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Using Brett strains


natbouman

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Anyone have any experience with deliberately using Brettanomyces when creating a cider/wine for distilling?

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Mostly just curious. However, ciders of Normandy frequently have a "horse blanket" aroma/flavor and a couple other characteristics often associated with Brett. Probably the ciders used to make Calvados don't have much Brett activity, but maybe a little and I thought there might be a chance that some of this transfers over in some form.

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I know what you are speaking of in terms of barnyard or rustic countryside flavors, but this is not due sollely to brettanomyces. The french use wild yeast and then age on gross lees for up to half a year. This does allow some passive form of oxidation as well as general degradation from various organisms that feed on the apple lees, which in turn produces tastes similar to what you describe. Even newmake distillate of Calvados tends to smell slightly like almonds or damp, "planty" hay (but not in an unpleasant way).

Do you have the space, patience and flexibility as a business to let a ferment age for months? That's up to you, and you could remove the lees from the cider and just ferment the juice with commercial yeast in six days. But Calvados is Calvados, and can only be made the Calvados way. The french practices have been used for hundreds of years, and I suspect it is tough to try and make the same flavor from a young, warm-and-fast fermented cider with no lees at all.

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I am fairly aware of the french techniques for making cider and Calvados. When I make a cider I use wild yeast and it often ages on its lees for six months or more--and it ferments at about 60 degrees (and I do a few more things that puts it more in line with french cidre production). However, I haven't ever hand the horse blanket/farmyard thing. Of course, I'm a world away from Normandy and I'd never be able to produce a Calvados but I was thinking of experimenting with adding cultured Brett.

I've never tried newmake Calvados and your description of it makes me all the more curious about trying a cultured Brett.

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I have never had a problem with spontaneous fermentation of any fruit. It will give you the funk you are looking for, but there is that unknown small percentage of chance that your ferment will turn on you, or so we're told. I've never seen it happen myself.

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I also doubt that Brett or any other factor is solely responsible, but I thought someone might hag experimented with cultured Brett.

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I also doubt that Brett or any other factor is solely responsible, but I thought someone might hag experimented with cultured Brett.

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Try a cultured lacto? Problem with brett is that it can be slow to show itself, and there must be at least as much variety in brett as in cervo.

If you want answers of value, your best bet is to experiment yourself.

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  • 3 months later...

A winemaker tried to sell us some wine that was infected with brett... it definitely carries over into the distillate, but at least in the stuff I've worked with it wasn't barnyardy or really desireable from any reasonable perspective. It was very band-aidy, burning plastic-y and generally gross stuff. We were given some to test out and we ended up not buying it.

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