browser icon
You are using an insecure version of your web browser. Please update your browser!
Using an outdated browser makes your computer unsafe. For a safer, faster, more enjoyable user experience, please update your browser today or try a newer browser.

Award-Winning Berliner Weiss Recipe

Posted by on October 7, 2013

nc brewer's cup logoRecipe 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.

Recipe

10.5 Gallon Batch

65% Total Efficiency

1.032 SG

1.001 FG

4.7 IBUs

2.8 SRM

3.8% ABV

10 Minute Boil Time

Water Adjustments

**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

2g Gypsum

2 mL Lactic Acid

Grain

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)

Hops

1.5 oz Fuggles (4.5% AA) added to the mash

0.5 oz Hallertauer (4.8% AA) boiled for 10 minutes

Yeast

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
Let me know if you decide to brew this beer.  Obviously, I have been quite pleased with it, so I would love to hear how it turns out for others!

Related Posts:

7 Responses to Award-Winning Berliner Weiss Recipe

  1. Vinny

    Congrats on the awards!

  2. Wes

    Congratulations, and thanks so much for sharing the recipe!! Berliner Weiss is one of my favorite styles, and you make it seem so simple, I may finally jump in and attempt to brew one!

    • Chris

      It *can* be really simple. It’s a simple grain and hop bill, but the devil is in the details. Watch your water, mash, and wort pH and adjust as needed, make sure to hit those temperatures in the decoction mash, and give it enough time to sour, and you should do alright. Let me know how it turns out if you give it a shot!

  3. Jason W.

    I just placed this Berliner Weiss into secondary yesterday. When do you suggest to start adding dregs from other sours? Also, what were your tasting notes before placing into secondary, I got a lot of Lacto notes but no real tartness?
    Thanks,
    Jason

    • Chris

      Hi Jason – I started adding dregs after about 3 months. In the latest batch, I added them earlier, and introduced some brett and it seems to be overpowering the lacto. So give the lacto plenty of time to get established first.

      Your tasting sounds about spot on. I didn’t really start to get a lot of tart sourness until after 3-4 months. it really hit it’s prime about 5-6 months in, and by 7-8 months was a bit too sour for some folks. Just be patient and pull a sample every 3-4 weeks and monitor it’s progress. You can also add in a little lactic acid to boost the sourness if you like the flavor but want to lower the pH a touch.

      Let me know how it turns out!

  4. Jason W.

    Thanks for your response, Chris. I’m excited about this recipe and may have to brew another one soon. This will be my first Berliner Weisse or attempt at anything sour.
    Cheers,

    Jason

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>