As summer and summer temperatures drag on here in southern California, I’m spending my brewing energy on light, flavorful, and refreshing beers. This often means lagers, but sometimes it’s nice to play on the sour side of the street. A few years back, I brewed an award-winning Berliner Weisse, which tasted fantastic. I’ve been wanting to revisit that style and that recipe for awhile, and finally made some time this summer.
For my 2020 brew, I rolled with a similar recipe to my 2016 version, except for the sour pitch. Last time, I used Omega Labs OYL-605 lacto blend. This time around, I had a satchet of Lallemand’s Wildbrew Sour Pitch, which had already been opened for my Raspberry Belgian. Not wanting to waste a good culture, I made the decision to use this instead. I didn’t have to make a starter, which was a nice bonus. I switched in 2-row for pilsner malt, to up the malt character a little for such a low gravity beer. Finally, for the main fermentation, I made the very minor substitution of US-05 instead of WLP001.
Claremonter Weisse 2020
- 2.25 lb. premium 2-row malt (Great Western)
- 2.25 lb. pale wheat malt (Weyermann)
- 2 oz. rice hulls
- 0.5 pkg. Wildbrew Sour Pitch dry culture (Lallemand)
- 1 tsp. Fermax, 10 minute boil
- 0.5 oz. Cascade whole hops (5.5% alpha), 8 minute boil
- 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minute boil
- 1 pkg. Amercan Ale Yeast (US-05)
- 1.031 s.g., 1.007 f.g., 3.2% abv, 3 SRM, 5 IBU
- Full volume, no-sparge infusion mash, 152°; 10 minute initial boil, kettle sour; 60 minute secondary boil with hops, nutrients, and finings
- Claremont water, unadjusted
- I mashed in with 4.8 gallons of water at 155°, to hit 151° in the mash. I added 2 mL of 88% lactic acid to adjust mash pH.
- After 20 minutes, the mash was down to 149°. After 60 minutes of total mash time, I vorlaufed and collected the runnings. I only had a gravity of 1.026, for 65% efficiency.
- I boiled for 10 minutes, chilled the wort down to 102°, and added 2.5 mL of 88% lactic acid to bring down the pH. Then, I added 5 g of Sour Pitch culture, and let it sit on a heating pad for ~100° temperature maintenance. This was started on 24 July 2020.
- After 24 hours, I sampled the wort. It wasn’t quite tart enough yet, so I decided to let it go another 24 hours. When I sampled it on 26 July 2020, it was less tart than expected, but I figured 48 hours at 100° was enough time for the bacteria to work their magic.
- I boiled the soured runnings for 60 minutes, and added the hops and other finings per the recipe. After 60 minutes, I chilled the wort and transferred it to the fermenter.
- Starting gravity was 1.031, with ~3.25 gallons into the fermenter on 26 July 2020. I started fermenting at 66°.
- I moved the beer to ambient temperature on 8 August 2020, to let it finish up.
- I kegged the beer on 13 August 2020, putting it in one of my 2.5 gallon kegs. I added 3.95 oz. of corn sugar for natural carbonation, sealed it up, and let it sit for awhile.
- Final gravity was 1.008, down from 1.031, for 3% abv. At the time of kegging, the beer had a gorgeous floral aroma, almost like orange blossom honey.
- I checked on the natural keg pressure over a few days, as the keg sat at ambient temperatures. On 21 August (8 days post kegging), the keg had hit 32 psi (~2.4 volumes of CO2). On 23 August, the keg had hit 40 psi (~2.8 volumes of CO2). I gave it another day or two, there was no change in pressure, so I put the keg in the lagering chamber and topped up the carbonation level.
- I measured the final pH at around 3.6.
- Pale straw color and hazy, with a creamy white head that completely subsides after a few minutes.
- Tart, citrus blossom aroma, with a bit of floral honey. Really pleasant! There is a bit of a raw bread dough character behind all of it.
- Lemony tartness dominates, with the doughy malt character in the background. The level of sourness is moderately high, and it is a clean sour. I don’t really pick up any hop notes, which is expected given the low level of hopping.
- Crisp and dry, but not astringent. Effervescent and highly carbonated, with a light body that makes this very easy to drink.
- Would I brew this again?
- Yes! This isn’t a style I want all of the time, or in massive quantities, but it’s really nice every once in awhile. This is a different take on the beer from the 2016 version I made, as expected with a different sour culture. It seems a bit less sour, but is still really nicely balanced. The aroma really is fine on this one, and a true highlight of the beer.