Beer Recipe: “Kick in the Mangos” Brett IPA

I have been playing around with the tropical fruit hops like mosaic, simcoe, falconer’s flight (a blend), etc, for my last few batches, and have really enjoyed the result.  This time, I decided to pair these hops with the brett trois yeast strain which is known for anything from tart to mango and pineapple to horse blanket; I tailored the conditions to draw out only the mango and pineapple to complement the hops.  The result was an IPA gushing with tropical fruit flavors layered over smooth bittering.

Lately I have been trending towards a primarily late hopping schedule with everything coming with 30 minutes or less from the end of the boil unless the style I am brewing doesn’t call for hop character; if this wasn’t an IPA, its likely everything would have gone in 15 minutes or less from the end.  I personally like the resulting flavor and aroma contribution better than from a standard hop schedule, even with dry hopping, and its much easier.

This is my first time playing with brett, but from my research on it, there are numerous ways of using it.  If used like a standard ale yeast, it produces bright tropical fruit flavors.  Allow it to ferment with access to oxygen throughout the fermentation, and you get a very tart beer.  I found this to be true with my starter, which was puckeringly tart.  The horse-blanket funk brett is famous (or perhaps notorious?) for seems to only occur when fermented with traditional ale yeast.  These funky flavors are a result of the brett metabolizing fermentation products of the ale yeast (and even dead ale yeast), so without the ale yeast to produce the precursor compounds, the brett won’t get funky.

Batch Size: 5 gal/ 18.9 L

12 lb/ 5.44 kg   2 Row malt
3 lb/ 1.36 kg     Red wheat malt
1 lb/ 0.45 kg     Crystal 60 malt

1 oz/ 28 g       Mosaic, 12.7%, 30 min, 25.8 IBU
1 oz/ 28 g       Mosaic, 12.7%, 10 min, 12.2 IBU
1 oz/ 28 g       Falconer’s Flight, 11.4%, 10 min, 12.1 IBU
1 oz/ 28 g       Cascade, 7.3%, 10 min, 7.8 IBU
Total IBU:       57.9 (Tinseth) (est. 63.9 with lower mash eff.)

3 L starter       WLP644 Brettanomyces bruxellensis Trois (3.33 L recommended)

Target CO2:     2.5 vol

OG:                 1.062 (52% mash eff; target 1.074, 62%)
FG:                  1.018
ABV:                6.25% after conditioning

Mash temp:          151F/ 66C (target 151F)
Mash thickness:   1.5 qt/lb/ 3.12 L/kg
Single infusion mash, single (batch) sparge
Boil time:              60 min

Calculated Profile:

Calcium 52.6 Sulfate 131.3 Hardness 132
Magnesium 0.1 Chloride 60 Alkalinity 30
Sodium 73.8 Bicarbonate 36.1 RA -8

I was pretty happy with this water profile, save for the sodium content, which is just how my water is served up.  I balanced it pretty heavily towards sulfate to accentuate the hops, and lowered the RA to ensure the pH was low enough to make the fruit flavors pop. (See my water treatment post here.)

Fermentation Temperature: 74F/ 23.3C ambient; pitched at 80F/ 26.7C; remained over 80F for the remainder of the ferment, with a lamp to keep it warm after the ferment tapered off

Tasting Notes:

brett IPA

Kick in the Mangos all-brett IPA.

Appearance: hazy orange yellow, pours with a tight white head inches thick which laces the glass as it dissipates

Aroma: strong tropical fruit, especially mango and pineapple

Taste: general tropical fruit with a fair amount of smooth bittering up front; hop character apparent; malt plays supporting role- does not stand out on its own except for a hint of wheat as it warms, but is balanced; difficult to differentiate contribution from yeast and hops as far as fruitiness

Mouthfeel: medium-high carbonation lends a good refreshing sharpness on the tongue; could have gone a bit heavier (ie higher OG by hitting planned efficiency with same mash temp), but it does not feel lacking

Overall: This was my first brew fermented with Brett and I was very impressed- the fruitiness complements the beer without making it taste less like a beer and leaves the palate cleanly.  The bitterness won’t stand up to a west coast American IPA, but it will hold its own nonetheless.  I was a bit surprised at the complete lack of funk or even tartness- the starter was puckeringly tart, but this did not come through in the main ferment.  I’ll definitely be playing around with this strain again, perhaps in an open fermentation vessel to get something a bit more tart.

I encourage everyone to  experiment with this strain.  Brett seems to perform about the same as standard ale yeasts when treated as such, though it likes to be warmer, making it a great summer strain.  I have read pretty much everywhere that attenuation would be higher than normal, though in this case I found it to be about the same as any ale yeast.  I have also seen some claims of some very slight funk developing over time after a clean brett ferment, but I don’t plan on keeping a hop-forward beer around that long (unless a save a bottle or two specifically for that purpose).  [2014.03.06 UPDATE: I recently finished this batch (which I am very upset about- this was definitely one of my favorite beers!), and no funkiness showed up after six months in the bottle at room temperature.]

I would recommend using a different fermentor and equipment if possible to avoid cross contamination with your standard ales, as brett will consume a slightly different carbohydrate profile and can lead to bottle bombs if contaminated right before bottling.  Alternately, you could end up with the funky fermentation character if contaminated during the fermentation.  If this is not an option, I think as long as you are meticulous in your sanitation you would be fine with only one set of equipment, as long as you at least use different hoses.

According to Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River Brewing, as of late 2005 there were only two or three 100% brett fermented commercial brews.  I’m not sure how many there are today, but I have only ever found one in my local beer stores- a clean fermented beer that really put me over the edge to brew with it myself.  But, its a fun strain to use and you shouldn’t be afraid to experiment; I have heard an increasing amount of buzz for alternatively fermented (brett/ sour) beers lately, and there is definitely good reason.

– Dennis,
Life, Fermented


About Dennis
Home brewer, home chef, garage tinkerer. Author of Life Fermented blog.

11 Responses to Beer Recipe: “Kick in the Mangos” Brett IPA

  1. Bill says:

    Did you oxygenate your wort?

    • Dennis says:

      Good thing I checked my notes- I was about to say no. But, it does look like I sloshed the carboy around a bit after pitching. I pretty much treated this batch exactly as I would any other standard ale yeast, actually, and it behaved just like any ale yeast would. Only difference was I did leave the temperature pretty high, at 82F/ 27.8C+ on purpose.

  2. ben says:

    What PH level did you hit in your mash?

    • Dennis says:

      Unfortunately I don’t have a pH meter. Using the original numbers above, I calculated it (Brun Water) to be 5.4, which is about where I would want it. But, I was using some bad numbers for my source water- my bicarbonates are considerably higher than I thought. Using some newer numbers for my water, it was probably too high, closer to 5.8 or 5.9.

      • Ben says:

        Thanks. I assume this was mash temp. I’ve been playing with ph too and finally have some numbers dialed in and am going to be brewing a brett beer in the future.

      • Dennis says:

        Hmm, good question. Since I lack the pH meter, I’ve never bothered to figure out if the pH calculation given in Brun Water is the result at room temperature or mash temperature. I suspect its given at mash temperature, as most mash pH numbers are. Either way, you should target your mash pH for the mash enzymes as normal. Brett can ferment at a much lower pH that brewer’s yeast, but in general if you are at the right pH all the way through for a standard ale yeast, you’re good for Brett too. If you want to ferment the Brett at a lower pH than a normal ale yeast (like if you do sour mashing or sour worting), do so after conversion, or even after the initial boil if you are using a large amount of hops (boil pH affects hop flavor, and other things).

        Are you doing a 100% Brett ferment, or a mixed fermentation, out of curiosity?

      • ben says:

        I’m going to be doing an all Brett Fermentation. I’ve done a few in the past, and have gotten pretty much ZERO fruit flavors (that most others are getting). Instead, it tasted nearly just like US-05, Wyeast 1056, etc. I’m not complaining, but I think that if I got the slight tart finish with fruit flavors it would really elevate this beer. I’ve done the cup starter, then upped it to 1500ml (both a week).

        thanks for answering my questions

      • Dennis says:

        In regards to a lack of fruit flavors, you can try a few different things. First, many of the esters brett makes require oxygen, so you can try leaving your fermentor open during peak fermentation activity. There is one prominent fruity ester in particular that requires lactic acid as a substrate, so you can do your pH adjustments with lactic instead of other acids. You can ferment warmer than standard ale temps (say 74F pitch and ramp to 80F or so), and underpitch a bit to stress them out (though use some discretion). And you can use fruity hops to accentuate the brett esters.

  3. Anonymous says:

    AS regards to the ph, just stick a tspn of citric in to 5 gallons. As you know, we need ph to be low for good enzyme activity. Also, some solubilised tannin helps with beer colloid stabilisation.
    Cheers, good blpg, enjoyed it.

  4. Pierrick says:

    Hello, I did follow your recipe thanks for posting it, I was wondering how long did your fermented it for?
    My 2 gallon batch is bubbling now in my closet 🙂

    • Dennis says:

      Brew log says it was in the fermentor 13 days. I only got a chance to brew with it once, so its hardly a trend, but I found treating it as a standard ale yeast made it act like one. However, there may be good reason for this. About a year ago, strong evidence started to surface from a number of sources that this yeast is not Brett at all, but a Sacc. yeast! I had been meaning to update this post with those links, but sadly life gets away. Now, White Labs has confirmed this. Sui Generis brewing was one of the forerunners on this topic; see here:

      Hope you enjoy the brew!

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