Brewing a Brett Session IPA

Not too long ago I brewed my first session IPA of the summer. I hopped that beer with Citra, and Galaxy, both of which are some of my favorite varieties. It was fermented with LAIII, and it turned out quite well if I do say so myself. I wondered, as I was enjoying it one day, how it would taste if fermented with a Brett strain. So, this is a very similar recipe, though I did add in equinox (another favorite of mine) as well. I thought its fruit and lime character would mesh well with Citra and Galaxy. Turns out I was right, this turned out at least as well, though it seemed to need a little extra time to come together. That seems counter intuitive for a hop forward style, but I have found that to be consistent when fermented with a Brett strain. It could be that Brett just needs a little more time to help punch out the over ripe fruit character I love so much.

About six months ago I decided to have a dedicated line for beers fermented with Brett strains. It’s nice not having to worry about scrubbing or changing tap lines every time they kick. Especially during the summer when my brewing schedule slows down, it’s helpful to have a beer on tap that doesn’t have to be enjoyed as fast as possible. I do enjoy how these beer change over a couple of months, instead of simply fading as most hoppy styles do. Brett IPA’s seem to gain complexity over time and continue to be delicious to the last drop.

Though it may not be a Brett IPA, Little Brett by Allagash is a perfect example of how well Brett, and a well chosen hop variety (Mosaic in this case) can work together to form a delicious tasting “Wild Ale”

I don’t need to go into much detail with respect to the three varieties of hops I used for this beer. I’ve talked about them in previous posts, and they are generally all “winners”. Used in any hop forward style, you can’t really go wrong with any of them. Though, I have been told before by a fellow home brewer that Citra adds too much mango flavor, but what the fuck is that all about? If I’m getting a ton of tropical fruit character from any hop, I’m really happy. Anyway, I digress. Here’s what I love about Citra, Galaxy, and Equinox.

Citra- Tropical, mainly mango, and pineapple as well as citrus character. I find it to be very punchy, and a little dank at times.

Galaxy- Fruit, passionfruit, peach, and citrus. I don’t think it’s quite as punchy as Citra, but it is a fantastic hop.

Equinox- Citrus, especially lime, tropical, and yes green pepper. This is such a unique hop, it really helps your beer stand out from the usual hop forward styles.

As the title suggests this was fermented with a Brett Strain. My favorites so far are Brett C and Brett Amalgamation for hoppy styles. They both display high attenuation, and they seem to get to terminal gravity quickly, meaning they can be turned around in a short amount of time. This helps maximize those hop flavors and aromas we all love so much. I went with Brett C this time, not because I felt it was a better choice, but because I use those two strains interchangeably so I can maintain them more easily. This allows me to build them every couple of months, and I don’t have to worry about doing starters simply to feed those cultures.

The grist was kept fairly simple, and consistent with how I normally brew an IPA. Base malt is almost always 2-row, but this time I split it half and half with Maris Otter. I like to mash fairly low so that the beer finishes dry, because of this I like to add some malted wheat, or flaked oats to re-gain some mouth feel. I opted for the latter this time, along with some Carapils for head retention, Acid malt for water chemistry adjustment, and finally a little Carared.

I was happy with how this turned out. I did find it needed an extra week or so after kegging, before it really came together and hit its stride. While I could pick up on Citra quite easily, Galaxy and Equinox seemed to blend, and were a little more elusive. If you have any experience using these hops you likely could pick them out, but otherwise they mixed to a nice fruity character.


Recipe Targets: 4.5 Gallons,OG 1.043,FG 1.008,ABV 4.4%,IBU 49 ,SRM 3.9


1.30 kg               Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM)         40.6 %
1.30 kg               Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM)       40.6 %  
0.30 kg               Oats, Flaked (1.0 SRM)                  9.4 % 
0.10 kg               Acid Malt (3.0 SRM)                     3.1 % 
0.10 kg               Carapils (1.5 SRM)                      3.1 %    
0.10 kg               Carared (20.0 SRM)                      3.1 %


15.00 g    Citra [13.40 %] - Boil 10 min      11.2 IBUs
15.00 g    Equinox [13.40 %] - Boil 10 min    11.2 IBUs
25.00 g    Citra [13.40 %] - Steep 10 min      9.3 IBUs
25.00 g    Equinox [13.40 %] - Steep 10 min    9.3 IBUs
21.00 g    Galaxy [15.10 %] - Steep 10 min     8.8 IBUs
20.00 g    Citra CHILLER [13.40 %]             0.0 IBUs
20.00 g    Equinox CHILLER [13.40 %]           0.0 IBUs
20.00 g    Galaxy CHILLER [15.10 %]            0.0 IBUs
Dry Hops:
56.00 g    Citra - Day 4 (21g), Day 8 (21g), Keg (14g)
56.00 g    Equinox - Day 4 (21g), Day 8 (21g), Keg (14g)      
56.00 g    Galaxy - Day 4 (21g), Day 8 (21g), Keg (14g) 


1.00 Items   Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 10 mins)
1.00 tsp     Yeast Nutrient (Boil 10 mins)


Starter      Brettanomyces Claussenii (White Labs #WLP 645)

Brewed by my son, and I June 13th, mashed in with 8.5L of strike water to hit mash temp of 152F for 50 minutes. Mashed out with 4.5L of 200F water for 10 minutes, and finally batch sparged with 3.9 gallons of 168F water. 60 minute boil, 15 minute hop steep, chilled to 62F, and transferred to primary. Carboy was shaken for two minutes prior to, and after pitching yeast slurry. I really need to get an oxygen system someday. OG was 1.044, fermentation was starting within 12 hours, and going strong within 24. Primary fermentation was winding down within 72hours, and the first charge of dry hops were added at this point, second round of dry hops added on day 8. On day 12 beer was transferred to a co2 purged keg, seal added, and keg was purged again (multiple times). FG 1.005. Pressure was set to 30psi, shaken lightly and left in kegerator for 24 hours, pressure then reduced to serving.

Brewed – June 13th

First Dry Hop addition – June 17th

Second Dry Hop addition – June 21st

Kegged – June 25th

This is what happens when a keg kicks much sooner than expected…

Appearance: Pours with a white head, half finger, and fades to quarter finger within a few minutes before fading to a thin ring eventually. Golden in color, and lightly hazy.

Aroma: Over ripe, and tropical fruit followed by some mild Brett funk.

Taste: Moderate fruit, and tropical hop flavors, mostly pineapple, and mango. Mid taste Brett makes its presence known, but never over takes the hops, light bitterness.

Mouth feel: Light-moderate carbonation, finishing dry.

Overall: This turned out pretty well. Honestly, I was slightly underwhelmed when this was first carbed. A friend told me it tasted like it needed a little time to come together, and he was right. About a week or so later the hop flavors and Brett character really merged, became increasingly tasty, and slightly more complex. Like all the good beer one brews, this didn’t last nearly long enough. I would brew this again, maybe with Brett Amalgamation, just to see how different it could be. I know I’ve talked about how much I love Equinox on it’s own previously. But, I’m really enjoying what it adds to other fruity, and tropical varieties. I wish it was easier to come by because I would definitely use it more frequently.