Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Sauvignon Saison-brett [A split fermentation and re-blend with Saccharomyces and Brettanomyces]

More and more I have been successfully using brett as a primary fermenter. I have been very impressed by the fruit forward character  and restrained or non-existent barn flavor that a beer fermented only with Brux trois can deliver. I want to keep playing with this, but also want to try new things as well.

A mixed fermentation is a pretty typical way in which both brett and sacch yeasts are used. Think of the commercially available blends of these yeast such as American Farmhouse. I have used that particular yeast and found it to be good, but it is unknown what the ratios are. It is most likely that the sacch is by far the dominant fermenter and the brett is only there to provide a bit of flavor complexity as it would if you pitched sacch, attenuated, and then pitched brett.

I wanted to do a mixed fermentation, but I wanted something a little different than using a pre-formulated yeast blend. I still wanted to bring in the flavors associated with an all brett fermentation. What I proposed was a split fermentation with 50% of the wort fermented with saison yeast and the other 50% fermented with only brux trois. Then blend the two beers back together in some ratio yet to be determined.

I started with a base of imported pilsner, domestic pilsner and 2-row. I wanted to keep things as simple as possible, but I also had other things to consider because I was fermenting with brett.

One thing I wanted to do was bring in a low but perceivable amount of acidity without the use of any bacteria. I am trying to turn this beer around in 30 days and bacteria just wasn't really an option. It is also difficult to ensure you get the pH level you are looking for with bacteria. To the mash I added 10% acidulated malt to bring that nice brightness I am looking for. Lastly I wanted to add a level of mouth feel and body that the brett version would not have. To do that I used a small amount of flaked wheat and golden oats. A touch of special b was used to add some color. The mash temp was kept at a low 148 to help the saison yeast bring the gravity of the beer down to what I hope to be about 1.004.

For hops I wanted to continue to play with and compliment the fruit forward nature of the brett. The main hop used is Nelson Sauvin to provide it's well known citris, fruit, and white wine notes. For bittering I used Rakau, another NZ hop that is well known for it's soft bitterness when used early in the boil. Planned is a dry hopping with more nelson, but that could always change based on how the beer tastes after blending.

Gravity, Alcohol Content and Color

Measured Original Gravity: 1.052 SG
Measured Final Gravity: ? SG (estimated 1.005)
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 6.8 %
Bitterness: 27.9 IBUs
Est Color: 6.6 SRM

Update 6-17
The brew day went very smooth and I produced 16 gallons of this wort. 8 gallons was pitched into my conical with a 2000ml starter of French saison at 70 degrees. The other 8 gallons was pitched into a sankey keg that I use as a fermenter. I left about 1 gallon of a highly aromatic all brett trois pale ale in the sankey to kick off the brett fermentation. I could have tried to wash or decant the yeast it in, but it seemed unnecessary when the contents within were still so amazing.

48 hours after pitching the 1.052 wort, the trois version was already down to 1.012. It is super aromatic with tropical fruit, mainly pineapple and mango. The flavor is like that of amazing unsweetend pineapple juice.

The French saison version is sitting at about 72 degrees now and is down to 1.026 after 48 hours. While it still has some sweetness, the french saison esters are there in both the aroma and flavor.

In the next few days I plan on pushing the trois version into the conical. There I expect the saison yeast to go to work on the left over sugars the brett version is not going to touch in the hopes of getting the gravity down even more. It's an interesting concept to think that the sacch yeast is the one drying out this mixed sacch/brett blend.

Update 6/22

The two batches have now been a blended back together. On the 21st the saison fermentation was down to 1.003. The blend was not quite 50:50. I saved 1.75 gallons of the all brett version before adding the rest into the conical with the French saison version. Today the airlock is showing activity once again as the yeast works on the sugars introduced with the Brett version. Still undecided on dry hopping at this point.


I just received a new order of hops. One of them was 2014 Galaxy. The smell of that one was amazing! One of the most amazing smelling hops I have ever obtained. So of course the idea of dry hopping with more Nelson went out the window. Instead I added 3 oz of Galaxy. I will add a few more oz of Nelson in a few days.


I entered this beer and the brett only version into my local home brew competition the Beehive Brew off. They did not place, but they got good scores.

The brux only version actually brought the highest score I have ever received with a 45. The saison was well liked, but some of the judges felt there was not enough spicy phenolics for the style. It got a 32 which is pretty good considering they felt it was out of style.

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