Saturday, December 13, 2014

Hold my Hand into the Sunset; Blended Brett Mead & Tasting Session

Everything looks so nice after a San Diego downpour


 *Update 12/11/2014 - There has been a lot of chatter about Brett Trois not containing any Brett.  To see a good story about it, please read this story. 

People seem to love Brett IPA's, Brett Saisons and even some Brett Wheat beers, so always confuses me when Meads are not included into this statement.  Lets go over the facts, meads are perfect avenues for honey to show off fruit and spices.  Brettanomyces during primary fermentation pushes these fruit phenolics and spices.  So creating a fruit forward mead, paired with a fruit producing yeast seems like the perfect combination right?  Well I think so, with some small issues that we can overcome.

If you've seen my other posts you know I love 71B for my meads. Its quick, its easy and it fly's through fermentation when treated right.  However, the more and more I use Brett Trois and Brett C, the more I want to explore what these yeast can do, especially in meads.

This started off as two meads, one clean and one Brett fermented.  The clean mead was a "Quick, lets make this while brewing this other IPA." mead.  The Brett was a little more planned. 


Mead #1 (Clean 71B/Hibiscus):

  1. Idea:  Consisting of 1# of Hibiscus flowers simmered on the stove top in water for 30 mins, like you would do when making a tea.  Then steeped mixture was added to 8#'s of Orange Blossum honey, split between me and Danny totaling 4.5 gallons.  Very low alcohol, this was mostly for fun between me and Danny.  Seeing who could create the best end product.  
  2. Fermentation:  This was pitched at 61° and flew through fermentation in about a week.  Even at this low temperature the yeast rocked through the sugars in record time.  De-gassed/nutrients added ever at the start, day 3 and day 6.  I added a zest of one orange on day 7 when crashing.
  3. Cellaring/Notes: This finished at .996 after crash cooling.  I left the orange zest on the mead for a total of 5 days, then racking off it.  The resulting liquid was like liquid sunshine.  Big hibiscus/orange notes but it was missing body. 

Mead #2 (Brett C/Brett Trois Blend with Tart Cherries):
  1. Idea: This was a different story.  This recipe was created for the Brett.  With oats soaked in the water (before adding Honey) at 176° - 209° (Which I've talked about here) Giving some body into the beer.  
  2. Fermentation:  Adding the tart cherries at the start of fermentation, about 48 hours after pitching a built up batch of Brett Trois and Brett C blend (at about 50/50).  Unlike the Hibiscus mead, this was going to be high alcohol.  Allowing the tart cherries to balance the fruity phenolics of the Brett.  However this stalled at 1.030 for some reason after chugging down from 1.120 within 10 days.  Adding Amylase Enzyme into the stalled wort helped a little, chugging down to 1.012 and stalling. 
  3. Cellaring/Notes: Since this was stalled and now crashed cooled to 41° for about a month it was done. Yet the body was perfect, along a powerful tart bite.  This needed to be blended. 

Now, Brettanomyces isn't perfect, but I do have to say, this is the first time Brett has stalled on me in this manor.   Brett C and Brett Trois might not perfect for every mead,  (I haven't experienced this with 100% Brett-C) or this post wouldn't have "Blended" in the title.  So proceed with lots of tastings a long the way.

Knowing this Hibiscus mead was a little to thin and also knowing this Tart Cherry mead needed to be blended, shocks me that I never thought of blending the two together.   Which seems like a simple thought looking back.  But at the time it wasn't.  Until I was pulling a sample off the Hibiscus mead while drinking the Tart Cherry mead.  Once the gravity was measured, I tossed the rest of the sample into my glass.  The aromatics created when the two met was complex and somehow perfect.  Taking a taste I knew I was onto something.  Guessing the sample was the same volume each, I pulled new samples and recreated the blend at 50/50.  I knew I was golden at the first sip.

Bouquet/Aroma:  Sweet hibiscus flowers with a slight tartness (that shows a lot of cherry) following up quickly.  You are somewhat teased about what is going on, not really knowing what to expect.  Tart or sweet?

Appearance: Pours with a slight head (1.5 volumes off a keg) that dissipates very quickly.  Pink to burnt red in color.  I have to be honest, this is what I want my mead's to look like color wise.  I still see some chill haze present, that should clear with age. (this was only blended 5 days ago)

Flavor: My jaw starts to clinch up at 1st taste, expecting a overly tart, tense experience.  However the flavors adapt into a sweet Jamaica like finish.  Ending dry, I'd have to assume from the tartness that clears the palette.  Tartness from the cherries never really leaves, but it's held in restraint by the sweeter, smoother flower field like flavors that really aid in to the overall drinking experience.  

Overall Impression: This is just about perfection in my eyes.  The balance of tart vs sweet is spot on.  Hibiscus flowers bringing in a overly done bouquet that teases us with the clean yet acidic tartness from the cherries.  You can feel the viscosity in this, presumably from the oats in the Brett mead since the Hibiscus mead was overly thin. 

Brewing Timeline/Notes: Both these meads are about 40 days old at the time of blending.  Both meads were fermented at 61° for 10 days then crash cooled.  The only exception was the Brett mead stalling which I talk about above.


As of today, this is my 7th Brett fermented mead.  They've all turned into something great in their own right.  Brett is a wonderful media to explore with honey and I will continue to use Brett (Maybe even more than 71B) in the future.  The flavors pushed of Brett in the primary fermentation's simply can't be matched by Sacc yeasts.  As I've talked about before I get all of my fruits at Specialty Produce in downtown.  Their like a farmers market for chefs.  The amount of fruits, veggies and raw goods they sell is mindblowing.  This might be the best farmers "type" in all of southern California.

As a little teaser, I've now started playing with latic acid in Meads, then finishing with Brett or 71B yeasts.  The 1st one is a Soured Kiwi Lemon Mead.  The lemons are not sourced from Specialty Produce, they are acquired in my parents backyard. Which should be done in a couple of weeks.



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