Fermentation: Berliner Weisse

I haven’t made a post solely dedicated to a fermenting beer since my very first brew. I’ve learned a lot about brewing since then and gotten much more comfortable brewing. I feel that the Schnellweiße marks a major milestone for me in my brewing experience – it is my first sour beer, partially fermented with a bacteria called Lactobacillus that I grew in a starter inoculated with just a handful of grains.

After about four or five days of incubation at 90-110 degrees F, the starter was tasting tart and smelling doughy, though I was concerned that this might just be the result of mixing apple juice and DME in equal ratios. However, the next morning I was rewarded by this gruesome sight.


A terrible and awesome sight. A healthy lacto pellicle like this is just what I was hoping for.

With this mason jar of healthy lactobacillus in hand, I brewed 2.5 gallons of wort from about 3.5 lbs of mixed pilsner and wheat malt. I neglected to take a gravity reading and neglected to even take a good measurement of the volume. Hopefully I’ll come out in the end with 5 gallons of about 1.032 gravity wort. Next time I’ll be more careful. I pitched the whole starter after cooling the wort to about 90 degrees, and then put it in a 110 degree water bath.

After having nearly 24 hours to settle in, the lacto have taken hold, forming a new pellicle across the surface of the wort. The airlock bubbles very occasionally and gives off no foul aromas. I look forward to pulling a sample in a few days before carrying on to pasteurize this half of the wort and brew the other half before inoculating with S-04 I just harvested from Jason’s (now bottled) brown ale.


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