Berliner Weisse – Lesson’s Learned

Berliner Weisse is a really interesting and intriguing style that is all but dead. Heck, there are probably more berliner weisses being brewing in the United States than in Germany. At the MBAA National Meeting this past summer, it seemed that many of the esteemed brewers from the VLB in Berlin didn’t really see much of future for it. I love them. I think its probably one of the few sours that I could drink nearly 100% of the time. The mellow lactic sour that gives it a crisp and refreshing finish that makes it perfect for summer. For a quick 5 minute tutorial on Berliner Weisse, please read the wiki page

I brewed my first Berliner Weisse last winter before the heavy snow set in and watched it bubble away in my kitchen for several months. I spent most of those months hoping. In the battle for dominance between yeast and lactobacillus, sadly, yeast won. It isn’t as sour as I had hoped because the yeast fermented it out before the lacto had a chance to really get things sour. Things to consider next time. Make a soured mash. This seems to be pretty traditional but a detailed and complicated step. I could have giving the lactobacillus a bigger headstart. I gave it 3 days but didn’t have enough patience. Maybe a few more weeks and then pitch the yeast. Or split the brew and ferment 50% with lactobacillus and the other 50% with yeast and blend them for a finished product. Lots of options for round #2

One of the biggest negatives in my first brew was a mistake that I made in fermentation. While sitting in my kitchen, I left the carboy open to light and I actually detect a skunky lightstruck note in the finished product. Its not unpleasantly strong but its definitely there. Its a rookie mistake and something I shouldn’t have ever done. *head slap*

I am better prepared for round #2 of producing sour beers. I have duel fermentation and bottling equipment that I can use specifically for sour beers. I understand the basics of how I screwed up my first attempt so that I can avoid it next time. It was a fun and educational first attempt. I am looking for to my next attempt. This style is one beer that I want to be a staple of the Champion City Brewing Lineup for years to come.


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