Berliner Weisse / Sour Mash

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Well-Known Member
Jan 15, 2010
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I know there are some people out here who have tried the Sour Mash, be it for a Berliner or other beer. I'm mostly looking for your support on this one..

I'll be more or less following this recipe, (60/40 Pilsner/Wheat but perhaps with unmalted wheat instead of what flyangler used.

I've been toying with the idea of trying two methods of brewing a Berliner Weisse.

The first method: FULL SOUR MASH!
Dough in at 130F for a protein rest. After 20 minutes, pull a decoction and raise the temperature to 150F for the saccrification rest (1.5 qts/lb). Cover the liquid with plastic wrap, making sure to eliminate any air bubbles, and let sit for 48 hours or so (until very sour). Then I'll heat water for a sparge, short boil with hops (30 minutes or so), cool, transfer, and pitch yeast.

The second method: Small lactobacillus starter/culture.
Decoct, mash, sparge, boil, cool, and transfer (just as the first method, without the souring part). However, save a small portion of the wort (1 qt) and add a handful or two of crushed barley and cover with plastic wrap. After 24 hours at 90F or warmer, strain out the grain, and pitch into the fermenter with the yeast.

The first method sours the wort, then boils out the bugs before pitching the yeast to finish it bugs in the finished product. The second method allows the bugs to do their work in the carboy along with the yeast...perhaps making the finished product more sour.

Has anyone tried either of these to success (meaning no vomit/vegetable smells in the finished product, or DMS)? Or any tips as to how I can use the lactobacillus on the grain to sour the beer as opposed to pitching but bugs from a pure culture (which I'll try if my attempt(s) fail)?

One final way I've considered is mashing (with hops in the wort), NO sparge, NO boil, cool and pitch. Lactobacillus works in the unboiled wort, along with the yeast. Maybe use a pale malt instead of Pilsner to avoid DMS?

I've been having too much time to think of these things. Also..spitballing..if I were to keep the mash between 140 and 150 for a long time would I hinder most bad bugs but not lactobacillus?


Senior Member
Jan 20, 2008
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I've done the second method and the kegged beer got more sour over time. It was not overly so after a couple of months. In my opinion it was just right just as it ran out.


Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Jul 19, 2010
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Portland, OR
I do a full sour mash, then cool and pitch raw grain at 120 and maintain 100-120 with the mash sealed with good success. Then boil to fix the level of sourness and kill the bugs to avoid having to deal with bottle bombs and unintended infections before fermenting with yeast.
150° is too hot for lactobacillus, you should pitch bugs cooler than that.