Wednesday, March 31, 2010

All-Brett IPA

My standard IPA recipe is a carry-over from my pre-all grain days because it has always turned out so delicious that I see no reason in fixing what isn't broken. The one thing I do vary is hops. Every time I've made the recipe I try either a different single- or blend of hops for the dry hopping. Among the best were 50/50 Amarillo & Cascade, a 3-Cs blend of Cascade/Colombus/Centennial, a similar blend that included Chinook, and a batch that used mostly whole homegrown hops (both wet and dry.)

I've been meaning to brew an all-brettanomyces IPA for awhile now. Almost since I first started brewing all-brett beers, actually. Victory Wild Devil has been distributed in our part of Wisconsin for a few months now and is one of my favorite American beers. My normal recipe i
s very similar to Hop Devil, so that has been another recent reason it's been on my mind.

Every few months we get together at my friend Dan's house for a group brew day. These are always a blast. It's a good thing I live relatively close though because I've never managed to make it there with my gear in the morning without forgetting something important. This time I had to go home for the yeast. Normally I'd just wait until I got home to pitch it in a case like this, but I picked up yeast for Dan's tripel as well during my trip up to our shiny new Northern Brewer store in Milwaukee recently. (Here are a few of us pictured along with Dan's tripel.)

Now that I'm down to one or two bottles of my last batch of IPA,
I started narrowing in on another standard IPA batch as my project for the brew day. In looking at my to-brew list I keep, the idea of the all-brett IPA popped back up though, coupled with the fact that I've been hording a few smack-packs of various brett strains in the fridge, ya know, in case of emergency. . .

As my older all-brett bottles age, the brett character has really started to come through, especially in the last few months. I wasn't sure what the long-term brett influence would be on these beers for awhile since the yeast tends to behave closer to an ale yeast during primary fermentation. It is not the super-attenuative beast we see in lambics and the like, at least initially. In putting together the ingredients for this recipe, I decided it was time to do an all-grain IPA so as to hopefully provide a bit more food for the yeast during the long-haul. Of course, IPA is usually tastiest at a young, hoppy age, but I'm thinking I'll most likely give this one a longer than usual (for IPA, anyway) aging time of a few months in the carboy before dry-hopping and bottling.

Although I've had great luck with the White Labs brett C strain in all-brett brews, and my White Labs all-brett L is coming along well, I decided to go with a mixed strain pitch of Wyeast Brett bruxellensis & lambicus for this one. (This is what I had in the fridge already, plus I've been curious how they would turn out.)

Normally I make around a 3/4 to 1 liter starter when brewing an all-brett beer. This time, I tried pitching the two packs direc
tly into the wort. I'm actually hoping the yeast stressed a bit. As expected, the lag time was much greater this way, and after a few days I put a heat belt on the bucket to help it along. Fermentation picked up well at that point. (I've always had better luck fermenting all-brett beers of any specific strain above 70F anyway.)

The recipe is as follows:

All-brett I.P.A.

brewed on: 3/20/10
expected OG: 1.064 (In the midst of post-brew frisbee, I spaced on taking a reading, but I've gotten familiar enough with my setup now to have a feel for it, and I'm pretty sure it came out very close to this. This is the main downside of group brew day at someone else's house. It throws off my routine.)

IBUs: 67 - (In the end, I added a couple packs of my dried, whole, homegrown Cascade cones at the last 15 minutes, and last 2 minutes of the boil. Since the beer will be conditioning longer than usual in the secondary to give the brett time to due its thing, I wanted to up the hops to last a bit longer.)
mash temp: 153F

11.5 lbs German pilsener malt
8 oz German Munich
8 oz Crystal 60
8 oz German CaraMunich I
(mashed for 2 hours, stirring every 15 minutes)

also in the boil:
6 oz Maltodextrin - added partway through the boil

2 oz Centennial @ 9.5% - 60 minutes
.5 oz Kent Golding @ 5.5% - 15 minutes
.5 oz Cascade @ 4.5% - 15 minutes
1 oz Cascade @ 4.5% - 2 minutes

(Also added 2 bags of whole-cone homegrown Cascade. One bag each at 15 & 2 minutes.)

Dry Hops:
2 oz Amarillo

Wyeast 5112 Brettanomyces bruxellensis
Wyeast 5526 Brettanomyces lambicus

I started the temp around 66F, raised it to 68F after a couple days, then put a heat belt on after about 5 days. Signs of fermentation kicked in stronger at this point, although the airlock bubbles were pretty weak, even at the height (that I noticed, anyway.) A day or 2 after the airlock activity ceased, I removed the heat belt and brought the temp back down to 68F.

As mentioned above, I'm going to hold off awhile on dry-hopping this one to give the 2 brett strains a little more time with the beer in the secondary first.

Jesse & Del pose here with Dave & Del's brews. My kettle is to the right. Jesse brewed a Berliner Weiss with an interesting mostly-no-boil method, aside from a small decoction at one point. I'm hoping he posts a description of his at some point (hint, hint!) , as it sounded different from most methods I've read and is apparently turning out well so far. (Also, a Berliner was the only failed brew I've made so far. I used my standard extract method at the time and pitched lacto & yeast at the same time. The result was a very mild, light beer with no sourness at all. The style is something I'd like another crack at in the future.)

4/5 SG @ 1.010 Moved to basement (62 degrees F.)
4/17 Dry Hopped w/ 2 oz. Amarillo pellets. SG @ 1.008 Tastes much better than the sample 2 weeks ago.
5/18 SG @ 1.006
5/25 SG @ 1.005 - Racked off Amarillo dry hops.
8/22/10 SG 1.001 - aroma: brett & mild hops flavor/aroma
9/4/10 Added 2 oz Cascade dry hops.