#61 Berliner Weisse the Second

Eureka, it’s time for another recipe blog entry. Another Berliner Weisse recipe. I finally found some spare time to write-up the following post. I did a Berliner Weisse before and let the mash turn sour by adding some grains (#44 Berliner Weisse). I added some Brettanomyces to one share of the batch and I am very happy how this beer turned out. You can find the tasting notes of my first batch here.

Because I am very inquisitive and got a package of Wyeast’s 3191 Berliner Weisse Blend, I could not resist to try the blend on pretty much the same Berliner Weisse recipe as mentioned above. The only difference was to leave the sour mashing aside because there should be some lactic acid bacteria in the blend to turn the beer sour. Lets go through the recipe and lets find out what Wyeast’s Berliner Weisse Blend can make out of the wort.

Recipe: Berliner Weisse 2
Numbers: Volume [L] 20 (5.3 gal)
Original gravity 8.2°P (1.032)
Terminal gravity 1°P (1.003)
Color Around 4 EBC
IBU N/A
ABV 3.8% (v/v)
Grains: Pilsner malt (4 EBC) 1.9 kg
Wheat malt (4 EBC) 1.4 kg
Hops: Hallertauer (4.2% AA) 26.6 g and added at mash in (mash hops)
Yeast: Wyeast #3191 Berliner Weisse Blend
Water: Burgdorf Mash: 8.5 L (2.2 gal), sparge: 18 L (4.8 gal) @78°C (172°F)
Rest: Mash in @66°C (151°F), 60 min @66°C (151°F), 15 min @ 78°C (172°F)
Boil: No boil
Fermentation: Primary Close to 6 months @20°C (68°F) in plastic fermenter
Secondary N/A
Maturation: Carbonation (CO2 vol) 2 with sugar addition
Maturation time Weeks to months at 15°C (59°F)

08.01.2012: Brew day. Crushed malts, mashed in at 66°C (151°F) including adding the Hallertauer hops and left the mash rest for one hour. Then heated up to 78°C (172°F), sparged, cooled the wort down to roughly 20°C (68°F) and added a package of Wyeast’s 3191 Berliner Weisse Blend and left the fermenter untouched for nearly 6 months. I did not even rack the beer into a secondary fermenter.

10.20.2012: Bottled the beer with a sugar addition to a carbonation level of 2 vol of carbon dioxide and store the bottles at 15°C (59°F) since.

02.05.2013: Beer now 3.5 months in bottle. Its time for a first official tasting.

Aroma: Citrus character, some metallic notes as well and maybe some DMS (not sure)

Appearance: Straw yellow, clear, nice bubbles rise to the top and form a two finger white head

Flavor: Some citrus character, light Pilsner malt character (something between honey, corn and bread), no funk or even a hint of sourness…

Mouthfeel: Light body, average carbonation level (for the style), dry finish, hint of sourness in the aftertaste

Overall Impression: There are a lot of the typical Berliner Weisse aroma and taste characteristics present in this beer with one exception: the sourness. It is far from what I would expect from a Berliner Weisse. I don’t know if the sourness will increase by further maturating the beer. We will see.

61BerlinerWeisse2_1_104.14.2013: Six months in the bottle:

Aroma: Smells like a ripe apple. Very Champagne like aroma. No sourness, no funk, no hops or yeast character in the nose

Appearance: Straw yellow, light haze (got some of the sediment in the glass), white head and lots of bubbles

Flavor: Some cereal character, no hops or any yeast specific character such as esters. Hint of lactic acid sourness

Mouthfeel: Light body, average carbonation level, dry finish, some sourness in the finish

Overall Impression: Beside the cereal flavor, this beer is very much like a Champagne or a carbonated white wine. Compared to the previous tasting, the sourness level increased a bit. But still not at the level where I want it to be. I brought this beer to a party recently and described the beer as a Champagne-beer. And you know what? The tasters brave enough to taste it totally agreed and where really astonished that a beer can even taste like a Champagne.

Compared to the first version (#44 Berliner Weisse) where I used a spontaneous mashing technique, this beer’s taste is not even close to the first version. In my experience, the sour mashing step introduced a lot of the funk character (sourness, lactic acid smell, lemons) I would like to have in my version of a Berliner Weisse. In addition, the Brettanomyces I added back then did a very good job and added a very funky layer to the Weisse. We will see how this beer evolves. Cheers!

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11 thoughts on “#61 Berliner Weisse the Second

    • Sour mashes will be my standard procedure for every upcoming Berliner Weisse. That’s the lesson I learned from this batch. The differences are significant. I have the feeling, Berliner Weisse is not about the ingredients but rather about the technique how you brew it. And maybe try some different Brett strains as well. I have so many now 🙂 I am looking forward to my next Berliner Weisse as well. Cheers!

        • No, I haven’t. But I thought about adding some rye malt next time. Oat would work as well I guess. I just don’t know if oats, or rye might increase the body of such a beer. On the other hand, the Bretts will eat through those unfermentable sugars. I added oats, wheat and rye to a single Brett fermented IPA, mashed at a high temperature and the terminal gravity was 1.005!

          • I tried adding rye with no boil and it was horrible. Though other things like brown malt and others were in the mash as well. Perhaps plain malts (unroasted, uncolored, etc) and unmalted grains are the way to go for this technique.

  1. Interesting notes/results. As you know, I followed a similar procedure to your batch #44 and did a sour mash a few months ago. I’ve been letting it age, so I’ve only had one sample so far, and I really enjoyed the result. I’ll probably have a better review of my outcome soon.

  2. Hi there.
    I’ve been reading your blog for some time now, and as I’ll be aproaching Berliner Weisse soon I have a question – do you have any thoughts about how sour the mash should be?
    My initial plan is to collect wort and let it sour for some time and then boil to kill the bacterias. The idea behind is to avoid sparge problems you mentioned in #44. I want to innoculate the wort with bacterias from starter I make for Sauermehlsuppe – would it be appropriate?
    How sour should it get before i kill bacterias? Should I aim for certain pH or titration vs bromothymol blue?

    • Hi Artur,
      thanks for reading and commenting. I unfortunately cannot tell you how sour the mash “must” be. I always taste it and stop the souring process as soon as the sourness level is at the “appropriate” level. Never measured pH levels of the mash so no idea how low the pH drops. My approach is to taste rather than relying on measurements.

      I don’t know if you prevent sparging problems if you would boil your mash after souring. I would advise you to sparge prior to souring the mash since you are planning to inoculate your wort. Hence no need to leave the grains in the mash. Never played around with Sauermehlsuppe bugs before so I cannot tell you how it turns out. But please let me know how it turns out.

      Cheers, Sam

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