Brettanomyces. It’s the biggest and baddest of the wild yeast strains.
Way back when, all beers were a little bit sour, meaning they were fermented with whatever wild yeast strain happened to be floating by at the time — totally unbeknownst to early brewers. But then, circa 1857, humans got a little more science savvy. We learned what yeast is (a microscopic fungus comprised of more than 500 species) and what role it plays in the brewing process (converting sugar to ethanol and CO2).
Let’s just say you can blame it on the yeast the next time you send your ex a string of texts at 3am.
Of course, once we learned what yeast is, we wanted to harness its power, and that’s exactly what we did. We domesticated certain strains, and reveled in the consistency of brews made with these mild-mannered types. We shunned the funkier, sometimes acidic flavors lent by hard-to-control strains like Brett – which can easily contaminate other batches in a production facility — and went on our merry way.
Fast forward to today and… hello, renaissance.
Sour beers and, ipso facto, wild yeast strains are having a bit of a moment, with experimental brewers drawing inspiration from the beers of yore. Brett, largely considered the most untamable of the wild yeast gang, has stolen the spotlight. When it mingles with acid-producing bacteria, it can yield a final product reminiscent of sour cherries and balsamic vinegar.
According to late beer author Michael Jackson, Brett is similar to a cat. “It’s going to do its own thing; it’s not going to come when you call it and sit when you say ‘sit.’ If you can respect its individuality and suggest rather than dictate what it does in your fermentation, it can reward the brewer and the drinker.”
This week, we’ve been brewing up a batch of our Turtle Gut, made with Bretannomyces. We’ll keep you posted on when it’s ready for sipping.