There’s good and there’s Bretter
Horse blanket. Barnyard. Wet fur. Funky. Floral. Tart. Pineapple. These are all descriptors of the Genus of yeast known as Brettanomyces. Also known as Brett, it’s referred to as a “wild yeast.” If found in a brewery it can spoil beer, cause infection, and produce funky flavors. But with the emergence of Belgian-style brewing in the US, breweries have been exploring the “Wild Wild West” of Brett, as Cambridge Brewing Company brewmaster Will Meyers put it, and taming and culturing this yeast to purposefully create complex, funky flavor profiles.
Brett beers range enormously, depending on the strain used, if it’s used with other yeasts, and when it’s added to the beer—in primary or secondary fermentation, in barrel aging (it plays well with oak), or in bottle conditioning (when the beer is bottled with a bit of yeast and sugar).
Get to know Brett better
and get a little wild.
SAISON BRETT | BOULEVARD BREWING COMPANY
The equation for Saison Brett is as follows: take a Saison, dry hop it, then bottle condition it with several different yeasts, including Brettanomyces and let it age for three months in the bottle. The Brett shines through in aroma and in taste—all funk, barnyard, and fruit rind. Slightly tart, light in body, and extra bubbly, it’s got a fantastic mouthfeel. If you’ve never had a Brett beer before, start here, and then pick up a few extra bottles to age and let the Brett keep doing its thing.
Find it: It’s around for a limited time in 750 mL bottles and on draft.
FLOR VENTUS | MYSTIC BREWERY
The first release of Mystic’s sour barrel program is Flor Ventus, a “young, wild ale.” Brett’s just one piece of it—brewmaster and fermentation expert Bryan Greenhagen estimated that there are up to 300 different yeast and bacteria in the culture used to ferment the beer. Greenhagen and his team created the culture with dregs of the bottle of a traditional Lambic and then developed it for two years. For Flor Ventus, they added the culture to two wine barrels, filled them with wort (unfermented beer) and let it develop for six months.
Find it: There will be a limited amount available at select bars, but they’ve got many more wild beers in the works.
BRETT GRISETTE | CAMBRIDGE BREWING COMPANY
You can always find something funky at Cambridge Brewing Company, known for being a barrel aging and experimental brewing pioneer. Brett Grisette was born from a Saison with a rather complex malt base—organic pilsner and wheat malts, organic oats, rye, and raw buckwheat—which is then barrel aged for four months and refermented with two separate strains of Brettanomyces. This Brett beer is less barnyard, and more tropical fruit (pineapple and guava) and is refreshing and sessionable at around 4 percent ABV.
Find it: At Drink Craft Beer Summerfest: A Celebration of Farmhouse Ales
ILLUSTRATIONS BY SCOTT MURRY | @HOTDOGTACO