What Makes Beer Smell Like Barnyard?

What is that special something that makes some wines, beers and cheeses smell like—for lack a better term—crap? It’s the Brettanomyces, a wild yeast strain that was first identified in beer according to Modern Farmer, and “was considered a spoiler of British Ales.” Today though, some brewers are harnessing “Brett,” as it’s referred to colloquially, and using it to add character to their brews. At Russian River Brewing Company, the brewmasters have created a 100% Brett fermented beer.

Professor of Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis, Dr. Linda Bisson is trying to get more like Russian River on board saying that this barnyard bouquet can add “nice spiciness, sometimes a clove character,” but success has been limited. Largely, vintners do not appreciate the funky face of Brett. She does, however, relent that Bretts have an appropriate time and place: “Brett is like a Day-Glo color. It needs to be in the right painting or it’s going to look like somebody ruined it.” [Modern Farmer] [Photo: Flickr/Duncan Greene]