Brewing a Brett IPA with Nelson Sauvin and Brett C

My very first blog post was about a Brett IPA (turned pale ale) using Kohatua and Vic Secret. At the end of that post I mentioned brewing another Brett IPA using Nelson Sauvin and a different Brett strain (last time I used Amalgamation). So here we are.

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Last summer I was fortunate enough to attend the Allagash Street Fair in Portland, Maine. It was a great event with lots of delicious beer. I was surprised to find that my two favorite beer were from Austin Street Brewery. Simply because there was a solid line up of breweries pouring at the event. Allagash (of course), Bissell Brothers, New Belgium, Dogfish Head and more. But Austin’s Pale ale and Brett IPA (Brett Loves Hops) really stood out to me, the IPA especially. It was a little funky with tons of over ripe fruit and tropical flavors, and incredibly delicious. Anyone that knows me knows that Nelson is my favorite hop, it has such a unique aromatic and flavor profile. Stick your nose in a freshly opened bag of Nelson if you don’t believe me, it’s hop nirvana. If you haven’t tried brewing with it before it is described as having white wine, fruit, passion fruit and freshly crushed gooseberry characteristics. I’m sure I haven’t tried freshly crushed gooseberries to compare, but this is an amazing hop nonetheless.

As with my Brett Pale Ale I stuck with a supportive grain bill for this beer. I want the Nelson and Brett to really stand out. Aside from 2 row I used wheat malt, and flaked oats for mouth feel and body. Carapils for head retention and acid malt for water chemistry adjustment purposes. I used polaris at 60 to make up approximately half the ibu’s, otherwise as the title states I used all Nelson Sauvin for the remainder of the hop bill. I save the entirety of those hops for hop steep, chiller, and dry hop additions, trying to pull as much flavor and aromatic punch as possible. My yeast selection was easy, Brett C WLP 645, as this is what’s listed on Austin Street’s description of their Brett Loves Hops. I’ve used it before with my Allagash Midnight Brett Clone and it worked well. I found it has a mild to moderate amount of Brett funk, but minimal leather and horse blanket character, hopefully resulting in a more pronounced hop profile.

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The one thing I have found with using Brett in primary is inconsistency in attenuation. When you use US05 often enough you know, within a couple of points, where its going to finish, depending on mash temp and pitching rate. But with Brett strains I haven’t found that consistency, at least not yet. I do love that they’ve been attenuating quite well so far, but I haven’t been able to reliably predict a FG. Maybe I just need more experience with these strains, only time will tell.

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Recipe Targets: 4.0 gallons, OG 1.057, FG 1.012, IBUs 57, SRM 3.7, ABV 5.8%

Grain:

3.0 kg 2 Row (70.6%)

0.4 kg Flaked Oats (9.4%)

0.3 kg White Wheat Malt (7.1%)

0.24 kg Carapils (5.6%)

0.15 kg Acid Malt (3.5%)

Hops:

10g Polaris (21%) @60

56g Nelson Sauvin (11.4%) 15 minute steep

56g Nelson Sauvin (11.4%) chiller addition

56g Nelson Sauvin (11.4%) Dry Hop 5 days

56g Nelson Sauvin (11.4%) Keg Addition

Extras:

1 Whirlfloc tablet @10

1 tsp yeast nutrient @10

Yeast:

WLP 645 Brett Claussenii

Brew day went as expected. Brewed by my son and I, mashed in with 11L hitting target mash temp of 152F. Mashed out with 6L, and finally batch sparged with 2.5 gallons of 170F water. OG a few points high at 1.060, chilled to 60F and pitched Brett C. Fermentation well under way within 24 hours, primary seemed to wind down within three days. First dry hop addition added on day 12, left for 5 days. Racked to co2 purged keg with weighted bag of hops. FG 1.006. Left for two days at room temp, then put in fridge and started force carbing at 40 psi for two days, then reduced to serving pressure.

Johnsons

Appearance: Pours very pale yellow (lighter than pictured), straw color with a light fluffy head that fades to a ring within a few minutes. Mostly clear.

Aroma: Slight barnyard funk followed by typical Nelson aroma, grape, tropical notes, maybe a little pineapple.

Taste: Good amount of Nelson character up front. To me Nelson is a complex hop, I always have a hard time describing the flavor, though it’s easy to pick out in any beer once you’ve tried it. Essentially the flavors carry over from the aroma, white wine, grape, light pineapple and citrus. Mid taste some mild barnyard funk followed by light bitterness that fades as the beer finishes dry.

Mouthfeel: Medium carbonation with medium light mouth feel that finishes quite dry.

Overall: I do enjoy this beer, it smells great, and it has a fair bit of Nelson character. But considering the heavy hop additions this is not as juicy and punchy as I would expect it to be. Certainly not nearly as good as Austin Street’s version, not that I expected it to be. But I do find myself wanting more, especially from such a punchy (and expensive) hop as Nelson. Lately I have been omitting a 10 minute addition of hops in favor of more added for the hop steep. I think for my next batch I’ll try the 10 minute addition again and see if that gets me more pronounced hop flavor. I would recommend Brett C as a primary strain and of course Nelson, if you haven’t brewed with it before, try it! Despite the cost it is worth it to use at least a couple of times a year. I would like to try brewing a double batch and fermenting the other half with a clean strain like US05, just to compare. But Nelson is just so expensive and it can be difficult to acquire at times, at least where I live. I doubt I’ll ever get the chance.

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3 thoughts on “Brewing a Brett IPA with Nelson Sauvin and Brett C”

  1. One thing I’ve noticed with Brett is that it will eventually hit low gravities, but it might take a few months. Like in your case you went from 1.057 – 1.012 in a few weeks, but I bet if you waited it out another month or two it would get down to 1.008 or lower. Slow and steady wins the race!

    Liked by 1 person

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