Monday, September 1, 2014

Brewing with Amalgamation ( Brett Super Blend from The Yeast Bay )

As of 8/21/2014 this was all I knew about the super brett blend from The Yeast Bay:

Amalgamation is the union of our six favorite Brettanomyces isolates from our microbe library. Each isolate produces a unique bouquet of bright and fruity flavors and aromas, and the combination of all of them into one blend results in the coalescence of these unique flavors and aromas into something truly special.

Expect this blend to create a dry beer with a bright and complex fruit-forward flavor and aroma, accompanied by some funk on the palate.

Temperature: 65 - 78 ºF, Attenuation: 85%+, Flocculation: Low

This is the text from the Yeast Bay's own website. Google provided me with nothing more than this! Could this really be? 

I have two vials of what I hope will be an amazing blend of brettanomyces and I want to share my impressions of this yeast with all who are interested.

The plan is to brew my belgian farmhouse ale. The majority will be fermented as usual with my own Brux Trois and Saison yeast blend.  A gallon of the wort will be set aside to be fermented only with the super blend from Yeast Bay.

One Aug 20th I kicked off a small starter with two vials of Amalgamation. Unfortunately the amount of yeast in these vials is similar to the amount of brett that White Labs typically gives you, that is to say not very much. The key to any all brett beer is having plenty of the yeast on hand. After about one week I stepped this up to a full 2000 ml starter. 

Version 1: One gallon will go into a small carboy where it will be fermented with the Amalgamation. Think of this as way to get familiar with the yeast as well as another step up in the culturing process.

Version 2:  I have a bunch of Brux Trois on hand and will ferment 14 gallons of the 15 gallon batch with that as well as a smaller amount of Giga yeast Saison II. 

If all goes well, and the brett blend is good I will keep it going with 3 gallons of wort at all times in a brew demon.

These 3 gallon Brew Demon carboys are great for storing brett. Whenever you pull yeast from it, just replace it with fresh wort from that same batch for which you are pitching. Always keep it as full as possible.

By doing this you can keep this yeast going for a very long time. Brett can sit dormant for at least 6 months and still be good. If your ever in doubt you can always pull some out and do a starter to make sure it is still active.

The Farmhouse recipe

Update 9/1: Brew day went off as planned and my Amalgamation starter went into 1 gallon of wort. Visible fermentation started up about 8 hours after pitching. The wort from the starter was quite sour, but most likely was due to the constant aeration.

Update 9/6: At six days into fermentation a gravity reading/tasting was in order. 

The Trois/Saison is sitting at 1.006

Nose is full of spicy phenols, alcohol, and yeast. No funk
Taste is more subtle than the nose. Fruity, spicy, and sour

The Amalgamation super brett is at 1.004

Nose is med light funk/sour, bready
Taste is very nice! funk right up front, followed by big fruitiness, and a mild acidic finish.

left is Trois, right is Amalgamation
Right now the super blend is much more drinkable. However I should note that it is also fairly well seperated from the yeast since I sampled from the top of the carboy. The trois version is in my conical so it was sampled from closer to the yeast. I believe this has a huge impact on the taste so far.

The next step is to cold crash both and sample again.

Update 9/8: Both of these beers are now in kegs. I will update this weekend with some more in-depth tasting notes. The Amalgamation was immediately re-pitched into another beer yesterday. We went for a Biere de garde. Most will be fermented cleanly with french ale yeast, but about 3 gallons was pitched with just the amalgamation. Fermentation started very fast. This is the carboy after about 5 hours. 

Update 10/20: It has been about 5 weeks since I have bottle up this beer. Sadly I only ended up with a handful of bottles. 

Amalgamation #1 (Le Fric base) tasting notes:

Aromahay, earthy, subtle brett, sourness

Appearancelight and hazy, nice big fluffy head that dissipates, but never fully drops. Nice lacing left in the glass.

Flavor: peach, apricot, juicy fruit, again very subtle brett funk coming through. Very nice level of sourness kicks in near the end. I very much like the balance of the fruit and sourness. Brett ands a nice additional layer to the beer, but in no way does it come close to the level of fruit and tart, which I like a lot.

Mouthfeel: Carb level is high, mouthfeel is helped somewhat by that fact but the beer never feels thin.

Note: The base of this beer did have 10% acidulated malt, but this beer has a much more pronounced tartness when compared to the version that had only Trois and Sasion yeast.

Amalgamation #2 (Biere de garde base) tasting notes:

Aroma: cherry, tartness, some subtle hints of funk

Appearance: amber reddish hued, medium clarity. head dissipates pretty quickly but a lacing persists throughout.

Flavor: dark fruit flavors, plum, cherry. Some acidity, but it is still background to the ripe dark fruitiness. Some rather bitter sensations end the flavor over the palette.

Mouthfeel: Carb level is high, mouthfeel is medium

Both beers are good. I liked the #1 better. The flavors are well blended, and the beer is somewhat approachable for those just finding their way into sour or funky beer. For those that already desire these types of beers, this one is highly drinkable... pretty much sessionable (at least flavor wise) in that it is not going to pound your palette into submission as quickly as other examples might.

The flavors are not as well blended in the #2 version. They are also all much stronger than the first. I also think that right now the hops are messing with this one. I do think over time this one will get to a point where it really kicks ass!

Unfortunately the one bottle of #1 that I still have will probably not last long enough for a side by side with #2 in the future!


  1. Any updated tasting notes on these? Especially interested in how the Amalgamation turned out for you.

  2. Sorry, I have been caught up in a bunch of other things. I will try to get an update posted later today.

  3. I recently brewed 2 saisons with The Yeast Bay's Saison Blend and they both came out great. One of them was an imperial rye saison, half of which is now aging with brett brux and dried apricots. Next time I use brett in a saison I'll have to give this blend a try. Cheers and thanks for this great post!

  4. Very cool! Great web site you have. I will be checking it out regularly now!

  5. I just recently came up on this article searching for reviews on amalgamation blend. Now this brew demon storage method. Would this essentially be like a mini solera you take out yeast/wort you replace with wort? Have you had any issues with increased acidity or acetobacter? Also do you keep this a room temp or in a fermentation chamber? Any insight is appreciated, as this seems like a great method for culturing/storing brett