The Great Brett Experiment is about to begin! (has already begun)

So.... I really like Brettanomyces, and in many ways it's the "unknown" about Brett that I really love.  It's the artist in me that enjoys using Wild yeast and not the scientist.  When most people think of Brett they think of flavors and aroma's of cheese, horse-blanket, wet dog, etc and some people really enjoy those flavors in their beer.   In my quest to understand this wild yeast I've come across some examples that have huge fruit characteristics and are described as passion fruit, pineapple, strawberry, stone fruits, and pie cherries.   I really enjoy the fruity strains of Brett as opposed to the funky strains and it's these fruity Brett stains that I lean towards utilizing in my beers.   It's to that artistic end that I decided to join a scientific project dubbed The Great Brett Experiment.

The Great Brett Experiment is the brain child of a mad scientist in Switzerland with a yeast blog called Eureka Brewing but also is a home brewer that him and his brother call Blackwell Brewery.   Back to the experiment....The experiment is based on understanding the flavors, aroma, and fermentation characteristics of Brett strains that Sam has isolated from various commercial bottles.   Some bottles of Cantillon have had up-to 4 or 5 different Brett strains.   He shipped me 20 different varieties of Brett in these tiny little vials...see picture on the bottom of the post.   Unfortunately 3 of the varieties didn't make the long transport from Switzerland so I'll be doing 17 different varieties.  (Keep in mind that a few of these 17 varieties may be the same strain, just from different breweries, or they may have been the same at one point, and are now mutated and are now a unique strain.)

I'm hoping to find additional Brett strains that have those amazing unique fruity flavors that only certain strains of Brettanomyces can provide.  We'll then be able to mapped those strains as either great 100% fermenting strains, or great strains for complementing Saccharomyces strains in mixed fermentation (ex.  Saison Brett!)

I'll take these small samples and build them up until I have enough to 100% ferment a half gallon.   Here is my plan taken from Jeffrey Crane's blog Beers Bikes & Adventure

I created a simple recipe that I thought would be interesting enough for us to enjoy the taste of the beer, but not too complex to distract us from the yeast derived flavors. For the recipe, I added some wheat to help with mouthfeel (protein) and long term food source (long chain carbohydrates). Then a small percentage of acid malt was added to give the Brett strains some lactic acid to convert and to also lower the pH for the mash and Brett fermentation.

Sam will be sending the yeast in 1.5 mL vials (mostly to help with international shipping costs). These will need to be built up. I've read that you should build up about 10x each step. I'm planning to brew wit hall 20 strains at once. My goal is to have 20 - .5 gal trials going all at once - here is how I plan to do that.

First Starter Step -  15 ml (~.5 oz)
15 ml Sterile Centrifuge tubes (~$15 and great for saving dregs)

Second Starter Step - 150 ml (~5 oz). Here are my ideas:
250 ml flask w stopper/airlock or foil (laboratory way), but expensive
12 oz beer bottles w stopper or foil (pretty cheap, but the stoppers/airlocks would be pricey)
12 oz water bottles w 1/8" blow-off tubing sealed into cap or foil (cheap)

Main Batch - 1.5 l (~50 oz) - maybe a bit more to get 4 beers worth
64 oz growlers w stopper/airlocks (homebrewer friends have extras - especially with CA laws)
2 liter water bottles w 1/8" blow-off tubing sealed into cap

We wanted to make sure we standardized the evaluation of the strains. We thought it was best to taste at Month 1 (uncarbonated at bottling), Month 2, Month 6, 1 Year.  I have created a Brettanomyces Evaluation Scoresheet (based on the AHA Scoresheet). We will compile the tasting notes, scores and sour/funk ratings.

Brettanomyces Evaluation ScoreSheet (pdf)


  1. When are you brewing your main batch? I can't wait to see what we get. The aroma coming off my starters has been pretty awesome with already a decent amount of differences along with some that smell very similar.

    Good luck.

  2. I believe I receive my 15ml vials today in the mail, so I'm a little bit behind where you are at in the experiment. I might reach out to you if I have questions on the process.

  3. Totally feel free. I just got my main batch brewed last night. I ended up using 16 oz water bottles for the first 2 steps (2 oz, then added 6 oz on top of that 10 days later), then I used 1 gal water bottles for my .5 gal batches. The water bottles are working very well and were cheap and I have no problems throwing them away afterwards.


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