Sour Opprobrium – Tasting Notes

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.

5 thoughts on “Sour Opprobrium – Tasting Notes

  • July 23, 2015 at 11:35 AM

    Within the accuracy of my pH strips the pH doesn't appear to have changed (i.e. its +/- 0.1 pH units of 3.4). I've added pure lactic acid in the past as well, but found I didn't like the taste.

  • July 22, 2015 at 9:55 PM

    My first berliner ended up the same way as you describe this one. My quick fix for that batch was a shot of 5ml lactic acid into the keg which worked well enough for me to finish the keg.

    One aspect I'd be interested in knowing is if the pH went up post-fermentation. Did you happen to take a post-ferm/sacc pH reading?

  • July 22, 2015 at 12:35 PM

    I've tried all-brett BW's and generally found that I don't like them. Even the fruity bretts don't seem to give a nice flavour profile when used as the sole yeast. I would recommend using a clean yeast for primary (Wyeast 1056, WLP001, Wyeast 1007, safale US-05, etc), and adding brett to the secondary. You get a nicer flavour balance this way.

  • July 21, 2015 at 8:05 PM

    Very cool! Follow up question to the one I posted on the longer BW entry: I was going to kettle sour with the Omega 605 and then try to ferment with a large pitch of 100% Brett C, but I've heard some people saying this isn't a great idea. Do you think I'm better off pitching a clean yeast like US-05 after the kettle souring? Just going for the best flavor. Thanks! PS, if I do pitch the Brett C, do you recommend aerating the Brett C starter and the wort before pitching the Brett C starter?

    Thanks and cheers!


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