Berliner Weisse with Elderflower

HomeBrewTalk.com - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Community.

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

Tulbi

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 27, 2015
Messages
66
Reaction score
2
Hello all,

Ready for my third brew. ^^
I'd like to brew a berliner weisse.
I'd follow the general instructions I saw in the youtube video of Caudill. (I will obviously have to work quite a bit to get the specifics.)

A few questions to begin with:
- I'd prefer the taste not to be simple lactic acid. Caudill mentions that you can bottle the berliner weisse with a low level of brettanomyces. Is this a hard thing to pull of as a beginner?
- I'd like to brew the berliner weisse with elderflowers. I like the elderflower syrup and think they could be a good match.
Is there a way to get elderflower into the beer without the acidity making it unnoticable? (Huge quantities of elderflower wouldn't pose a problem.)
- In other posts they recommend giving the elderflower in during the last 5 minutes of the boil. But this kills most of the aroma. Could I also just add it when you'd usually dry-hop? If the risk of infection is too high, could I add it while cooling down at around 80C?

(- If elderflower isn't a good idea, I could also imagine using red currants.)

Thank you very much for your help,
Tulbi
 
OP
T

Tulbi

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 27, 2015
Messages
66
Reaction score
2
I also stumpled upon two different approaches that I found interesting.

The first from caudill seems to roughly be like that:
- prepare a lightly hopped wort
- add lactobacillus
- add yeast after a couple of days

The other one I found goes like this:
- prepare the wort
- add the lactobacillus and let it sour to taste
- boil the wort, add the hops
- add yeast

A big plus of the second version is that you have more control over the souring. A drawback is probably that the unhopped wort with the lactobacillus is quite exposed to infections (which is also kind of positive, as it lets the lactobacillus work faster).

What would you recommend? :)
 

Calder

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 9, 2010
Messages
8,544
Reaction score
1,033
Location
Ohio
Hops can also stall the lacto. Adding yeast too soon can also stall the lacto. You may not get it to sour using the first method.

I usually let it go a week at 100 F before adding the yeast. I don't boil,. The only hops I use are dry hops. Nelson Sauvin go well in a BW.

You may want to stay away from elderflowers for your first one. The flowers can be added directly to the soured wort/beer; the low ph will protect the brew. Check your flowers before adding, some can smell of cat pee, and it will carry over into the beer.
 
OP
T

Tulbi

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 27, 2015
Messages
66
Reaction score
2
Thank you very much for your Response.

So you prepare the wort, add the lacto at 100F and keep it stable at that temperature for a week. And then add the yeast.
How do you ensure that the lactobacillus is the onlything that thrives on the wort? Pitching a large quantity of lacto or making a big starter? (Although I`d imagine for the starter one would have the same Problem again.)

How do you keep the wort at such a high temperature? In a Fermentation bucket it would be really hard (except maybe with a bain marie). But in a big pot on a stove with minimal heat it would probably be too high (and the Chance of infections with a simple lid is probably incredibly high).

Is the `cat pee` concern your main concern about the elderflower? Because I always make syrup with fresh flowers and the technique is kinda similar and I`ve never had such a problem.

EDIT:
I read about lowering the ph before adding the lactobacillus:
- this will create a better Environment for the lactobacillus
- this will prevent the wort from getting infected
Any thoughts on that? Can it be achieved without changing the taste of the beer much? :)
 
OP
T

Tulbi

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 27, 2015
Messages
66
Reaction score
2
Also apparently bottling with brett might produce bottle bombs and is kinda risky. I read that using champagne bottles gets rid of that risk.

Again, any thoughts on that? Is it really that risky to bottle them with brett?

One thought of mine:
Could I calculate the pressure?
Like: if the OG is 1028 and at bottling it`s 1005 it seems as if the Brett would not even have enough sugar to create enough carbonation for a bottle bomb.
 

Double_D

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Feb 17, 2011
Messages
1,954
Reaction score
211
Location
Las Vegas
I've added Brett for secondary in several beers. As long as the gravity is stable you shouldn't have to worry about bottle bombs..but yes a champagne bottle or a belgian style bottle will be fine. I did my last Berliner with a paricial sour mash, but the kettle souring is what I should have done.

I've "dry hopped" with elderflower after using it in the boil and really liked the flavor and aroma I had in the beer.
 
OP
T

Tulbi

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 27, 2015
Messages
66
Reaction score
2
Hey Double D,

Thanks a lot for your answer.

How Long did you leave the brett during secondary? How did the SG develop? How noticable was the funk? :)

I think the technique I read of says that you should add the brett instead of (or as an Addition to) priming sugar. Somehow the brett is supposed to work best under that pressure or something. [http://www.themadfermentationist.com/2012/08/bottle-conditioning-with-brett-belgian.html]

The problem with champagne bottles is that I can`t find any brown ones and I could only cap them.
 

Calder

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 9, 2010
Messages
8,544
Reaction score
1,033
Location
Ohio
So you prepare the wort, add the lacto at 100F and keep it stable at that temperature for a week. And then add the yeast.
How do you ensure that the lactobacillus is the onlything that thrives on the wort? Pitching a large quantity of lacto or making a big starter? (Although I`d imagine for the starter one would have the same Problem again.)

How do you keep the wort at such a high temperature? In a Fermentation bucket it would be really hard (except maybe with a bain marie). But in a big pot on a stove with minimal heat it would probably be too high (and the Chance of infections with a simple lid is probably incredibly high).
I boil the wort for about 5 minutes, cool and add to sanitized fermenter. Add Lacto and put on an airlock. I use a heating pad to keep the fermenter warm.

A starter will give you a bigger pitch of lacto, but I really don't believe a starter helps speed the process up; it makes it longer if you add the time for the starter. Once you pitch the lacto (starter or not) there is a lag phase of up to several days. Once the lacto starts going, it will double it population roughly every hour.

One it is sour enough (I taste it) I let cool and add the yeast and aerate.
 
OP
T

Tulbi

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 27, 2015
Messages
66
Reaction score
2
Hey Calder,

Thank you very much for your detailed Information :)

Sadly I don`t have any heating pad that would work with my plastic buckets (don`t judge ;) ). And spending too much on it I`d like to avoid at the Moment.

Of these two Options, which one would you say is better?
- kettle sour (huge pan, small electric stove - lowest possible heat)
- bucket sour (put plastic buckets in a big bath, control heat by adding hot water to the bath)

In both cases the temperature would probably not be super stable. But I read that for the lactobacillus this isn`t crucial.

Did you ever try adding some brett in secondary or for bottle conditioning? :)
 
OP
T

Tulbi

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 27, 2015
Messages
66
Reaction score
2
So, I`ve made some semi-specific recipe. I`ll do it for 7.5 gallons in total.

7lb of bohemian pilsner malt 3-4 EBC
3lb of pale wheat malt 35 EBC

WYeast 5335 (Lactobacillus Buchneri, only lacto I can find here)
Safale US-05
Wyeast L5112 or Wyeast or 5151PC or Wyeast L5526

Simcoe
Lactic Acid
Elderflower

- Mash the grains at 146F (63C) for 60 mins.
- Cool the wort down to 104F (40C).
(Take out 1 liter to make a starter with the US-05.)
- Add lactic acid to get the pH of the wort to about 4.5-4.7
- Pitch the lacto directly. Keep the temp. (If possible purge the kettle with CO2.)
- Sour to about pH 3.2/ to taste.

Split the two batches, close to 4 gallons each.

Batch Brett:
- No boil
- Cool down to 75F and Pitch Brett directly from the package.
- After fermentation slows down, move it to a cooler place, 66F.

Batch US-05/elderflower:
- Boil the wort for 30 mins. Add 5g of Simcoe and 5 elderflowers during the last 5 minutes.
- Cool down to about 66F (19C) and pitch the US-05 starter.
- After fermentation slows down add 10 elderflowers to the fermenter for about 2-3 days.

Questions:
  • I could possibly get pedicoccus from WYeast, apparently this isn`t really used in this style though?
  • I can only measure the pH with sticks. They are especially made for this range (pHb 2.8-5.2). Do you think they`d be reliable enough?
  • I heard people have problems with pilsner malt and DMS, should I choose another one (e.g. munich malt)?
  • Is the US-05 ok for this beer? I could also buy the WYeast 1007 but it`s just considerably more expensive.
  • Is it ok to pitch the brett without the starter, I read that it works better that way and the `growth-phase` produces the best funk?
 

Mainer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 18, 2016
Messages
991
Reaction score
370
Location
Portland
I have a Berliner going now. Like you, this was my third beer. Unlike you, I don't have temperature control, so I've been unable to hold it at 90-100 degrees. It's been a lesson in patience.

I ran the wort into lacto-only for seven days, then pitched a Kolsch yeast. Racked to secondary after the Kolsch finished up. Then let it sit for a month, and acidity didn't develop. So I pitched brett in with it. That was three weeks ago. It's only now that I'm getting the acidity starting to develop. It seems to be a mild lacto tartness with a subtle brett funk undercurrent. Once it's warm enough in my cellar, I'm just going to stick it down there and leave it til mid-June. If it's still not sour enough, maybe pitch some cranberry a few days before bottling to add a little more sourness.

Bottom line, I hope you're more patient than I am. A Berliner is a rather complex beer for a third batch.
 

Mainer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 18, 2016
Messages
991
Reaction score
370
Location
Portland
(Also, mine's totally not a real Berliner. I brew with extract, and I realized after the fact that I had accidentally bought Bavarian wheat extract instead of Belgian wheat extract. So it's a sour amber wheat... something. It's a hot mess. Although, without temp control, it's kind of a cold mess.)
 
OP
T

Tulbi

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 27, 2015
Messages
66
Reaction score
2
Haha, great write up on your brew.

Is it possible that the sourness doesn`t come through because there is just still too much sugar in suspension? From what I`ve read, Brett can work pretty slow but steady after a while. So maybe give it another couple of weeks? [If I could read I would have known that this is exactly your plan ^^]

Which lacto did you use? And I guess that your temp. just slowly dropped, to which level?

My temperature control is also just going to be the smallest smallest stove top on the lowest heat. I`ll do some test runs with water to see if this is going to result in a more or less stable temp.
(I was looking into fermwrap, heating pads or even sous vide sticks but I can either not get them or they are not in my price range.)
 

Mainer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 18, 2016
Messages
991
Reaction score
370
Location
Portland
Haha, great write up on your brew.

Is it possible that the sourness doesn`t come through because there is just still too much sugar in suspension? From what I`ve read, Brett can work pretty slow but steady after a while. So maybe give it another couple of weeks? ^^

Which lacto did you use?

My temperature control is also just going to be the smallest smallest stove top on the lowest heat. I`ll do some test runs with water to see if this is going to result in a more or less stable temp.
I think mine just didn't sour up because I wasn't able to hold the temp high enough. At lower temps, lacto works very, very slowly. Mine has been held at somewhere around 65.
 

Mainer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 18, 2016
Messages
991
Reaction score
370
Location
Portland
Oh, and for Lacto I used WY5335.
My Kolsch was WY2565
And the Brett was WY5526
 

Double_D

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Feb 17, 2011
Messages
1,954
Reaction score
211
Location
Las Vegas
Hey Double D,

Thanks a lot for your answer.

How Long did you leave the brett during secondary? How did the SG develop? How noticable was the funk? :)

I think the technique I read of says that you should add the brett instead of (or as an Addition to) priming sugar. Somehow the brett is supposed to work best under that pressure or something. [http://www.themadfermentationist.com/2012/08/bottle-conditioning-with-brett-belgian.html]

The problem with champagne bottles is that I can`t find any brown ones and I could only cap them.
I just add it when I split my beer up after sacc fermentation. But I usually do belgianish sours..and I'm adding pedio and lacto at the same time and usually aging for a long time. Didn't bother checking gravity because of the long secondary aging time. Not all that funky IMO, I've used brett Brux and brett Lambicus and been very happy with both.

Not sure about adding brett instead of priming sugar, I know it generally attenuates more than sacc but I wouldn't expect to get appropriate carbonation from residual sugar unless your beer finished pretty high. Maybe someone else will weigh in on that.

I just noticed your link. It says bad page when I click on it;)
 

Double_D

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Feb 17, 2011
Messages
1,954
Reaction score
211
Location
Las Vegas
Yeah, maybe it's Safari...but that one says post deleted on their website. I did some searching and found the one you guys referenced and this one:
http://www.themadfermentationist.com/2008/06/all-about-brettanomyces.html
I thought the mash section was interesting. Also he talks about brett typically finishing between .004 and .010 and a slightly higher mash temp if you're not using cara/crystal. I usually hit .010 with sacc because I typically mash at 150 and make starters.

In the other one the he did add 3.75oz of table sugar at bottling time with his brett not instead of priming sugar...
 
OP
T

Tulbi

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 27, 2015
Messages
66
Reaction score
2
Sorry abou the link, not sure why it didn't work.

I meant the first page that shows up when you google 'bottle conditioning with brett'.

Your link is very interesting aswell.

One comment he made about the cell count startled me a bit. He mentions that the cell count in a white lab vial is far too low for a primary fermentation. He also says the cell count in white lab packs are considerably higher. But I suspect if isn't high enough, any ideas on this? :)

Considering this link http:// http://www.milkthefunk.com/wiki/Lactobacillus it seems that the kettle souring should probably be done at a temperature below 100F (and above 90F).

Also he talks about brett typically finishing between .004 and .010 and a slightly higher mash temp if you're not using cara/crystal. I usually hit .010 with sacc because I typically mash at 150 and make starters.
This makes sense. It does conflict with the general berliner weisse recommendations though, mashing at 145F and under.
As I would make one sacc and one brett batch out of the same mash; mashinb at arkund 145F should make sense, or am I mistaken.
 

Double_D

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Feb 17, 2011
Messages
1,954
Reaction score
211
Location
Las Vegas
Sorry abou the link, not sure why it didn't work.

I meant the first page that shows up when you google 'bottle conditioning with brett'.

Your link is very interesting aswell.

One comment he made about the cell count startled me a bit. He mentions that the cell count in a white lab vial is far too low for a primary fermentation. He also says the cell count in white lab packs are considerably higher. But I suspect if isn't high enough, any ideas on this? :)

Considering this link http:// http://www.milkthefunk.com/wiki/Lactobacillus it seems that the kettle souring should probably be done at a temperature below 100F (and above 90F).



This makes sense. It does conflict with the general berliner weisse recommendations though, mashing at 145F and under.
As I would make one sacc and one brett batch out of the same mash; mashinb at arkund 145F should make sense, or am I mistaken.
AFAIK, 100mil cells is only at packaging time. There's various calculations regarding drop in viability vs days in package. Something like <2% per day at fridge temps drop in viability if I'm remembering correctly. Most of the online calculators compensate for that, but that's his point. You're not pitching as much yeast as you think. I mean homebrewers using just the pack generally, not you speficically;). Also, the different yeast strains can have different size cells...so its a ball park on the package. That's why so many people are proponents of taking the time to properly propagate your yeast or pitching enough packs either dry/liquid. The obvious problem being it's f'n expensive to pitch 2-9 packs depending on beer style, but I'm getting off topic.

I'll kettle sour my next Berliner, but I built a kal clone a few years ago so temp control isn't an issue for me.

As for general Berliner guidelines mashing at 145, I'm understanding that as if you are doing a no boil mash hopped beer. It's supposed to be more traditional. Most of the bacteria will be killed off in the mash but there's supposed to be enough lacto that makes it through the brew process that it eventually sours. Never tried it, just read about it.
 

Casedeville

Active Member
Joined
Feb 2, 2012
Messages
36
Reaction score
14
Location
San Clemente
I'm currently drinking the Berliner Weissbier recipe from Milk The Funk, and it's quite tasty.

I chose to use 4 Swanson's Lacto Plantarum capsules in the starter, and they worked out very well.

I used lactic acid to adjust the wort down to about pH 4.4 before pitching the lacto. It sat in the CO2 purged kettle with plastic wrap and the lid for 2 days with a cheap heating pad from Amazon on "low" until it hit pH 3.2. I'm also using the pH strips, which aren't super accurate, but good enough.

I then heated the kettle to a boil for 2 seconds, then chilled to 60°F and pitched a starter of WLP036 (Düsseldorf Alt) because my LHBS was out of WLP644.

I do love a Brett Berliner, so I applaud you for taking on that extra challenge on your third brew. I haven't worked with Brett specifically, so I have no help for you there.

Good luck!
 
OP
T

Tulbi

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 27, 2015
Messages
66
Reaction score
2
Hey Casedeville,

Thank you very much for your advice :)

I`m going to use pure strain l.plantarum aswell, I`ll do a small starter to save some cost.

I can`t get WL-yeasts at all, do you think there is going to be a huge difference between the safale and the wyeast?
 
OP
T

Tulbi

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 27, 2015
Messages
66
Reaction score
2
About temperature control, I`ll probably get an inkbird and some simple immersible heating element.

I`m really not tech savy and I can`t find the Basic Information I Need.

So I have a question:

If the room temperature is 68F, I want the wort to sour at about 95F. Then the inkbird would turn off the heating element as soon as the temp. is at (let`s say) 96F. And then it will just wait and let the outside temperature cool the wort down to (let`s say) 93F before turning the heating element back on.
I would not need a cooling element attached aswell.

Did I understand that correctly?

Will any heating element strong enough work for that Job. Or might some have some internal mechanism/program that the inkbird can`t override?

Ok, I`m definitely outed as a tech-noob now :p
 

Casedeville

Active Member
Joined
Feb 2, 2012
Messages
36
Reaction score
14
Location
San Clemente
I can`t get WL-yeasts at all, do you think there is going to be a huge difference between the safale and the wyeast?
If you're not tasting them side-by-side, you probably won't be able to tell a difference. US-05 is pretty clean but is less attenuative and a little more estery than WLP001 in my experience. I'm sure you'll be fine if you keep it between 65-69°F.

About temperature control, I`ll probably get an inkbird and some simple immersible heating element.
Honestly, I think your money is better spent using a heating pad than a submersible heating element. The heating pads are cheaper and you won't have to keep the fermenter in another container full of water. The heating pads also come in handy during the cold months to bring a beer up to temp. You can plug it into the Inkbird just like any other heating/cooling device, and they ramp slowly so you have less likelihood of overshooting the temp.

As far as the tech question about the Inkbird controller, you have it pretty much correct. The simplest way to think of the controller is as if it were a person. There's this guy sitting there watching the thermometer on your fermenting beer. At first, he probably sees that the beer is too cold (90°F), so he leans over and turns on the heat. He keeps watching the thermometer until it hits the temp that you told him was right (95°F). When the thermometer hits 95°F, he turns off the heat. He keeps watching the thermometer to make sure it stays there, but since the room is cold, it eventually drops to 93°F. When he sees this, he says, "Oh ****! It's getting too cold! I'll turn the heat back on." So he switches the heat back on and then it comes back up to 95°F and he turns it off. Now just take that person and replace him with a computer, and that's a temp controller.

With most low-end temp controllers (homebrew applications), they have a differential that they need to read before they will activate the heating (or cooling). This differential is usually 1°F, which means that if you have a setpoint of 95°F, it will wait until it is a FULL degree lower (93°F) before it kicks on. For our brewing purposes, this is not only as good as it gets, but also has been suggested to be required to make a beer taste like, well, beer. Apparently there are microfluctuations of temperature that are beneficial to the final flavor, whereas a beer that is kept precisely at a specific temperature the entire time will not taste as complex. I've heard Jamil Zainasheff and John Palmer talk about this a few times on Brew Strong.

As far as the heating element having some internal program, it depends on the heating element. The heating pad has only 4 program options (off, low, medium, high). If you were to use it, plugging it into the Inkbird means that you're allowing the controller to determine when to turn the power on or off. Whatever you set the heating pad to (let's say "high"), then whenever the Inkbird senses 93°F, it's going to give power to the heating pad, and since it's set on "high", it will run at "high" until the Inkbird turns it off. If you have a submersible heating element that only has on/off capabilities, then whenever the Inkbird senses 93°F, it will turn it on and it will heat at whatever rate the element heats at. There are probably other heating devices that have some type of internal thermostat or fail-safe that prevents overheating, but you should research that when you're considering which one you buy. I would choose one that doesn't have that option.

Hope that helps!
 
OP
T

Tulbi

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 27, 2015
Messages
66
Reaction score
2
Thank you very much for this Explanation. It`s very helpful. Maybe you could even make that a wiki-entry or something similar, for all the absolute beginners to see :)

I`m actually not too concerned with esters. The l.plantarum which I`m going to use is supposed to be super-clean, so some fruity flavour could be nice.

I think I will use a heating pad. All the ones I can get have a 90 minute shut-off security switch. But I`m assuming that you can override that limitation by just switching it on again, something that the inkbird would do eitherway.

A question about the brett-fermentation for the second batch.
It`s going to be a primary fermentation with Brett C, which will be much more on the fruity and less on the horseblanket side.
What I can`t really find out is what will happen with the brett in secondary. Shouldn`t it act just the same as when pitched in secondary?
Should I expect the Brett to act like normal sacc-yeast? Or will it also slowly but steadily eat-on on the still available Sugars? (If yes, wouldn`t it also produce the same funkiness then?)

Thanks everyone for the help! :)
 
Top