Lime & Punishment: A Key Lime Brett Saison

As if I haven’t brewed enough Saisons, in early February I decided to brew another one. I also had an excessive quantity of pilsner DME on hand, and not having brewed an extract beer in something like 2 years, decided “I bet I can make a pretty good beer with this stuff now that I know what I’m doing with everything else!”

To best reduce the margin for error, I opted for 100% Pils DME (Breiss) and nothing else for body, colour, whatever. Around this time I also became interested in maintaining a house mixed Brett culture, so I needed to give the Brett blend used in a Brett gruit I made back in October another go. In designing this blend I wanted balanced Brett characteristics: fruit, barnyard, spice. To that end I chose four strains that I thought would play well together – two isolated from beer, two isolated from wine.

I knew I wanted to add some other ingredients to this beer, but had no idea what. I decided to let the developing flavour of the beer guide me. As the beer fermented it developed a nice subtle citrus character behind the big Brett funk, so I decided to accentuate this citrus character. I happened upon some key lime juice while on vacation in Florida, and used that to add citrus flavour and acidity to the beer. Cheating? It’s certainly much easier than hand juicing god knows how many key limes manually. Lime and black pepper are a favourite culinary combination of mine, and a memory of smelling some Pacific Jade hops led to the Pacific Jade dry hop. This hop has a big black pepper aroma, with some subtle citrus, which seemed perfectly complementary to the key lime and Brett funk in my mind.

Lime & Punishment: A Key Lime Brett Saison

4 gallon batch

4 lb Pilsner DME (Breiss)

Brought all (tap) water and DME up to a boil, added 10g Saaz and 42g Experimental Lemon Zest hops, boiled 10 min then chilled to 68F/20C. Pitched my “Four Horsemen” Brett blend.

Fermentation took off about 48 hours later (Brett can be slow… even four at once), yet after 1 week the beer had attenuated to 1.012.

OG 1.040
FG 1.008
ABV 4.1%
IBU 14

Full attenuation took approx. 1 month. Dry hopped with 3 oz Pacific Jade 5 days before packaging. Bottled with 473mL key lime juice and 4g rehydrated QA23 wine yeast.

Appearance: Hazy, slightly chunky pale yellow with a billowing, glossy white head that retains its structure, and leaves pretty lacing on the glass.

Aroma: Pretty big fruity-barnyard funk up front, with notes of black pepper, key lime, and some phenols. I’d like for the phenols to be lower, but the aroma is quite nice as-is. I love the hit of lime, funk and pepper – it’s a flavour profile reminiscent of certain Thai dishes (eg. som tam).

Taste: High carbonation moves out of the way relatively quickly, leaving a medium tartness, very dry beer, and short citric-bitter finish – this being kind of like a few gueuzes I’ve tasted! Definitely not a ton of body here. However, it is very refreshing, and thankfully the “Cheerios” Brett off-flavour is absent, allowing for full enjoyment of the young, dry-hopped Brett beer – I suspect this is due to adding the wine yeast at bottling.

Overall: A funky, tart, refreshing beer, although I could see the not-so-subtle barnyard character being off-putting to some. I’ll definitely keep DME in my home brewing warchest, although the cost and inflexibility are both annoying. Reviews of this beer by friends and peers have been positive, so I’ll confidently say that it’s a pretty good beer! That said, if I rebrew I will probably do the wort production myself, and throw some oats or wheat in there for added body.

This yeast blend has now ripped through a Nelson Sauvin-centric Saison, which will get a massive dry hop and some wine blended into it at bottling.

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