Sunday, August 1, 2010

Berliner Weisse 2010

I had heard previous reviews of the Wyeast VSS berliner strain release, and how it created some wonderful beers last year.  I was happy to see that it was released during the summer months this year, allowing brewers to employ a sour mash, while using the warmer months' ambient temperatures.

A berliner weisse is a sour German styled beer, that is said to be the champagne of the north.  This beer also holds a tale of being the favorite of Napoleon.  It is hard to find styles of this beer commercially, but locally I have had fantastic versions from Iron Hill and Nodding Head - both of which I really enjoy.  If/when you are offered a berliner at a brewery or good beer establishment, you are typically offered a plain version or one mixed with a flavoring syrup, traditionally it is Woodruff .  While I have had berliners with Woodruff, raspberry and apple syrups, I typically enjoy the unflavored version the most.  The beer is generally pale and slightly cloudy with a nearly non existent head that disappears quickly due to the higher acidic levels.  These higher acid levels are the byproduct of the lactobacillus bacteria that is intentionally introduced into the unfermented wort.  Generally the lacto ferments along with a clean ale yeast, to produce both the signature sourness, but also the alcohol and co2.  The beer is typically low abv and higher carbonated, which makes it quite drinkable, but the sourness may be surprising to those unfamiliar with the style.

I had previous success in brews with the oat malt, so I decided to substitute this as a portion of the traditional wheat, but the primary malt was pilsner.  Since I will be sour mashing, and intentionally going with the no-boil approach, I decided that a since step decoction mash would be used to raise the mash from a protein rest up to saccrification.  Also added to the mash was an ounce of Mt. Rainier hop pellets to provide the very little bittering qualities in the berliner.  Mt. Rainier is a newer variety that is bred from millenium hops and other unnamed varieties, but it is said to be similar to Hallertau, which is in line with what I had experienced in previous beers.

Some brewers, myself included,use a no-boil brew process to promote the lactobacillus growth (which lives naturally on the outside of grain).  In regular brew processes, where you boil the wort, the lacto is killed off.

Once the mash hit 149*, I added some amylase emzyme, then it remained untouched for 3.5 days in my garage at temps averaging around 90*. By the final day, the mash temp had dropped to 105*.  I vorlaufed heavily to minimize trub in the fermenter, and collected the first runnings, about 3.5 gallons.  I sparged with cooler than typical water, and filled the fermenter to 6 gallons of 1.035 wort.  I allowed to cool overnight in the basement and pitched the Wyeast strain with no starter.  I will allow this one to age out for about 3-4 months before bottling.  I may reserve some for a fruit addition and further aging, but at least half or more ill be unfruited.


BeerSmith Recipe Printout -
Recipe: Berliner Weisse
Brewer: Ryan Lockard
Asst Brewer:
Style: Berliner Weiss
TYPE: All Grain
Taste: (35.0)

Recipe Specifications
Batch Size: 6.00 gal     
Boil Size: 6.25 gal
Estimated OG: 1.032 SG
Estimated Color: 2.7 SRM
Estimated IBU: 4.2 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00 %
Boil Time: 0 Minutes

Amount        Item                                      Type         % or IBU     
3.75 lb       Pilsner (2 Row) Ger (2.0 SRM)             Grain        51.72 %      
2.00 lb       Oats, Malted (Thomas Fawcett) (2.0 SRM)   Grain        27.59 %      
1.00 lb       Wheat Malt, Pale (Weyermann) (2.0 SRM)    Grain        13.79 %      
0.50 lb       Acidulated (Weyermann) (1.8 SRM)          Grain        6.90 %       
1.00 oz       Mt. Rainier [6.20 %]  (60 min) (Mash Hop) Hops         4.2 IBU      
1 Pkgs        Berliner Weisse (Wyeast Labs #3191)       Yeast-Ale                 

Mash Schedule: Decoction Mash, Single
Total Grain Weight: 7.25 lb
Decoction Mash, Single
Step Time     Name               Description                         Step Temp    
35 min        Protein Rest       Add 14.50 qt of water at 126.6 F    122.0 F      
45 min        Saccharification   Decoct 6.15 qt of mash and boil it  155.0 F      
10 min        Mash Out           Heat to 168.0 F over 10 min         168.0 F      



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