Who is this Brett bloke everybody is talking about? In the world of beer, we're talking about brettanomyces. Let Beer Hawk introduce you to one of the funkiest beer ingredients around and see if we can't get you to find something new to love.

What is Brett?

Straight to the point, Brett is short for brettanomyces. Brettanomyces is a kind of wild yeast that was first discovered when scientists were looking in to what was spoiling some English ales. Hence, the "brett" portion of the word references, well, British. This wild yeast grows naturally on fruit skins and, as many breweries were probably located near to farms or even orchards, our main man Brett was floating around all over the place.

Since Brett is naturally occurring and blows around with the wind, proper sanitation is the best way of keeping it out of your beer. In the days before sanitation was as rigorous as it is now (not to mention the porousness of wood barrels), Brett found its way into a lot of brews. Some brewers went with it while others were not as happy when Brett came over and ruined their beer.

What does a bretty beer taste like?

Depending on the style of beer, brettanomyces can be considered friend or foe. If a brewer is looking to produce a clean beer, the funky tartness that Brett brings to the party would be clearly out of place. With that said, many styles--particularly some of the farmhouse and Belgian ales--just wouldn't be the same if it didn't have their distinctive horse-blanket character brought on by the Brettanoymyces Bruxellensis strain.

Besides bringing on the funky, tart, horse-blankety flavours, Brett can add a spicy or fruity note as well. No matter which strain of brettanomyces is used, it imparts a rather unique character to a beer which is why, today, many brewers actually incorporate this yeasty beast into their recipes instead of shying away from it.

Brett brings on the funk. As well as tart, spicy and fruity flavours.

Brett beers you'll love

If you're still trying to figure it out nothing will help more than tasting it for yourself. Here are our favourite beers featuring our pal, brettanomyces:


This world-class Belgian Trappist ale is probably the most famous use of Brett. Flavours of lemon zest, spice, florals and freshly cut hay only get better as the days pass by. We highly recommend aging this beauty to really experience the brettanomyces.

Boon Oude Geuze

A gueuze is the perfect example of a beer showing Brett in all its glory. Boon Oude Geuze is sour, but not overly tart, with notes of spice, oak and grass and a refreshing yet complex finish.

Crooked Stave St. Bretta Clementine

So this one is pretty much in the name. Crooked Stave has made a name for themselves as wild beer specialists. The St. Bretta Clementine expertly displays brettanomyces with an acidic, tart character alongside notes of clementines and spice. One of our favourites!

To Øl Sur Sorachi Ace

Part of To Øl's "Sur" series, this stunning beer proves that big, bold hoppy IPAs love them some funk. Its lemony hop character is fantastic with the funky, sour, tartness from our good mate, Brett.

While, admittedly, Brett can be a bit of an acquired taste we think that once you get to know him, you won't be able to get enough. At the very least, give Brett a chance. Cheers!