Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Harpale; Brett Brux Trois Tasting Notes

Harpale Ale; White labs 644; Brettanomyces Bruxellenis Trois Version

I haven't made a beer in a long time that I have been this excited to drink, share, and write about.  The bulk of the work came long before brew day.  I knew that I had wanted to brew a 100% brett fermented beer but did not know exactly which strain to use.  I had done some great secondary brett projects (Saison De Posey is a good example) in the past with WLP645 and some other East Coast Yeast  strains but I wasn't sure I wanted to do something in primary with those; and in the case of ECY, getting a hold of it up until recently was too difficult to plan around.

I have been brewing this recipe for quite some time as a good ol fashioned stand by that pleases me, my friends, and is relatively inexpensive to make and can be put together using mostly the bulk malts I keep around the house.  As the hops are usually the stand out in this recipe I knew I could back those back a bit and play with them in order to best compliment the hops.

There are a couple things that I would change about this beer the next time I brew it but, overall, I am very happy with this beer.

Appearance: The beer pours a deep copper color.  In the sunshine or up to a light you notice it is lighter and has more marmalade around the outer edges.  Beer pours hazy.  I imagine that is due to the brett as its' counter part is quite clear.  Big white head that stands tall but dissipates fairly quickly and is left with a bit of lacing and a thin white head that stays as the beer drinks.
I also would like this beer be a tad lighter.  It is still in the ballpark of where it should be for a Pale Ale but my preference is the lower end of the color scale for this style.

The Nose: This is where the beer really appeals to me.  The nose really hits you with tropical fruit with mango, a bit of pineapple, and peachyness comes through.  The hops really play into this and I am not sure exactly what percentage of the smell is what.  My wife gets a strong sense of papaya in the nose and ripe peaches.  She also feels a bit of coriander is there. There is also some nice spicy brett finish in the back end of the nose which would play nicely with a variety of hops.  I do not really get any/much malt on the nose.  I think I can pick it up as the beer warms but I may be wrong there.

Taste: The first thing I pick up is a slight brett tang in the cheeks that is very light and quickly takes second stage to the fruit you pick up in the nose.  It is nicely balanced though and one does not over power the other.  The back end is warm with a bit of alcohol, has hints of bitterness, and a tad of maltiness.

Mouthfeel: Dry. Not really any pucker that can come with some bretts.  The carbonation is great and isn't too effervescent.

Thoughts about moving forward:
This beer is really fun to drink.  It is complex enough to make you take a sip, swirl the glass, take another sip, and then smell it some more to get to the "bottom of it."  However, it isn't too complex that you can't drink a few in a row.  In moving forward, I think I would like to try this yeast with a less hoppy beer like a kolsch to get a really good idea of what this yeast can do.  As mentioned before, I would like to this beer be a tad lighter for my next go round with it.


  1. Have you brewed anything else up with this yeast strain? I'm building up a starter with it now and thinking about doing something quite similar to this, a nice hoppy pale ale, hoping that the brett will complement the C hops well.

    What are your thoughts on pitching rate, fermentation temp, and wort pH with this strain? I'm reading up on it a bit and was just curious on what your take was.


    Chris, @NChomebrewing

  2. Chris
    I don't have much insight into the pH levels with this strain. However, I recommend a BIG pitch. I went larger than a standard lager starter. This is great strain that produces great results as a primary. I fermented in the low 60s for the entire time. I did a direct transfer from an extended primary into a purged keg to really reduce oxygen intake. Keep in mind, brett won't finish as dry if it is used as a primary yeast.

    I'd recommend using the MrMalty pitch rate calculator and choose lager as your beer type.