Ich bin ein Berliner!

I have been brewing a fair amount and have a pretty good stockpile of beers made, so it is a good chance to make a beer that might take a few months to mature. Lpus I had been wanting to try some type of sour beer.  Earlier this year I had order a package of Wyeast 3191 Berliner Weisse with the intent of doing that. It just took me longer to get around to making it than I expected.

I order three yeast packs through a popular mail order outlet last summer.  I know that ordering live yeast in hot weather might be a little dicey – but the company I order from has a good reputation and even sent the yeast wrapped in cold packs.  Unfortunately it was several months before I got around to using the yeast.  All of the yeast packs were a little slow to start.

The Berliner Weisse yeast pack was the last one used.  I smacked it on a Wednesday.  After five days I was pretty sure it was dead; the pack was still flat.  Slowly, though, it began to swell and ten days later it was obvious that something was going on.  In the spirit of ‘relax, don’t worry’ I decided to plow ahead with my Berliner plan.

The Berliner Weisse is an odd duck.  The BJCP guidelines call for an original gravity of 1.028 to 1.032, and IBUs from 3 to 8.   It is hard to believe that a beer made to those specifications would be compelling.  Researching the preparation of a Berliner Weisse turned up more odd practices, such as mash hopping and no boiling.  Based on all of the information I found, here is how I brewed:

The style description suggests a grist of 50% malted wheat; I went with 40%.  There was no good reason for that choice, just a brewer’s decision.  I decided to take a no sparge for this recipe. While these are less efficient at rinsing the grain, with such a low gravity beer the loss in efficiency is no big deal.  Also I was trying to see how quickly I could knock this batch out, and not sparging saves some time.  And while a decoction mash is considered typical for this style, I know that is more trouble than it is worth.  But I did want to do a multi temperature mash, and the extra water gave me the opportunity to do some effective boiling water infusions.

I started the mash at 60 °C at let it rest for 15 minutes.  I added boiling water to bring the mash to 67 °C, then added hops.  I let it go for another 45 minutes or so before adding the remaining water and sparging.  I ended up with about 13 liters of wort at 8.0 °P.  I brought this up to a bare simmer before killing the heat and chilling.

Since the yeast started slow I just used added the whole smack pack to the wort and fermented at 21 °C.  It was slow to start, taking more than 24 hours to show up with bubbles in the airlock, but once it went, it went.  After one week I transferred the beer to a 3 gallon carboy.  It was cloudy and pale, it tasted fermented but no sour notes.

So now we wait. How long?  We will see. These things take time, you know.

Grains Amount Percent
Weyerman Pilsener Malt 1.21 kg 60%
Weyermann Light Wheat Malt 0.81 kg 40%
Hops Amount Boil Time IBUs
Fuggles (whole) 39 g 1 min ??
Original Gravity 8.0º P (1.032)
Final Gravity 1.5º P (1.006)
Apparent Attenuation 81%
Estimated ABV 3.4%
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