The Tale of a Wild Ale

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From-KevinSo what happens when friend walks into a brewery with a trailer load of fresh, second use French oak wine barrels? This is exactly what happened to us here at Boom Island around 4 months ago. My first thought, “More Oude Funk!”. Not a bad idea at all. But after a bit of further deliberation, a different idea came to me. I had several conversations recently regarding Brettanomyces (known afterwards simply as “Brett”) as the source for primary fermentation. In practice, this is almost always performed with a single strain of brett for the fermentation. Knowing many strains of brett are especially known for their unusual aromatics that it contributes to beer, I developed a new challenge for us. We would create a “Wild Ale” which uses three different strains of brett for its fermentation.

From there the recipe formulation began. We were looking for a very nice deep mahogany colored beer from several of our favorite Belgian specialty roasted grains. We knew that these very grains would also leave a nice residual body after the brett’s notoriously aggressive fermentation cycle. The three strains of brett were then chosen for their aromatic qualities which evolve over the months to come. Descriptors such as; fruity, floral, pineapple, crushed fruit candy, and pear were those used to describe the strains which were eventually chosen for Triple Brett. The hopping schedule was light and with the Saaz variety only.

After a brief fermentation in stainless, the Triple Brett spent ten weeks in those wine barrels which were the original inspiration for the beer. Bottling day arrives and we decided to hand bottle every drop rather than risk running the wild yeast through our automated bottle filler. Natural conditioning in the bottle was 6 weeks. The result was extremely pleasing.

Important points to note: This is a wild beer, not to be confused with a sour. A wild beer is a beer which is fermented with organisms other than traditional brewer’s yeast. There is a bit of overlap but Triple Brett is not a sour. Also, don’t let the term “wild” cause you to shy away. This beer is very approachable. 7.2% ABV. Nice deep color with a very, very fruity nose. Ingredients: simply malt, water, hops and three strains of Brettanomyces.

Cheers!

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