|An ideal summer afternoon – Berliner Weisse, tunes and
a magazine on the backyard deck.
So the Berliner Weisse that was a topic of a rather extensive post two weeks ago is kegged and carbed, meaning its time for a tasting!
This beer was a rapid sour, produced by souring pre-hopped wort in the kettle using a mix of commercial Lactobacilli. After 3.5 days of souring a 35C the wort was briefly boiled, hopped with Hallertauer, and fermented with German ale yeast (Wyeast 1007). 8 days after mashing in the beer was fermented and in the keg…it carb’d up last week while I was away at the cottage and is now ready to drink.
Appearance: Its a Berliner – cloudy, pale yellow-white, soap-like head. In a bit of a surprise, the head lasts a while; a rarity in acidic beers.
Aroma: A mix of wheaty/bread and lactic acid dominate the aroma, some “yeast” aroma is in the background.
Flavour: Lactic acid is upfront, alongside a sweet malt character. The usual breadiness of a Berliner is present, but not as strong as I’d prefer. Yeast character is somewhat neutral. The degree of acidity is lower than I expected – perhaps due to the higher than expected malt sweetness altering the balance.
Mouthfeel: Dry, but not quite as crisp as I’d prefer. After taste is slightly sweet and sour.
Overall: Given the acidity of the wort prior to pitching the yeast (3.4) I’m surprised this isn’t more sour – the sourness is on-style, but is on the weaker end and edges towards insufficiently sour. I think this is a result of my overly high efficiency on this batch – I normally aim to use sucrose for 10-15% of the fermentables, which guarantees a crisp finish. In this batch my higher-than-expected efficiency meant I could not add any sugar without seriously exceeding the alcohol range I was looking for. In fact I had to dilute the wort an extra 10% just to get it where I wanted.
So its a good beer, but not the beer I was hoping for; in place of a sharply sour and crispy dry beer I instead have a softly sour, slightly sweet beer. Its still refreshing, and on-style, but its on the opposite side of the style guidelines from what I was looking for. The good news is that the residual sweetness should work well with the Brett added to the other half of the batch; over the next month or so it should consume those dextrans, leaving a much drier beer with a more pleasing sour character.