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Old 08-31-2013, 10:42 PM   #1
Thunder_Chicken
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Default Easy Extract Berliner Weisse Plan

I'm kicking around the idea of doing my first sour, a Berliner Weisse, and I just wanted to put together my plan/recipe to see if there are any problems with it.

For 5.5 gallons:

6 lbs. wheat LME (65% wheat and 35% pale malt)

Heat to ~120 F to dissolve DME.
Cool to 100F, pitch lacto
Keep at 95F-100F for several days to develop sourness.
Cool to yeast pitching temperature, pitch yeast.

Some questions & ideas that I have -

Lacto - What strain/sources of lacto provide good tart souring? I know that raw grain can be used to sour, but I am probably going to go with a clean strain for this batch. However, I have heard that some commercial strains don't provide great souring.

Hops - I don't mention hops because from what I understand lacto is inhibited by IBUs much over 10, and that the hops are really only needed to control unwanted bugs if you were doing a sour mash. Is this right?

Yeast - I've seen a lot of folks use just any old handy Sacc. ale yeast (e.g. S-05) as well as German ale and other Sacc. strains. I was kicking around the idea of using a fruity Brett strain like Brett. Bruxellensis trois, something that would complement the sour and would play nice in the acidic beer.

Ferment/Bottling/Conditioning timeline - I'm assuming at least a month in primary. My concern with bottling is my understanding that lacto tends to develop acidity over time (months to years), and I am wondering when is it safe to bottle. I know some people boil the wort prior to yeast pitch to halt lactic acid production, but I want to go for a mouth-puckering sour beer.

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Old 09-01-2013, 01:33 AM   #2
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I have done exactly what you are proposing to do, with great results.

I used a commercial probiotic product from Walmart. The only active ingredient was lactobacillus Acidophilis (excuse my spelling). I think I used the rate of about 2 billion cells per gallon. I think I bought a container of 30 pills and used 12 in 5 gallons. Any source of lacto will do fine.

I boiled the extract/water, cooled and added to fermenter. When cooled below 100 F, I crushed the tablets between two spoons (sanitized with isopropyl alcohol). I siphoned the wort from the kettle so as not to aerate. Wrapped the fermenter in a heating blanket and kept it at 90+F for about 5 days.

After several days I tasted the wort (used a sanitized turkey baster to take a sample). Only when it was sour enough did I add the yeast. Once it starts souring, it goes quick (24 hours), but can take a while to start. I think I waited 5 to 6 days. Once the acidity is present, it will protact the wort, but it can take several days, so sanitation is very important with this beer.

Once the wort is sour, you can either boil it and add hops, then add yeast, or just add yeast and aerate as normal. The 3 batches I have done, I have just removed the heating blanket, aerated, and added yeast. I don't think hops are really needed for this style.

NOTES:

- If you use Lacto Acidophilis, do not add any hops before it has soured. I tried adding hops once and it didn't work. Other Lacto strains may be more tolerant.

- Once you have alcohol, the lacto slows or stops. You can bottle after 3 or 4 weeks with no issues.

- This is a very refreshing low alcohol beer, use about 1 lb LME per gallon (and that is probably on the high side for this style).

- Any yeast will do. However, you do need to pitch high. The acid environment is not good for the yeast, so you should pitch about twice what you would pitch for a normal beer.

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Old 09-01-2013, 03:21 AM   #3
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Do you think a higher wort gravity would affect the lacto negatively? Something that might simplify my process (small pots in a kitchen) would be to do a partial boil of all the extract and maybe 2 gallons of water to sanitize it, cool it to 90F or so and then pitch the lacto in the kettle and seal it up. When soured, just return the pot to the stove, boil it, then chill it with make-up water and pitch yeast. It would completely eliminate the need to expose my equipment to lacto.

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Old 09-02-2013, 02:10 AM   #4
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There might be an OG limit for Lacto, but I suspect it will do fine in a 1.072 wort (50% concentrated for a 1.036 wort). The main issue is that you will will be limited with how sour it can get, and it might not be enough. The Lacto will stop souring when the PH gets low. Then you will dilute it and reduce the sourness.

I don't worry about Lacto infection. Lacto is slow to start, and hops and alcohol tend to inhibit its growth. It is Brett and Pedio that I get concerned with.

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Old 09-02-2013, 03:08 PM   #5
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Thanks for the help Calder. I placed the order for the wheat LME and WLP644 Brett. b. trois. I'll do the whole batch starting with lacto. While that is going I'll get a good Brett. starter going so it is ready to pitch when the sourness gets good.

Any experience using lacto from yogurt whey? We use plain cultured yogurt a lot and have plenty of whey that would otherwise go down the drain.

As there are no hops I can do this in my sunny shed which is nice and warm. I'll probably get a new primary and racking equipment dedicated to sours and keep it out in the shed away from my "clean" brewing.

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Old 09-02-2013, 04:59 PM   #6
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Yogurt whey is supposed to fine. I've never tried it.

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Old 09-11-2013, 11:33 PM   #7
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Well, I started the lacto today. After some reading and thinking, I decided to start 1/2 of the batch on just lacto started from grains, and I'll blend it with the remaining 1/2 batch done with the Brett. B. Trois.

I put 2.5 gallons into a pot, heated it up to about 120F, added 2.5 lbs of wheat LME and dissolved it. When it cooled to about 115F I added 2 cups of crushed 2-row in a nylon hop bag. I sealed the pot up with tape and wrapped it in a towel and put it out in my shed (now about 95F due to the heat spell we're getting). I am going to let that ride for several days.

I know some people boil their lacto batch when the sourness gets about right, but since I am mixing the batch, I am wondering if I should let both batches ferment out, then mix both while both are alive and let them duke it out over the scraps. I think I will need to check out how sour the lacto gets and then decide what to do then.

I am going to buy a food grade bucket at the box store tomorrow and make a dedicated sour fermenter for this, then I'll get the Brett. half going tomorrow. I think this will work well as the Brett. won't be fighting the lacto.

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Old 09-12-2013, 12:04 AM   #8
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If you have a heterofermentative Lacto in there you will need a vent as it gives off CO2. If it is homofermentive id doesn't produce CO2. However, there are probably a lot of different bugs in the grain, and at least one of them will probably produce some gas.

I've never used grain to sour a wort, but I understand it can get a pretty rotten smell to it from clostridium (smells like puke). You might find you will want to boil that off. Just wait and see what you end up with.

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Old 09-12-2013, 10:46 PM   #9
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24 hours later the grain sour batch has a flat pellicle on it with no bubbles. So far so good (?) I didn't open it to smell it or taste it, so I trust all is well.

I'm putting together the Brett. batch now. 6 lbs LME, 6 gallons total for an OG of 1.035.

EDIT: I decided to crack the lid and take a sniff. Nothing objectionable, smells mostly malty with a little sour milk essence right now.

Here is a bad picture of the pellicle through the lid. It looks like a thin layer of wax and covers the entire surface.

grain-lacto-starter.jpg  
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Old 09-12-2013, 11:17 PM   #10
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You tell us about a pellicle but attach no pictures? Blasphemy!

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