After finding success with a simple Hefeweizen recipe that was just wheat malt extract, I decided to up my game and try a slightly more involved style with the Berliner Weisse. Staying true to the spirit of simplicity, the grain bill here is only wheat malt extract.
Getting the lactose in could be achieved in several different ways. The easiest method would be to add the lactose at kegging or bottling, but I didn’t want to go that route. I wanted lactose produced by lactobacillus. To do that, there are two different methods. The first method is the sour mash. This involves making the mash and allowing it to remain warm for a few days to let the lactobacillus ferment. In addition to the lactobacillus fermenting, other bugs in the mash will also prosper. The final taste will vary based on the wild flora of the mash. Since I don’t have a mash to do this, due to using wheat malt extract only, I had to find another way.
In my searches of the Googles, I encountered a lot of conflicting/murky information regarding techniques of using lactobacillus. The other method I found was making a large lactobacillus starter, pouring that into their fermenter and allowing that to ferment a few days before adding yeast to finish the beer. I had two concerns, how will the lactobacillus handle the hops since hops were historically used to also fight spoilage, which lactobacillus is prone to do. And, this is supposed to be classic styles made easy and making a starter isn’t always the easiest thing for a beginner to do. So I thought, why don’t I make the entire batch a starter and do the beer in two steps but use one kettle and one fermentor.
This process involved making 3 gallons of wort with 3 lbs wheat DME in a 5 gallon kettle, boiling it for 30 minutes and cooling it so it was lukewarm. I then pitched two tubes of Lactobacillus Delbrueckii into my wort and purged the 2 gallon headspace of my kettle with carbon dioxide before I put the lid on. I put the lid on and and put a couple pieces of tape on it ensure the lid wouldn’t accidentally be dislodged but yet loose enough to allow pressure to escape. I wrapped kettle with a fermwrap, set the temperature to 90 degrees and insulated the kettle with a blanket. I checked the taste of the wort after 2 days and determined it was not to my liking and repeated the above process. After 3 more days I tasted it again and determined it “tangy” enough for my liking.
I then added 1 gallon of water, 1 pound of wheat DME and 1 oz of Tettnanger and brought the kettle back up to a boil for 40 minutes and chilled the 3 gallons of wort in an ice bath. It did not smell good and this worried me. However, based on the final product, the smell is nothing to worry about. Once chilled, I transferred my wort to a 5 gallon carboy and added 1 package of saison yeast. Fermentation and kegging proceeded as expected.
The end product was a very clean, refreshing, easy drinking, slightly tangy and slightly phenolic Berliner. I made a raspberry syrup and a sourwood honey syrup to go with it, but much prefer this Berliner without the syrup. The only thing I would do different is maybe give the lactobacillus another day or two to increase the sourness and tanginess. I will be making this again early next summer.
Marge’s Bingo Berliner Recipe (3 gallons):
- 4 lbs wheat dry malt extract
- 1 oz Tettnanger Hops
- 2 vials Lactobactillus Delbrueckii
- 1 pouch saison yeast