Saturday 19 April 2014

BYO challenge

Can someone send me a scan of the article in Brew Your Own magazine that starts like this?

"Beer historian Ron Pattinson, of the blog Shut Up About Barclay Perkins, is famous for writing about the longevity of ideas in the brewing community. His research provides some necessary grounding to the lofty ambitions of today's inventive craft brewers, who are fond of re-inventing the wheel and then arguing about what to call it. As Pattinson often points out, there are very few concepts in beer you could come up with that weren't already being brewed a couple hundred years ago.

But I would like to issue a bit of a challenge to Mr. Pattinson, or any other beer historians, for there is a realm of beer that I believe has never bubbles inside any historic fermentation tank--those fermented exclusively with Brettanomyces. When it comes to 100% Brett-fermented beers, we may be dealing with the only style of beer truly invented by modern brewers during the craft beer revolution."



Bro-in-law said...

Sent a pdf of the article to the email address listed for you on the European Beer Guide Website.

Bear Flavored said...

Derek here - I hope the 'challenge' didn't come across as unfriendly in any way. I'm genuinely curious to hear if any beer historians [better at it than I] can come up with anything. Hoping to start some conversation about yeast history, which fascinates me endlessly. And I figured if anyone could come up with something, you could!


Ron Pattinson said...



Ron Pattinson said...


no, I didn't take the challenge bit as being unfriendly.

I think you're right. I'm pretty sure no-one did a 100% Brettanomyces fermentation. First, because you'd need to culture up a pure Brettanomyves strain, and it wasnm't generally known until 1904. Second, the characteristics they wanted from Brettanomyces you don't get if you use it for primary fermentation.

Gary Gillman said...

I've had a number of beers brewed with a pure-cultured brett yeast. They don't taste that different from beer in which brett is a component of a subsequent fermentation, as Orval. Not surprisingly, the brett taste is intense, but that is always a question of degree and of course brett types vary although in my experience, the "pissy" or "sweaty" characteristic is very common.

While it is true that no one would have brewed like this in the 1800's and earlier as a methodology to do so did not exist, certain traditional beers were always brewed without pitching brewer's yeast and I believe these tasted much like the 100% pure-culture brett beers of today.

First, there is lambic, whose cocktail of fermenting agents relies heavily on brettanomyces. Second, in old English brewing, a number of references exist attesting to brewing without pitching yeast. Here is just one:

In this 1835 text, Chadwick states that some private brewers brewed without pitching yeast and these beers would have used microflora resident in the wooden tuns and structures and atmosphere in which they were brewed. Once again brett would have figured large in such productions.

Other sources state that you can brew without adding yeast but the process is slow and uncertain. A variation was to add wort to half a cask of old but sound (not sour) beer, and a slow fermentation ensued to make satisfactory beer. One can imagine that brett was part o this process, via organisms in the cask of old beer.

There really is very little new under the sun. The American new generation of hops may be new in their citric, grapefruit quality but even there there is doubt since 1800's English brewers commented on the "blackcurrant" and "piney" qualities of American hops - many of which taste exactly like that today. At any rate, dank isn't new.

Coffee was used in some 1800's brews, in America and England, so was chile pepper (capsicum), not always licitly. When you factor the wide variety of herbs and spices and fruits used to flavour beer in the past, it is a risky endeavour to suggest that a beer of today is new.


Oblivious said...

Ron, carlsberg where the first to prove they had a pure brett isolation. That does not mean some brewes culture was not just brett before that. There is no way to prove a negative. All that can be said is before 1904 there where most likely mixed cultures

Ron Pattinson said...


I know that Brettanomyces was identified in the 1890's, but in neither case were the results published. I'm taking Carlsberg's announcement as when Brettanomyces and its role in ageing first became generally known.

Anonymous said...

"I've had a number of beers brewed with a pure-cultured brett yeast. They don't taste that different from beer in which brett is a component of a subsequent fermentation, as Orval."


Ron Pattinson said...


I agree.