As my garage sits around 100F during the day now and only drops to 85-90F at night here in balmy Houston, I decided that I should make a sour mash Berliner Weiss since it is very easy to maintain the warm temps for the lactobacillus several days to get the sour and low pH. After talking over this plan with a coworker who is very experienced with lacto/brett fermentations, he suggested a sour wort method instead of the sour mash, as it is easier to keep O2 out, select the lacto strain and better probability to get a good result. He also turned me onto Milk The Funk wiki pages which have just a ton of recent reliable information.
For my lacto strain I decided on buying GoodBelly PlusShot Mango as the mango flavor reportedly is light and goes away. It is also chock full of lactobacillus Plantarum which has given others very good results. There was one other aspect of this project I wanted to cover, and that is the reported increase head retention/creation on lacto fermented beers by acidifying the wort to 4.5 or lower prior to pitching lacto. I have had a cheap pH meter for some time that I’ve never used so it was another first for me on this adventure called project. So, new stuff for me: 1) Sour Worting 2) Pitching ProBiotic 3) pH management & measurement.
Oh yeah, almost forgot, for the 5 gallon batch I wanted to keep half and pitch a standard american ale for my Berliner, the other half I plan to pitch a brett strain, preferably Wyeast 5526 Lambicus which produces a cherry pie flavor. Well, my LHBS did not have that and pretty much the only option was WLP 644 Saccharomyces “Bruxellensis” Trois, which is the strain that caused a lot of hub bub recently when it was noticed that it really wasn’t a bret strain but a normal sach strain. At the end of the day I don’t really care, I like the tropical fruit flavors it throws off. So, this second half of my batch will get the Trois and sit for 2-3 months until finished out. 2 beers, 1 batch, I like that kind of efficiency.
For my 5 gallon Berliner Weiss:
- 3 lbs Wheat
- 3 lbs 2 Row
- 5.6 gallons of spring water
Yep, that is it, I will add a touch of hops when I bring it up to a boil (15 mins) post lacto fermentation, I’ll add those to this recipe at that time, likely enough for 4-6 IBUs to stay in bounds of the 2015 BJCP guidelines, if nothing else than to make sure it is still a ‘Berliner Weiss’ style. I will depend on the troi yeast for the other half to flavor up and bring out the tropical fruits from it, I may sit it on fruit as well, I’ll decide in a few months when I am at that point and taste it.
So far for this process this is what I have done:
- Mashed the 6lbs of grain in 5.6 gallons of water and adjusted pH to 5.2 with Phosphoric Acid blend (1/2 tsp for me)
- Mash temp 152F
- After 1 hour of mash, I removed the grains (BIAB) and took the wort up to 200F, pulled a pH sample and noted 5.2
- Adjusted pH down to 4.4 with 1 tsp of phosphoric acid (85%)
- cooled to 105F
- Drained into my carboy, added 4 containers of GoodBelly Mango PlusShot and topped off with a spray of CO2
- Connected a 2nd temp probe from my BrewBit to the carboy, wrapped it and set in garage
So now my wort sits in the garage, it maintained ~103F during the day yesterday (it was already a hot afternoon by the time I put it into the garage) and now this morning with a relatively cool garage it is at 93F, perfect.
I’ll update the blog and reference them at the bottom of this post as the project moves forward. The thought of how easy this was and the fact I can do this in my kitchen during the hot sweaty summer months and have a perfect heat location for the lacto makes me think I should do another batch or two for longer term sour projects using brett fermentations. I still want to get the Wyeast 5266 and experience that cherry pie flavor. Luckily (I guess) I have a full three more months of god awful Houston heat and humidity to pull this off in.
7/3/2016: My first pH reading after 26 hours shows 3.1 and seems to suggest I didn’t need to pitch all 4 bottles of GoodBelly, good to know for the next batch. Had a slight grain aroma and a lemony tart flavor, the residual sugar is balancing out what should be a super sour beer. I’ve moved the carboy back inside from the 95-100F garage to help slow things down as my yeast is in a starter right now.
7/4/2016: I put half of this batch in a 3 gallon fermentor and pitched WLP 644 Sacch Troi once it hit 64F. I left the lacto intact for this part of the split batch. The other half I heated up to boiling, added a few hops and then cooled down to 80F, which was as cool as I could get it with the little ice I had and the nice Houston tap water that is at 90F. I put it into another 3 gallon fermentor and cooled in my fermentation chamber (chest freezer) down to 64F and pitched an active 1.5L starter of WLP 090, San Diego Super Yeast. This has been my go to yeast this past year for American clean fermentation’s.
Tasting notes from the ‘clean’ beer, the Berliner Weisse