Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Yeast Bay Brett Blend Review: Beersel, Lochristi, and Brussels

Prior to becoming a strain Beta tester for The Yeast Bay, I was intrigued by the descriptions of the three new blends of Brettanomyces Nick had to offer and placed an order with plans to do a split batch review. Over the years I've learned that blending Brett strains results in much more complex flavor/aroma profiles then single strain additions, especially in Saison. With these blends already being prepared for us, I was excited to see how each one differed and which I liked the most. All three blends offer something different in the descriptions ranging from Barnyard Funk (Brussels Blend), a Fruity/Funky balance (Beersel Blend), to finally a a moderate funky/fruity blend with hints of strawberry (Lochristi Blend). 

Based on that I was most excited for the Beersel, but of course I would reserve judgement until I finally tasted the beers. To get the best idea of how each blend reacts without the distractions of other new/aggressive ingredients I chose to use my Farmer in the Rye recipe since its is a beer I am most familiar with and should allow me to evaluate only the Brett blends and ignore the base beer. I used Wyeast 3711 for the primary ferment prior to splitting into 3 separate carboys and pitching each blend. I wanted an absurdly dry beer so I could secondary with the Brett and bottle in a relatively quick amount of time (4 weeks or less, not the case with the Lochristi though) without having to wait for the Brett to munch the last few gravity points.


Brussels Blend

FitR Brussels notes:

A: Straw yellow, much better clarity then the others. Spritzy, beautiful, perfect to style carbonation with a solid white head that lasts throughout.

A: A bit of orange, wet hay, with an overall classic funkiness rounding out the aroma, a little bit musty. This is classic straight funk, complex but all funk.

F: dry, light spice on the tongue and subtle fruit on the finish, not as dry a finish as the other two.

O: This is pretty similar to Beersel but with more funk in aroma and less fruit. It's quite nice when youre looking for a complex barnyard character.







Beersel Blend



FitR Beersel notes:

A: Straw yellow, slightly cloudy, with a high level of visible carbonation and a thick frothy white head that lasts throughout the glass leaving significant lacing.

A: lemony, citrus, mint?, very subtle background funky sweaty feet but it's hidden behind the more prominent aromas, helps to remind you this is a Brett beer with some complex rusticity.

F: Dry peppery spice up front, slight acidity, citrus fruits. Finishes dry and refreshing.

O: This is my favorite of the 3 blends. It's not overly funky but there is a sweaty note hanging behind lemon and citrus fruits. It's a really nice blend of subtle funk and citrus/fruit, I have already re-pitched it into 3 different beers.


FitR Lochristi Notes:

Lochristi Blend

A: FitR classic straw yellow with a white frothy thin head. Moderate visible carbonation.

A: Aroma is pretty interesting but there isn't a ton there, some light tropical fruit and peppery spice, a very faint mustiness, something that resembles earthworms on the sidewalk after a summer rain. Its actually bordering on clean smelling.


F: Prickly carbonation on the front of the tongue, peppery spice, very dry, giving way to pineapple, bitter orange peel, very dry on the back of the palette.


O: This is a pretty subtle blend, at least in this beer, but I think it would pair really well in a beer with some delicate fruit. It would compliment Apricots or Peaches really well in a supporting role. Certainly for the more subtle Brett fans


All three of these blends are very interesting and quite unique, but the Beersel and Lochristi are my favorite of the three, and actually the most unique if you ask me. The Beersel has a great balance between fruity Brett notes and some of those weird musty/funky notes, and the Lochristi is something that might start slow but evolves into something I have not experienced in any blend or strain available.  If youre looking for a more Rustic funk then the Brussels blend is perfect, there was something about it that smelled/tasted familiar. It reminded me a lot of the rustic nature of a few month old bottle of the Bruery's Saison Rue I had not too long ago.
Brussels Pellicle
The Lochristi is an interesting case for me, of the three its been in the bottle the shortest amount of time so it may still need some age (although it was in secondary for longer than the other two so it has plenty of age but not under pressure). TYB mentions that it can be a slow starter, and I experienced just that, not that there was a ton of activity in any of the three fermenters but Lochristi took the longest to show its character in the beer. I really enjoy the subtlety of it, it is perfect if you want to avoid an overpowering Brett character to a beer. It really would be a great blend to use with a fruited Saison, its subtle with a distant funkiness to it and some fruit notes that would go well with Peaches. Or maybe a lightly hopped Grissette with the Lochristi blend added at bottling, where it will evolve but not completely dominate a more delicate beer. But you really need some patience with it, I was pretty underwhelmed with my first tasting of it, and its the reason I delayed this post for a few months. Be patient, you will be rewarded.


Beersel Pellicle
Really all three of these blends are great, but my style leans more towards the Lochristi and Beersel as I stated before. I have my personal preference and I hope that the review helps people decide which to chose for their own beers. Or try all three of them, I would love to hear other folks experience with these blends. I will continue to use the Lochristi and Beersel in beers down the road, not to say the Brussels blend isn't good, it is, but the other two are more my style. 


Lochristi Pellicle

18 comments:

  1. Great write up. I thought the same think about the Lochristi blend. The first beer I made with it was a grisette, and its contribution was pretty subtle. The second beer was a golden sour, which I transferred onto peaches last weekend. It has a similar profile to the grisette, with a bit more sourness, so I'm looking forward to seeing how the peaches compliment it.

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    1. Great minds think alike huh, I think that blend will go really well with the Peaches. Im interested to hear how that comes out.

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  2. Ed, For the lochristi did you pitch all at once? Just curious how long you let go before bottling? I have a saison I did will YB Wall and Lochristi that I pitched some Jolly Pumpkin dregs in. It's gotten really tart but very little brett character. Thinking of racking onto some crushed grapes and letting go another couple months.

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    1. The Lochristi was slow to show any progress so it sat in secondary for about 3 months while the other 2 only for 6 weeks. At the time of this tasting the Lochristi had been in the bottles for 5 weeks.

      I just pitched one vial into the secondary for each 2-3 gallon batch.

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  3. Good stuff! Thanks for taking the time and documenting things. We've started playing with all 3 blends (in fruited saisons) at Refuge Brewery. I really liked the Beersel in a Sauvignon Blanc barrel aged Citra Saison with kumquats and raspberries.

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    1. Hey no problem, it was a fun little test batch resulting in some great beer. I love exploring the differences with yeast, especially Brett.

      That beer sounds fantastic, glad to hear you folks are using the blends commercially. I think Nick did a great job pairing these strains together in the blends.

      I wonder what I would need to do to get my hands on some of that Beersel Saison you speak of from Refuge...

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  4. Hi,
    Can you answer 2 quick questions please??

    1: How long after bottling did you do this tasting?

    2: How did you carbonate and bottle? Did you bottle condition (addition of sugar prior to bottling) or force carb in a keg and then bottle?

    Thanks in advance

    Kev

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    1. These were 3 months in the bottle at the time of these tasting notes, all bottle conditioned. I still have a few bottles of each and they are all holding up very very well with age..

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  5. I was just wondering if you have any experience and thoughts on TYB's Amalgamation blend? I copied your FiTR recipe (minus the sugar), primary with WLP568, and then Amalgamation for secondary. At the same time, I did a 100% Amalgamation with the same recipe. 3 gallons each batch. Curious as to any experience you have had with it.

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    1. I have not used it yet but have a vial with plans to do a 100% Amalgamation batch of something hoppy in December. I should have a post up on that beer in January. Let me know how yours turns out.

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    2. Will do. If I'm happy enough with the results, I'll be glad to send a few your way.

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  6. Hi - I've got this exact experiment running now. Conical is full of the base recipe and 3711...planning to split and add TYB brett blends soon.

    One quick question though, at what gravity did you've to secondary and therefore add the brett? Did you wait until it was completely finished or when it had a few points to go?

    Thanks

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    1. Sorry for the late reply, you're likely all finished with the experiment but I will still document the response. I fermented the beer out entirely with 3711, it was very very dry, I did this so that I could get each version into bottles as quick as I could. The result got me a good idea of what each blend had to offer but left the beers a little lacking in Brett character but enough that I could easily differentiate between each blend.

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  7. I know this is an old post, but did you ever go back and try any of the Lochristi bottles with more age on it? We brewed a couple batches of a Grisette where we pitched our regular saison yeast and then pitched Lochristi a few days later. At 3 months they had some nice subtle funk but at 6 months it developed some really nice strawberry and peach notes with a hint of acidity to it. Curious to see what more long term aging does with this blend.

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    1. I did an update post in March of 2015. Without a doubt Lochristi aged the most gracefully. Really loved that blend. http://www.alesoftheriverwards.com/2015/03/revisiting-yeast-bay-brett-blends.html

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  8. I know this post is getting old but what FG did you get after your primary fermentation? I normally get super dry beer with W3711 (between 1.001 and 1.003, based on my experience). Is that a concern that brett doesn't have much sugar to chew on? Thanks for the article, that's a great review of those three blends!

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    1. 3711 took the beer down to 1.002, super dry of course but as I mentioned in the post I wanted to get these beers in bottles quickly so I could evalutate what each blend was like. Brett doesnt only need a sugar source to effect a beer, it can break down fermentation byproducts and create some unique flavors. Even then there was sugar added to the bottles that the Brett could hit.

      As far as evaluating the strains this method worked really well, each beer had clearly been changed by the Brett additions but more so in the aroma department than flavor. But being that there was not much sugar for the Brett to metabolize the beers are a little boring, so if youre looking to make a complex beer I wouldnt go this route, and I normally do not, but if you want to get a quick impression of what a strain can bring to a beer in secondary this method works and you can be drinking and evaluating within 2 months...Unless were are talking about the sluggish Lochristi, so slow but really unique.

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  9. Hello Ed, great post never dies not even after 2 years!

    All those experiments were performed in secondary fermentation. In my experiences primary brett fermentations give a shy organoleptic character. Did you ever evaluated those blends in primary fermentation? Even if you did not, do you have any insight in enhancing funk/barnyard/fruit profile of primary brett fermentation?

    Thank you and cheers!

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