Berliner Weisse #2 (Pear, Nectarines, and Some Hope)

When I was at the Modern Times Festival of Funk this year in San Diego some of my favorite funky/sour beers were the fruited ones. Notables were Council’s Prickly Pear Tart Saison, Barrelhouse’s Rum Plum Sour, Jester King’s Aurelian Lure, Libertine’s Jove, and all of Modern Times’ fruited sours, to name a few.

I met up with a friend at the festival who said he was going to brew a pear wit beer for his wedding. It was coming together. The inspiration was set in place. A Berliner-style was to be made, one with pear and the other with something else. I wasn’t sure what the second one was going to be fruited with at first, but there is something about apricot and sour beer that pairs so well together. Done and doner.

This is my second attempt at a quick Berliner, but honestly I don’t even know that I would call this a Berliner, rather a quick sour blonde. I guess I used german yeast aside from Lacto, so maybe. But the specific tag “Berliner weisse” on beer menus is getting a little out of control if you ask me, but then again the same argument could made for IPAs. Regardless, I am personally getting fed up with the exact same quick sour tasting beer.

The fast sour method was chosen based off the Milk the Funk Wiki. They do have a recipe specifically for a quick Berliner, then they have another section for alternative souring methods. One of these methods uses probiotics, and GoodBelly in particular seems one of the better choices. It is a pure strain of Lactobacillus plantarum, where as most of the other probiotics have multiple Lacto strains, among other stuff that can create off flavors. Seeing as I was only doing a 2 gallon batch, I only needed to pitch about 1/2 a cup of the GoodBelly drink. I was worried about the flavorings in the drink creating off flavors, but according to one person in the Wiki the mango is the best at not creating off flavors. Of course the store didn’t have it, so I went with Tropical Green. These are going to be fruited anyway, so perhaps off flavors could be masked some? Woof, no wonder I make so many mistakes.


Batch Size: 2.5 Gallon
Target OG: 1.039
SRM: 3.6
Est ABV: 3.8%
IBU: 8
Boil Time: 60

67.2% – 2-row
26.9% – Wheat
3.5% – Acid Malt

.30 oz Hallertauer (4.8% AA) @ 15 min

GoodBelly Probiotics: 1/2 cup per 2 gallons of wort
WLP029 Kolsch

Here’s what went down:

Brewed 4/23/16

1g gram of CaCL to the mash water. Mash pH was at 5.4.

Collected 1.5 gallons at 1.035. Diluted it to 1.026 at 2 gallons (shooting for 2.5 gallons). Chilled it to 100F, forgot to get the pH to 4.5 first, lame, pitched 1/2 cup of GoodBelly (Tropical Green flavor), purged the kettle with CO2, duct taped it shut and put in the chest freezer set to 110F with space heater on 80F intermittent.

Was at 85F in the next day inside the chest freezer. Lows for this were probably mid-70s. I keep thinking this space heater is going to get it to 90F-ish, but it just isn’t happening. I’ll have to invest in something more proper like a FermWrap, or one step further, installing a heating element to the temp controller.

4/25/16: The pH was at 3.2, yet it did not taste like it. It tasted like it was in the high 3s. Brought it to a boil, added the hops with 15 minutes left, chilled to 70F, added the Kolsch yeast, and put it in the chest freezer set to 66F.

4/27/16: Activity.

4/30/16: Activity appears about complete.


5/09/16: Racked off onto 2 separate 1 gallons jugs, one got 1.5 lbs of nectarines and the other 1.5 lbs of pear (both frozen first, then dethawed and pureed in a blender with boiled water which was slightly cooled). I didn’t know if it was necessary, but I sanitized the blender first with Star-San.

5/27/16: Transferred both off the fruit into secondaries.

6/7/16: A slight pellicle has formed on both of them. Hmmmm shit.

6/12/16: Gravity at 1.008 on both of them. Not sure what to do with these now. Fuck it, bottled the pear one. This is slightly risky due to the fact that more Lacto or other stuff may have got in and could create bottle bombs by actively eating yeast. I’m gonna open one up in a few weeks and see how it is before bottling the nectarine one.

6/18/16: The pellicle on the nectarine one has grown.

7/18/16: Bottled the nectarine one.


6/21/16 Tasting notes:

Pear: Well it’s not over carbonated, but it’s kinda odd tasting. There is almost some Band-Aid aroma and taste, but more so in the aroma. Usually that is an indicator of chlorine in the water or wild yeast, but the chlorine can be eliminated as I use a carbon filter and distilled water. My guess is this is due to wild yeast getting in, either during the kinda sloppy kettle sour technique (aka not lowering the pH before hand to 4.5, and not having an airtight C02 purged vessel), or with the fruit I added. The later is highly probable as a pellicle did form on both of the beers after I added the fruit.

Overlooking the slight Band-Aid oddness I don’t hate what the fruit imparted by any means. The acidity (at least for the American styles I’ve had) seems spot on, yet the pear is a bit lacking. I would up the amount, but it’s also possible it’s a tough fruit to get to really shine. The only pear beer I’ve had is the Logsdon Seizoen Bretta, but they bottle with pear juice, not really age the beer on the fruit.

Nectarine: Very Band-Aid in the nose, more so than with the pear one. The taste hardly has it, but the nose is overwhelming with it and it’s hard to get past it. The nectarine level is a hair low, but not bad at all. It pairs pretty decent with the acidity, but it’s not blowing my mind. It’s hard to tell though with the odd aroma if it would have been closer to the right amount or if the fruit itself fully works.

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