a primary ferment (I didn’t conduct a secondary) of 4+ weeks.

  13. Yes, do not aerate.

    If I was brewing your beer I would simply just add the Brett to the primary (I would not tranfer to a secondary) but if you want to perform the transfer that is OK as well.

  14. od_sf

    od_sf Savant (440) California Nov 2, 2010

    Excellent, thanks again for the advise JackHorzempa.
  15. You are welcome.

    Please report back how your beer turned out. When I made my first Oval (using 3789) I did a side by side tasting with a bottle of Orval. My Oval didn't taste like Orval since my homebrew was so funky. I persoanlly was not able to replicate an Orval but I was very happy with my beer; I like the funk!:)
  16. od_sf

    od_sf Savant (440) California Nov 2, 2010

    Yep I like the funk too, and the recipe looks solid so I'm pretty sure I will enjoy the result. Cheers!
  17. You say your kettle has a large bottom. Is it big enough to straddle two burners? I've used that technique with my 15 gallon kettle to brew indoors on rainy days.
  18. od_sf

    od_sf Savant (440) California Nov 2, 2010

    Nope, a little bit too big for one burner, but way too small for two.
  19. Brett needs months to dry out the beer, especially if it is not already a low FG beer after primary fermentation. Four weeks will definitely not be enough unless you are adding it to a beer in the low single digit gravity and even then it may not be enough.

  20. “Brett needs months to dry out the beer …”

    What is your ‘definition’ of “dry out the beer”. I have fermented beer using Brett (granted during the primary) and the beer has reached Final Gravity is a period of 4-5 weeks.

  21. Brett primary fermentation and secondary fermentation are entirely different.
  22. od_sf

    od_sf Savant (440) California Nov 2, 2010

    So in your opinion, four weeks in secondary is not enough, even when followed by several months of bottle conditioning?
  23. Not if brett is still producing CO2 by fermenting starches and sugars because you're going to overcarbonate the bottles and potentially create bottle bombs. Once the beer dries out brett will still find things to metabolize but it won't make CO2, or a significant amount of CO2, so at that point it's safe to bottle.

    Usually you underpitch brett for secondary fermentation because it makes brett work harder and produce more precursors to it's desired flavors. Underpitching means it takes a while just to reach the stage where it will switch from multiplying to metabolizing. Brett is already slow to go as is. So after four weeks it may still be in the midst of it's sugar and starch consumption. As I said above, it really depends on what the residual sugar and starch content is of the beer when you add brett. If the beer is already very dry there won't be a lot of CO2 production and you'll be safe to bottle at that point although for the flavor profile it may not be where you want it to be yet.
  24. pweis909

    pweis909 Champion (800) Wisconsin Aug 13, 2005 Verified

    1. I split my wort between two kettles routinely. I take some effort up front to mix back and forth to make sure the two kettles are the same gravity, I split hop additions between the kettles, and I monitor the boil off so I know the volumes of the kettles. Near the end of the boil, I recombine the worts into my larger kettle so that I can chill them all at once with my immersion chiller. It means I have to be a little more active during the brew day, but it's totally manageable.

    2. I don't have a ton of experience working with Brett, but I have been able to come close to an Orval clone with it. If I were making an Orval clone, I would do a secondary and would add the Brett during secondary.
    • If you add during primary, the Brett character probably will be different from what you find in Orval, but I'm not sure how.
    • The other reason I used a secondary is because I wanted the beer to sit for a while to give the Brett a chance to do it's thing. Orval I believe adds brett at bottling, so they have bottles that are sturdy enough to withstand the pressures that will be generated there. My bottles were not cut from the same cloth, and I worry they will explode if I give Brett a chance to do a lot of fermenting in them.
    Making a small starter to generate some activity might be a good idea, but also might not be necessary. When I did this, I used bottle dregs, so I made a starter up from that, but I'm sure my Brett pitch was smaller than what you would get in a Wyeast pack without a starter. It may be that what you have in the pack is sufficient. However, starters are helpful in assuring that you are adding viable, active yeast.
    In primary brett takes on anywhere from very clean to fruity character rather than the leather/horse blanket/barnyard/funky flavors.
    They also know very precisely how much carbonation the beer will create in the bottle based upon the residual sugars and starches so they don't have overcarbonated beer. It's a very well carbonated beer but it doesn't foam all over the place.
    pweis909 likes this.
  25. pweis909

    pweis909 Champion (800) Wisconsin Aug 13, 2005 Verified

    FWIW, I brewed a beer with the American Farmhouse Blend by White Labs which is a proprietary Brettanomyces/Sacharromyces blend. The beer used a Belgian Pils malt as a base, had a little Belgian crystal, and about 10% unmalted spelt. It reminds me of Orval, through maybe not a clone. Still, it's another option for getting something Orval like. (I'm pretty sure the spelt does little to add or detract from the overall orvality of the beer. Orvality = Orval-like quality. Kind of fun to say outloud with overall in front of it. Probably not a legal scrabble word).