Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Great Brett Project

Brettanomyces is a word that will often strike fear into the hearts of brewers and vintners alike. This incredibly hardy, some would say indestructible, wild yeast is the bane of many a brewer, it is often the death of pieces of brewing kit, but is also highly appreciated by some for its funky sharp aroma and flavour. In the modern era it’s more usually associated with the sour ales of Flanders and the spontaneously fermented beers of the Senne Valley rather than English Ales. However as Mr Cornell recently taught me in his piece on the history of yeast Brett was originally isolated from English Stock Ales and indeed its name is Latin for British Fungus.
While I would never be so foolhardy as to introduce Brett into any of my vessels, last month I came across a unique opportunity. At the annual Belgian Beer Tasting at Regional Wines and Spirits one of the beers we tasted was Lindemans Geuze bottle conditioned and in 250 ml nip bottles I couldn’t resist taking the bottles. I will clean and sanitise the bottles to the best of my abilities, despite treating the bottles with caustic soda and Sodium Percarbonate I don’t expect to remove the Brett. Then I will bottle some of this year’s Merchant of the Devil Imperial Stout and some of Alfred’s Stock Ale, a strong barley wine named for my late grandfather who was a drayman’s son, and see what happens. The nips will have their bottoms painted red so that the Brett bottles don’t end up getting mixed in with my ‘clean’ nips.


Greig McGill said...

I've heard it said that Brett's legendary hardiness is a bit of a myth. At least, if you're not dealing with wood. I suspect that you'll kill it good from the glass bottles, but who knows? Certainly an interesting experiment, and I'm happy to help when sampling time comes around! ;)

Kieran Haslett-Moore said...

We will see.