Category Archives: Berliner Weisse 1

Berliner Weisse 1

I recently finished Michael Tonsmeire’s new book -> American Sour Beers.  Pretty good although I felt it was lacking in a few areas.  I’m really looking for a technical manual that gives me step by step details and that I can refer to when I hit issues.  Something similar to “How to Brew” but for Sour beers.  For example, do I need to make a Lacto starter and if so what is the best way to do it?  Not in the book.  That said, it covers 80% of what I would want and it is a fun read ta boot.  Of course reading the Sour Beer book made me want to finally make my first sour!  I figured I’d start with a bit of an easier one with Berliner Weisse (BW) and just get my feet wet.  I’m also in between brews so I don’t have an available temp controlled fermenter and I don’t have the time for an all grain brewday.  So….I decided to do an extract beer and just ferment it at room temp.  The brewing nerd in me is not happy!
As far as recipe goes, the last NHC winning BW was Jamil’s recipe from what I could tell so I figured I give that a go and see how it turns out.  Also, Wyeast has decided to make this quarter the quarter of the bugs so they have a bunch of funky, buggy products one of which is Lacto Brevis.  Brevis is supposed to be the strain that Cascade Brewing uses and as opposed to the very popular L Delbrueckii is supposed to be more aggressive (ie sour faster) and be a bit more hop tolerant.  There is really very little info on the web about Lacto especially when compared to Saccharomyces so I mostly relied on Brewing Classic Styles, American Sour Beers and, most of all, The Mad Fermentationist website.Berliner Weisse 1
17-A Berliner Weisse
Date: 7/6/14

Size: 3.84 gal
Efficiency: 75.0%
Attenuation: 85.0%

Original Gravity: 1.029 (1.028 – 1.032)
Terminal Gravity: 1.004 (1.003 – 1.006)
Color: 3.48 (2.0 – 3.0)
Alcohol: 3.21% (2.8% – 3.8%)
Bitterness: 3.1 (3.0 – 8.0)

3.3 lb (100.0%) CBW® Bavarian Wheat Liquid (Malt Extract) – added during boil
.2 oz (100.0%) Hallertauer Mittelfrüher (4.5%) – added during boil, boiled 20 m -> ended up using .15oz 5.3% fuggle since I had it laying around.
1/2 teaspoon wyeast yeast nutrient
1 whirlfloc
1 ea Fermentis US-05 Safale US-05
1 ea   wyeast 5223-PC lacto brevis

boil salts:
2.7g CC

pitch @ 65 and let sit at room temp (72) > hold for a total of 3 weeks. rack to secondary and store in cellar till acidity is right (~3.5 pH).  bottle condition at 3 (.5~233 grams of corn sugar for 5 gallons).

8/13/14 first sour beer so a bit of an experiment.  pretty normal extract brewday.  once again the extract was darker than expected.  it was 6 months old which for extract isn’t too bad but definitely had a bit of an oxidized flavor.  i’m pretty sick of this happening with extract and I don’t think I will be doing another extract brew.
pitched 1 pouch of lacto brevis (5223) that is pretty fresh (6 weeks old – 7/1/14)
rehydrated 11g of US-05
cooled to 65, racked to fermenter and pitched both bugs and yeast.
no temp control, just put it in bathtub.  taped a temp probe on side of fermenter in insulation and dangled fridge probe in tub.

so, pitched at about 66 and at 48 hours it was up to 75.  my guess is that is about the end of fermentation since temp then dropped back down to room temp.  I think US-05 will be fine at those temp and lacto should be happy but we’ll see how it turns out.
9/11/14 transferred to secondary and held at ~70F
gravity 1.006
crystal clear.  gold in color.  a slight caramel/oxidized note probably from the old extract.  not bad.  slightly sour but a ways to go.  pH = 4.3.
10/12/14 seems unchanged.  gravity is 1.006.  pH = 4.32.   a little worried the lacto has kicked the bucket but will just let it sit for a few more months to see how it progresses.
11/14/14 pH = 4.21 didn’t check gravity.  seems a tinge more sour but just a hint of sour.
12/14/14 gravity is still 1.006.  pH = 3.87.  Progress!!!  had a thin layer of something on the top.  looked like a 2mm thick layer of cream cheese.  it is noticeably more sour but still a ways to go.  maybe a 3 out of 10 sour-wise.  noticeable and slightly mouth puckering but miles from tart.  sadly the caramel/oxidized not isn’t getting any better although seems pretty unchanged.
1/11/14 pH = 3.90 ruh roh.
not any more sour and starting to take on a broth flavor i’m assuming from autolysis.  i’ll give it one more month and then dump.
2/13/15 gravity is 1.006 still.  pH = 3.79.
not much progress at all.  tastes like bad apple cider beer and the brothy flavor is worse and it is also getting darker in color.  dumped.
lesson learned – now that i’ve done a good number of lacto experiments it is clear that the lacto in this beer got totally out competed by the yeast.  i would certainly pitch more lacto and give it at least a few days head start before pitching the yeast so that the beer sours much more quickly.