First Berliner Weisse

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SeeingMeansMore

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Hey what's up everyone! I've been lurking for a while now, doing a lot of reading. I brewed an IPA a few years ago, but got busy with work and ending up selling my kit. Now, after a big move, I'm planning on trying to brew another beer. This time I'd really like to make a Berliner Weisse.

I know lacto fermentation seems to be tricky, and there are a lot of different methods. I've put my recipe/plan together after reading on a lot of different forums and blogs. I'd like some opinions/tips about what I'm thinking about doing!

Batch Size: 5 gallons
No Boil

5 Pounds Pilsner Malt (Belgian? Maybe castle?)
4 Pounds White Wheat Malt

0.25 Oz Sazz/Hallertau/Mt Hood?

2L Lacto Starter From Raw Grain
I Pack of US-05 (Make a small starter?)

I plan on starting with a 2L lacto starter cultured from raw grain. I'm thinking about adding a little bit of lactic acid to bring the PH (of the starter) down to 4.8, and letting this go with an airlock for a few days at 100 °F.

I am going to mash with 12 quarts H20 around 150 °F for 75 min. I don't plan on boiling and am going to add my hops to the mash. Going to batch sparge, and cool quickly to 100 °F, with an ice bath. Transfer to my 8 gallon bucket and pitch my lacto culture. Does the lacto fermentation need headroom? I'll let this do it's thing on a heat mat (hopefully around 90-100 °F) for a week or two (until primary is finished).

Then rack into a few smaller carboys (on top of fruit), and pitch my US-05 starter. I know sac struggles at lower PH, so I was thinking about using just Brett C in one carboy (to see if it finishes any faster). I'm not sure how low my gravity will be at this point but am wondering if the sach will have anything left to eat after a primary with lacto? I just want to make sure the lacto is well established, but definitely want to pitch yeast as well. Should I leave headroom in my secondaries for the sach?

I plan on letting the secondary go for 3-6 months before bottling. I'm hoping for a final PH of 3.5 or lower (as well as a low gravity).

Sorry for the long post. I really appreciate any help! I know some of this could be wrong, but I've done my best to wrap my head around everything! Thanks in advance.

Cheers! :mug:
 

microbusbrewery

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I know lots of people use that same method of souring with Lacto on the grain but I'm not a huge fan myself. There's a lot more bugs on grain besides lacto so there's always a chance of picking up something nasty. I recently had to dump a batch of sour IPA after something got a foothold while kettle souring. So I prefer pitching pure cultures myself and eliminating as many unknowns as possible. Your process sounds pretty good though. I'd be surprised if you have to sour more than a couple days before pitching yeast; lacto sours pretty fast if you can keep the temp up. Re headspace, lacto can develop krausen but I've never had it go more than about 3/4" high.
 
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SeeingMeansMore

SeeingMeansMore

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Nice! Thanks for the response. I've definitely thought about the other bugs on the grain causing problems. I just haven't heard the greatest things about any commercial lacto strains. I thought that lowering the initial PH of the culture with a bit of lactic acid might help the lacto take control, but I'm thinking about doing a short boil to try to eliminate any unknowns if I do culture from grain.

I'll definitely try to keep temps up and will plan on pitching yeast after a few days! I guess I'll just have to taste it and see how sour it is!

About the headspace, would I possibly be able to use a 5 gallon carboy rather than a 7 gallon bucket? I don't want to overfill, but don't really want to go over a 3/4" space (as I think it could definitely result in some off flavors). I guess I could just use a smaller primary fermenter and a blow off tube?

Thanks again for the info! I really appreciate it!
 

microbusbrewery

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Wyeast 5335 is pretty good. I've had mixed results with White Labs WLP677 but that was when I tried souring at room temps.

Regarding volume, 5 gallons might work but you'll probably lose a little bit to blowoff. I have a 5 gallon carboy that might be barely 5 gallons of it's filled to the brim; it would definitely blow off some volume.
 
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