Today we released our rendition of a 16th century German style cloudy sour wheat ale:Berliner Weisse. This ale is light, refreshing, and deliciously sour. Traditionally served with Himbeersirup (raspberry) and & Waldmeistersirup (woodruff) syrups and a straw. Berliner Weisse saw great popularity becoming the most consumed style in Berlin. However by the 20th century Berliner Weisse had become an all but lost style.
The main focus of this beer is thirst quenching acidity from lactobacillus, low alcohol, low hops, with a crisp wheat note and a touch of Brettanomyces. The beer should be perfectly thirst quenching and refreshing.
There are several ways to provide acidity to beer. Less traditionally methods include a portion of acidulated malt in the grain bill. This malt, as the name implies, is acidified at the malt house providing a clean sour note in the beer depending on the amount used. You can also use pure lactic acid in conditioning. The drawback of these methods is that you will not produce the aromatic esters associated with lactobacillus in the finished product. The third, and most traditional is to use lactobacillus during fermentation. The lactobacillus will consume some of the sugars prodcing lactic acid and various esters. This method takes time but will produce a more rounded and complex sourness, and was our chosen route.
Several of the yeast laboratories have mixed cultures to ferment a Berliner Weisse with. These cultures include a mix of lactobacillus, Brewer’s yeast, and brettanomyces. The beer is fermented with the mix and over time the proper acidity, flavor, and aromas will be produced. In my brewery, when fermenting wild ales I prefer to use my own mix of yeasts and bacteria tailored to each individual beer, leaving our mark on the style. Also, this gives us the great opportunity to educate ourselves, implementing various production and aging methods.
The Berliner Weisse now on tap is our third attempt at the style. The first attempt went down the drain. The second, while very good, lacked the acidity necessary for the style and was too high in alcohol ( a huge 4%!). This batch was barreled in Syrah port Barrels with blueberries, additional bacteria, & brettanomyces.
On tap is a culmination of our first two trials; marrying several techniques to produce what I feel is a very solid nod to the style. The beer pours a nice cloudy light gold with a fluffy white head. The aroma is malted wheat & lactobacillus with a hint of brettanomyces. With a PH of 3.2 the beer is cleanly sour, crisp, and refreshing. We are pouring the Berliner Weisse from one of our new taps that can handle a highly carbonated beer, which is important to the style. The extra carbonation provides the lift necessary to increase the drinkability and add a prickly mouth feel. Alongside each glass we provide an addtional sample with the two syrups. This gives you the opportunity to test the beer on its own and with the the syrups finding your personal preference. Some beer enthusiasts may scoff at the idea of adding syrup to a beer. I prefer to honor tradition, giving people their own choice. As for the straw, you will have to ask for one.
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