I brewed my second batch of Berliner Weisse on Sunday, April 27. I used the same basic ideas as my first time, but there were several changes.
This was still a no boil recipe with fifty percent White Wheat Malt. Instead of German Pilsner, though I used standard American 2 Row Pale Malt to fill in the rest of the grist because I had it on hand. Last time, I brewed ten gallons, this time I was planning on seven. With this different mashing method, I also planned on, and achieved, a much higher efficiency than last time. As a result, my grist was much smaller.
I’ve done a bunch of brew in a bag batches, mainly partial mash, with extract added during the boil. My recent Table Cat beer was the first of my reentry into BIAB experiments. For that beer, I treated it as if it was a normal mash, adding one and a half quarts of water per pound of grain, then adding the rest of the boil volume after the mash. This time, after reading about other people’s BIAB methods, I decided to use the full volume of water for the whole mash.
Plans changed as I lost a lot more heat than I planned on during the mash, though. To gain back a few degrees, after losing seven in the first forty minutes, I added half a gallon of boiling water to the mash. This raised the temperature to 147º from 144º after it had dropped from 151º.
At the end of the mash, I raised the bag of grains to allow it to drain. Normally, I would prop the grains on top of the kettle until the wort reached a boil. Since I wasn’t boiling this batch, I held it for a minute or so, then squeezed the bag gently to get the rest of the sweet liquid. I then measured the volume of the wort. It was just under eight gallons.
I originally planned on seven, but expected close to seven and a half after adding the boiling water. This being my first time doing this mash method, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect and ended up with a higher volume. I was nervous as I checked the gravity, but was pleased to find that it was 1.030, on the low end, but well within the appropriate range for the style. My efficiency, accounting for the added volume, was slightly higher than expected.
Next I played the waiting game. I opted not to chill the wort, as it only needed to drop about twenty five degrees to be in the safe range for the lactobacillus that I was adding. With how quickly the temperature dropped during the mash, I figured it wouldn’t be long. To go from the mid one forties to under one hundred twenty degrees took a couple hours. This was longer than I was hoping, so next time I will try to figure out a way to chill it quicker. While I was waiting, I covered the pot in plastic warp. First, I put a couple sheets across the top, then I wrapped it around the perimeter to make sure it stayed in place. Once it was covered, I cut a rectangle out covered that with a sheet of aluminum foil. This way, I can access the wort, will hopefully keep outside yeast and bacteria at bay. I need to take frequent samples to determine when to pasteurize the wort.
Once it was under one twenty, I dumped in my lacto starter. By the next morning, it had a white cover and already smelled a bit sour. Today, about forty eight hours later, I took the first sample. The aroma made me nervous. It smelled of higher alcohol, sort of like paint thinner. Not pleasant. Taking a sip, though, it seems to be on the right track. I’m hoping to pasteurize and rack the beer sometime between Thursday and Saturday, four to six days after starting it. Daily samples will be required to determine when the time is right.
I plan to again split the batch and add fruit to some, leaving the rest straight. This time, I’m going to add mango to the fruited batch. I originally planned on peach, but have been unable to find suitable peaches. Mango sounds like a good option. I will post about how much fruit and what method I use when I figure that out myself.
After pasteurizing, I am going to use Wyeast 3711: French Saison to finish the fermentation. Last time, I used a Kölsch yeast cake from a previous batch. I think this will work well because it finishes very dry and with all the character from the lacto, I don’t think it will add much flavor. I have this yeast on hand because I planned to use it for an upcoming saison, but after trying White Labs’ Saison II yeast for Table Cat, I’m excited to use it again for that batch.
I’ve talked about malts, mash methods, yeast and even fruit but not hops. That is because there are no hops. Yes. No hops. Last time, I mash hopped. Meaning I dumped some hops into the mash with the grains. This is basically a stupid and pointless method that has almost no impact on the finished beer. Some commercial brewers do it because legally, their beer must incorporate hops. Luckily, as a homebrewer I have no such legal obligation so I decided to save my three bucks and skip the hops all together. My recipe is below, check back for an update on this beer.
Style: 17A: Berliner Weisse
Brew Date: 4/27/2014
Serve Date: 5/24/2014
Expected FG: 1.006
Approximate ABV: 3.1
50% 5 lb 2 Row Pale Malt
50% 5lb White Wheat
Home cultured Lactobacillus and Wyeast 3711: French Saison
8 gallons of water at 161º to achieve 151º mash temp.
Temp fell to 144º in about 30 minutes, added .5 gal of boiling water to bring back to about 147º