Tasting Notes – Brett’d Sour Opprobrium

Enjoyed on the last
day of summer

Back in July I brewed a kettle-soured Berliner Weisse, which I split into two batches – one fermented straight with German Ale (Wyeast 1007), which was kegged and carbed within 10 days of brew day. The second half was fermented with the same yeast, but then underwent a secondary fermentation for ~2.5 months with a blend of Wyeast & White Lab’s B. claussenii and Wyeast’s B. lambicus. Those familiar with those brett strains will see that my goal was to add a nice fruit character to the beer, with a hint of funk.

The non-bretted version turned out pretty good – not quite as sour as I was hoping, but it was very quaffable. So what did the brett do to this beer?

Appearance: Its a Berliner – hazy (although not as hazy as the non-bretted version, likely because of its longer ageing), very pale in colour, and pours with a nice, long-lasting head.

Aroma: A tropical fruit character is apparent, as is a bit of lactic acidity. The bread notes of the unbretted portion are very muted – I don’t think I’d notice they were present if I didn’t know to look for them.

Flavour: The hoped-for fruit character has come through. The mix of bretts produced a nice fruitiness, although a specific fruit character has not been achieved. There’s a bit of citrus and some stone fruit. In addition, a bit of leathery/earthy brett funk has emerged, giving this beer an additional interesting edge. Not only has the brett enhanced the flavour profile, but it also seems to have increased the acidity – I suspect this is an apparent change (rather than more actual acid), likely due to a lowering of the maltiness by the activity of the brett. The acidity balances nice with the fruit and funk, making for a wonderfully balanced beer.

Mouthfeel: Crisp, dry and acidic. Very refreshing. After taste is lactic with hints of fruit.

Overall: A huge improvement over the original – more apparent acidity, a more complex flavour profile, and a more pleasing mouthfeel. While the base recipe could use a little tweaking (in particular, a step-mash to get a more fermentable wort, replacement of some gravity with sugar, and a more aggressive Lactobacillus for the sour-ketteling), the addition of brett was a great way to improve on the beer. I’ve brewed bretted Berliners in the past, and while this one is not the best of them, it remains a very good beer.

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