Brett and Charlie peach blonde

Hopefully a fair entry beer…

For my first beer brewed specifically for the county and state fair, I wanted to get a little fancy.  The “brett beer” category, is pretty broad.  It can include pretty much any beer, and pretty much any variety thereof, with brettanomyces.

With the Theo beer showing signs of completed fermentation, I wanted to be able to use its built up brett cake on another beer.  Since there was some saison yeast mixed in with the brett, I would need to make a style that could handle a little of that character added in to it.

I also had been mulling over the upcoming cat beer, Charlie.  Charlie is Monica’s other cat, an adventurous orange tabby.  I’d considered the obvious orange wit option, but started thinking about doing a peach beer instead.  With the weather in Denver getting rather warm, I was well into the belgians-or-bust season for my always hot apartment.

I decided to make two batches of nearly identical beer, and put one on brett.  I’d like to enter the brett version into the county and state fairs if it comes out well.

When to add fruit is always a challenge.  I didn’t want it to be overwhelming, and I’d read some recipes with an end-of-boil steep that seemed promising, so I decided to go this route.

Recipe(s)IMG_6336[1]

  • 1lb 14oz US Pilsner
  • 2oz US Carapils
  • 1oz US Aromatic
  • 1oz Acid (BPB) OR 1oz Canadian Honey (Charlie)
  • 2oz brown sugar
  • 1/2lb quartered, previously frozen peaches
  • .1oz Galaxy at 30m
  • BPB: 1 packet of WLP 500 Monastery Ale (Chimay’s strain) for primary, then racked onto Theo Brettanomyces cake
    Charlie: pitched onto BPB WLP 500 washed yeast

Brett brew session 3/29/17:IMG_6339[1]I had a new thermometer and was already disappointed in it; the website said it was a fast 3 second read, but in my experience it was taking upwards of 20 seconds to get a steady reading.  After many batches nailing all my water measurements, I over hit my strike, got it back down, mashed in, and ended up a degree above my intended mash temp of 152.  I was a bit distracted and not able to take a temp as often as I wanted, so towards the end of the mash it was down to 145.  I kicked it back to 152 for the rest of the time, then mashed out to 170, and sparged with 165 degree water.  I used a total of 5.5 quarts, hoping to have some extra water for a 90 minute pilsner boil.  The water seemed a little bit low, and after my boil looked much lower.  I added a little Galaxy at 30 minutes, and added the sugar and peaches towards the end of the boil, letting the peaches steep as the beer ice bath cooled to a 70 degree pitching temp.

My vial of yeast was three months old.  I’ll spare you the math, but this actually meant I had the perfect amount of live yeast cells for one gallon of beer at my projected gravity.  Since this was my first time using liquid yeast, this provided a great opportunity:  liquid yeast loses viability rapidly after production, and even more rapidly after opening.   If I were a 5 gallon brewer, a yeast this old would require me to make a starter.  If it were brand new, I’d need to save half and hope it survives a week in the fridge for the next batch.  In this situation, I can pitch exactly the full vial, then rack this beer out and put the new beer on.  If the trub seems particularly gross, I can always wash the yeast and then use it.  I don’t anticipate this being necessary as I will be using a paint-strainer bag to keep the peach out, it doesn’t have much hops, and is a mostly pilsner wort.

I took an OG, adjusted for volume since I needed to add water due to the vigorous boil (and large surface area of my kettle), aerated, pitched the yeast, set up a blowoff, and let it to do its thing in my closet.  OG came in at 1.061, five points shy of my target; about 72% efficiency — bummer, I’d been doing so well lately.  The weather is scheduled to be pretty cool for a few days, so it was a good brew day, but I anticipate my apartment will be around 70 until Monday and then will be upwards of 74 degrees, which should be great for this particular brew.

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