Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Berliner Weisse Tasting

At nearly 11 months since brewing I'm a bit behind on the first tasting of my most recent Berliner Weisse.  This batch was brewed to a slightly higher gravity (1.045) than a traditional Berliner Weisse, but the half I'm tasting here was diluted to a more standard 1.033.  The stronger portion of the batch is still sitting in secondary with various microbes and some oak cubes.  This probably would have been the better post to link to my Berliner tasting/interview with BBR

Berliner Weisse is still an underserved style, even though it is pretty easy to brew compared to other sour styles.  My version has a bit more acidity and funk than most of the commercial versions I've sampled, but it has always gone over well at competitions (and more importantly I like it).  I'm hoping I have similar results in a few weeks at the 2011 NHC first round (I'm sending to Nashville, TN).  Is anybody else sending beers there? I'm entering categories 17a, 17b, 17e, 22b, 22c, and 23.

Berliner Weisse 3

Wish my Berliner Weisse was a bit clearer, but that will come with more time.
Appearance – The carbonation is strong enough that the bottle starts foaming up when I crack it open, not surprising with 3.6+ volumes of CO2. Pale (Budweiser) yellow with a slight haze even at cellar temps. The swirling bubbles keep the stark white head inflated.

Smell – Tart apples, slightly musty, and floral. A bit cleaner than my last Berliner, but still has plenty of aromatic complexity.

Taste – The acidity comes through as the dominant character on the first sip, tart up front and acidic in the finish. The wheaty/doughy malt comes across as a bit sweet despite how dry the beer is.

Mouthfeel – The high carbonation helps to prevent it from feeling too thin (not tannic or astringent), crisp is probably the right word.

Drinkability & Notes – Really drinkable if you like sour. I'm really happy with how this one turned out. I think Berliner Weisse is the first style that I've dialed to the point that there isn't anything I would change on my next batch.


  1. I'm shipping off 5 beers to the San Diego drop pretty soon. Got an American Pale Ale, Belgian Pale Ale, Dark Saison (going into 16e), Robust Porter, and Belgian Wit.

    My first competition, very excited.

    Good luck, sir.

  2. Heard your interview on BBR. Was wondering if you really thought the decoction was necessary? If it was just for the hops could you get away with doing this in the heat to 210 stage? Just wondering if you could get away with a simpler mash schedule.

    I am planning on brewing another berliner weisse soon. Last time I did a sour mash with good results, but this time I think that I will do a culture since I feel this will be more repeatable future batches and will allow new to use the lactoculture for a couple of beers(though 11 months is a long time for me to tie up space and a carboy for aging).

  3. Good luck on the NHC entries, I'd been considering entering my dark saison, but I think it is too spiced/sour/big to do well.

    This beer has been in the bottle for four months, although in the past I've bottled after 3-4 months with fine results. If you don't add Brett you can bottle much sooner than that (Kristen England suggests after 3-4 days in Brewing with Wheat, although I’d probably wait longer than that).

    I’m not sure how necessary the decoction is, I think it helps the malt character with such a plain grist (but I’ve never brewed a Berliner without it to compare). It is such a short brew that I don’t mind the extra 30 minutes of work. You can certainly make a beer that was great without it, it just won’t be exactly the same.

  4. Great thanks for the thoughts. And your right, 30 min extra minutes on a no boil beer isn't that much more time.

    Good luck at NHC.

  5. Wow, this is weird, I was just going to e-mail you and ask you to do a post like this! Thanks for the great info!

  6. Sorry, my first comment was supposed to appear under your post about maintaing bug strains...

  7. Sounds delicious! I would love to give it a try!

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. Glad to hear! You don't need to wait for a Berliner to be in the bottle for 3-4 months, but I think it helps. My pale sours tend to get a bit of a weird cereal finish, so I tend to wait it out.

  10. So you don't have problems with bombs at that volume of CO2 in a regular beer bottle?

  11. Haven't had one blow, but if you go over 4.o volumes I'd at least go with heavier German/Belgian bottles.

  12. Yep, the recipe is linked from the first sentence of this post, click on "most recent Berliner Weisse."