Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Berliner Weisse Recipe/Notes

After three different pales this summer (should be ready to do a comparison taste test soon).  Wanting to do a Berlinerweisse was inspired by three things:

1.  Hanson ordered this in Berlin and it came back green.  The waitress asked "Mit shuss?" and of course he nodded which gave her the go ahead to put green woodruff syrup in the beer.  The picture below is not mine (thank you to the person that does own it), however that's exactly what came to the table.
2.  A few months ago, we selected Telegraph Brewing's 'Reserve Wheat' as beer of the month for Plumpjack.  In doing the research and tasting notes, I learned quite a bit about the style and really enjoyed Telegraph's interpretation.
3.  Dogfishhead's 'Festina Peche' is being sold on our coast and it is an excellent summer beer.  The peach was so subdued that it didn't fall into the trap of just trying one and never picking it up again.

This style is a great introduction to sours for people that have never had them.  The beers are so light (approximately 3-4% alcohol) that the tartness of the lacto really is the focus.  I absolutely prefer the sour, however the syrups (raspberry or woodruff) are used to cut the tartness.  If all goes well, we're hoping our batch is ready for the SF summer (Sept/Oct).

Ingredients (based from Jamil's recipe in BYO):
3.75 lbs of pilsner malt
2.75 lbs of wheat malt
.75 oz Hallertauer 4.5% AA hops (.5 in the mash, .25 in the boil).
1 vial WL Lactobacillus
1 vial WL European Ale yeast
1.5 quarts of water per lb of grain for mash
6 gallons of sparge water.  Enough to reach 5.25 gallons for the boil.

Mash temp:  Single infusion at 149 degrees
Sparge temp:  175 degrees
15 minute boil
OG:  1.037

1 qt yeast starter prepared 48 hours in advance of intended use.

Notes that differentiate this one:  This is the smallest grain bill we've had since we started all grain a year ago.  Hopping the mash was a new one for us and the short boil time.  The other key differentiation is that we added the lactobacillus to the wort as soon as it was chilled down to 75.  We gave it a 24 hour head start before adding the yeast.  Fermentation once the yeast was added was visible within about 8 hours and subsided after about 2 days.  6 days after adding, gravity reading is at 1.006.  Unreal.  I'll give it a few more days and transfer to the secondary for a month to let the souring continue.  Will update on transfer to secondary.

Update:  08/26  Transfer to the secondary after 10 days.  Gravity at an incredible 1.0006, very light.  This picture is insanely boring.   Will sit for about a month to let the sourness develop.

Update 11/1:  Tasting notes finally.  We procured some woodruff syrup and did a tasting with and without the syrup.  The result was not quite as tart as some others we've tried but a very enjoyable beer.  Definitely the 'softest' beer we've made yet and at about 3% alcohol, we hit the mark for a beer that could be considered a session beer but that would have a lot more complexity and flavor than the mass market beers.  Definitely a crowd pleaser and not likely to be something anyone has really tried before.  Here's our shot of the woodruff syrup added.  The green syrup is sweet and has a slight medicinal quality that makes the overall beverage taste like a soft-drink versus a beer.  Very tasty and refreshing.  Now we have to hurry up and have another BBQ.  Would definitely make this one again.