#82 Nelson Sauvined Berliner Weisse

Eureka, it’s time for another recipe. I would like to apologize for the few posts lately. I am currently in the last months of my Master’s degree and try to get as much out of my lab and grid time before sitting down and writing up my thesis (and a publication). I hope to find more time to brew and write afterwards. Back to the recipe, another Berliner Weisse recipe. I did two (more or less traditional) Berliner Weisse before and let the mash turn sour by adding some grains in one case (#44 Berliner Weisse) and one where I used Wyeast’s 3191 Berliner Weisse blend (#61 Berliner Weisse 2) without sour mashing. Comparing the two batches, the one with the sour mash turned out way better than the second one. I even did a dark Berliner in the meantime (using a sourmash) which turned out pretty well. I will therefore never, ever skip the sour mashing step again. And adding Brettanomyces is another must have as well. This recipe is actually more or less the same in terms of grist composition and the process as my very first Berliner Weisse. The only difference here is the dry hopping step with Nelson Sauvin. A dry hopped Berliner Weisse. Lets find out how good hops actually work in sour beers.

Recipe: Nelson Sauvined Berliner Weisse
Numbers: Volume [L] 20 (5.3 gal)
Original gravity 8.5°P (1.033)
Terminal gravity 1.7°P (1.006)
Color Around 4 EBC
ABV 3.6% (v/v)
Grains: Pilsner malt (4 EBC) 1.9 kg
Wheat malt (4 EBC) 1.4 kg
Hops: Nelson Sauvin (12.3% AA) 12 g and added at mash in (mash hops)
Nelson Sauvin (12.3% AA) Twice 75 g for dry hopping
Yeast: Wyeast #1056 American Ale
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 1 month @20°C (68°F) in plastic fermenter
Secondary 2 weeks @20°C (68°F) in plastic fermenter
Maturation: Carbonation (CO2 vol) 2 with sugar addition
Maturation time Weeks to months at 15°C (59°F)

06/08/2013: Brew day. Crushed malts, mashed in at 66°C (151°F) and left the mash rest for one hour. Then let the mash cool down to 38°C (100°F) and left it there for 4 days. Then added the Nelson Sauvin hops and heated up to 78°C (172°F), sparged, cooled the wort down to roughly 20°C (68°F) and added an added some WY1056 and left the fermenter untouched for nearly 1 month.

07/07/2013: Racked the beer off the yeast and added the first 75 g of Nelson Sauvin hops.

07/14/2013: Added another 75 g of Nelson Sauvin hops.

07/21/2013: Bottled the beer with a sugar addition to a carbonation level of 2 vol of carbon dioxide and added EBY020 B. jurassienne I or EBY021 B. bruery I to the bottles. I store the bottles at 15°C (59°F) since.

10/27/2013: Beer now 3 months in bottle. Its time for a first official tasting.

NelsonSauvinedBerlinerWeisseVersion with B. bruery I (EBY021, glass on the right):

Aroma: Lots of white grapes and citrus character, some faint funk in the background. Very impressive aroma. Some H2S in the nose (foul eggs) as one swirls the glass.

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

Flavor: White grapes, citrus character, light Pilsner malt character (something between honey, corn and bread), some barnyard funk and light level of sourness in the finish. Very damn tasty!

Mouthfeel: Light body, average carbonation level (for the style), dry finish, hint of funk and 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. Anyway, this is a very neat beer: light, fruity with a hint of sourness.

Version with B. jurassienne I (EBY020, glass on the left):

Aroma: Subtle fruit character compared to the EBY021 version. This one is more funky and is driven by leather, horse blanket and a hint of citrus in the back. Some H2S in the nose (foul eggs) and a hint of musty, cellar-funk in there as well. By all means not clean… In one word: funky! Gets more approachable as it warms up.

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

Flavor: White grapes and citrus character. Very dry and not a lot of the backbone shines through. Light level of sourness in the finish however more prominent than in the EBY021 example.

Mouthfeel: Light body, average carbonation level (for the style), dry finish. This example finishes with a funk-fest in the mouth (leather, clove, barnyard and some tartness)

Overall Impression: Completely different from the EBY021 version. A very funky example where the hops kind of play in the background. Gets kind of cleaner as it warms up as all the really annoying flavors (H2S, mustiness) kind of disappear.

I actually prefer the EBY020 version because it is so refreshing, fruity and light. The EBY021 leads to a rather funky beer which makes it a bit less refreshing in my opinion. It seems to me that the EBY020 Brett strain is not as powerful as EBY021. EBY020 is more on the fruit side where EBY021 really hits you in the face with its funk. Well, EBY021 will get into my next Berliner Weisse again. And the next Weisse will be dry hopped as well. The Nelson Sauvin hops match perfectly with the profile of the Weisse. As both EBY020 and EBY021 are tested in the BBA/EBY Brettanomyces experiment, I am really looking forward how these two strains perform. I haven’t actually brewed my share of the experiment yet as I am way behind my brewing schedule already. However, I will brew the batch for the experiment before the end of the year.


7 thoughts on “#82 Nelson Sauvined Berliner Weisse

  1. Hi Sam,
    I’m interested in one of the first comments that your sour mashed berliner (which inspired me to try as well) was better than your artificially soured batch. A homebrewer I highly respect took the bug approach, and I did the sour mash approach. We recently tasted each others outcome, and were surprised to see the sour mash was the preferred outcome.

    I was very pleased with my outcome (again, thanks to your detailed notes).. and I’m pretty sure I will be doing another sour mash Berliner.

    Good luck with finishing up all the school work! Cheers.

    • Hi Darryl, the importance of sour mashing is undisputed in my opinion. I can’t think of another way to get the complexity in a beer in such a short time. The next Berliner is already in my brewing schedule and is going to be something along the one I brewed here. But with another hop variety. Haven’t figured out yet which one. Probably Motueka or Pacific Jade.

      Cheers, looking forward to hand in my thesis already 🙂

    • Cheers Dmitri, It is quite tasty indeed 🙂 Good enough to take my mind off all the science I think of lately. Good luck with your PhD work as well (and your thesis if you already started writing). I hope you have some neat results in your sleeve to write up some nice publications. Take care

      • I haven’t started writing yet, as developmental biology takes time. I figure around 3 more years to go. There are some neat and potentially very exciting results indeed, but we’ll have to wait and see. Just got a conditional knockout mouse to play with 😀
        Looking forward to hearing of and possibly reading your papers!

  2. Cool writeup Sam,

    Quick question – did you taste your sour-mash before sparging? I ask because I’ve found that the rate of sour development can vary hugely between batches. As such I always taste mine to decide if it is where I want it to be. Its nasty (you know how it smells), but it ensure you get your desired sourness.

    I like your idea of adding the brett to the bottles – I may have to steal that trick from you!

    Good luck on the thesis.


    • Hey Bryan,
      I always taste the sour mash to determine the level of sourness. In this case, I stopped the sour mash after four days as the level of sourness seemed not to increase to the level I was actually looking for. I really have to look for an aggressive sour bacteria blend now. And the bottle Brett idea is not mine but a great way to test several different Brett strains in one go.

      Cheers, Sam

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