Brew Day: Berliner Weisse Version 2.0

Decoction

Decoction

I have been wanting to try to brew another Berliner Weisse style beer for quite some time. My first attempt never got sour, so I wanted to make sure that this time I would end up with a nice low alcohol tart brew. I had done some googling and stumbled upon this thread on Northern Brewer. It had a ton of interesting information, including some rather controversial items that I had read contrary to elsewhere on the web. I summarized the notes in a google doc, but it essentially boiled down to:

  • Perform a single decoction with a mash hop
  • No boil
  • Pitch both ale yeast and lactobacillus with a ratio of 3:1 (lacto:yeast).
  • Ferment for 4-7 days then bottle.
  • At bottling add more lacto and yeast 3:1 ratio (lacto:yeast)

I loved the idea of being to be able to brew a quick turn-around sour (especially with summer approaching). Additionally because there was no boil, I could do it in my apartment. I made a starter for the Lactobacillius by putting a light inside a carboard box and cutting a hole in the top and covering with aluminum foil. I let the light on inside the box with a little starter wort and the lactobacillius for 2 days. The temperature stabilized around 88F, which made the lacto very happy.

This was my first decoction mash, so I wasn’t surprised when I missed my mash step temperatures. After decocting and boiling the thick part of the mash, my temperature was off by ~10F, so I boiled a gallon of water and slowly added it to the mash while stirring to get it to the correct temperature. I finally mashed out and sparged and ended up with just over 5 gallons of beer. I chilled to ~85F and let it naturally chill for a few hours before pitching the yeast.

Exactly 7 days later I bottled the beer. The gravity had dropped to 1.001, the lowest I have achieved, yet. The sample I drank already had a really nice tartness to it. In my “sour bottling bucket” I added another package of lacto and sprinkled ~1/4 a package of Safele S05 yeast. I aimed for 4 volumes of carbonation when adding my sugar water to the bottling bucket. I’ve done 4 volumes in the past on 2 different batches (one of which is over a year old) and have never experienced bottle bombs in normal 12oz and 22oz bottles.

The beer is likely carbonated now, but I’ll probably wait a few weeks to try it, just in case. I’ll have a tasting post coming up shortly. Overall, though, this beer and the methods used produced a nice sour berliner very quickly. I would highly recommend it to others.

You can view the full recipe and notes here.

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