Icarus Farmhouse Red
The second beer in our evolving ‘Brett’ series, “Icarus”, is due to be released in the taproom this coming Friday (6/27). For those unfamiliar, Brettanomyces is a type of yeast, often referred to as a “wild yeast”, even though it’s commonly cultured by laboratories. But “wild” does not just refer to its habitat. Brett produces flavor compounds during fermentation quite different than brewer’s yeast and the different strains of Brett vary radically in what they produce as an end product. This variation also extends from where and when a brewer inoculates wort with a chosen strain. In English, this means we can produce a wide variety of beers using Brett.
Below, you’ll see a Brett fermentation in action. It produces a protective layer called a “pellicle” while active. It looks funky, yes, but it’s a sign the Brett is healthy and doing what we want it to!
Icarus was produced using Brett as a secondary fermentor, meaning its work was done only after primary fermentation was complete. We fermented Icarus with a farmhouse ale yeast and inoculated it with Brett afterward, resulting in a dry, fruity, aromatic beer with a light red hue. The “funk” Brett is known for is very present in the nose, with the palate being more fruit forward. No fruit was added to this beer – the strain of Brett we use often produces pineapple-like esters during fermentation and Icarus is no exception.
The name Icarus references the mythological story of a boy given a set of wax and feather wings by his father, who warned him not to fly too close to the sun. Icarus ignored this good advice and when flying too high, discovered his wings had come apart, sending him tragically plunging to his death in the sea. The lesson here, is about ambition. As we’re pioneering the use of Brett and bacteria in brewing in Hampton Roads, we’re aware that the flavors we’re introducing will surprise some people. That’s good – we want you to try something new and discover the possibilities that exist outside the influence of brewer’s yeast. At the same time, we know part of our job is education. It’s up to us to check our fermentation ambitions and explain what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. From there, we’ll all grow together. Look for some even more intense projects coming to fruition soon; we can’t wait to share them with you!