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Author Replies
brewinhard
03/04/10 08:23 PM  
Berliner Weisse help please
After having totally exhausted all of the past threads posted on BW's here and after having brewed one that did not get as sour as I would have liked I now am getting ready to tackle this one again with some changes. Here are my plans ready for the critiquing:

Starter preparation:

- 5-7 days before brewing I plan on making a 1.5 L starter and pitching some crushed grain (hopefully introducing lactobacillus)into the wort with a blanket of CO2 on top. I will add the grain when the wort has cooled to around 100 degrees or so. Letting the wort sour over the course of a week or so before brewing.

Question 1 - would it be better to just use a pure lacto culture instead of the grains even though I have not had success in the past using WY lacto d.?

Question 2 - is 90-100 degrees a good temp to let the lacto do its thing?

On brewday I will collect my lightly mash-hopped (with a low, noble AA hop) wort into my kettle and bring it just to a boil to kill of any other critters I might not want. Cool to around 90-100 degrees or so, add soured starter w/o splashing (no aeration of batch wort), add a blanket of CO2, and airlock. Let lacto starter work on batch wort for 48 hrs. or so. Let wort cool to yeast pitching temps then pitch small amount of neutral ale yeast (US-05 most likely) to finish remainder of fermentation. At this time, possibly add the dregs of a bottle of Fantome courtesy of BPotts suggestions/posts.

What does everyone think of these methods? I am looking for a tart, sour BW. It probably couldn't be too sour for my taste either. Does this look like it could get me where I want to be? Please advise....

brewinhard
03/04/10 08:26 PM  
Re: Berliner Weisse help please
Also was wondering if 5-7 days would be TOO long for my starter to sour? Sorry, forgot to add that to first post.

mtc
03/04/10 09:46 PM  
Re: Berliner Weisse help please
Here is my method, which I credit to BPotts. This produces a very tart and authentic Berliner.

50/50 Pilsner, wheat. 15 minute Boil. 1 oz. noble-type hops at beginning of boil. Cool normally. Pitch 1056 and WY Lacto together. After 1 month, buy a Fantome (any will do), drink it, and then pitch the dregs. 2 months later you'll have a very tart, nice Berliner, that will continue to sour after packaging. Freakishly Easy! No starter necessary, but warm fermentation temps help.

brewinhard
03/09/10 07:50 PM  
Re: Berliner Weisse help please
Okay, now I'm thinking I might try WY lacto again with say a 1 qt starter (lower gravity than usual, no aeration). Pitch that into my batch wort (no aeration) around 90-100 degrees and let it ride for 2-3 days. Bring the wort down to ale pitching temps and pitch a tiny bit of neutral ale yeast (most likely US-05) to finish things up.

Any ideas as to how long a starter that size should ferment for with the lactobacillus?

CASK1
03/09/10 10:30 PM  
Re: Berliner Weisse help please
I've made several Berliner Weisse, including a BOS, using a sour mash. One week prior to the Berliner brew, make another beer with any light grain bill (no porters, stouts, etc). Use ~2 lbs extra malt (for a 5 gal Berliner). After the mash is complete, pull the extra 2 lbs worth of mash (grains and wort) to a new vessel and cool to 100F. Add a handful or two of grain, stir, cover with saran wrap, and keep warm (95-105) for one week. It'll be extremely sour. [You could freeze if desired at this point.] On Berliner day, mash as desired using a lighter grain bill, then add the sour mash after conversion. No need to pitch anything but a generic ale yeast for fermentation. You could certainly add dregs to the fermenter if desired, but not necessary.

Cheers!

brewinhard
03/10/10 08:37 PM  
Re: Berliner Weisse help please
So you are basically recommending a 2 # mini sour mash for one week which then gets added back to the mash tun after conversion for the berliner is complete. Sparge and add ale yeast?
Mike T
03/11/10 08:47 AM  
Re: Berliner Weisse help please
I've always had good luck with a mash hopped, decocted, no-boil, lacto-ale mixed fermentation. I worry about dropping the pH too much before getting the yeast going, I tried a friend's that fermented hard with lacto for a couple days before he pitched the yeast, the yeast certainly tasted stressed out (weird esters/phenols).

Keeping the IBUs really low will allow the lacto to do its thing, having a healthy culture is also important so it gets off to a fast start.

CASK1
03/11/10 01:58 PM  
Re: Berliner Weisse help please
CASK1
03/11/10 02:01 PM  
Re: Berliner Weisse help please
Sorry for the error post above.

Brewinhard - exactly what you said. I have not noticed an issue with yeast stress.

brewinhard
03/11/10 07:42 PM  
Re: Berliner Weisse help please
Mike,

Did your friend use a healthy starter for pitching with the ale yeast after lacto fermentation? Was the lacto you used a lab culture and how big of a starter for how many days (if any) did you use?

Cask1-

Are you boiling the wort after sparging the batch with the sour mini mash added? Or are you just sparging and adding yeast ala "no boil?"

There really seems to be so many different ways to "skin the cat" on this one that I am still up in the air as to which way to go. Thanks for all the feedback. Please keep it coming...

CASK1
03/11/10 10:42 PM  
Re: Berliner Weisse help please
Yes - I did boil after the mash. The intent is for the main fermentation to be with ale yeast, so some boil time is needed to kill the lacto that soured the mini-mash.

I agree that there are many ways to go with this. I doubt one way is truly better than all the rest. Flip a coin and have fun!

B-Dub
03/16/10 03:10 PM  
Re: Berliner Weisse help please
MTC,

If you use 1056 yeast, what do you mash in at?? It seems like all my FGs are on the low side with that yeast if my mash temps are not in the 154-156 range for 1.050ish beers.

I am planning on brewing a BW in the next few days.

Thinking of a 156 mash temp, mash off and let sit overnight. In the morning heat back up to 170, run off, bring to a boil and then cool. Pitch a neutral yeast and lacto together.

Any thoughts?

Thanks,

BW

brewinhard
03/16/10 06:00 PM  
Re: Berliner Weisse help please
I would think that 156 is quite high for this style to mash at seeing as how you want it to finish around 1.003-1.006 or so. When you say "low" FG how low do you mean? If I mash, say a simple pale ale recipe at 152, it will typically finish between 1010-1012 FG.

I like the idea of a shortened sour mash and then adding a lacto culture along with yeast, but if you mash off around 168-170 degrees then that might destroy most of the present lactobacillus on the grains which will sour your mash (unless you intend to pitch in a handful of fresh grains or so to introduce lacto once the mash cools to below 120 or so).

This approach will probably not lead to a sour enough beer unless you pitch fresh grains to sour the mash, AND make a healthy lacto starter to pitch in with the neutral yeast. just depends on what you are looking for. I feel that BW's can never really be too sour for my liking, but that's just me. ;)

B-Dub
03/16/10 06:15 PM  
Re: Berliner Weisse help please
Most of the beers I make that are mashed in the 154 range with a 1.055 OG seem to finish in the 1.008 range.

I am rethinking this mash temp thing. What about mashing in at 150, let the mash cool to 100-120, add grains and wait overnight. Then mash off in the morning and run off and cool after a short boil.

I have a nice lacto starter going right now which I will add to the wort with the 1056 yeast.

Then one of the kegs will get some Fantome dregs while the first one is on tap.

A good sourness is good for us!!

Thanks again,

BW

mtc
03/17/10 10:14 AM  
Re: Berliner Weisse help please
I do a simple 60 minute mash at 152 and mash out at 168. I also let beers that are going to get sour/funked cool ambiently overnight, but that is post boil. My FG has varied from 1.000-1.005 over several batches. The best versions to my taste have had a tad of residual sugar left and have finished on the higher end of that FG range.

Cheers,

mtc

tankdeer
03/17/10 11:53 AM  
Re: Berliner Weisse help please
<<I've always had good luck with a mash hopped, decocted, no-boil, lacto-ale mixed fermentation.>>

This!

3:1 lacto/sacch is what I've used in the past with good results. For anybody that remembers the Berliner swap we did a couple years ago, this is exactly how I made that Berliner, which was enamel-stripping sour (in a good way). The beer took home it's share of medals as well.

I've always thought that boiling a Berliner Weisse is a fatal flaw. What's the point? You're killing off a huge portion of souring microbes that survive the mash. Just my opinion though.

mtc
03/17/10 12:59 PM  
Re: Berliner Weisse help please
Fatal flaw? Definitely varying ways to achieve great results...Sounds like another swap might be in order.
Al B
03/17/10 01:45 PM  
Re: Berliner Weisse help please
<<I've always thought that boiling a Berliner Weisse is a fatal flaw. What's the point?>>

It may have been a point years ago when using pilsner malt & getting DMS, but I don't think that is an issue anymore on todays malt. Conversely, I'm not quick to accept that there are huge numbers of souring bugs after mash (some sure) - may be subject to a plate count next time (if I remember).

Some places (w/out naming names) uses almost all Lacto and a touch of brett in their Berliner. Surprised me, then again, there's no one way in making Berliner...........

JeffB
03/17/10 02:51 PM  
Re: Berliner Weisse help please
I agree with tank and mikeT. I had tanks berliner and it was great and sour.

I did mine similarly but I made my starter of lacto using apple juice. I got that idea from the Bruery. But remember to pour off all the juice or you get a malolactic sourness as well. I made that mistake last year.

I will be brewing mine again this summer, it is such an easy to make and easy to drink summer beer.

brewinhard
03/17/10 07:58 PM  
Re: Berliner Weisse help please
I was thinking of doing a 90 minute mash at 149. Mashout at 170 or so and sparge into a fermenter. Cool to 100 degrees, add a handful of grains (not sure A. how much, and B. if they need to be crushed or not- any ideas would be great!), cover with plastic wrap and a good shot of CO2 with lid and airlock. Let sour around 100 degrees for 48 hrs. Rack to kettle, bring to boil, then chill, and add neutral ale yeast. Do I even need to boil this or will it just continue to get waaaayyyyy too sour? Should I just add ale yeast after 48 hrs of souring or will this get too funky without stopping the lacto?
Seanywonton
03/24/10 01:30 PM  
Re: Berliner Weisse help please
I had pretty good luck with the last batch, it's getting nice and sour and complex, not too wild or phenolic. Not doing a boil definitely seems to help sour it up quickly. I did a no-boil, hopping only the decoction step, and keeping the entire wort below 160 the whole time. Then I pitched AlB's Rodenbug blend from a previous batch.
brewinhard
03/27/10 09:11 AM  
Re: Berliner Weisse help please
I understand that the best way to make a BW, is to use lacto and sacch. at like a 4:1 pitch into the primary. This may sound like a ridiculous question, but how do you take a WY lacto package and ale yeast to a 4:1 ratio in starters? What size starter for the lacto (and how long/temps), and probably not even a starter for the sacch. yeast? Any advice?
Al B
03/27/10 09:29 AM  
Re: Berliner Weisse help please
Brewin

Last year I did this by some micro-work and adjusting the concentration of each. Doing this otherwise will be a crapshoot (yeast cells are much bigger in size than lacto) so starter volumes are alittle misleading.

The important thing is to have fresh lacto for Berliners.

They seem to have a lag time after being cold for a while. When the culture of lacto begins to emit CO2 - you can be confident that they are ready to compete in a low gravity brew with the yeast.

As far as ratio is concerned, the 4:1 worked very well, but again is not necessary either.

Sl8w
03/27/10 12:06 PM  
Re: Berliner Weisse help please
I computed it once, but can't find it now. But from memory, making a fresh ~1.75 qt lacto starter, and pitching (hours/days later) a 1-2 month old yeast pack without starter got me pretty close to that ratio, at least theoretically.
B-Dub
03/27/10 04:05 PM  
Re: Berliner Weisse help please
I ended up brewing a BW last week. The mash temp was 150-152, OG 1.034 and 4 IBUs. To this was pitched a sizable lacto starter at 80 deg after cooling and S05 added 12 hours later when the temp was down to 72 deg.

The FG is 1.000 to 1.002.

So far it has a hint of sourness and with that low of an FG I wouldn't imagine allot more to develop. Any one have a different experience?

What kind of time frame should I look at for aging this before putting on tap?? The newest BP book Wheat says about 2 weeks.

Thanks,

BW

brewinhard
03/28/10 09:26 AM  
Re: Berliner Weisse help please
Hey Sl8w!

How long did you give the lacto starter to work and at what temperature? did this procedure turn out to be sour enough for the style?

sl8w
03/28/10 02:18 PM  
Re: Berliner Weisse help please
I've had varying results, but with my best batch I made the lacto starter in a 1/2 gallon growler. I put it in a box (the box the carboy came in), covered it with a towel, then put a shop light in the box. This kept the starter temp at about 91-92F. I pitched the starter 2.5 days later with the beer at 100F. I pitched the yeast a day later at 74F. Nice and sour.
tankdeer
03/29/10 02:16 PM  
Re: Berliner Weisse help please
It's been a while since I made mine, but what I did was to make a 1 liter starter with fresh lacto on a stirplate, at roughly 90. I let that settle for a couple weeks int he fridge, as it's much more "powdery" than yeast (probably due to the smaller cell size). Then I pitch that at the same time as a single vial of WLP001. Left that in primary for a week or two and then straight to kegs and bottles (split). It was enamel-stripping sour pretty much right away. Like Al mentioned, I think fresh lacto is the key. (That and I'm still a firm believer in no-boil) :)
brewinhard
03/29/10 07:44 PM  
Re: Berliner Weisse help please
This style really is intriguing ferociously! I plan on brewing at least 2 of these this spring to be ready by the heat of the summer. So many different techniques to try out. I think I will try one with a large starter of lactobacillus and neutral ale yeast a couple days later.

Now that WY is releasing Brett C., I also plan on doing a full sour mash (with the wort) for 48 hrs, then quick boil and pitch a Brett. C. starter as my yeast. Looking forward to experimenting with this style in depth. I feel that there is so much left to uncover about this style!

wetherel
04/17/10 11:30 PM  
Re: Berliner Weisse help please
"Full sour mash (with the wort) for 48 hrs, then quick boil and pitch a Brett. C. starter as my yeast" sounds awesome. I just did something similar with WY Lambicus. It's good and sour, but not perfect. I used 1/2 two row 1/2 wheat, bu next time I'm going to use pilsner instead. I'm also wondering if it's better to "full sour mash" AFTER boiling, using a pure WY/WL Lactobacillus strain. Sure it's an additional $6. But look how much effort we put into picking the right saccharomyces strains and temperature and cell counts and oxygen levels, because we don't want off aromas from the yeast. It seems logical a better beer will be produced with a well selected pure Lactobacillus strain. Also full sour mash after boiling:

a. stops the enzymatic conversion of your mash where you want it stop

b. Heating to a boil from 170deg mashout is quicker, and chilling from boil to 120F for the sour mashing is also quicker

c. May help reduce leaching of tannins/grainy flavors from long sour mash on the grains

d. Lactobacillus is alive in your bottles, which may continue to develop character in the bottle.

wetherel
04/17/10 11:55 PM  
Re: Berliner Weisse help please
I've been thinking about tankdeer's suggestion of using Fantome's "super Lacto" dregs for a Berliner Weisse. I tried an old Fantome Printemps today and there was no sourness. I went through the reviews of the highest volume Fantome beers in the ratebeer database. Most of their beers seem to be Saisons, but the one that is actually called "Saison" seems to have the most reviews calling it sour and funky. The reviews also seem to suggest the presence of Brett. What do you think is in Fantome Saison? Brett? Lacto? Saison Yeast? If you put it on a stir plate at 100F, what you get? Would a Fantome Saison from 2 yrs ago have a different mix of cultures than a bottle purchased today?
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