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For those that have made the style, how long do you like to leave it on the yeast? Do you do a secondary at all?

Do you do a long fermentation or let it sour in the bottles?

I was also wondering about this style, and would appreciate a response from someone who’s tried some things.

I had planned on making a berlinerweisse with the dregs from Jolly Pumpkin and Lindemann’s Cuvee Renee which I have harvested, mixed, and built up to what’s now about a liter of sour smellin’ good-nass.

I was thinking of building this up further to a 2 liter starter, and infecting it with a session strength berlinerweisse wort–just pils and wheat-- and letting it sit for a year in the primary, and then bottling it.

After that, I’m sure I could figure out something to do with the guts…

I’ve done a half-dozen or so, and found it works best (for me) to pitch a large healthy lacto starter first, followed by a pitch of sac yeast. If things go right, you should get some good sourness right away. I’ve let it age for a couple months, then start drinking. On the ones where I’ve gotten good sourness right away, there’s been no need for long-term aging. On the ones where I had sluggish sourness, it didn’t seem that aging (6 -7months) made much of a difference.

I’m not sure what all is in Jolly Pumpkin and Cuvee, but I know that there is brett and possibly an assortment of other things that may or may not be appropriate in a bw.

The time I made one, I let the mash sour for a good 24hrs. It starts smelling pretty funky but thats OK. Then as I recall I boiled part of it with some hops, then combined that with the unboiled wort and fermented. It was very mildly sour from the sour mash and became moreso after a few months. It never got real sour though so maybe a lacto pitch would give you more sourness.

It’s critical to make a large lacto starter to get the appropriate level of sourness in the beer. I make a 2 quart lacto-only starter two days in advance of brewing. I wrap the starter with a heating pad and keep it as close to 100 degrees as possible to maximize the lacto growth. On brew day, I chill the wort down in a water bath to 110(no boil) and pitch the lacto. Over the course of 24 hours, I chill the wort to yeast pitching temps using frozen water bottles to bring the temp down. I pitch the yeast when it reaches 68 degrees and let it free rise after that. I’ve never failed to brew a sour but tasty Berliner Weisse using this method.

What about some of the wyeast blends like roeselare or the Belgian lambic blend? I know virtually nothing about sour beers other than I had my first the other day which prompted me to start thinking about making one. Those have a combo of Brett, Lacto and some kind of ale strain right?
Would you still need to pitch a separate Lacto starter if using these?

[quote=“mplsbrewer”]What about some of the wyeast blends like roeselare or the Belgian lambic blend? I know virtually nothing about sour beers other than I had my first the other day which prompted me to start thinking about making one. Those have a combo of Brett, Lacto and some kind of ale strain right?
Would you still need to pitch a separate Lacto starter if using these?[/quote]
No they have lactobacillus and pediococcus in the blend but you wouldn’t use these to make a Berlinner weisse, its not a funky beer just sour.

I’m trying out White Labs Berlineweisse strain. Seems like everyone has a different way of doing this.

I’ve found that the blended products that mix the yeast and lacto never really deliver the in your face punch of a true lacto starter. The lacto needs high temps to grow and the yeast needs relatively low temps to deliver a clean beer. A mixture of the two leaves something to be desired because neither are working in their ideal environments. You need a lot of lacto growth to get the appropriate sourness of a great Berliner Weisse and that will not happen at ale fermentation temperatures.

Maybe it’d be good to pitch the lacto culture in the mash after it cools some, and let it sour up before lautering. I thought sourng the mash was the traditional way to make a Berlinner.

You are correct that souring the mash is the traditional way however, on the homebrew scale, it isn’t very reliable and the ideal conditions for lactobacillus growth are hard to maintain. I’ve found its easier and more reliable to raise lacto to appropriate levels prior to introduction into the main wort. Since this is no-boil wort production it also allows yeast to be introduced relatively quickly so that attenuation can begin and out-compete undesirable organisms. I can produce a reliably sour, yet clean-flavored BW using this method, whereas the mash souring method never produced the same beer twice. I guess the consistency is the greatest advantage to making lacto-only starters.

Either of you have a source for this? I’m not saying that I know the answer, but in this thread Kristen says otherwise:
. He says the lacto was added to a bw after the mash.

I agree with BrauDawg that my best and most consistent results have come from a large fresh lacto pitch. Sour mashing has given me flavors that I don’t think I like in a bw (but may have their place in other beers).

It could be that the commercial BW examples that I have tasted are not up to par with what is being discussed but I don’t recall any of them having a pronounced sourness. I would describe it as tart.

That being said, I did a reading and a taste out of the fermenter. Holy attenuative Batman. Current gravity reads 1.003. I don’t think I have ever had a beer get that low, must be the lacto?

Taste is a bit odd. Has the flavor and aroma from the lacto but none of the tartness just yet, has only been a few weeks so that is not surprising.

Will keep you posted on how it involves in case anyone is interested in the strain.

I should have been more clear. The lactobacillus was not actually added to the mash as a culture using the traditional method. Lacto exists naturally on the surface of the grain. You could add a handful of unmashed grain to a cooled mash (below 110 degrees) and lacto would likely start growing. The question is, what else besides lacto would grow? Leave some mashed grain in the cooler for a few days in the summer sun and tell me what you get when you open the lid. It’s a soup of all kinds of bugs! Some may be tasty and some may make you gag. I’m simply saying that adding an appropriate sized lacto culture is the best way to get consistently sour and refreshing beers. I like mine to taste like weak lemonade without the sugar and with an effervescent mouth feel. The naturally soured ones I have produced have sometimes been sulfur bombs, sometimes bitter tasting(no hops added) and sometimes had a slimy mouthfeel. I’m not risking several pounds of grain on those kind of results.

I don’t see that there’d be too much of a difference between pitching the starter into the mash and letting it work there for a day, versus pitching to no-boil wort and letting it work there. But I do see your point concerning the reliability of using the culture and growing it to a nice cell count. Thanks for the info. Its almost time to give one of these a try so it’ll be ready for summer.

I have made one with the White Labs blend. I fermented it for a couple weeks and then transfered to keg. It took about a year in that keg to get a noticeable amount of sour. It’s actually a pretty good Berliner Weisse at this point, although I might desire a bit more sour and I wish it didn’t take a year to develop. LOL

I just made a second one wherein I pitched a pure lacto vial and let it work for 48 hours before pitching the blend. Hopefully that will sour more and maybe a bit quicker.


I tried the BW that I brewed up in January yesterday, over four months in. FG is now 1.001. Nice refreshing light wheat flavor with a distinctive tang. Added 2lb fresh pasteurized purreed apricots that were a bit on the tart side, will sit for a week or so and then rack, cold crash and bottle.

Repitch some yeast to ensure that it carbs or just prime and pray? I’m not going to keg, don’t want to have to have a dedicated sour set of keg lines.

At four months I don’t think you’d need to re-yeast. Sounds tasty. I have a BW in carboy in the basement. I’ve been meaning to taste a sample.

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