Homebrewing a Berliner Weisse Sour



I’ve been homebrewing for a little over 2 years now and I figured it was finally time to attempt my first sour beer! After searching the web for a good recipe I ended up just taking what I thought made sense from a few different ones and putting together my own.

Beer Specifications

Beer Name:Berliner Weisse Sour
Beer Style:Berliner Weisse
Recipe Type:All Grain
Pre-Boil Volume:6 gallons / 27.3 litres
Batch Size:5 gallons / 22.7 litres
Estimated SRM:
Estimated IBU:17
Estimated OG:1.034
Estimated FG:1.008
Estimated ABV:3.3%

Water Chemistry

AmountAddition
A small amountCitric Acid to pre-acidify the wort
0.5 tspsCalcium Chloride

Grain Bill/Fermentables

LBSFermentables
2.75Pilsner Malt
2.75Wheat Malt

Hops

OzTimeHops
160 minSaaz

Yeast

#Yeast
1Escarpment Labs Lactobacillus Blend 2.0
1Safale K-97

Fermentation Schedule

21 daysPrimary
14 daysBottle Conditioning

Directions

Mash Temperature:150°F / 65.5°C
Mash Time:60 min
Boil Duration:60 min

This recipe was designed as a kettle (or “quick”) sour and so the first step was to mash like normal.

I then did a very quick 10 min boil to kill any bugs in the wort, including the naturally occurring lactobacillus that lives on the grain husk. I did this because I wanted to control exactly what strain of bugs soured my beer rather than leave it up to chance.

After cooling the wort down I pitched my blend of lactobacillus right in the kettle. I also placed some Star San sprayed plastic wrap around the top of the kettle, put the lid on it and wrapped that in as well. Finally I placed the whole kettle in a warm part of the house and wrapped it in blankets and left it to do its thing.

Unfortunately the ph strips that I had weren’t accurate enough to actually be useful and so I had to take small samples and taste to see how sour things got. I first started noticing it getting sour within about 10 hours or so and then it steadily increased every few hours after that. After almost 48 hours I felt it had gotten ‘sour enough’ and decided to proceed with the next boiling step.

I know people swear by non-hopped sour beers but I decided for this one I was going to treat it like a ‘normal beer’ and throw in a standard 1oz charge of Saaz at 60 minutes. Perhaps I’ll be more adventurous with my sours in the future 🙂

After cooling it down I took an Original Gravity (OG) reading and ended up with 1.038 which isn’t right on target but was close enough for me. Finally I pitched some K-97 I had left over and allowed it to ferment over a month.

After fermentation was complete I took my Final Gravity (FG) reading and got 1.007 for an estimated ABV of 4.07% which is a bit higher than my target. Maybe K-97 really likes sour beers?

When bottling I decided to actually split the batch and bottled some as is and some with Brewer’s best Natural Strawberry/Kiwi extract for flavouring.

Tasting Notes

SmellThe aroma of the non-flavoured beer is actually quite sour. I’ve also found that this seems to have increased as I’ve allowed the beer to continue to bottle condition.

By contrast the beer flavoured with the extract doesn’t have nearly as much of a sour smell to it. It also doesn’t have much of a strawberry or kiwi smell either… instead it’s almost like a subtle indistinct sweetness.
AppearanceVery nice bright colour and a surprisingly prominent and resilient head on top. One thing I had wondered about was what kind of head retention the beer would have but so far I’ve been pleasantly surprised.
TasteThe beer without any extra flavouring is actually quite good. It’s definitely sour, more so than I would have thought from when I stopped letting it sour, but not undrinkable. This is the kind of outcome that I had hoped for when making the beer.

The beer that was flavoured with the strawberry/kiwi extract is like a night and day different beer. While it has hints of being sour the extract has actually almost completely wiped out any true sourness. I wouldn’t even consider the beer tart at this stage, rather the taste is something more like what you would get from an apple juice or cider. That said it’s not a bad beer but if the goal was to create a good sour beer I think this may have missed the mark a bit.
YieldThis brew cost $32.78 in ingredients to make and yielded 32x355ml bottles ($1.02/bottle)


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