Berliner 2015

>> Friday, May 29, 2015

Berliner Weisse has become one of my favorite sour styles to brew. They're easy to make and the turnaround time is fairly short compared to most sour styles. I brewed my 2015 version on Memorial Day and it's been happily chugging along this week. I basically used the same recipe and process as I did in 2014 except for the following:
  • I used German Pils instead of Belgian Pils. 
  • For the souring, I decided to try a blend of Wyeast 5335 Lactobacillus, Wyeast 5223 Lactobacillus Brevis, and White Labs WLP677 Lactobacillus Delbrueckii
  • For the yeast blend that I'll pitch after giving the Lactobacillus blend a head start, I'm using Wyeast 3191 Berliner Weisse Blend which is the blend I used on my first "successful" Berliner back in 2013. This is one of Wyeast's Private Collection blends, so it's not available every year.
  • My 2014 version scored very well in last year's Beehive Brew-off (42 or 44 if I remember correctly) and went to the mini-BOS for the Sour Ale category. It didn't end up placing (but my Flanders Red #2 took gold) and it got knocked out because one of the judges said they detected DMS. I never detected any in this beer, but I decided to try a more traditional boil this time, so this version got a 90 minute boil whereas the 2013 and 2014 versions used a short 15 minute boil.
I usually give the lactobacillus a head start of 5-7 days because I like my Berliners to be pretty sour. That can come at a price though because most beer judges have commented they think my Berliners are too sour for the style. They are sour, but I don't believe they're too sour, especially compared to some of the more modern commercial examples I've tried. I liken it to someone complaining that a West Coast IPA is too hoppy compared to a traditional English IPA. That may be true but I still love a good West Coast IPA. Regardless, if you try this recipe/process and you plan on entering it into a competition, consider shortening the head start by a couple days.

This is a 10 gallon batch and I'm toying with the idea of putting half on tart cherries for a Cherry Berliner Weiss. I'm also toying with the idea of shortening the head start for half the batch.

Here's the recipe as I brewed it:

8.0 # Avangard German Pilsner Malt
7.0 # Weyermann Pale Wheat Malt
1.0 # Rice Hulls 
2.0 oz Aged Debittered Hops (Mash hops, 0.0 IBU's)
Wyeast 5335 Lactobacillus
Wyeast 5223 Lactobacillus Brevis
White Labs WLP677 Lactobacillus Delbrueckii
Wyeast 3191 Berliner Weisse Blend

Mash at 150F for 90 minutes, 90 minute boil, ferment at room temp.

Brewing Notes
No issues to speak of. OG came in at 11.4 brix (1.046), so kind of like my 2014 version, this is an Imperial Berliner. It's still going to have a pretty low ABV though.

Update 5/29/2015 I went ahead and pitched 3191 at day 4 for half the batch. The other half will get it a day 6.

Update 5/31/2015
I pitched the yeast blend into the second half today (day 6). Something kind of odd, the first half that got the BW blend on day 4, the krausen from the lacto completely collapsed. It was still showing signs of fermentation but I don't remember that behavior before.

Update 6/27/2015
Doing a whole bunch of brewing stuff today so I decided to pull a sample. I don't have a pH meter (yet) so it's hard to say with any degree of accuracy, but the pH is down in the 3.2 neighborhood on both. It's hard to tell in the pictures below, but there is a slight difference in the color of the test strips. Both samples smell the same, lactic and wheat, but the 6-day pitch is noticeably more tart than the 4-day pitch, but they're both quite tart. Both taste amazing so I'm really happy with the results. There seems to be some added complexity in this version...maybe from the blend of lactobacillus cultures. I'm definitely going,to enjoy this beer. Still trying to decide whether to do part on tart cherries. They're both so good, I'm not sure I want to mess with them.