Brew Log: Wood-aged Brett Quad

Pictured above: BBY009, the Brett Blend pitched into this beer during secondary aging.

My homebrewing accomplice Cam went off to brewing school, and this is a beer we brewed collaboratively before he left. We share a love of Belgian beers and Brettanomyces, so this brew was a bit of a no-brainer. The inspiration here was a combination of a delicious bottle of Bellwoods Lambda shared a while back, and the mention in several sources that the top of the Quad crop is brewed with just pilsner/pale malts and candi sugars. I even bought yeast for this – Wyeast 3787 Trappist High Gravity, otherwise known as the Westmalle yeast. Important to note: “We know Westmalle and Westvleteren use the exact same yeast.” (Brew Like a Monk) One thing to think about with this yeast is temperature:

“Westmalle restrains the fermentation temperature throughout, holding it to 68° F (20° C). Fermentation at Westvleteren usually rises to 80 to 84° F (28 to 29° C). Before you pitch, understand what you expect of your yeast.” (Brew Like a Monk)

We’re going to aim somewhere between the two, letting the yeast do their thing at room temperature on the main floor of my house, which typically fluctuates between 70-75F – so the beer could get a bit hotter than that, but likely not up to 84F.

So this is going to be a totally style-appropriate, by-the-books classic Quad that we’re going to do a couple possibly dumb things to in an effort to improve on perfection. Or cover up flaws. To-may-toe, to-mah-toe. After primary fermentation, the beer will get a dose of Brett and then a few weeks before bottling, some booze-soaked oak cubes. The Brett should attenuate the beer further, and take some of the yeast metabolites and turn them into interesting flavour compounds. The oak should add a bit of complexity that we might be missing by using such a simple grain bill. Recipe: Wood-aged Brett Quad (4.25 gallon) Estimated OG (70% efficiency): 1.105 Actual OG: 1.088 Estimated IBU: 35 Fermentables: 15 lb  Pilsner malt 1 lb Candi Syrup D-180 1 lb Candi Syrup D-90 0.1lb Acidulated Malt Single infusion mash at 152F for 60 minutes (batch sparge) Hops: 0.8 oz / 35 IBU Magnum (14.7%AA) (60 minutes) 1 oz  Styrian Goldings (0 minutes) Boil 60 minutes, chill to 65F, aerate with 90 seconds of pure oxygen and pitch yeast. Yeast: Wyeast 3787 (2L starter) Extras: 1 tsp yeast nutrient (15 minutes) 1 tsp carrageenan (15 minutes)

This yeast is an absolute powerhouse.

This yeast is an absolute powerhouse.

Brew Log:  2014/08/17: Mashed in with 5 gallons of water at 164F. 3 oz acidulated malt added to the grist. Temperature held steady at 152F for 60 minutes. Sparged with 4.34 gallons water to 169F to collect 6.38 gallons of sweet wort. Efficiency was a bit low but the wort certainly got big enough regardless. This boiled down to about 4.5 gallons – this combined with the yeast starter (2L) to fill the fermentor a bit too much (5 gallon fermentor). Blowoff was obviously necessary. Aerated with fancy new oxygenation system, 90 seconds of pure O2. Yeast was very active 12 hours after pitching, and was very active for about 5 days before slowing down. Fermented at room temp (70-75F). 2014/08/30: Gravity check. 1.018. Fruity and boozy, definitely needs to mellow somewhat but there’s tons of candi sugar character here. Definitely a bit sweet, very interested to see what Brett does to this. Pitched one vial (about 30 billion cells) BBY009 Quebec Brett Blend and stored in basement. 2014/10/02: Gravity down to 1.014. Fruity, boozy, some funk. More balanced now. Added 1.5 oz vodka soaked, heavy toast American oak cubes.
2014/11/16: Bottling day. Gravity is stable. Bottled 4 gallons with 100g dextrose to 2.6 vol CO2.

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2 thoughts on “Brew Log: Wood-aged Brett Quad

  1. Looks great! I’m working on a similar project with an all-Brett blend and I’m curious, when did you add the Candi Syrup? The recipe I’m following suggests adding it to secondary (when the beer is racked onto sour cherries) but I’m debating adding it to primary since fermentation has slowed (initial pitch was 11/30).

    1. I added the candi sugar at the end of the boil, making sure to use a big and healthy pitch of yeast and lots of O2 to combat the high OG. I would recommend adding the sugar to primary so there are more yeast available to ferment it. I didn’t do a secondary with this beer since there’s some good evidence that Brett can do some interesting things with autolysed yeast compounds.

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