Thursday, November 28, 2013

Yellow Tractor, Brett Session IPA & Tasting Notes

1 teaspoon of flour was added to keep this beautiful haze.

I was born and raised in San Diego, but I spent most of my summers under 12 in Nashville with my mom, sister and Grandparents.  My Mom didn't work while I was in elementary school, so she would fly back east, spending the summer months in Nashville while my Dad worked as a pilot for the US Navy.  For me, this was normal, spending time with my cousins playing in the pool and working the garden that my Grandfather (Popa Charlie) had.  Now, this wasn't a huge garden, but to a 6 year old this was a big plot of land suitable of feeding hundreds of people.  I remember jumping off the diving board, then running over to the table to chuck green beans into a giant pile that my Grandmother would then can for the winter.  After swimming we would venture into the garden looking for tomatoes and watermelon for Popa Charlie.  (He loves to slice them about an inch thick and cover them with salt and pepper before dinner.)  I remember walking through the garden and getting the best smells of hay, ripe veggies, vines and pine needles (from the trees the lined the back of the property.) Popa Charlie needed a tractor to maintain his property, for this he owned a little yellow tractor.  I not even sure of the name, make or model, but it was his and us kids loved it as our own.

Looking at pictures, this is very close to his
As I'm sitting here reminiscing, this might be the best memory from my childhood.  Sitting on that tractor, smelling the grass clippings after picking veggies from his garden, still in my swim suit with no shoes on.  I wanted to recreate this memory into a glass.  Creating a Farmhouse Saison would be easy, but it would be missing the pine notes that played so well into my memories.  It had to be a pale ale or IPA of some kind to work with the pine notes.  Maybe inserting Brettanomyces into the recipe as a primary yeast might be the best option for getting a little rustic feel into the beer.  Getting more confident about the flavors Brett would bring to the table in a Session type IPA I started working on the grain bill.

Starting off with American Two Row at 63% (omitting any Crystal malts which I'm starting to dislike in hop forward beers) followed by Flaked Oats (21%) for body and White Wheat (15%).  Looking for the beer to have a very light color (3.1 SRM) and a cloudy, hazy, farm feel to it backed up with a hoppy punch driven by the Brettanomyces and hops added late in the process.  To achieve this amount of aroma hoppyness, I started with a low level of first wort hopping with Summit followed up with a small bittering addition of Magnum.  The thought is, the wort addition is only 30% (Vs traditional 60 min bittering) of bittering units vs the traditional bittering addition.  Doing this should drop some of the oniony flavors Summit is know for into the beer.  Which I relate to the smell after picking tomatoes that's left on your fingers.  Followed up with a clean bittering crispness from Magnum.  As normal, I omitted any other boil hops.  Leaving the aroma flavors for late additions and dry hopping.  For aroma/Whirlpool hops, I left that to a Citra / Simcoe mixture.  Doubling the amount of Citra for a big tropical punch to work with the fruity Brett yeast.  The idea is to have Simcoe as a back up, giving some pine notes to the beer.  On other Brett beers, I've found that without a dominate pine/grassy hop, Brett IPA's seem to tropical, fruity or in your face mango without the grittiness needed for an IPA surname.  Or simply put "They taste like fruit punch".  These 2 hops will also be repeated in the dry hopping with an additional push of Centennial added.   I love what Centennial does to beers, it gives the beer an extra "Push" that some IPA's lack. 

Yellow Tractor
American Pale Ale (Session Brett)
Type: All Grain Date: 10/24/2013
Batch Size (fermenter): 6.00 gal Brewer: Chris Lewis
Boil Size: 6.86 gal Asst Brewer: Aydan Lewis
Boil Time: 60 min Equipment: Lewys Tower
End of Boil Volume 6.24 gal Brewhouse Efficiency: 72.00 %
Final Bottling Volume: 6.00 gal Est Mash Efficiency 72.0 %
Fermentation: Ale, Two Stage Taste Rating(out of 50):
Taste Notes:  Posted Above.
Amt Name Type # %/IBU
6 lbs Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 1 63.2 %
2 lbs Oats, Flaked (1.0 SRM) Grain 2 21.1 %
1 lbs 8.0 oz White Wheat Malt (2.4 SRM) Grain 3 15.8 %
0.40 oz Columbus (Tomahawk) [14.00 %] - First Wort 60.0 min Hop 4 21.9 IBUs
0.30 oz Magnum [14.00 %] - Boil 60.0 min Hop 5 14.9 IBUs
1.00 oz Citra [12.00 %] - Aroma Steep 5.0 min Hop 6 0.0 IBUs
0.50 oz Simcoe [13.00 %] - Aroma Steep 5.0 min Hop 7 0.0 IBUs
1.0 pkg Brettanomyces Bruxelensis Trois (White Labs #WLP644) Yeast 8 -
1.20 tsp Yeast Nutrient (Primary 3.0 days) Other 9 -
1.00 oz Centennial [10.00 %] - Dry Hop 6.0 Days Hop 10 0.0 IBUs
1.00 oz Citra [12.00 %] - Dry Hop 6.0 Days Hop 11 0.0 IBUs
0.60 oz Simcoe [13.00 %] - Dry Hop 6.0 Days Hop 12 0.0 IBUs
Beer Profile
Est Original Gravity: 1.042 SG Measured Original Gravity: 1.039 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.007 SG Measured Final Gravity: 1.008 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 4.5 % Actual Alcohol by Vol: 4.0 %
Bitterness: 36.8 IBUs Calories: 127 kcal/12oz
Est Color: 3.1 SRM
Mash Profile
Mash Name: Single Infusion, Light Body, No Mash Out Total Grain Weight: 9 lbs 8.0 oz
Sparge Water: 5.03 gal Grain Temperature: 72.0 F
Sparge Temperature: 168.0 F Tun Temperature: 72.0 F
Adjust Temp for Equipment: TRUE Mash PH: 5.20
Mash Steps
Name Description Step Temperature Step Time
Mash In Add 11.88 qt of water at 165.9 F 154.0 F 75 min
Sparge Step: Fly sparge with 5.03 gal water at 168.0 F

Carbonation and Storage
Carbonation Type: Keg Volumes of CO2: 2.3
Pressure/Weight: 10.59 PSI Carbonation Used: Keg with 10.59 PSI
Keg/Bottling Temperature: 41.0 F Age for: 30.00 days
Fermentation: Ale, Two Stage Storage Temperature: 65.0 F
Fermentation Notes
Primary Fermentation:  Started at 63 degrees for 5 days.  Slowly bringing it to 69 over the next 4.  Then a 2 day 72 degree rest. 
Created with BeerSmith

Aroma:  The outside skin of a mango.  Close to a sweet, tropical sugar backrounded with pine notes.  Somewhat gritty and rough...Hippy-ish would be a good term.

Appearance:  Sunburst yellow, hazy all the way through.  Exactly what I was going for with this beer.  (I put a tablespoon of flour into the keg to keep it cloudy) Well defined head on top.  Nice lacing during the tasting session. 

Flavor:  Very easy drinking.  The pine and tropical notes intermingle during each sip.  Somehow they are working in tandem perfectly.  Starting off with a simcoe hint, wrapping around in a papaya finish.  I'm really impressed with how well they work together.

Mouthfeel:  This might be the only real flaw, the beer could use some increased body.  Maybe upping the gravity a little or increasing the oats.  It does however have a nice carbonation feel to it. 

Overall Impression:  I love this beer for what it is, a brett beer without being one.  The tropical flavors gained with a minimal amount of effort and hops it amazing.  The beer is so quaffable it absurd.

Brewing Timeline/Notes:  Knowing the tropical flavors will start dropping each day I have this on tap. This beer needs to be consumed fresh and fast.  With the 4% that's easy to do.  The beer was brewed and kegged in 2 weeks, then carbed.  Yesterday I took this and a Belgian Wit over to my parents house for a pre-Thanksgiving dinner, a gallon was gone within minutes.  Also these are non beer drinkers.  The Belgian Wit was passed for this beer, which normally isn't the case.  Without going into Brett specifics, a 100% session type brett beer will bridge the gap between non-beer drinkers and beer lovers.



  1. Awesome post, Lewy! I'm a massive fan of this kind of approach to brewing. It's almost like emotional alchemy, turning a memory into a drink. The idea of incorporating pine scents to account for the pine trees that surrounded the garden is perfect, especially because the sense of smell is so closely linked to memory. I'd love to try this beer!

  2. What was the temperature and duration of your aroma steep?

  3. I have 5 minutes, but normally I do 10 at 185°

  4. Thanks, that was a really cool read! Michael

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Thanks for Commenting, Prost!