Hopefully by now you’ll have gotten your hands on some of our first release Brett Saison and some of you probably have a few questions about how and why we’re doing it the way we’re doing it.
As far as I’m aware we are the first brewery in Ireland to can-condition or referment the beer in the can. We knew a long time back when we were doing our business plan that there was a strong chance that the mobile canning company may not want to can beers with Brettanomyces or diastaticus yeast strains in them so we had to devise a system that would work for us that nobody else in Ireland had so I delved deep into the underbelly of Milk The Funk to find out alternative process of getting my Brett beers in a can. We’re delighted we can still do business with Darren and the lads at Irish Craft Canning but all we get from them is the empty, pre-labeled can and a few rolls of lids then the lads clip it before my yeast strains go airborne into their delivery van! So fear not other breweries, we don’t send out beer through their canning lines.
Can-conditioning is no different to bottle conditioning. We’re not doing anything magic here and Moor Brewery in the UK can condition already so there’s plenty of precedence but not much around western Europe. Our beer is unfiltered, unpasteurized living beer with the capability to constantly evolve due to living Brettanomyces in the can, Brettanomyces that can be harvested should you be a homebrewer or looking for dregs! Are cans better for your beer? The short answer is yes, they prevent lightstruck beer, they prevent oxidized beer, they’re light and environmentally friendly for shipping and recycling purposes so be damned with the negative stigma attached to cans. They are indeed a superior vessel.
Canned-On Date? What’s that about?
The canned-on date is there so you the consumer can make an educated decision on whether to buy that beer or not depending on its age. I’d like to see the whole industry implement this as there is currently no standard apart from the generic 12 months that the supermarkets demand. Tell us when it was canned-on and we can decide for ourselves if we want to buy the beer or not. It’s essential for primary fermented Brett beer too as you may want to drink the beer young to get the fruit or then again you may want to age the beer to coax out some of that funky barnyard that Brett is so famous for.
But why are your beers taking so bloody long to release? You brewed it months ago.
Well the fact is that we don’t release a beer until we are absolutely happy with it and there’s a few factors that come into play here the first of which is taste. It needs to taste where we want it to taste. These beers constantly evolve from week to week and we give them 2 months minimum although nearly all are past the 3 month mark at this stage. Another factor is the final gravity. We need to dry these beers out as far as humanly possible and use temperature in the mid to high 20’s so we get them down to 1.002 and let them sit there for 4 to 6 weeks until constant stability. Brett has the ability to keep on consuming those sugars but down at 1.002 we’re happy that it has done its job. When flavor and gravity are stable, we give it another few weeks and then can it where it sits for another 2 weeks to recondition in the can.
But Brett beers should be funky not full of fruit. Right?
Well, no. We have not added any fruit to our beer so far. But the fact is that there is a massive difference in a beer primary fermented with Brettanomyces and a beer secondary fermented with Brettanomyces. The common perception or anticipation is “funk” and we’ve had amazement that the funk was very much in the background to the fruity components. This is exactly what primary fermentation with an array of Brett strains does, it saves money on having to buy a butt ton of expensive hops!! All our beers will be primary fermented with Brettanomyces and depending on the style there will be an addition of saison strains that are diastaticus positive in there.
Fearing for authentic saison.
There has been a shift in the market when it comes to saison and we’re seeing people lose touch with what it used to be before the discovery of diastaticus. We’re seeing a lot more saison on the market made with yeast designed for Belgian pale ales missing key components of spice, pepper and banana esters and fully dried out FG thus these beers are ending up like sweet American pale ales. People are making beer with the intention of the end result being a saison but it’s not possible without the correct yeast in my humble opinion. I’m here to keep some of these yeast strains and beer styles alive.
Our brewery will be Brettanomyces and diastaticus positive in every sense. We don’t have any “clean” beers no matter how much I want to brew the crisp pilsners I love so much! We will however make an array of beer styles that all will be primary fermented alongside Brettanomyces including a pilsner and a Wit beer that we’re currently working together with an NHC award winning midlands homebrewer on.
What’s up next?
The next beer to hit the market is a Brett Grisette coming in at 5.1%. This beer has been fermented with the second generation of the Brett Saison yeast blend so we’ve seen a slight shift in the flavor profile with a little more white pepper to accompany the fruity base generously hopped with Hallertau Blanc which can add gooseberry and white wine notes. Ultimately Brettanomyces decides which way the beer ends up flavor wise so there’s no point me popping out flavor descriptors right now as you’ll probably have a different flavor depending on what age you drink it at. Following that is what we’re calling a Brett Pale Ale which saw no hot side hop additions but massive whirlpool and dry hop of Azacca and Idaho 7. No saison or saccharomyces strains at all in this one just two Brettanomyces blends. It was dry hopped about 6 weeks ago. But you can’t do that I hear you say, that’s a waste of hops. You can decide for yourself soon enough.
Still Voices Short Film Festival
We’re going to finish out the first of our four initial releases with a mixed fermentation sour. Primary fermented with kveik yeast then an addition of lactobacillus in the stainless fermenter before getting it’s first hop addition about a week in, a massive hop addition of Amarillo and El Dorado. When it hit stable gravity of 1.010 I added my fruity Brettanomyces blends to take it down to 1.002 before another generous dosage of hops where it sits at the moment. This beer is a collaboration with Still Voices Short Film Festival and this is our second year to collab on a beer especially designed for this festival. We like to join up with local events and support local where we can and this film festival is going from strength to strength each year bringing both people and short films in from across the globe with screenings available across four days in various venues throughout the town of Ballymahon with a barbecue on the Saturday night where the beer will be poured. A festival not to be missed if you like your movies and beer taking place from August 15th-18th.
The last of the cases of Brett Saison have just left the building and that will never be made exactly that way ever again so if you like it go out there and grab the rest of it. The yeast decides what the beer tastes like, not me, I’m merely but a shepherd.
Thanks for reading,