Yes, you read it well. That’s right. A Clash of the Titans. A collision of worlds that, theoretically, cannot coexist in the same space. But in this hotel there is room for everything that comes with good intentions. So we set out on this adventure, with the spirit of overcoming whatever difficulties are necessary for this challenge.
Hypothesis: Is it possible to make a dark beer with Brett and at the same time in the sweetness spectrum, now so common in beers?
To start this, we head south (in Portugal). In this Hotel there is an “Algarvian” wing that inspires us and that is exactly what happened for the Pastry component of this beer. We went to get traditional elements from the “Algarve” region in Portugal, dried figs and carob take the lead here, accompanied by carob tree honey from a local producer, complemented by cinnamon.
For the beer style, we decided to go with a Porter, a dark beer that will combine with these elements.
And then Brett, of course.
This is a beer in which the challenge lies in the balance of the ingredients. Too much of anything, can overshadow the rest. And Brett’s interaction with dark malts can create burnt plastic flavors. It’s necessary to choose a strain that is not very phenolic, and for this we chose Brett Lambicus from Wyeast and also used the strategy of lowering the astringency of the dark grains using black cereal without husks.
The party plan is to make the beer first, doing a 100% Brett primary fermentation. Then we are going to prepare a syrup/paste with the various pastry ingredients, almost as if it was a topping for you pancakes, and we are going to add it to the beer in the secondary.
So let’s start with the beer part. A Porter recipe starts with an English base malt right? So, a pale malt from Simpsons goes in, then a selection of English crystal malts to give some body and align with the pastry theme, Oats to give some creaminess and body, and that dark malt, the Carafa special from Weyermann, without husk.
Simple infusion mash, at 69º C because Brett eats a lot of dextrins. We have to take this into account, so the beer doesn’t have a thin body. High mash temperature plus unmalted cereal will make up for it (or so we hope). pH of the mash on the higher side, trying to stay at 5.5 after a few adjustments with baking soda.
Hops in a Pastry beer are counterintuitive, so here’s just a little bit of that “clean” bittering Warrior, at the start of the boil to balance the wort. We ended up with a little more density and less liquid, so we adjusted with a little water to get the numbers right and satisfy the “ocd” here in the house.
No more tricks at this point. It’s done and transferred to the fermenter. Now we inoculate it with Brett at 23º C and leave to ferment for 3/4 weeks.
While Brett goes about his business and does it’s expected work, let’s play that pastry chef game and prepare the “pastry” part of the beer. Here we have taken a page from the “Pâtisserie” techniques book and we are going to compose a syrup with the various elements, like those made for desserts or to cover cakes.
We start by cutting the dried figs into small slices, covering them with honey and adding filtered water. We put it on a low heat to start allow them to mellow. When it starts to turn into a porridge, add the carob flour, the juice of a lime and bless it with a little rosemary and a few more cinnamon powders. Then, mix and wrap, until it becomes a malleable but consistent paste. It’s just that this needs to go to the bottom of another fermenter, when it has cooled down. Later we’ll pour the beer on top.
Back to the beer, by this time, the initial house of this project already has a veil installed on top of the beer, which is as if to say a beautiful pellicle was born to protect the liquid from oxygen, which almost looks like the grandmother’s blanket protecting it from the evil outside world.
We want to be respectful, so we use a siphon carefully to not disturb the delicate sleep of the pellicle. Without much fuss, we transfer the beer to the next fermenter, the one where we put the pastry syrup that will turn this into a “Pastry” Porter.
We let this beautiful mixture come together and rest for a couple more months, for everyone to get to know each other well. In between some “remontages” to ensure that everyone in the group blends in.
After the mingling we head to the bottling, carbonation to 2.2 volumes, waiting for the rest time, in the bottle with Brett, to develop even more carbonation.
Is it possible to make a dark beer with Brett, and at the same time on the pastry spectrum? We think so.
Brett Pastry Porter
Total Cereal: 5,37 Kg.
Original Gravity: 1.054
Boil Time: 60 minutes
72% – 3.87 kg. Pale
8% – 0.43 kg. Caramunich
8% – 0.43 kg. Oats
4% – 0.21 kg. Carafa Special III
4% – 0.21 kg. Crystal Dark
4% – 0.21 kg. Crystal DRC
Warrior 10 gr. (pellet) @ 60 min.
500 gr. Dried Figs
375 gr. Carob Tree Honey
100 gr. Carob Flour
300 gr. Filtered water
Juice of 1 lime
3 Cinnamon sticks
20 gr. Cinnamon powder
Wyeast Labs #5526 Brettanomyces Lambicus
SO4 to Cl Ratio: 0,4
Saccharification – 60 min @ 69ºC
Mash Out – 10 min @ 76ºC
pH@30 min 5.5