Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Double Berliner Weisse Brew

From time to time I let in to my urge to brew at times when I would be better off waiting.  As a result I have brewed when I'm not feeling well, have other things I should be doing, or when I don't have enough time.  A few weeks ago I had just that sort of night when I thought it would be easy to pull off a double (10 gallon) batch of "no-boil" Berliner Weisse after arriving home from work around 5... after having to fight through an epic fail of a stuck sparge I didn't get to bed until after 1 am.  Luckily, despite the issues, the rest of the brew went as planned (hit my gravity/volume/temps).

Racking Both BerlinersThe low gravity and lack of a boil made pulling off a 10 gallon batch with a 5 gallon mash tun and a 10 gallon boil kettle possible.  I followed a similar recipe and procedure to my last batch of Berliner Weisse (which I'm down to a single 750 ml bottle of now that I sent three bottles to the final round of the NHC), the only major recipe change was that I reduced the wheat malt from 40% to 33%.  I also pulled a bigger (hopped) decoction and actually hit my target Saccharification temp (145) when I returned it to the main mash.  The first runnings looked milky (starch?), and quickly the sparge ground to a halt.  I stirred in some rice hulls, and eventually got the mash to drain at a trickle pace.  It took about two and a half hours to collect the nine gallons of wort I needed.

I heated the wort to about 210 undiluted at 1.045 and watered the rest down to 1.032.  The low and high gravity portions each got a pint of a Lactobacillus starter (made of apple juice) along with half a pack of US-05.  I'll add some bottle dregs to both for some added complexity when I move them to secondary.

Berliner and his Big Brother

Recipe Specifics (All-Grain)
Batch Size (Gal): 8.50
Total Grain (Lbs): 15.00
Anticipated OG: 1.045
Anticipated SRM: 3.2
Anticipated IBU: 9.5
Brewhouse Efficiency: 67 %
Wort Boil Time: 0 Minutes

56.7% - 8.50 lbs. German Pilsener
33.3% - 5.00 lbs. Wheat Malt
10.0% - 1.50 lbs. French Pilsener

1.50 oz. US Fuggle (Pellet, 3.67% AA) Mash Hop

1.00 Tsp Yeast Nutrient 0 min.

Safale US-05 Chico
White Labs WLP677 Lactobacillus

Water Profile
Profile: Washington DC

Mash Schedule
Protein Rest 30min @ 125 (Infuse)
Sacch Rest 75 min @146 (Decocted)

5/02/10 Pitched a tube of White Labs lacto into 1 qrt of apple juice (Safeway - Vitamin C fortified). Both were at warm room temp (~83). Added a 1/4 tsp of yeast nutrient after a day.  Took 3 days to show signs of activity, then took off. Added another pint of apple juice at the start of the brewday.

5/05/10 Brewed by myself.

Pulled a thick 6 qrt decoction, actually hit my temp when it was added back.

Really slow sparge, added several handfuls of rice hulls and re-suspended the mash.

Skimmed as I heated to a boil. Cut heat at 210. Chilled. Ended up with about 8.5 gallons of 1.045 wort. 5 gallons into 1 carboy, 3.5 into the other. The 5 gallon will be left as is, while the 3.5 gallon was diluted to 5 gallons (~1.033 OG) with filtered water. Chilled to 74, placed in 62 degree fridge. Pitched half a pack of US-05, shook, and 1 pint of lacto starter to each.

Good fermentation after 12 hours.

After 24 hours raised ambient temp to 68

After 24 more hours went up to 73.

5/13/10 Moved out of the fridge, ambient basement temp ~70.

5/23/10 Racked to secondary.

Berliner Weisse down to 1.003, not much sourness. Will add some dregs soon, although not much left for them to eat.

Berliner Lambic down even lower, 1.002, added 1 oz of oak that had soaked in Sour Squash for additional bugs. A bit more sourness, but still mild.

6/5/10 Added the dregs from a bottle of Captain Lawrence Barrel Select #1 to the lower OG half.

10/15/10 Added a small handful of oak from my Turbid Lambic to up the bug content on the Berliner Lambic.

11/11/10 Bottled the Berliner Weisse half with 5.75 oz of cane sugar. Aiming for ~3.6 volumes of CO2.

3/13/11 Interview and tasting of this Berliner Weisse with BBR.

3/16/11 Tasting of the Berliner Weisse half.  Really happy with this one, nice assertive acidity, good carbonation, lots of complexity.

10/15/11 Blended some, and bottled the remaining 2 gallons with 1 3/4 oz cane sugar.

4/24/12 Tasting of the Berliner Lambic, it is fine, but not great. I like the standard half much more.

5/7/12 The standard version scored a 38 at NHC, but failed to place despite scoring higher than my Cabernet Lambic which won the category. Snippets of the judges' notes.


Chris said...

any specific reason for the two different varieties of pilsner malt that are in the bill?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I should have mentioned, that was the last of a sack of german pils, I picked up a sack of French since I'm doing a couple Belgian beers. Shouldn't make much of a difference.

Chris Kennedy said...

How does your current sourness compare to the sourness at the same stage from your last batch?

What was your logic in using apple juice for your lacto starter?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

The sourness is not as high as my last batch at racking, but on target with my first batch. Honestly though I try to taste my sours as infrequently as possible, so it may just be that I waited longer to rack the last batch to secondary.

I've read that apple juice is a good choice for lacto because the pH is already a bit low and it has plenty of simple sugars (plus it is easy because it come pasteurized from the supermarket). Seemed worth a try.

Hopefully this batch turns out well, my technique this time around seems much more repeatable then using slurry from a friend's batch.

Nick Barbre said...

Brewed this recipe yesterday. I couldn't bear the thought of doing it with no boil, so I did a 10 minute boil, then added hops and boiled another 10 minutes.

I also brewed 6 gallons with an OG of 1.052, planning to take two gallons out to put on fruit with some more brett and make a lambic, and replace the two gallons with water in order to hit the right gravity for a Berliner Weisse.

Really looking forward to tasting this one, but of course it will be a few months before it'll be ready to try.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I'm not sure how important the no-boil is, but these beers seem to have a fresh/grainy character I haven't gotten in any of my other sours.

Sounds like a good plan, hope it turns out well. Good luck

R.J. said...

What have you found to be the best fermentation temp regime for a berliner? I just made a starter of the Wyeast berliner blend. Wyeast recommends a cooler temp (low 60's) but I have no experience with this blend and have no idea how to keep the balance in check.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

60s into the low 70s is fine. Lacto likes it warmer, but you don't want to go above the recommended range for the Saccharomyces strain.

I try to avoid making starters with mixed cultures, Lacto likes it hot, doesn't like oxygen and produces acid, not a good combo for the yeast.

Good luck.

Unknown said...

How long did you wait to rack to secondary? I've got a Berliner Weisse in that's been in primary for a month. I've thought about racking it to secondary, but didn't want to take it off the yeast cake in case this would disturb the souring process.

Thanks for any help!

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

It was in primary for ~3 weeks, then secondary for about 5 months. Normally my Berliners move faster, but this one took quite awhile to get as sour as I wanted it.

Racking the beer off the yeast cake won't impact the souring. Brett likes to feed off of the autolyzing yeast, but Lacto does not.

Good luck.

Chris said...

I made this beer back in the middle of June. I followed the decoction method et al. Pitched German ale yeast and wyeast lacto at the same time. Being somewhat new to sours, after the batch fermented out I added about 4 pounds of golden raspberries from my garden to a secondary and racked on top of them. This caused a secondary ferment to begin, and all seemed well. There was a lovely aroma of pink cotton candy streaming from the airlock, which eventually subsided. In that time I continued reading and researching about adding fruit , ( including your posts), and realized that my effort at adding fruit was somewhat futile and counterproductive. So, I racked off the berries once things calmed back down in the carboy. At that point I figured I've strayed far enough away from the whole "true" berliner recipe, might as well keep going. I added the dregs of two Orval bottles. Needless to say I left it in my basement, checked two weeks later and had a very nice pellicle. Pleased with this, I decided to just let it be, ( that was mid august),. It had been sitting at basement temp ( 55f) all that time. I decided to go ahead and bottle it yesterday. Very, very surprised to find that what I have is a VERY tart, pale yellow, not at all funky smelling Berliner after all. Some commercial berliners I've had smell somewhat "corny", not this. This smells like sweet tart candies. I am wondering if this may be attributable to the raspberry addition early on? Either way, I can't wait for june to crack one of these open on a hot day!

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Sounds delicious!

It isn’t too surprising that the beer didn’t develop much funk; the base beer was so fermentable that there wasn’t much left for the Brett to work on, and the fruit went in before the Brett so the Sacch/Lacto would have eaten the sugars. The raspberries certainly could have added that sweet tart character, but it could also be from the Brett since it takes molecules of lactic acid and combines them with ethanol to make the ester ethyl lactate, which has a fruity aroma. The Brett really helps to smooth out the flavors provided by the Lacto.

My batch is just about ready, it just needs a bit more time to clear up (both the flavor and appearance).

Chris said...

I've been spending quite a lot of time pouring over the vast pages on the Shut up about Barclay Perkins site. He has a lot of great info on Berliner Weisse on there. It seems ( according to the info on there at least), that Brett was most certainly a component of BW for most of the Breweries that were making it. From what I could infer, it seems like the companies that bottle conditioned for decent lengths of time had BW's that had sometimes quite pronounced levels of Brett character. Obviously I doubt it was an intentional inoculation but an infection that suited the style. Just my half informed 2cents.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Brett really helps the beer, I wonder how their wild strain compared to the ones we can get commercially from England/Belgium.

Chris said...

Is that even possible to isolate? I suppose if someone had a 30 year old bottle of Groterjan BW it would be possible to isolate the strain of brett in it? I would have no possible way of knowing if the yeast could survive that long in such an environment.

In any case, I just couldn't resist chilling down a bottle of my BW and testing it out.... so good. all the right flavors were there and than some. To top it off it had some really great lacing and a head that stayed around at about a 1/4" the whole time. No hay or cereal flavors that I could detect. Which, dependent on the drinker, could be a bad thing. I prefer it without,

Can't wait to see what a few months in the bottle will do for these.

Greg Finch said...

I am about to add wlp677 to a robust porter that I brewed last week. I am wondering if making a starter like you did for your Berlinerweisse would be appropriate for the porter? Maybe a different juice, cranberry or grape? I'm also adding cab soaked oak chips from a cab barrel.

This will be my first brett aged beer. Thanks

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

It will be very tough for Lacto to produce much sourness in a standard robust porter because of the high (compared to a Berliner Weisse) level of IBUs. It certainly won't hurt to pitch a small starter of it, but I doubt it will produce noticeable lactic acid. I'd imagine any type of juice would do (just water it down to ~1.030 and make sure there are no preservatives).

Brett on the other hand would do fine pitched now, no need for a starter.

Good luck, hope it turns out well.

Tom said...

Hey Mike,

I know when you brewed the lower OG version of this, you added the dregs after primary fermentation and it took a while to sour up. Would you recommend adding them earlier, like mid-fermentation, or would the small quantities just get overrun by the thriving lacto?


The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

You could certainly pitch dregs earlier, however, I suspect the slow souring was the result of the White Labs Lacto. The subsequent batch I left half with nothing but WLP677, and it really didn't sour at all. I like a bit of complexity from the dregs, but they shouldn't need to add much acidity when you have a good Lacto culture.

Zandrsn said...

Hey Mike, I'm going to be brewing my first decoction mashed berliner weisse on Sunday. I was just wondering what (if anything you would change about this decoction mash schedule). I'm also wondering what your water/grain rations were. I'm thinking of doing the following:

Acid rest @ 95F - 10 mins - 1 qt/lb
Protein rest @ 125F - 30 mins - 1.75 qt/lb
Saccharification - Decoct 4.5qt of mash and boil for 15 minutes, then add back to reach 148F. Hold for 75 mins.
Batch sparge @ 168F

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

This was actually a really thick mash because I was mashing in my small tun, 1 qrt/lb. If I had more space I would have gone wetter.

I don't think you need the acid rest, but I doubt it'll hurt. The only risk is freeing up ferulic acid (although the mash for that is usually a few degrees hotter). While it is the precursor for the clove phenolics in wheat beers, Brett can also turn it into some of it's funkier aromatics.

Good luck!

Zandrsn said...

Great thanks! I'll probably skip the acid step then. I'm aiming at around 1.5qt/lb I think, though I may go a bit wetter depending on how it looks once I mash in.

Rodrigo Campos said...

Hi Mike,
I very coonfused about my recipe for a Berliner Weisse. Planing 50/50 Pilsen/Wheat malts, 55 rest, single decoction, no boils, mash hops as tradicional. I buyed WLP 630 intendeding to make this beer only with it but I read a lot of thinks and today I dont know if it will give the wanted profile for this beer. I want a very tart and sour Berliner Weisse. I read that is necessary a proportion of 4:1 or even 5:1 of Lactobacillus to sacharomyces to have a good tartness. Do you know the proportion of 630 (lacto/weizen yeast)? Another problem to me would be Weizen yeast instead a clean Ale yeast in this mix. I afraid to have a lot of banana flavor in this beer. Lacto work best at temperatures above 30C and at this temperature the weizen will produce a lot of esters. What do you recomend about the temperature to have a final very tart beer and no banana? A have another vial of WLP677 (just lacto). I think to do a very large starter one or two weeks in advance only with 677. I read to do this with apple juice. Thats right? Any advise? WE dont have apple juice so easy as you in US. Then I plan to pitch this lacto when the wort is at about 39C an let is cool naturaly 1 or 2 days to pitch a clean Ale yeast (like S-05) or even the 630 (with or without starter? I read that we cant do starters with mixed cultures to not change proportion of the microorganisms) when the temperatura is close to 20C. This will give a lacto an advantage to produce latic acid. I read a Kristen England estatement that the best is to let it fermento to about 3 days primary and 1 week secondary and then bottle (but he recomend to pitch the both at the same time, lacto and ale yeast). Is that right? The sourness will be great at this time or the bottle conditioning will permit the increasing of the latic acid production? How many time to have a great sourness? I believe in 3 or 4 months. Would be best to wait for the desired souness production in the fermenter before bottling? I saw that you usually wait more to bottle. I saw that you have problems to achive a lot of sourness in our attempts to Berliner Weisse. Sorry about to much questions. We dont have this yeasts comercially as ou have in US. I have to make good procedings to prevent fails. Would be hard to get another vials. I appreciate some advise.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Honestly, even on its own the WL Lactobacillus won't give you much acidity (in many people's experience, including my own). So in this case, the pitching rate isn't the issue.

With a good Lacto strain, I haven't found pitching rate precision to be essential. What is needed is a separate starter simply to ensure the Lacto is ready to go as soon as it is pitched. The starter can be in wort or apple juice, but if it's wort, leave the hops out.

I haven't found that Lacto need to be femented warm, ferment a Berliner at whatever temperature works for the ale yeast.

There are many options for fermentation, and I can't speak to other people's methods/opinion.

Mike Hoover said...

Mike, How did you manage to cram 15 lbs of malt into a five-gallon MT? I usually use 1.25 Qts/lb mash water and all I can manage is 13 Lbs and then I can't close the lid (Igloo). Thanks and regards! Mike in Columbia, SC

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Something like that. My notes say 1 qrt/lb. Stepping up to a 20 gallon mash tun has made things easier!