Category Archives: Experiments

Fruit and Brett 1

After doing a lot of Hefeweizen experiments, I was feeling the pull of the sour side ūüôā ¬†I’ve made a bunch of clean Berliner Weisse¬†(BW)¬†and I like the idea of a fruited BW as well as maybe some funk to join the party but not sure the best way to approach. ¬†So, the idea with this experiment is to make 3+ gallons of¬†baseline kettle soured BW and then split it across three 1 gallon batches. ¬†All 3 after primary fermenation will get 1 pound of sweet cherry puree. ¬†The first will be white wine yeast fermented only and is the pseudo control¬†and then try Brett two ways – one as the primary fermenter and one as the secondary. ¬†I’ve read that Brett in secondary is a lot more expressive but curious to see how that plays out. ¬†After reading about the various different Brett strains I settled on Brett Claussenii since it’s actually Brett (unlike Brett Troi), it is fairly mild on the funk and hopefully will have a nice tropical fruit character to play off the cherry. ¬†There are also a lot of big open questions. ¬†How will the Brett play in a pretty low pH environment? ¬†Will I have oxygen issues with my little 1 gallon fermenter setups and just get a bunch of vinegar? ¬†Will I just end up with a bunch of bottle bombs? ¬†But, I guess that is why one experiments, right? ¬†Here is the breakdown on the three batches.

make 3 cherry BW. kettle sour batch with lacto and then split into 3 x 1 gallon batches.

1> ferment with EC-1118, add 1 lb cherry puree as fermentation slows then bottle
2> ferment with Brett C, add 1 lb cherry puree as fermentation slows then bottle
3> ferment with EC-1118, add 1 lb cherry puree as fermentation slows add Brett C and let sit till no more activity then bottle

1 liter starter of brett c – pitch half in into 2> and half into secondary for 3>

Here is the recipe details:


Recipe Info

Beer Name: berliner_weisse_cherry_experiment_EBIAB_1
Style: Berliner Weisse



Original Gravity: 1.034
Final Gravity: 1.005
Color: 3.6
Alcohol: 3.7 %
Bitterness: 0 IBUs


Efficiency: 70
Attenuation: 85


Mash Fermentable Weight: 7 Pounds
Mash Thickness: 2.6 Quarts per Pound
Grain Temp: 72 F
Strike Water Qty: 6.55 Gallons
Mash Volume: 7.11 Gallons
Strike Water Temp: 130.7 F
Mash Temp: 125 F


Kettle Gravity (start of boil): 1.030
Starting Boil Volume: 5.625
Boil Duration: 30 Minutes
Evaporation Rate: 1.25 Gallons per Hour
Final Boil Volume: 5


Weight (Lbs) % by Weight Name Yield SRM
4 57.1 Best Malz Pilsner; German 80.0 1.8
2 28.6 Canada Malting Wheat Malt; White 88.0 2.8
1 14.3 cherry puree 24.5 5.0


Weight (ozs) Name AAU Time (mins) Use IBUs / Addition

Yeast and Friends

Amount (Milliters) Name
1 pouch omega labs lacto blend OYL 605
2 pouches lalvin ec-1118 white wine yeast
1 vial White Labs WLP645 Brettanomyces Claussenii


Amount Name Time
1 tablet Whirlfloc Tablet 15
1 tsp Yeast Nutrient (Wyeast) 10
1 3lb can Cherry Puree fermenter


make 3 cherry BW. kettle sour batch with lacto and then split into 3 x 1 gallon batches.

1> ferment with EC-1118, add 1 lb cherry puree as fermentation slows then bottle
2> ferment with Brett C, add 1 lb cherry puree as fermentation slows then bottle
3> ferment with EC-1118, add 1 lb cherry puree as fermentation slows add Brett C and let sit till no more activity then bottle

1 liter starter of brett c – pitch half in into 2> and half into secondary for 3>

Salt and Acid adjustments:

Mash Salts:
Calcium Chloride: 5.0 gram

Mash Acid:
Lactic Acid: 2.0 ml @ 88 %

Sparge/Boil Salts:

Predicted Mash pH of: 5.48

Mash Ions (ppm):
Ca: 68.0 Mg: 3.0 Na: 21.0 Cl: 119.0 So: 24.0

Boil Ions (ppm):
Ca: 68.0 Mg: 3.0 Na: 21.0 Cl: 119.0 So: 24.0

mash schedule:
mash in at 125F for 10 min
146F for 30 min
158F for 30 min
168F for 10 min

cool to 70F and pitch and raise to 85F

carb to 3.25 volumes


12-10-15 Brett C (WL645) ~200mL starter.  no stir plate to reduce oxygen update and prevent acetic acid production in Brett.  kept in cooler with lizard lamp set to 80F
12-14-15 standard brew day.   cooled to 85F and pitch one pouch of omega labs lacto blend.  set kettle at 85F to hold and check every 12 hours till 3.2pH.
@ 10pm pH 5.59
12.-15-15 @ 1:30pm pH 3.21!!!!!  Wow!!!!
@5:10pm pH 3.15 -> boild for 10 mins, cooled to 70F, split across three 1 gallon fermenters and put in fridge with heater set to 80F.  gravity was 1.032 so no change in gravity with souring

1> half of EC1118 yeast pitch (one sachet that was reconstituted in 1 cup of boiled and cooled filtered water)

2> other half of yeast pitch

3> 150mL of Brett pitched (remaining Brett saved for 2> for secondary)

12-16-15 1> & 2> are kreusened and fermenting nicely 3> shows no activity
12-17-15 1> & 2> appear to be done fermenting 3> is showing a little kreusen.
12-18-15  added 1 lb of oregon fruit sweet cherry puree but pulled a sample before.
1> 1.012 clean and quick sour
2> ditto
3> 1.030 clean with a little bit of funk.
12-22-15 1> , 2> appear done and dropping clear ¬†3> has 1″ kreusen and but no bubbling so fermenter must be leaking. ¬†that night i pitched the remaining brett into 2> to do secondary brett and moved 3> to a bubbler and now seeing bubbling so leak is fixed. ¬†not a fan of the big mouth bubbler for that reason. ¬†they are hard to get to seal.
12-23-15 1> done 2> bubbling every ~28 seconds 3> still kreusened and bubbling every ~25 sec
12-24-15 1> and 2> appear done 3> still bubbling every ~25 sec
12-25-15 > same
12-26-15 > same
12-27-15 3> ~40 sec
12-28-15  no bubbling.  3> took about 3 weeks to finish active fermentation vs 2 days for sacc.
12-29-15 same
12-30-15 bottle 1> , 1.4 gallons, 1.3 oz per gallon for 3.5 volume did 1.8 oz in 1/2 filtered boiled water.  bottled 8, probably could have bottled 10 fair amount of cherry solids into bottling bucket would be good to find a way to filter out from fermenter to bottling bucket.

+++++after the fact i realized the markings were wrong on my buggy bottling bucket.  my 1.5 gallon market was actually 1 gallon so my 1.4 gallons was actually 0.93 gallons.  uh oh.  wo will be more like 4 volumes on 1> rather than 3.5 volumes.  hopefully no bottle bombs.  fingers crossed.

1-9-16 bottled 2>
0.9 gallons targetting 3 volumes b/c or brett and want to lower risk of bottle bombs.  35 grams of dextrose in 1/2 cup of boiled filtered water.  filled 8 bottles just barely.

1-13-16 same as 2> bottled 3> except 31g of table sugar instead of corn sugar.

1> and 2> were both fully carbonated after 2 weeks.
1-27-16 opened a bottle and 3> does not seem to be at all carbonated.

2-6-16 3> was more carbonated but not fully carbonated.  there was a little pellicle in the neck.  will wait another few weeks and try another bottle.  maybe @ 6 weeks.  nice beer.  very fruity (maybe pineapple layered on top of the cherry?) and low funk.  just a hint.
1> still very good.  nice clean berlinner character with nice cherry level.  only issue is it is a bit yogurty due to lots of yeast in the bottle.
2> nice brett character but a little bit of rubber on the backend.  subtle but there.  definitely more funky than 3> and it has gotten more funky since last tasting a couple of weeks ago but the funk is still subtle and nice.

3-7-16    1> good but a bit yogurty.  cherry character is really nice.  a bit thin maybe.  seems to be getting worse with age (more yogurty).
2> very nice.  brett character is subdued but noticeable.  rubber is gone.

4-6-16 1> very similar to 3-7 tasting
2> similar to 3-7 tasting but brett character has kicked up just a notch.  really nice beer.  no yogurt flavor.
3> carb is getting pretty good.  still a little undercarbed but close.  crazy cherry juice aroma and flavor with just an edge of funk.  less funk than 2>  nice beer.

5-11-16   1> very similar to last tasting and yogurt may have dropped a little.  aging quite well.
2> brett character is now really good.  low in the aroma and flavor but really nicely rounds out the beer.  aroma and flavor are cherry forward but a nice blend of funk.  body is a bit thin but not way off.  carb is spot on.
3> aroma and flavor are clean bold cherry (more than 1 & 2) with an edge of pineapple and funk and a little cheese.  body is medium and good.  carb is now really good.  a very nice beer although i prefer 2>


Hefeweizen Temperature 1

The first Hefeweizen experiment was a really great learning experience and it seemed to be well received so why not do another? ¬†After doing pitch rate variations, it seems the natural next step is temperature. ¬†So, I ran the experiment the same way as the first – make a 3+ gallon batch of hefeweizen wort and split it across three different one gallon jugs – ¬†but this time I placed the three fermenters in three different but identical chest freezers with identical temperature controllers but set at 3 different temperatures (62F, 66F and 70F) to see if all other things are equal what is the impact of fermentation temperature. ¬†Here is the recipe that I used (same as last time but Munton’s Wheat DME and Hallertau hops rather than Briess Wheat DME and Spalt hops).


Recipe Info

Beer Name: hefeweizen test ebiab 2
Style: Weizen/Weissbier
Author: dennis pike
Date: 7/27/15


Original Gravity: 1.050
Final Gravity: 1.013
Color: 7
Alcohol: 4.9 %
Bitterness: 10.3 IBUs


Efficiency: 100
Attenuation: 75


Mash Fermentable Weight: 4.15 Pounds
Strike Water Qty: 4.08 Gallons
Mash Volume: 4.41 Gallons


Kettle Gravity (start of boil): 1.042
Starting Boil Volume: 4.125
Boil Duration: 30 Minutes
Evaporation Rate: 1.25 Gallons per Hour
Final Boil Volume: 3.5


Weight (Lbs) % by Weight Name Yield SRM
4.15 100.0 Muntons Wheat DME 91.3 8.0


Weight (ozs) Name AAU Time (mins) Use IBUs / Addition
.85 German Hallertau Pellets 2.7 30 Boil 10.3

Yeast and Friends

Amount (Milliters) Name
1 vial White Labs WLP300 Hefeweizen Ale


Amount Name Time
.5 Whirlfloc Tablet 15
.5 tsp Yeast Nutrient (Wyeast) 10


hefeweizen test 2 is to see effect of fermentation temperature. 0.5L starter with 50g of DME and 1 vial of WLP300.
WLP300 was lot 1015489 with good test results on 3.23.2015. 4 months old? not sure if test date correlates to ship date.

this starter should contain ~ 150 billion cells

pitch rate is 50% of standard rate or .375 million cells / mL / degree Plato

so 1.050 is 12.5 Plato and 1 Gallon is 3785 mL so that is 375,000 x 3785 x 12.5 ~= 17,700,000,000 = 17.7 billion cells

so to get 17.7 billion cells I would need ~ 59 mL (rounded to 60) of the starter into each 1 gallon fermenter

I am doing 3 x 1 gallon test beers all from the same wort (1.050 wheat dme with 10 IBUs)

pitch rate is 0.5
beer 1 temp is 62F
beer 2 temp is 66F
beer 3 temp is 70F

will take remainder and test cell count to see how close i was

Bottle Carbonation
Temperature at Bottling: 72 F
Volumes of CO2: 3
Amount of Beer: 1 Gallons
Amount of tableSugar to add: 33.1 grams or 1.2 ounces

[End of Recipe]

Some items of note from the experiment:

1> I don’t have a good way to do thermowells in the 1 gallon jugs so I taped temp controllers (Johnson A419s) probes to the side of the jug and then covered the probes with foam insulation. ¬†So, it is likely that the internal temperature of the beer was higher than the set point during the peak of fermentation.

2> the wort was cooled to 70F and then the 3 jugs were filled and placed in their fridges.  Once all three were stable at their fermentation temps, I pitched (~4 hours later).  So, the 62F beer was pitched at 62F, the 66F was pitched at 66F and the 70F beer was pitched at 70F.

3> I mispoke on BBR – I didn’t use pure oxygen for these, they were just shaken vigorously for 30 seconds.

4>¬†all three had fermentation activity within 24 hours but the 70F had a huge kreusen at 20 hours and the 62 and 66F beers didn’t get that active for 36 hours.

5> they were all left in their ferments for 21 days, they all finished at 1.013 (also mispoke on BBR) and they were all bottled at the same time with the same amount of bottling sugar (32g of table sugar per gallon) targeting 3.0 volumes.

My wife and I did a tasting and took our notes, I sent of bottles to James @ Basic Brewering Radio and I took bottles to my homebrew club where 16 member filled out a questionnaire that asked for overall score, hefeweizen qualities score, general impressions and flaws.  the main thing with the scores was to keep them relative so the score is important but most important is that the beers are scored in the correct order so I know which was most and least favorite for each club member.

I consolidated all the questionnaires and you can see the results here:




And the totals on preferred beer is (1 = 62F, 2 = 66F, 3 = 70F):

Beer 1 9 56.25%
Beer 2 5 31.25%
Beer 3 2 12.50%

In general, I found it very difficult to tell the 62F and 66F beers apart but the 70F stood out to me because it did have some minor, what I would call “chemically”, off flavors. ¬†You can see in the overall impression comments that, counter to what I would have thought, the 62F had the most pronounced banana esters, 66F was more balanced and 70F was all over the map. ¬†62F and 66F got no real flaws mentioned other than being out of balance (too much banana) but 70F had all kinds of flaws listed. ¬†I will say that, to me, I also got these flaws but they were background. ¬†Noticeable but you had to kind of search for them. ¬†None of these were “bad” beers but 70F was the only one where I was picking up “flaws”.

My take aways from the first two experiments:

1> pitching rate has a pronounced effect.  it seems that around half the standard pitch rate is a good place to start (0.375 million cells/ mL / degree plato).  If you want more esters go with a bit lower pitch rate, less esters go with a higher pitch rate.  0.375 pitch rate works out to about a vial/smack pack in 5.5 Gallons of wort but it is important to note I grew up a starter and then pitched the amount I wanted from the starter.

2> temperature also has an impact but it would seem that lower give you more banana and higher gives you more of other esters (apple, wine, floral) that detract from the banana and as you go even higher likely is generating hot alcohols and unpleasant acetate esters. ¬†from my sampling it seems in the low 60s (62-66) is a good starting point > lower (i know….weird!) for more pronounced banana and higher for more balance.

other parameters to consider (possible future experiments!)

  • ferulic acid rest : at 111F (44C) , wheat and barley malt will generate ferulic acid which hefeweizen¬†yeast will then convert to the clove phenol (4VG) during fermentation.
  • oxygenation: the theory goes that less oxygen with generate more esters and more oxygen will generate less.
  • bottle conditioning vs forced carbonation: bottle conditioning is supposed to generate higher esters and phenols.

A great presentation from the MBAA on the science of Hefeweizens is here:




Hefeweizen Pitch Rate 1

Basic Brewing Radio Interview:

I bought a microscope and hemocytometer and had a microbiology buddy of mine come by and show me how to use them (Thanks Adam!). ¬†So, what to do with this new found knowledge? ¬†A pitching rate experiment of course! ¬†I’ve read over and over again that underpitching will boost esters/phenols and overpitching has the opposite effect. ¬†Take that and combine it with my wife’s love of Hefeweizens and testing this theory with German Wheat Spicy Bananafantasticness is a no brainer.

The basic test is this.  Brew 3+ gallons of 1.050 Wheat DME based wort, split that across 3 different 1 gallon fermenters and pitch those from the same yeast starter but with different amounts of starter to vary the pitch rate.  So, same beer, same yeast just varying amounts of yeast.  Here is the recipe with notes:


Recipe Info

Beer Name: hefeweizen test ebiab 1
Style: Weizen/Weissbier
Date: 4/28/15


Original Gravity: 1.050
Final Gravity: 1.013
Color: 7
Alcohol: 4.9 %
Bitterness: 10 IBUs


Efficiency: 100
Attenuation: 75


Kettle Gravity (start of boil): 1.042
Starting Boil Volume: 4.125
Boil Duration: 30 Minutes
Evaporation Rate: 1.25 Gallons per Hour
Final Boil Volume: 3.5


Weight (Lbs) % by Weight Name Yield SRM
4.15 100.0 Briess DME Bavarian Wheat 91.3 8.0


Weight (ozs) Name AAU Time (mins) Use IBUs / Addition
.7 Spalt Pellets 3.2 30 Boil 10.0

Yeast and Friends

Amount (Milliters) Name
1 vial White Labs WLP300 Hefeweizen Ale


Amount Name Time
.5 Whirlfloc Tablet 15
.5 tsp Yeast Nutrient (Wyeast) 10


hefeweizen test 1 is to see effect of pitch rate. 1.5L starter with 150g of DME and 1 vial of WLP300 lot#1014572 w/ best by date of 7/19/15.

starter made on 4/28/15 so viability should be high (assuming ~80%)

this starter should generate 290 billion cells in 1.5L

I am doing 3 x 1 gallon test beers all from the same wort (1.050 wheat dme with 10 IBUs of spalt)
cooled to ~63F and fermented at 65F

beer 1 pitch rate of .375 (half of standard ale rate) which is 17.5 billion cells in 1 gallon which for above starter would be 90 mL
beer 2 pitch rate of .75 (standard ale rate) which is 35 billion cells in 1 gallon which for the above starter would be 180 mL
beer 3 pitch rate of 1.5 (double the standard ale rate) which is 70 billion cells in 1 gallon which for the above starter would be 360 mL

will take remainder and test cell count to see how close i was

Bottle Carbonation
Temperature at Bottling: 72 F
Volumes of CO2: 3
Amount of Beer: 1 Gallons
Amount of tableSugar to add: 33.1 grams or 1.2 ounces

4/28/15 Made 1.5L starter w/ 150grams of light pilsner dme and 1 vial of WLP300

4/29/15 starter had significant blow off so likely lost a good amount of yeast

4/30/15 Brewday

pretty standard extract brewday.  no issues.
1.048 SG
5.89 pH

beer 1> no kreusen
2> a little kreusen
3> full blown kreusen and chugging along


5/3/15 all still have big kreusens but bubbling is beginning to slow.

5/4/15 fermentation appears to be done and yeast is beginning to drop

did cell count of leftover starter.

53,43,41,49,48 = 46.8 avg

46.8 x 25 (total cells in field)
x 10 (I did a 10:1 dilution)
x 10,000 (hemocytometers field size)
= 117 million cells / ml

in 1.5L starter this is 175.5 billion cells which is 60% of what I expected.  this is easily explained by significant blow off starter.

so, actually pitch rates are:

1> 10.5 billion cells (30% of 0.75 million cells/ml/degree Plato)
2> 21 billion cells (60%)
3> 42 billion cells (120%)

5/14/15 bottled.  each was just under a gallon in the bottling bucket so to get 3.0 volumes I did 32 grams of sugar in 1/2 cup of filtered water which I brought to a boil, cooled and added to the bottling bucket and stirred in very thoroughly.  produced 6 bottles of each beer.

6/2/15 took beers to homebrew club meeting and had 13 tasters.  pretty good agreement that 30% pitch rate had the most banana character and the overpitch 120% was more muted and 60% was in between with more balance of banana and clove.  almost no agreement on which was preferred.  i tested earlier with my wife and we both preferred the 60%.  no real flaws detected so all turned out well.


Berliner Weisse Experiment 3 (Lacto Sources)

Time to do another lacto source experiment! ¬†I entered the White Labs Brevis experiment in a good sized competition and took 3rd place in the sour category and scored a 40.5 so…! ¬†I was pretty excited about how the dried probiotic pills did in experiment 1 so I kept them on my bathroom shelf warm for a few months and decided to try those again to see how they fared. ¬†I also wanted to try another probiotic strain so I picked up a “live” pill (think gel-cap) that must be stored cold and has some lactose (ie dried milk) in it to keep the lacto alive. ¬†Lastly, I wanted to retest the Wyeast 5335 since it did poorly last experiment but was frozen in transit to me. ¬†So, the three tests this go around are:

1> Natures Bounty Acidophilus Pills (same as experiment 1 but warm stored at ~74F for 2 months)

2> Wyeast 5335 (dated 11/24/14 so ~3 months old at time of experiment)

3> Solaray Acidopholus (label says Acidopholus, Bulgaricus and Thermophieris (sp?) in fine print)

The set up is the same as the last two test although I moved from a cooler to a dorm fridge but same heat lamp and temp controller.  Beer was the same Р100% Briess Bavarian Wheat DME OG 1.031.  No hops.  Boiled for 15 minutes.  Fridge set at 95F.

Pitch Rate:

Natures Bounty claims 100 million cells per pill

Solaray claims 3 Billion cells per capsule (you can break them open and dump powder into wort which is what I did)

I emailed Wyeast and got this reply back on cell count:

“The retail packs for our lactic acid cultures (including 5335 and 5223) are packaged at a density of 100 million cells per mL, 10 billion cells total.”

In the Wyeast preso at NHC that I referenced in experiment 1, they called for 38 Billions Cells per Gallon (10 million cells per ml) as a good pitch rate.  Which has me a bit perplexed.  Why would Wyeast sell a pouch of Lacto at 10 Billion Cells when for a 5 Gallon batch they call for 190 Billion Cells (38B x 5)?  This then had me wondering Рwhat does Wyeast do?  So I emailed them and got this response:

“…the cell count is 50-80 million cells per ml and there are 35 ml in a vial.”

So Iet’s take the average of 65 million cell which gives us 2.275 Billion cells per vial. ¬†Even less than Wyeast! ¬†Wow. ¬†If you compare that to 100 Billion cells in a yeast pitch, Lacto is some expensive a$$ bugs!

I wanted to keep my pitch rate the same as last time for Natures Bounty so I could compare to my last successful experiment to see if it could be recreated.  So I used 50 pills which should be 5 Billion cells.  Way below the recommended pitch rate of 38 Billion but higher than the White Labs vial that soured very nicely.

For Wyeast, I just pitched the one pouch so 10 Billion Cells at an unknown viability.

For Solaray I wanted to be closer to the recommened pitch rate so I did 13 capsules (lucky?) for 39 Billion cells also at an unknown viability.  It was $10ish dollars for 100 pills so not too bad on the wallet.

3/9/15 Pitched @ 2:45 pm pH = 5.8 OG = 1.031


3/10/15 Day 1

1> pH Р3.72 malty sweet.  slight sour.  apple juice.  no sign of fermentation.  clean.  sour 2/10

2>pH 4.43 malty sweet.  no signs of fermentation.  clean.  sour  0/10.

3>pH 3.58 aroma Рmalty sweet.  light sourness.  no sign of fermentation.  clean.  sour 3/10

3/11/15 Day 2

1> pH 3.64 malty sweet.  slight sour.  no sign of fermentation.  clean.  sour 2/10

2> pH 3.97 malty sweet. not sour.  no sign of fermentation.  clean. sour 0/10

3> pH 3.37 malty sweet.  noticeably sour but not strong.  no signs of fermentation.  clean. sour 4/10.

3/12/15 Day 3

1> pH 3.6 similar to yesterday

2> pH 3.75 malty sweet with a hint of sourness.  no signs of fermentaton.  clean  sour 1/10

3> pH 3.28 malty sweet but getting pretty sour.  no signs of fermenation. clean.  5/10

3/13/15 Day 4

1> pH 3.61 unchanged

2> pH 3.71 unchanged

3> pH 3.25 unchanged.

3/14/15 Day 5

1> pH 3.58 unchanged

2> pH 3.71 unchanged

3> pH 3.25 unchanged but maybe a hair more sour.

3/15/15 Day 6

1> pH 3.55 unchanged

2> pH 3.57 unchanged

3> pH 3.15 a bit more sour. 6/10

3/16/15 Day 7

1> pH 3.56 unchanged

2> pH 3.54 unchanged

3> pH 3.11 unchanged

3/17/15 Day 8

1> pH 3.55 unchanged

2> pH 3.54 unchanged

3> pH 3.12 unchanged

3/18/15 Day 9

works.  booooooo!!!!!

3/19/15 Day 10

1> gravity 1.030 pH 3.56 DUMPED

2> gravity 1.030 pH 3.52 DUMPED

3> gravity 1.030 pH 3.06 very sour but still sweet.  7/10.  clean.

3/20/15 Day 11

Since it appeared to be homofermentative with no reduction in gravity and I’m intrigued to see what a late hopped Berliner Weisse will be like, I boiled 3> for 10 mins and put in 1/2 oz of centennial hops, cut heat and let sit hot for 10 mins. ¬†I then cooled to 70F and pitched ~2.5grams of Lavlin EC-1118 (dry white wine / champagne yeast) that was rehydreated w/ palmer method. ¬†I put it in the fridge set to 68F (no thermowell)

3/21/15 8am – small kreusen and slow bubbling

3/22/15 1″ kreusen and steady bubbling

3/23/15 lingering kreusen but seems to of dropped, bubbling stopped and yeast is visibly clearing/dropping.

3/27/15 Bottled 3> FG 1.015, pH 3.14. ¬†sample is clean, flat and tasty ūüôā ¬†.7 gallons so boiled .975 oz of table sugar in 1/4 of filtered water to target 3.5 volumes.

Berliner Weisse Experiment 1 (Lacto Sources)

For some reason, I’ve become particularly intrigued by Berliner Weisse (BW) as of late. ¬†I really love the style especially in the crazy heat of summer and, maybe more importantly, my wife loves a nice tart beer (read: Festina Peche). ¬†My first attempt (that is still souring – fingers crossed) used the Jamil method of pitching the yeast and lacto at the same time. ¬†Clearly this method produces a great beer since the last BW winner at NHC used Jamil’s method. ¬†That said, I’m not really interested in waiting 6 months everytime I brew one. ¬†So, I started to do some research into different ways to sour a BW and there is a decent amount of information but nothing very extensive, well tested or documented. ¬†So, I decided to run a set of my own experiments to find out how can I make a BW that sours very quickly, tastes great, maybe keeps cost and complexity in the check and can be served on draft without concern of infecting everything it touches. ¬†All that said, I’m not interested in making a really crappy beer quickly so if to make the best beer takes time or I have to serve it in bottles rather than draft then thats what I’ll do but it seems the only way to know for sure is the run some experiments. ¬†I didn’t want to start totally from scratch so I took the test data from Jess Caudill of Wyeast that was presented at NHC ( and built from there. ¬†It is clear in Jess’ preso that for the lacto to sour quickly and produce a lot of tasty lactic acid it is best if it doesn’t compete with yeast at the beginning but let it sour first then use a yeast that works well at low pH to finish things up. ¬†Makes total sense – the less the lacto has to compete the better. ¬†But in dorking around on the web there seems to be little consensus on the best source of lacto. ¬†So my first set of tests are to try different sources and see how quickly they sour and to what level do they drop the pH and how does it taste/smell as it goes along.My plan is to do¬†3 x 1 gallon test batches at a time where I boil a little over 3 gallons of 1.030 muntons wheat DME wort for 15 minutes, cool to around 100F and then pitch the sources of lacto and hold at 90-100F and take daily pH and aroma/flavor notes till the pH stops dropping, the pH gets to the level of sour I want, or the batch goes rancid. ¬†My plan is to test raw 2-row, raw acidulated malt and different “pure” lacto cultures from labs (white labs, wyeast etc..) as well as probiotic sources. ¬† Unlike Jess’ experiments, assuming the 1 gallon batch is not rancid, I plan to boil the wort again to kill the lacto (so it could then be served on draft), ferment using german ale yeast and then bottle condition at ~3.5 volumes to see how the finished beer comes across.

For later experiments, I’d also like to try:

-not reboiling the wort to leave the Lacto alive
– using Brett rather than German Ale as the primary fermenter,
-fermenting with German Ale and  bottle conditioning with Brett
– making it bigger (1.050+)
– making it much hoppier than normal versions with boil/whirlpool/dry hopping experiments.
– lowering the pH using lactic acid before pitching lacto since this appears to speed things up and help with head retention without really effecting the flavor profile.

And I’m sure I’ll come up with other ideas.

So, first the lab setup:

 IMG_3050 IMG_3052 IMG_3053 IMG_3054 IMG_3055 IMG_3056
The fermenters are just standard 1 gallon jugs with universal bungs and some tubing to run over to a jar of sanitizer. ¬†The chamber is just a nice big cooler with a lizard lamp in it hooked into my old brewery automation box that I’m just using to keep the temp in the cooler at 95F. ¬†not super precise but should work well for this experiment and the temp swings went from 93-96F so not too bad. ¬†of course this is all outside to keep the family at bay :)For round 1 I tested1) 1 oz uncrushed weyerman acidulated malt
2) 1 oz uncrushed 2 row from Canada Malting
3) 50 tablets of Lactobacillus Acidophilus that are 100 million cells per tablet

Everything I’ve read on people kettle souring, the amount of grain put in is always “a handful” so I thought I’d be a bit more precise and actually measure the amount of grain by weight ūüôā

For the tablets, Jess recommends >= 5 million cells / ml which is about 19 billion cells / gallon but I didn’t really want to use 190 tables. ¬†Instead I used what should be a bit over 1 million cells / ml which still did well in Jess’ tests it just took a bit longer and allowed me to buy less probiotics ūüôā ¬†Here is a picture of the Acidophilus I used:


I’m keen on trying “probiotic” strains of lacto since I can buy them at the pharmacy, they are fairly inexpensive, a lot of them don’t even have to be refrigerated and from reading different forums it appears other have had good luck with them. ¬†There are a lot of blends out there but I’m looking to stick to pure strains, at least for now, so I can see the performance and flavor profile of each individual strain.The initial numbers are OG of 1.031 and initial pH (pre-pitching) of 5.8.

Day 1 (ie 24 hours in):
1 (acidulated malt) : pH 4.81 malty sweet, not sour. clean.  no fermentation activity.
2 (2 row): pH 4.14 a little sour like apple juice.  still worty and sweet.  no fermentation activity.
3 (acidophilus): pH 3.97.  similar to 2 but just a hair more sour.  no fermentation activity.Day 2:
1 (acidulated malt) : pH 4.59  big foamy kreusen with a strong horse blanket / goatie aroma with an edge of dirty diaper.  no malt aroma.  seems very sketchy so not tasted.  very hazy.
2 (2 row): pH 3.89 super weird foam that is like big soap bubbles that are a bit reflective and alien looking.  really strange.  malty aroma w/ a little lactic tart nose.  also very sketchy so not tasted.
3 (acidophilus): pH 3.77 no foam at all.  malty aroma w/ a hint of sour aroma but comes across more malty then sour.  pretty tart flavor.  5 on a scale of 1 to 10.  clean sourness surrounded by of Day 2:

1 (acidualted malt)


2 – (2 row)

3 – (acidophilus):

Day 3:
1 (acidulated malt) : pH 4.05  no kreusen.  odor is a bit of sour lactic and some funk -> brett.  tasted it since no sick smell.  worty.  funky Рbretty.  a bit sour.
2 (2 row): pH 3.40 no kreusen. ¬†smell is sweet wort w/ an edge of sour. ¬†otherwise clean. ¬†flavor is sour – 7 out of 10 (10 being the most sour beer i’ve had). ¬†a bit of sweet wort flavor.
3 (acidophilus): pH 3.42 still no kreusen.  seems to have dropped clear?  nose is mostly wort (more than 2) w/ just an edge of sour.  flavor is also pretty worty but 6 out of 10 on sour scale.Day 4:
1 (acidulated malt) : pH 4.09 no change
2 (2 row): pH 3.28 similar to day 3 but a hint more sour in nose and flavor.  get a bit mouth puckering.  nice level of sour.  8 out of 10.
3 (acidophilus): pH 3.40 similar to day 3 but a shade more sour.  7 out of 10.Day 5:
1 (acidulated malt) : pH 4.05  no change
2 (2 row): pH 3.14 nose is a bit more tart. ¬†flavor is similar but getting very tart. ¬†throat constricting ūüôā ¬†9 out of 10. ¬†about the level i would want if i’m looking for a very sour beer. ¬†clean. ¬†still malty/worty.
3 (acidophilus): pH 3.34 similar to day 4.  nice and tart but not as tart as 2.  clean.  still malty/worty.  7 out of 10.

Day 6:
Work …. ¬†Boooooo

Day 7:
1 (acidulated malt) : pH 4.09  no change
2 (2 row): pH 3.10 similar to day 5. ¬†i’m really enjoying these samples ūüôā ¬†pretty darn tart.
3 (acidophilus): pH 3.30 nice sour level but not as sour as 2.

Day 8:
1 (acidulated malt) : no change.  dumped.
2 (2 row): pH 3.08 similar to day 7. TART.
3 (acidophilus): pH 3.30 similar to day 7.

I took 2 and 3 and did the following:

put through strainer into boil kettle to remove solid matter.
boiled for 15 mins with ~5 IBUs of centennial (.15 oz) since that is what i had laying around
cooled to ~60F and pitched half a smack pack of german ale into each (~50ml of slurry)

pitched on 12/13/14
2 (2 row): no activity
3 (acidophilus): has thin kreusen and seems to be bubbling a little bit but not much
2 (2 row): no activity
3 (acidophilus): 1″ kreusen and steady bubbling but nothing crazy


2 (2 row): no activity
3 (acidophilus): still kreusened but bubbling has slowed12/16/14
2 (2 row): no activity
3 (acidophilus): still kreusened but bubbling has slowed to ~4 sec12/17/14
2 (2 row): no activity
3 (acidophilus): still ~4 sec

2 (2 row): no activity
3 (acidophilus): kreusen dropped.  bubble ~60sec

no activity

2 (2-row) FG = 1.019 pH = 2.99.  aroma Рsweet worty smell with a sour edge.  flavor РVERY sour but sweet malt edge.

3 (acidopholus) FG 1.010  pH = 3.21  aroma Рlightly sour and yeasty with a bit of cardboard.  flavor Рgood level of sour.  clean.  slight malty sweet flavor and a bit oxidized.

I dumped 2 due to high sugar content (bottle bombs) and very low pH.

I bottled 3 targeting 3.5 volumes. ¬†It was .85 gallons @ room temp so I boiled 1.2 oz of sugar in 1/2 cup of filtered water and mixed that in with beer in bottling bucket. ¬†this ended up filling 6 bottles. ¬†I have them stored in a plastic bin with a locking lid in one of my bath tubs and fully expect to hear some explosions at some point. ¬†fingers crossed ūüôā

Success! ¬†The one batch (3(acidopholus) that I had marked BW1-3) that I bottled carbed up to what seems like the targeted 3.5 (super duper carbonated) and is actually a really nice beer! ¬†Definitely no head issues either initially or with retention. ¬†Big fluffy pillow that lingers till your done. ¬†Probably my only complaint is the weird malt off flavors which are subtle and that it is too dark. ¬†Both of these I just chalk up to using wheat DME. ¬†I see no flavor issues from the lacto or yeast. ¬†And did I mention it is really damn sour ūüôā ¬†Here is a picture.


lessons learned:
1) raw grains seem fairly risky. ¬†acidulated malt was an abject failure. ¬†not sure if there was lactic acid but not much lacto or the other bugs just outcompeted. ¬†2-row seemed to work pretty well as far as souring but there was some definite funk so I wouldn’t use this for a large batch since the probability of failure seems high. ¬†it works but i have my doubts that it would work consistently. ¬†at the very least I would make a starter first and make sure it is clean before pitching into a bigger batch.
2) store bought probiotics seem to work fairly well. ¬†it will be interesting to see the difference between the store bought acidophilus and the lab grown delbrueckii and brevis. 

3) take gravity readings before boiling ūüôā ¬†it seems that one of two things happened with the 2-row. ¬†there was some yeast or heterofermentative bacteria that generated alcohol which I then boiled off ūüôā or the german ale yeast did ferment some but conked out in a sub-3 pH. ¬†But I won’t know since I didn’t test to see if the gravity drop from 1.031 to 1.019 took place before boiling or after.

4) even low pH friendly beer yeast like german ale have their limits and it appears to be in the < 3.2 pH range since #3 seemed to finish out but #2 never really got started. ¬†another experiment ūüôā ¬†find at what pH level to pitch the yeast or use really low pH friendly ¬†wine yeast or brett.

Berliner Weisse Experiment 2 (Lacto Sources)

This is a continuation of my first experiment.  The same lab setup as experiment 1  and the things I changed are the lacto sources and the yeast I used.  The lacto sources this time were:

1> White Labs 672 Brevis
2>White Labs 677 Delbrueckii [FROZEN]
3> Wyeast 5335 Delbrueckii [FROZEN]

and since the German Ale didn’t handle super low pH (<3.2) well I decided to try a white wine yeast since wine must has a pH of 3.0-3.5 so it is accustomed to low pH. ¬†I used Lavlin EC-1118 since it is easy to get and cheap.

So, there was one big problem.  I got the 672 from a friend and it was in good shape.  The 677 and 5335 I ordered from Northern Brewer and they both showed up frozen solid.  In the name of science, I decided to run the experiment anyway to see what would happen but I plan on rerunning the part of the experiment for obvious reasons.  Side note: Northern Brewer was very nice to work with and did replace the Wyeast 5335 since it never soured and even sent me DME for free since I made a starter.

15 min boil of Muntons Wheat DME
cooled to 115F
split across 3 x 1 gallon jugs
set in cooler with lizard lamp and controller set to 95F

1/9/15 @ 4pm
OG – 1.031
pH – 5.95
tastes like wheat malt extract ūüôā


1/10/15 Day 1
1> pH Р3.71 lightly sour.  mostly lactic with a hint of maltiness.  clean.  big kreasen w/ a little blowoff
2> pH Р5.45 malty sweet.  clean.  no kreusen.
3> pH Р5.47 malty sweet.  clean. no kreusen
1/11/15 Day 2
1> pH Р3.38 moderately sour.  probably getting into range for a berliner weisse.  5/10 on sour scale.  clean.  low sweet malt character.  effervescent.  kreusen dropped.
2> pH Р4.65 sweet, worty.  not sour.
3> pH Р5.13 sweet, worty.  not sour.
1/12/15 Day 3
1> pH Р3.25 smells and tastes quite tart.  8/10 on sour scale.  clean.  not much malt flavor.  tangy.
2> pH Р3.89 still smells and tastes malty but bit of sourness.  2/10 on sourness scale.
3> pH Р4.55 sweet and malty.  clean.
1/13/15 Day 4
1> pH Р3.20 similar to yesterday.  quite tart.  clean.  8/10
2> pH Р3.5 sweet nose.  starting to getting a bit of tartness in flavor.  4/10.
3> pH Р4.32 sweet and malty.  clean 0/10
1/14/15 Day 5
1> pH Р3.17 similar to yesterday.  sour.  clean.  low malt.  8/10.
2> pH Р3.3.5 has started to bubble!  weird.  a little bit of kreusen / foam.  maybe a brevis contamination?  med-low malty sweet.  nice sourness but not TART.  a little effervescent.  6/10
3> pH Р4.21 sweet, malty.  0/10
1/15/15 Day 6
Work – Boooooo!!!!
1/16/15 Day 7
1> pH Р3.13 similar to last time.  8/10.  hazy and about 2mm of trub has formed on bottom.
2> pH Р3.16 similar to 1> but a bit maltier / sweeter.  also has about 2mm of trub.
3> pH Р4.04 clear.  sweet and malty with a very low level of acidity finally showing.  1/10.  about 3mm of trub.
1/17/15 Day 8
1> pH – 3.10 similar to yesterday but has nudged into the throat consticting level of sour ūüôā 9/10
2> pH – 3.12 similar to 1> but a bit of malty sweetness in the background
3> pH – 3.98 a bit of foam and bubbling but clear. ¬†same as yesterday. 

1/19/15 Day 10
1> gravity 1.012 pH 3.09 very sour.  clean.  dry.  9/10 on sour scale.
2> gravity 1.016 pH 3.10 some malty sweetness in nose.  not much in flavor.  very sour.  clean.  9/10 on sour scale.
3> pH 3.91.  since it has stopped souring i dumped it.

For 1 & 2 I rehydrated and pitched Lavlin EC-1118 w/out boiling the wort since they had significant gravity drops and I don’t want to just boil off the alcohol. ¬†I used 2.5 grams of yeast for each gallon. ¬†i set the temp to 68F but the wort was at 95F when I took it out. ¬†It was probably in the low 80s F when I pitched the yeast.

pitched @ Noon 1/19/15

1/20/15 @ 8am no activity
@ 8pm no bubbling but 2> is showing a bit of foam?

1/25/15 i never saw visible activity outside of a bit of foam on 2> and a few bubbles in the blow off jar.
1> gravity 1.012 pH 3.09.  tastes similar but a bit yeasty.
2> graity 1.015 pH 3.04.  similar to 1.

I bottled both.  I had 1 gallon in the bottling bucket for each so I used 1.3 oz of table sugar that I boiled for 10 mins in 1/2 cup of filtered water in each bottling session (i obviously bottled them seperately).  Targe was ~3.5 volumes of CO2.  I easily got 6 bottles of each with a bit of beer left over.

I let them sit at room temp for 2 weeks and then refrigerated.

2/12/15 side by side tasting

BW2-1 (experiment 2 , lacto 1 AKA WL672 Brevis)
aroma Рsour/lactic w/ faint crackery malt.  no off aroma.
appearance Рstraw.  hazy.  lots of visible carbonation.  nice big fluffly white head that dissipated fairly quickly but lingered.
flavor Рsour lactic tang dominates.  faint crackery malt.  clean.  no off flavors.
mouthfeel.  very effervescent.
overall impression – a nice berliner. ¬†very sour. ¬†a bit boring but better than most berliners i’ve tried.

BW2-2 (AKA WL677 Delbrueckii)
aroma Рsour / lactic with a hint of crackery malt.  similar to 2-1.
appearance – similar to 2-1 but a shade darker
flavor Рsour / lactic dominates but seems a shade less sour than 2-1.  picking hairs.  a faint oxidized / extract note?
mouthfeel – very effervescent
overall impression Рvery similar to 2-1 and would be hard to tell apart.  maybe a faint extract twang?

Lessons learned:
1> don’t freeze your lactobacillus but if you do try making a starter. ¬†my frozen wyeast never got going but the frozen white labs took a couple days to get going but once it did it got solidly sour.
2> white labs 677 delbrueckii may not be homo fermentative or may have other stuff in there.  needs further testing.  delbrueckii should not ferment down and generate alcohol but in this test it did.  so either it got contaminated (hard to believe Рi have very good sanitization practices Рbut of course possible) or white labs strain is not pure delbrueckii.
3> white wine yeast (lavlin ec-1118) will ferment at low pH levels no problem and bottle conditions nicely. ¬† it doesn’t seem to impact the flavor much at all but i’d like to test it with a full ferment to verify since this test was really just bottle conditioning.
4> both WL672 and 677 get super sour. ¬†a lot of talk about how brevis sours super fast but it seems to be similar to other strains from test 1 and 677 from this test once it got started after it frozen nap. ¬†brevis did ferment down well and really no yeast was needed except to bottle condition and maybe that wasn’t even necessary. ¬†another experiment ūüôā
5> i can see where fruit or brett or some other part to the process would be good since these are nice refreshing beers but a bit one dimensional and boring.
I entered¬†1> White Labs 672 Brevis in a 400+ beer competition and got 3rd in the Sour Category with a 40.5. ¬†The main complaint was too much hop aroma. ¬†Interesting since there were zero hops ūüôā ¬†But it seemed to be well received so maybe I’m headed in the right direction.
Also, I checked with White Labs on 2> White Labs 677 Delbrueckii to see if it is hetero or homofermentative.  Here is the reply I got back
“The strain is heterofermentative, so it does produce small amounts of alcohol.”
Interesting. ¬†It appears Wyeasts Delbruckeii strain is homofermentative and White Labs is heterofermentative which I’ve confirmed with the source as well as with my experiments.