Brettanomyces yeast is the Keith Richards of yeast strains.
It’s wild by nature and a challenge to tame, but capable of making something beautiful and lasting when its madness is harnessed in the right direction.
When a Brett beer is done right, it has the controlled chaos of Keith’s manic guitar riffs on “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking.”
Although some brewers fear Brett yeast because it’s unpredictable and can contaminate other beer – Brett has infected and ruined many batches of beer – Austin Street Brewing Co. embraces this wild yeast with open arms.
On Sunday, Austin Street wants to share its love of Brettanomyces yeast with you at its third annual Brett Camp.
Brett yeast is often pigeonholed as only making a beer sour, but it can do more than hit one tart note. Brett yeast can impart a wide range of flavors: earthy, woody, funky, fruity and floral.
One of the goals of Brett Camp is to highlight and celebrate the different voices of Brett yeast.
“We love everything about Brett: from the overripe fruit flavors when used in primary fermentation to the ‘barnyard’ characteristics when used as a secondary fermenter,” co-owner and head of production Jake Austin wrote in an email.
But this year’s Brett Camp is about more than the unruly, beautiful Brettanomyces yeast strain; Austin Street is also celebrating a year of significant growth and changes at the brewery.
When Austin Street opened in 2014, it brewed on a one-barrel system, which was essentially a fancy home brewing system. The company built a following for its flagship beers, like Patina Pale Ale, on this system, but it didn’t allow for the production of a lot of beer. After two years of brewing on the one-barrel system, Austin and his partner Will Fisher, co-owner and head of operations, made the jump to an industrial 10-barrel system.
“The new system is fast and efficient — we have really hit our groove with production,” Fisher wrote.
My palate agrees. If you’ve had Patina Pale Ale or the juicy Rally session ale, you know that Austin Street is flying high on its new system.
The jump to the bigger, sleeker system allowed the company to hire a brewing assistant, Lisa Kellndorfer, and distribute its beer to over 50 local bars and restaurants.
If you still think of Austin Street as a limited nano-brewery, let Brett Camp show you otherwise. It’s found its industrial stride.
Now for what’s pouring at Brett Camp.
“We will be featuring kegs of Moses (2015 Brett saison), a special dry-hopped version of Lawn Mower Ale (2016), and a few surprises! Attendees will also get the opportunity to purchase and take home bottles of BretteWeizen, a Brett-fermented Heffeweizen, before it officially goes on sale the following weekend,” Fisher said.
These three beers, along with the surprises Austin is brewing up, will highlight the tart, fruity, funky and sour flavors of Brett yeast.
Just as Keith Richards’ opening lick on “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” blares from the speakers like an M-80 explosion, Austin Street Brewing Co.’s Brett Camp screams with an explosive lineup of beer brewed with Brettanomyces yeast.
Austin Street Brewing Co.
WHERE: 1 Industrial Way #8, Portland
WHEN: Noon to 4 p.m. Sunday
ON TAP: Moses (a 2015 Brett saison), a special dry-hopped Lawn Mower Ale (light Brett saison), BretteWeizen (Brett heffeweizen), along with some surprises
FOOD: Mami Japanese Food Truck will be on site
COST: $15 per ticket
OTHER BEER HAPPENINGS
Ebenezer’s 12th Annual Belgian Beer Fest
Thursday through Sunday, 44 Allen Road, Lovell.
Ebenezer’s Pub is located in the sleepy town of Lovell, but its beer selection is anything but tired. This world-renowned beer bar acquires some of the hardest to get kegs and bottles of Belgian beer anywhere on the planet. From Thursday through Sunday, the pub celebrates its 12th Annual Belgian Beer Fest the only way it knows how: with endless surprises of world-class beers. All weekend, the small pub will be rocking with beer dinners, special tours of the beer cellar and a great bounty of all things Belgian beer.
Two Roads Whales & Ales Whale Watch
1:30 to 7 p.m., Saturday, 170 Commercial Street, Portland. $50 per ticket. https://tickets.beerfests.com/event/whales-and-ales
Two Roads Brewing Co. of Stratford, Connecticut, is hosting its first ever whale watch. This nautical event will feature a tasting of rare Two Roads beers with head of operations, John Rehm. Also present on the cruise will be a naturalist from Blue Ocean Society to answer questions about the aquatic life that participants may encounter. A portion of the ticket sales will be donated to Blue Ocean Society.