Berliner Weisse #3 (Reinheitsgebot Can’t Stop Me!)

I’ve been celebrating the German purity law of 1516 this whole year by not following it. The last Berliner I did I used anti-Reinheitsgebot ingredients such as fruit and a probiotic drink, take that…law…people!

Keeping the rebellion strong, for this one I decided to add apricots and use yogurt to sour the beer with. According to the Milk the Funk peeps, non-fat Greek yogurt that is unpasteurized works best. Thankfully they name brands as this can be pretty broad, but also thankfully most yogurt packaging will say if they have live cultures in them, which Fage Yogurt did.

The Milk the Funk brosefs recommended making a starter with the yogurt, but seeing as only a gallon was being made, I figured that the starter and final beer could be the same (small batch brewing rocks). The amount of yogurt I added was based off their liter starter recommendations, which was 2-4 teaspoons per liter, so I just quadrupled it (or thereabouts) for a gallon.

The sad thing about all this was that my pH meter was broken, so getting readings during this process didn’t happen, rather just taste tests. Apologies for those who really want to know the detailed measured steps I did, but I’m sorta trying my best.

Recipe:

Batch Size: 1 Gallon
OG: 1.039
SRM: 3.5
Est ABV: 3.7%
IBU: 9
Boil Time: 15 Min

Mash:
60 Min @ 152F

Malt:
66% – 2-Row
27% – German Wheat
6% – Acid Malt

Hops:
.40 oz Hallertauer (1.8% AA) @ 15 Min

Yeast:
Lactobacillus from Fage Greek Yogurt
WLP644 Saccharomyces “Bruxellensis” Trois

Here’s what went down:

Brewed 7/23/16

I cut the mash water in half with distilled water. The pH was unknown, but I do wish I could have gotten the wort to 4.5 before adding the yogurt to prevent unwanted bacteria getting in. Half of this batch was used for the American Pale Lager.

After a quick boil I cooled the wort to 100F (the gravity was at 1.032), added 14 or so teaspoons of Fage Greek Yogurt to an empty jug, filled the 100F wort to near the top of the jug, bubbled some CO2 into the wort, and put an airlock on it. I then left it on top of my floor heater which has 100F heat coming out of it (yes that’s right, about 100F heat leaks out of the floor vent with the pilot light blasting heat from the depths of hell).

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7/24/16: No lactic acid to speak of based off taste. I really should have ordered a pH meter before doing this.

7/25/16: Some slight lactic acid taste. Boiled for 15 minutes, added the hops, and a vial of old WLP644 Saccharomyces “Bruxellensis” Trois that was in the fridge (the gravity before pitching the yeast was at 1.039). I wanted to use a German ale strain, but I forgot to get one like a tool…but at least the MTF wiki says to use WLP644 for their Berliner recipe, so there’s that?

7/27/16: Activity. Kept it at about 80F average.

7/31/16: The krausen has fallen.

8/8/16: Transferred onto 1 lb of frozen then thawed apricots. I did this in a 6 gallon big mouth bubbler because I didn’t feel like whiskey dicking 1 lb of apricots into a small jug.

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8/14/16: Took it out of the chest freezer that’s set to the high-60s because I needed room for the next IPA to ferment.

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8/15/16: A stupid fucking white mold has grown on top. My stupid fucking hot garage may be stirring some unwanted bugs to be more active coming from the apricots/there is a lot of exposed surface area in that 6 gallon big mouth for only 1 gallon.

8/17/16: Transferred to a 1 gallon jug, and while doing so I realized the airlock to the bubbler was empty. Added reasons for mold/pellicle to form. Things going sideways for the win!

8/24/16: Transferred to another 1 gallon jug and started a cold crash.

9/3/16: Bottled.

9/16/16 Tasting notes:

The apricot amount is spot on (especially in the nose), but the beer as a whole right at the end falls short a little, mainly in tartness. If the pH was lower this could be great rather than pretty good. I think the body is there for what it is, maybe a touch thin, but that’s expected with this style of beer. I think 1 lb of apricot per 1 lb of beer was right and that’s the ratio I personally going to use in the future with these denser fruits. Also, the freeze/thawed method has still worked the best for me for fruit extraction.

I’ve now soured with yogurt (this post), probiotics, and regular commercial harvested Lacto. The only other souring method I haven’t tried yet that I want to try is using grains to sour the wort as they have Lacto on them, which I’ll probably do for the next Berliner.

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