Recipe requests have started rolling in for the Berliner Weiss that won Best of Show at the North Carolina State Fair beer competition (The NC Brewer’s Cup), as well as Best of Show at the 4th quarter Carolina Quarterly Brew-Off. And I’m not one to hold my recipes in secret, as I have learned a lot from all of the other great recipes that have been shared with me.
Berliner Weiss is a fantastic style of beer. It is a German wheat beer (weiss) that is in the same family as the popular hefeweizen, but it’s dominant characteristic is a tart acidity created by lactobacillus-derived lactic acid. It is straw yellow, highly carbonated, and lightly hopped beer that clocks in at under 4% ABV. It is a very crisp and refreshing summertime beer and is often a hit with wine and champagne drinkers due to the low bitterness, dry character and tart bite.
There are a few unique things to think about when brewing this Berliner Weiss:
- Sourness is derived from a lactobacillus culture
- A decoction mash is used
- The wort is only boiled for 10 minutes
- Extended conditioning is required to develop the sourness,
- Add in dregs from other sour beers to enhance complexity of the sourness
Also, a big shout out to Michael of The Mad Fermentationist blog, as his Berliner Weiss recipe was the launching pad for this beer.
10.5 Gallon Batch
65% Total Efficiency
10 Minute Boil Time
**Note that these adjustments were made mainly to bring the pH of the water down, as the light malt bill resulted in a higher pH. Also, lactobacillus prefers a lower wort pH, so lactic acid can also be added directly to the fermentor after the boil
4g Epsom Salt
2 mL Lactic Acid
8 lbs 8 oz Pilsner malt (60.7%)
5 lbs White Wheat Malt (35.7%)
2 oz Acidulated Malt (0.9%) (also used to bring down the mash pH)
5 oz Rice Hulls (2.7%) (to help avoid a stuck spage due to the high percentage of wheat)
1.5 oz Fuggles (4.5% AA) added to the mash
0.5 oz Hallertauer (4.8% AA) boiled for 10 minutes
1 package Safale American #US-05 dry yeast (properly rehydrated prior to pitching)
1 package Lactobacillus Wyeast #5335 (1 L apple juice starter)
Step by Step
- Mix grain and strike water and add mash hops, stirr well
- Decoction Mash: 125 degrees for 25 minutes, decoct 2.14 gallons of mash and boil it, then add back to the mash, rest at 148 degrees for 45 minutes
- Batch sparege with two steps at 168 degrees
- Collect runoff and bring to a boil
- Add boil hops and boil for 10 minutes
- Chill wort, oxygenate, and pitch yeast and lacto together
- Ferment at 67 degrees for three weeks
- Transfer into a secondary fermentor, raise temperature to 75 and let condition for approximately 5 months or until desired level of sourness is achieved. Feel free to add dregs from your favorite sour beers over time to increase the complexity of the sourness.
- Bottle condition or keg to 2.7 vols