#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
IBU N/A
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.

Advertisement

#68 Dark Berliner Sour

Eureka, its time for another recipe. Actually this one is not as straight forward as you might expect from my previous recipes and might be hard to reproduce. The idea for this beer came up during the lautering process of my #67 Koschei Imperial Stout batch. Brewed 51 L (13.5 gal) of Imperial Stout and could not throw away the second runnings which still had a gravity of 12°P (1.048). I therefore used the runnings as a base for this recipe and went from there.

I collected the runnings up to a total volume of 10 L (2.6 gal) and added a package of Wyeast’s Lactobacillus delbrueckii to the unboiled mash as the mash reached a temperature of 40°C (104°F) and let the mash sit at 40°C for a three days until the sourness was at a good level. I then let the wort cool down to around 20°C (68°F) and added the unboiled, per-soured wort on top of a Wyeast’s 3191 Berliner Weisse cake. I left the beer on the Berliner Blend for nearly two months and kegged the soured Stout into a small keg. Kegged the beer on the 9th of December 2012 and left the keg at a relatively warm place to mature. I then forgot about this beer for a while…

This changed in late Spring of 2013. I re-discovered this particular keg in my cellar during an inventory and was quite excited to try a first sip of this beer. The ABV for this one is around 5 %. For a style, it should be something like a dark Berliner Weisse. Since Weisse originates from white in German, it would not much sense to call it a Dark Berliner Weisse. I therefore simply call it a Dark Berliner Sour. Or maybe there is already a suitable beer style for this kind of beer. Let me know if there is a matching beer style for my beer.

DarkBerlinerWeisseAroma: Smells like a cold brewed coffee gone sour with a touch of lemon, dark chocolate and bonfire smoke. Can even detect a hint of gingerbread. Impressive aroma profile and really interesting aroma combination.

Appearance: Deep black color, clear with lots of bubbles rising to the top. Not very long-lasting off-white head

Flavor: Hint of dark chocolate, very subtle roast character and a nice level of sourness. Even some red grape and wood character like in certain wines. Tobacco is there as well. The sourness and the flavors from the roasted barley really go along really nice.

Mouthfeel: Light body, average carbonation level, very dry but not too thin, silky and lightly sour finish. Detectable astringency. Very refreshing. Leaves a smoky impression on the tongue like you get after smoking a cigar.

Overall Impression: Quite impressed how this one turned out. Despite the roast character, this beer has a lot of flavors common in red wines. Not only that, it reminds me of Jolly Pumpkin’s Madrugada Obscura. With the exception that this one is not really funky. I am further surprised how the sourness plays with the roasty, astringency characters. The play along really nicely.

I expected to get a huge mess of a beer. Simply because the grist of the Imperial Stout was not really destined to turn into a sour beer. Nevertheless, the beer turned out to be way more complex than expected and is a very interesting one. Maybe not the kind I would drink for a whole evening but I have others that drink this one in pints. I might brew another batch of this one in the future and mature it in my Whisky barrel to see how this one turns out after some time in a wooden barrel. Cheers and thanks for reading

#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!

Tasting: #44 Traditional Berliner Weisse

Eureka, its time for another tasting post. Today is all about my first Berliner Weisse. I brewed my batch (#44 Traditional Berliner Weisse) back in February 2012. I went with a traditional grist (Pilsner and wheat malt) and did a spontaneous mash-souring. So no addition of any Lactobacillus or any other bacteria. Did a primary fermentation with a classical European yeast (Wyeast’s #1338 European Ale) kegged one share and bottled a small part of the batch with some Brettanomyces I isolated from a beer made by BFM. Nearly four months now passed since the bottling. Lets see how the beer in the bottle (with Brettanomyces) turned out. By the way, the share without Brettanomyces in the keg is very similar to this one although not as sour and complex. Therefore no tasting notes about the share without Brettanomyces.

Aroma: Very lemony and lots of apples. Some sourness detectable (lactic acid). Some funkiness as well. Very similar to a cider. Smells clean.

Appearance: Yellow, cloudy, white head, lots of carbonation visible.

Flavor: Not a lot of flavors. There is some sourness detectable. Some hints of grains (malty-, breadyness). And again some apple notes as well. All in all very similar to a cider. Maybe the sourness in the Weisse is just a bit more powerful than in a cider.

Mouthfeel: Light body, lively carbonation, medium lasting malty/bready aftertaste. No sour or astringent aftertaste.

Overall Impression: What shall I say. Looking back, I would not have guessed it would turn out like this. This is a very drinkable beer indeed. Some notes of a wheat beer (grainyness, head) but with some sourness attached. For my taste, the sourness level is a bit too low. However, this recipe was not about the right level of sourness. It was about the spontanteous sour-mashing technique. In my opinion, this worked completely. All the Berliner Weisses I had from this batch were ok. Nothing to complain about.

My next Berliner Weisse is already in the pipeline. Just got my #3191 Berliner Weisse blend today and a Berliner Weisse brew day is in the near future. I just have to wait to get some empty bottles… (And I am already working on it…). And I already planned to isolate the Brettanomyces from the blend (my longtime followers will already have guessed…).

This was a very interesting and very informative experiment in my opinion. Not only is it possible to make a beer without ever boiling it, but it is also possible to use the microorganisms on the grains to sour a beer. A very neat way in my opinion to get yourself a sour beer if you do not want to purchase any souring bugs. However, comparing the Berliner Weisses with and without Brettanomyces, the one without it is clearly less sour. Brettanomyces seems to enhance the sourness level as well. From now on, all my Berliner Weisse brews will have some Brettanomyces in it, like a traditional Berliner Weisse.

This post closes another experiment of mine. Stay tuned for further experiments!

#44 Traditional Berliner Weisse

Eureka, the following brew is one of the weirdest I have done so far. The recipe I am talking about is a Berliner Weisse recipe influenced by a traditional way to get it sour.

The story begins in Berlin, 1908. A man named Otto Francke patented a method to get a more consistent sourness in Berliner Weisse beers. The old way to sour a Berliner Weisse was to get the sourness from lactic acid producing bacteria during the fermentation. One disadvantages of this method was the inconsistent sourness. Otto Francke’s method changed that. Those of you who are familiar with German find the patent here. A short summary of his process: The process basically is about sour mashing. Otto Francke describes a method were you add lactic acid forming bacteria to your mash and let it ferment until the sourness is at an appropriate level. I assume that a kind of Lactobacillus strain was used for this task. Then you just heat up the whole mash and kill the bacteria. The level of sourness is now fixed. Then cool it down and let it ferment with a yeast.

The following information are from a thesis I got from a homebrewer in Germany. The thesis’ title in English is “About the flavor formation in Berliner wheat beer regarding acids and esters” and was written by F.J. Methner in 1987.

As already mentioned, there are at least two different strategies to sour a Berliner Weisse. The first one involves a pre-souring of the mash with the addition of Lactobacillus as described above. The wort is then pasteurized and fermented with a Saccharomyces strain and Brettanomyces bruxellensis is added at bottling. Yes, there were some Brettanomyces in the beer as well. This method is useful to get a consistent sourness. Another method to sour the beer is pitching Lactobacillus in addition to yeast for the fermentation. The important step here is to pitch a least a 1:1 ratio of the Lactobacillus: yeast cells. If there are more yeast cells than Lactobacillus at the beginning, the growth of the yeast can prevent the Lactobacillus and therefore lead to a lower sourness. Some of you familiar with Lactobacillus might know that some Lactobacillus strains are hop sensitive. One example of such a strain is the one available from Wyeast, Lactobacillus delbrueckii. This strain can therefore be used for sour mashing because there are no hops in the mash at this time. Problems could arise when you use this strain in the fermentation vessel for souring as there were hops in the wort or mash. Hop-insensitive strains such as L. brevis can be used for souring during the fermentation. But this strain is not available for homebrewers as far as I know.

Another interesting fact about sourness, the sourness in unboiled worts get higher than in boiled worts. The boiling seems to hinder the Lactobacillus in some way. It is therefore advisable to use a no-boil technique if the souring will be done in the fermenter.

The history and techniques of Berliner Weisse breweries in Berlin are not very well documented and research is still going on. This research and documentation seem very important to me since the Berliner Weisse breweries are very limited in Germany and the knowledge of Berliner Weisse brewing might get lost. Luckily there is a growing homebrewer community which helps to keep the knowledge of Berliner Weisse brewing. But there are some homebrewers in Germany as well who try to replicate the old Berliner Weisse that once existed. Luckily for me, all the old articles about Berliner Weisse are written in German and therefore have no problem understanding them.

So I planned on doing a sour mash as well but did not add any kind of Lactobacillus, just some additional malt. There should be some kind of Lactobacillus on the grains to get the mash to the appropriate sourness level. Lets first get through the recipe, details about the process are mentioned below. I used J. Zainasheff’s “Saures Biergesicht” recipe and tweaked it a bit.

Recipe: Traditionelle Berliner Weisse
Numbers: Volume [L] 18 (4.8 gal)
Original gravity 10.4°P
Terminal gravity Not yet measured
Color Around 6 EBC
IBU 4 IBU
ABV N/A
Grains: Pilsner Malt (4 EBC) 1.9 kg
Wheat Malt (4 EBC) 1.36 kg
Acidified malt (6 EBC) 0.2 kg (added after pre-mashing)
Hops: Hallertauer (4% AA) 28 g Mash hops
Yeast: #1338 European Ale
Water: Burgdorf Mash: 8.5 L (2.2 gal), sparge: 23 L (6.1 gal) @78°C (172°F)
Rest: Pre-mash Mash in @66°C (151°F), 60 min @ 66°C (151°F), cool down to 50°C (131°F) and add 0.2 kg of acidified malt. Leave mash for two days at around 38°C (100°F).
Second mash Add hops and heat up to 78°C. Rest 15 min @ 78°C (172°F).
Boil: No boil
Fermentation: Primary 7 days @ 20°C (68°F) in a plastic bucket
Secondary N/A
Maturation: Carbonation (CO2 vol) 3.5 vol for bottles, 1.75 vol for keg
Maturation time 3-4 months

02/10/12: Brew day. Crushed the malts and mashed them in at 65°C. Then held the mash at this temperature for an hour. I then let the mash cool down to approximately 50°C (131°F) and added some crushed acidified malt. I then set my electrical kettle to 38°C (100°F) and let it sit.

Fig 1: Souring mash after 24 h at 38°C (100°F)

Luckily, there is no smell coming with the pictures. The smell after 24 h was just incredible (Fig 1). There were some notes of fermented lemons, some sourness, and a very overpowering smell of vomit… The heat helped to distribute the smell evenly in my basement. And the mash was bubbling a bit (see white bubbles at the surface in Fig 1). Well, the smell was just too much! I was very close to dumb the whole thing to get rid of the smell in the basement. But I left the mash sour for another 24 h. By the way, there was some sourness detectable as I tasted the mash.

Fig 2: Added the hops to the mash

Then happened the first miracle. The next morning, the mash now rested for nearly 48 h, the vomit smell was gone, although still in my basement, but there was a very pleasant lemony smell. And the mash was even more sour than the day before. So I proceeded with my mission to replicate an original Berliner Weisse. I then added the hops directly into the mash and heated the whole thing up to 78°C (172°F) and left it there for 15 minutes. Then sparged the wort directly into the fermenter.

Fig 3: Mash is resting at 78°C

Another interesting thing here was the consistency of the mash. The mash was a kind of mushy as it can be seen in Fig 3. And this made the sparging a really hard job. I tried three different false bottoms I have for fly sparging. I then decided to go with a batch sparge. This did not improved the whole sparging a bit. So I went for a stir-and-flow technique. I first stirred up the whole mash and collected the runnings until it got stuck and repeated this process until the fermenter was full. I guess I do not have to mention that my efficiency of this batch was one of the lowest ever….

I then let the fermenter cool down outside and pitched a package of Wyeast’s European Ale yeast. Another thing that made me worry was the European Ale yeast. I know that this particular strain tends to a very long lag-phase before proceeding to the fermentation. But the fermenter stayed there for nearly two days without any signs of fermentation, kräusen or change in gravity. I already assumed that maybe the souring could have altered the mash in a way to make it unfermentable for the yeast. But then, another miracle, the fermentation took off after two days.

02/28/12: Bottling time. I added some table sugar for the appropriate carbonation levels and bottled half of the batch in a 9 L keg (2.4 gal) and the remaining liters into bottles. I then added some sediment from my BFM dregs, which include a Brettanomyces strain, to each bottle. No Bretts for the keg. The bottles and keg will now mature for nearly three to four months. I am really looking forward how this brew turns out. I hope that the tasting will be the third miracle…

By the way, I had a look at the mash with my microscope. And I could see a lot of different bacteria in there… Stay tuned for the tasting in late June.

07/19/2012: Uploaded the tasting notes of the share with Brettanomyces.