Award Winning Homebrew Recipe: Berliner Weisse,
One of my favorite base styles to brew.
Berliner Weisse is a cloudy, sour, low SRM beer of around 3% abv.
ABV range: 2.8 – 3.8%
IBU Range: 3 – 8
Color: Pale straw
Malt: Pilsner malt, Malted wheat
Yeast: Ale, Brettanomyces
With this recipe, it’s extremely simple to adjust this base whether it develops into a Gose w/spices, adding fruit (preferably Oregon Fruit Products), dry hopping with new world additions (like Nelson Sauvin or Motueka), or even just serving it with a traditional woodruff syrup.. I wanted to give all these recipes and more to break it down with what has worked well for me in the past.
1st Place at the Southern California Homebrew Competition (2015)
3rd Place at the San Diego County Fair (2016)
2nd Place at Pacific Brewers Cup (2016) (not pictured)
Homebrewing Recipe: Berliner Weisse
#1) .5L of 1.030 Lacto Brevis on heating pad @ 89° for 24-48 hours -> Bumped up starter to 1.75L of 1.035 wort + 1 oz of crushed Pilsner malt for 24-36 hours to pitch
75% RO / 25% Charcoal Filtered
– 4.5 lbs Pilsner Malt
– 2.1 lbs Wheat Malt
#1 Mash for 50 minutes @ 148°
#2 Add 1 oz of mash hop @ 30 minutes (Saaz is preferred, (Pellet, 3.9% AA))
#3 Mashout for 10 minutes @ 172°
#1 Mash Hop (see Mash above)
This recipe is a NO BOIL. Since lighter malts, like Pilsner malt can obtain precursor to DMS, it’s good to either prevent it from boiling or boil for 90 minutes.
In this recipe, I bring up to 210° and immediately cool down.
After cooled, take a pH reading and acidify to 4.2 to limit growth Clostridium butyricum and other potential off-flavor bacteria.
Using my 2-stage chiller, my cooling practice entails
#1 – 210° F -> 130° F(plate chiller) which recirculates in the kettle causing a whirlpool to occur
#2 – 130° F -> 90° F (turn on immersion chiller)
#1 Pitch lactobacillus starter at @ 86° F for 7 days)
#2 Pitch Saison/Brett culture (Yeast Bay Saison/Brett Blend)
– Usually, most recipes will call for a neutral yeast to finish up the primary fermentation, but I always prefer anything with brett. Using brett will make this beer turn to a 3 month fermentation instead of 1 month. There are a couple of other finishing strains I want to use in the future (one being Yeast Bay Funk Town Pale Ale which is basically Conan + Saccharomyces “bruxellensis” Trois (i.e. the fake one)).
After Primary is complete, you can follow any of the variations below: Dry Hopping, Fruit Additions, Plain with Woodruff syrup.
Berliner Weisse Variations:
Dry Hopping is most likely one of my favorite recipes, even though it doesn’t fit any style guidelines.
Ideally, specific blends come to mind which favor citric or stone fruit aromatics. Below are a few hop blends that have worked well.
#1) 40% Amarillo / 40% Simcoe / 20% Centennial
#2) 100% Nelson Sauvin
#3) 60% Citra / 40% Amarillo
#4) 33% Jaryllo / 33% Motueka / 33% El Dorado
The key to dry hopping is to limit ALL oxygen after primary. My set up is designed to rack (w/ Co2) into a purged dry hop keg on to loose hops. My process was adapted from the wonderful folks over at Bear Flavored. You can check out his article “How I Dry-Hop My IPAs with No Oxygen Pickup and No Clogged Kegs” and follow Derek and all his homebrewing knowledge. Regardless how you dry hop, I always suggest larger amounts and less contact time.
With my timing, I tend to use around 8oz of dry hop and keep suspended with a blast of C02 to keep hops in suspension over the course of 3 days and transfer off settled hops to a serving keg to be force carbonated to 3.0 vol.
I’ve had wonderful successes with Oregon Fruit Products in my sour beers. These fruit additions can vary depending on how much you want to get out of it. A good place to start for this base is around .5 lbs per gallon.
A few consumer available products:
Otherwise Vintner’s Harvest has a few alternatives available
- Kiwi (start around .75lbs/gallon)
- Raspberry (start around .75lbs/gallon)
After primary fermentation has slowed or completed, feel free to split up your batched onto the fruit puree. Personally, I wish I had some 3gal Better Bottles to dry different variations between batches. At this point, you will want to make sure that the secondary fermentation is completed before bottling or kegging.
When serving your homebrewed Berliner Weisse, be sure to concoct some (flavored or un-flavored) woodruff syrup. Michael at the Mad Fermentationist gave a good breakdown of his Berliner Weisse recipe and some examples of Woodruff in his article “Berliner Weisse – 1st Tasting“.
(and yes, I have upgraded my pH meter instead of using this crappy $10 one from Amazon)
Some other alternative resources from some truly awesome people discussing Berliner Weisse
Designing and Brewing a Berliner Weisse