Thursday, May 2, 2013

100% Brett Trois Imperial IPA with New Zealand Hops - Recipe & Tasting Notes

Got a little shaken up on the trip up the mountain.

Brewery: Bear Flavored
Style: 100% Brett / Imperial IPA
Brewed: 3.10.2013

Bottled On: 4.1.2013
ABV: 8.6%

Appearance: pale straw gold, slight haze, perfect head, good lacing
Smell: dank tropical fruit, tart berry, citrus, grapefruit, 
Taste: sweet tropical fruit, tart berry, dank,grapefruit, mango, medium bitterness
Mouthfeel: light body, crisp, soft, medium carbonation

When I tasted my Trois pale ale (/white IPA /session IPA), brewed last fall with White Lab's new Brettanomyces Bruxellensis Trois, I knew at once that this would be a yeast strain that I would brew many a hoppy beer with. It seemed obvious immediately that it an imperial IPA with a huge dose of new-school hops was the next thing on the agenda for my reserve of Trois. How could that possibly not be awesome? It was only a matter of making room on my brewing calendar for it. The idea here was to take the super-insane tropical fruit character of Trois and pair it with the exotic tropical hoppiness of New Zealand hops, because... obviously.

I try to restrain myself in my brewing schedule, and maintain some variety, or else every beer I brewed would be either hoppy or Bretty or both. (Although that's still pretty much true). It required some extreme patience to put this batch off for a couple months. Based on the pure on-paper potential and my inherent bias toward everything going into this beer, I figured it would have to be one of the best batches I ever brewed, or else I seriously screwed up. I try to be a harsh critic of my own work, but the result doesn't disappoint — this is a tasty beer. Perfect? No. As usual, I have a couple ideas for improvement, but there's no way I won't be brewing a beer like this on a regular basis. If I ever have a brewery, it would be a flagship — particularly because there are hardly any breweries doing anything like it. (The closest commercial beer that I've seen to this is Evil Twin's Femme Fatale Blanc, although that leans much more heavily on a phenolic, earthy yeast character).

Trois is something; there's really no other yeast like it that I've experienced. I expect we're entering a new world of flavor from isolated Brett strains, and Trois — being distributed year round by White Labs, now — is a shining example of whats to come. My only complaint about it is that it may actually over-shadow hop character a bit. It's hard to tell where the hops begin and the yeast leaves off, but there's not quite the subtle nuance here that I get in some tremendously hoppy imperial IPAs. Rather than tremendously hoppy, this leans more towards balanced — it's big, and really dense with flavor, but the wallop of fruitiness smooths out the bitterness and makes this incredibly drinkable. A healthy dose of Nelson Sauvin makes itself known in the aroma, while the huge tropical flavor is dominated almost entirely by Trois. It's a very different sort of profile from your typical big IPA. Brett Trois is pure fruit, over-ripe and succulent, like the flesh of guava, wild berries and grapefruit mashed together — tart and raw and thick with character.

New Zealand hops, while flavorful and all-around delightful, may almost be too nuanced to make up the entirety of this hop bill — I'm thinking next time I brew this I will use some danker, more aggressive varieties, to see how that goes. This time, though, I tossed in a big varied dose of Wakatu, Pacific Gem, Nelson and Citra (since I didn't have Galaxy), and the only hop that really, specifically jumps out at me is Nelson, along with maybe some Citra. A more limited combo of Nelson Sauvin, Citra and Columbus should be good, to focus on a combo of dankness and fruitiness, and I'm guessing Mosaic would pair very nice as well. I actually threw an ounce of Mosaic into the dry hop, but there's no way I could pick it out from this dense medley. Really though, almost any sort of hop character should pair with Trois for an IPA... depending what you're going for. Want to accentuate the fruitiness? Hit it with a bunch of like-minded hops. Want to create something one-of-a-kind and super multi-dimensional? Hit it with hops that contrast Trois' fruit character and balance things out.

I treated my water fairly conservatively with this one, and as a result, it's rather soft, with a gentle bitterness. I would maybe like it a bit more offensive, personally, being that this is an imperial IPA — and I'd be brewing smaller Brett IPAs to cover the "less aggressive" spectrum. Still, the easy-drinking, less-aggressive character of this is certainly nice in its own way, and has made it very popular amongst friends that "don't usually like IPAs," as well as those who do. I've had very enthusiastic responses to Bewilderment, but being the super critical self-analyzer that I am, I know it can still be better. For the amount of hops I used, I expected a bigger, more layered hop aroma — Trois imparts a fantastic, potent aroma on its own, but I don't want to to entirely dominate that of the hops. My dry-hopping technique has for a while been one area of brewing I'd like to perfect, and I'm still not there.  With this batch, I used a two-stage dry hop addition, but only left the second stage in for a little under 2 days, which was probably not enough time.  Under perfect conditions, full dry hop aroma can be extracted under 24 hours, but I know that my brewing setup is not creating perfect conditions at the moment. But other than those few quips, this is already a damn tasty beer that I am rapidly plowing through. It's hard to be critical of something so enjoyable.

Of course, those improvements don't take into account the experimentation I have yet to run on Trois. How does temp affect the resulting character from the yeast? Would fermenting this at a different temp, or with a different pitching rate or aeration technique, affect how sweet or dry or fruity or clean it comes across? I'd be interested to hear other's results, if you think you've gotten a handle on Trois' pitching variations.

4.75 Gal., All Grain
Brewhouse Efficiency: 80%
Mashed at 153.5 F for 75 minutes
Fermented at 68 degrees F
OG: 1.078
FG: 1.012

71.1 % 2-row malt
15.6 % white wheat malt
6.7 % Golden Naked Oats
6.7 % sugar

Hop Schedule-
1 oz Pacific Gem @FWH
1 oz Hop Shot @60 min
1 oz Ctra @5 min
1 oz Citra @0 - hop stand 20 min
1 oz Wakatu @0 - hop stand 20 min
1 oz Nelson Sauvin @0 - hop stand 20 min

Dry Hop-
1 oz Wakatu - 4 days
1 oz Nelson Sauvin - 4 days
2 oz Nelson Sauvin - 2 days
1 oz Mosaic - 2 days

White Labs Brett Trois


  1. Do you use a starter with trois?

    1. Yeah, I handle Trois the same as any other yeast, pretty much, especially since I was working from a reserve of it that I stored over the winter. I built it back up over a couple weeks, then pitched a 1200 ml starter from my stir plate.

  2. Looks/sounds delicious... I've never had the privilege of working with Brett Trois - unfortunately, I only have Wyeast products available from my LHBS.

    1. It's a nice yeast, as you can probably tell, I recommend tracking some down. Since it went to "year round" status there should be a number of online vendors that carry it.

  3. I'm wondering if Brett Trois has a sort of symbiotic relationship with hops. I recently made a Brett Trois IPA. When I made the starter, I chilled and decanted some of it, though not all as it was still milky toward the bottom. I drank that starter liquid I poured off and it was pretty mild. It didn't exhibit a lot of fruit. It did show SOME, but not a helluva lot. Maybe some pineapple with a sort of tangy lemon note, presumably from acetic as it had been on a stirplate getting a lot of air.

    But then, tasting the IPA that was brewed with it, WOW. I can't exactly tell where the line is between the hop character and yeast character, but I am assuming that a lot of the rich fruity notes are from the yeast. There's a very rich fruitiness there with notes of maybe mango, apricot and tropical fruit. Hard to pick out the character exactly but it's pretty unique. Doesn't taste like a typical Belgian Sacch yeast at all.

    The hops were chinook, citra and galaxy. Haven't used galaxy before, but I'm assuming a lot of the fruitiness is from the yeast.

    It seems to play very well with hops.

    Did you taste any of your starter? My starter had NO hops in it and tasted quite different from the actual beer I made. Maybe there's some kind of relationship between the hops and yeast that makes the yeast really show it's true colors. What do you think? First beer I made with it, so I can't yet say.

    1. Matt, I think it probably does. It almost seems like it's specifically adapted to play well with them. I also think, based on my own experience, that Trois probably mutates a bit faster than your average yeast, so it's hard to pin down too. Last fall I brewed a "control batch" with Trois that was not heavily hopped (, right after I brewed a pale ale with Trois. There were big differences between the two: the first was much more tropical and bright and guava-y, while the second (the one that wasn't as hopped) was more ripe berry in character. Both very fruity, but slightly different sorts of fruit. Of course, I pitched the second batch onto the cake from the first, so who knows what other factors played in. However, the yeast that I saved from the original vial (which never went into a beer, just starters) was what I brewed Bewilderment here with. And it seems to be a mix of those two profiles, but tropical citrus fruit and funky tart berries. It blends extremely well with the hops, and while I can identify what is Trois from having had a bunch of beers with it, other people I've given it to just thought it tasted like tons of fruity hops.

      I actually have never tried the starter liquid though; I generally don't, though not for any reason in particular. Very interesting that you point that out. It makes a lot of sense it would have more of a tangy / acetic note, due to the O2 exposure. I think there's a lot more to learn and experience with this yeast, but it's so good with hops that I find it hard to plan anything with it other than IPAs!

  4. I taste all of my starters. I almost always chill and decant and drink a glass of the starter to see what the yeast is doing on its own. This one was quite different in the actual beer, though. Interesting stuff.

    I'll be brewing another beer with it in a couple of weeks, this time a rye medium strong ale intended for Christmas. So, it'll get some time in the bottle. You ever get any funk out of this yeast, say with some age?

    1. I probably should be doing that, seems like a great way to monitor yeast health/quality.

      I have a few bottles left from the two Trois batches I brewed last fall. (#27 and #28 in my recipes list). Just drank a bottle of the Trois session IPA a couple nights ago and mostly I tasted aged hops with some diminished Trois fruitiness. No funk to be detected. Same with #28... that batch hasn't aged great, just kind of thinned and mellowed out, but no further development of character. Trois seems to finish up and stabilize pretty fast for a Brett strain. Makes it convenient for a primary strain but in my opinion other strains will probably get you more complexity over time.

  5. Good to know. Thanks for the insight!

  6. How long are you letting it sit before adding dry hops?

    1. I dry-hopped this one 18 days after brew-day.

  7. I'm probably missing the obvious, but do your recipes show how long the fermentation was?

    1. Nope, you're not. That's totally my bad, I'm not sure how I've been missing that all this time. From now on I'll add both a "brewed on" and "bottled on" date.

      This batch was brewed March 10th and bottled it on April 1st, so a pretty standard fermentation period.

    2. Awesome, Thanks Derek. I really like what you're doing with your brewing, so I will continue to follow! So wait, this was only brewing for about 3 weeks? Does brett work as fast as more common yeasts?



    3. Thanks, it's great to hear you enjoy the blog!

      Yep, this one was only three weeks. One of the big misleading things about Brett is how much time it takes to primary ferment a beer all by itself. Of course, there are many many different Brett strains and they will all behave differently, so you have to be careful and track the gravity to be sure. However, Brett Trois behaves particularly like a Saccharomyces strain. In my experience, it's never taken more than two weeks to hit terminal gravity, even in a big beer like this. You just have to make sure you're using proper pitching rates... about a lager pitching rate in most cases.

      If you haven't seen it and you're interested, I have an article explaining in more depth why Brett behaves the way it does in primary fermentation:

  8. Derek, I really enjoy your website. Thank you for the inspiration to brew with this yeast. Do you think pairing the Brett Trois with more herbal, dank, pine like hops would contrast the yeast better? I was thinking about chinook, nugget, and mosaic...

    1. Awesome to hear Josh! I think that's absolutely worth trying, and I would love to hear how it turns out. I'm starting to lean in that direction myself — there's definitely some potential benefit to contrasting the fruitiness of the Trois with more aggressive hops.

      Stay tuned on Friday of this week, I'm posting my most recent recipe with Trois. It's a lower-ABV IPA, which I used mainly Columbus and Nelson for. Obviously I'll write out my thoughts in full, but I think it could go even danker, for sure.

  9. I am going to try this recipe out. Just ordered my ingredients and I will repost with taste notes and brew notes.

    1. Excellent, good luck! As I'm learning, dry hop technique plays an even greater role in Brett IPAs than usual, as too much Brett in suspension will chew through a lot of the hop aromatics. I'm experimenting with different ways to drop out the Brett as much as possible before dry-hopping — keeping that in mind would be my biggest piece of advise going into this now.

    2. I am thinking after 17 days that I am going to cold crash it for 24 hours, siphon the fermented beer into a new fermenter then dry hop it at that point for the next 3 days. I am currently brewing right now. I will repost with OG.

  10. Final volume: 4.75 gallons
    OG: 1.080
    And I used a 800ml yeast starter and it started fermenting within 4 hours of pitch.
    Now I wait. :)

    1. Also, I am going to ferment at a higher temp than detailed above. Instead of 68 degrees F. I will keep it at or around 72 degrees to hopefully bring out a little more fruity esters.

  11. Do you aerate the wort the same as you would for any regular beer when doing a 100% Brett primary fermentation? It seems like I have read somewhere that Brett doesn't need oxygen but that adding it gives you different flavors and aromas.

    1. It's complicated... like most Brett things are. The general rule is that a lot of oxygen will inspire the Brett to create more tartness (and potentially acetic acid), while not aeration should theoretically allow for a cleaner beer. I haven't noticed any attenuation or yeast health issues with not aerating at all, so I usually do no more than pouring the beer into the bucket for my Brett IPAs.

  12. hi, did you use WLP 644 or WLP648 for this one? sacc troi og the "new" brux. troi?

  13. Why didn't you use whirfloc/irish moss? Will it have effect on the brett?


Related Posts-