Inadvertent LAMBIC Berliner Weisse (Mini Mash)

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After my first taste of Berliner Kindl Weisse, I’ve been lusting after a gorgeously tart Berliner Weisse for a while now and have been promising myself a crack at brewing one.

Well I’ve just managed to get one going:

Here’s the recipe:

berliner

Trouble is, it’s a little more involved than the standard mash, boil and bung in the yeast routine – to start with I did a mini mash on the stove top (I’ve no idea what I’d do with 23 L of Berliner Weisse?) with the mash rests as follows:

15mins 54c
60mins 68c

5mins 76c

When I sparged, I needed to ensure that there’d be enough wort to fill a demijohn almost completely – air is our enemy here…oh did I mention that I’d be souring this bad boy with Lactobacillus?

…and, because I’m as tight as a gnat’s chuff, I’m going to be doing the souring with Probiotic “healthy gut” Lactobacillus Plantarum tablets.

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Yeah, you heard that right: Mmmm-hmm, deal with it girlfriend.

Rather than forking out six or seven quid a pop for a single-use WL/WY lactobacillus culture in a test tube, I’m just going to crack open a couple of these Swanson Pro-biotics “healthy gut” tablets into some cooled and boiled water to re-hydrate and then pitch the whole lot into the wort.

Each tablet supposedly contains 10 beellion viable cells, and I apparently need 20 beellion for a gallon of wort, so two will do nicely.

(BTW the tablets are seven quid for 30 – so I can do lots more of soured beer with the other 28 or so.  OR I can make a starter and make even more!)

Brewing on the cheap AND supporting my bowels, you’ve gotta like that.

The common consensus is that you can expect about 24 – 36 hours for the souring to happen…but it’s standard practice to use a smidge (3ml or so in my case) of lactic acid in the wort after you’ve sparged to get it down to 4.5 pH – which should stop any unpleasant bacteria taking hold in the meantime…

You can use a pH meter or pH strips to check for acidity – both of these seem largely hopeless when I tested.  I think, on reflection, I probably trusted the strips more…

Once it’s soured to an acceptable level (and that’ll be pleasantly acidic, rather than strip the enamel from your teeth acidity) I’ll get the lot into a pan and re-boil for half-an hour, adding the hops to 8 IBUs, etc. and then bunging in a clean ale yeast to ferment it to a finish – as I would for a normal beer.

God this brewing lark is giddily exciting sometimes…

STOP THE PRESS:

So it’s a couple of days later, now.

The Lacto has been taking it’s time souring the wort – despite my best efforts: swirling up the all-too-flocculant sediment and keeping the whole lot over 25c if I can.

Last night, it tasted as if we were finally getting there: the wort was still sweet, but getting a pleasant, if subtle, acidity to it…

Then this morning I noticed a Krausen!  I mean a high krausen with a right old load of brown yeast on the top and bubbles in the airlock and everything.  That wasn’t supposed to happen…I haven’t put any hops in it yet, let alone any yeast!

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I mean, I did briefly boil it for ten minutes prior to pitching the Probiotics and that was only to “sanitize” it…

After freaking out about it when I first found it this morning, I thought about boiling it all quickly and adding the hops and all that; but I’d no idea how much alcohol would boil off and what it would do the taste…so in the end I’ve decided to just leave it to do it’s thing.

It smells and tastes fine* and I suppose it’s accepted practice to brew Berliner Weisse under a no-boil procedure: because of the eventual acidity it shouldn’t need the preservative power of hops, and the style isn’t hop-forward in any sense, I might just get away with it.  I guess I’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

(*I shouldn’t have tasted it at all really: tasting is a big no-no when fermenting with unknown wild cultures – at least in the first few days – heaven knows what could be growing growing in there…a fact I remembered slightly after taking the first sip…)

In any case, I’ve now moved the whole thing to a cooler area of the house to try and keep the yeast from chucking out hot fusel alcohols in the first few days.  What happens next is anyone’s guess.  I suppose there’s two possible outcomes to this whole business:

1) I end up with a gacky, smelly thing that I’ll have to pour down the sink and afterwards, scrub the demijohn ’til my fingers bleed

or

2) I get a tart and interesting Berliner Weiss, in fact a LAMBIC BERLINER WEISSE.  Yeah, take that and smoke it in your Briars, Hipsters!

I may also get an interesting Lacto/Brett/Brewers house culture that I can clutter up the fridge with…  Happy days.

http://www.swansonvitamins.com/swanson-probiotics-l-plantarum-inner-bowel-support-30-veg-drcaps  (They’re available in the UK…)

UPDATE No. 1

Well.  I tasted this beer in primary (10 or so days gone)  and it’s gloriously tart; and, amazingly, it doesn’t have any off-flavours at all.  I’ll just let it finish off and get it into some bottles and let you all know what it ends up like.

And because I’m me -and it’s such a quick way to make beer- I mashed in again the day before yesterday: this time it was a single infusion mash of 68C  for sixty minutes, with a mash-out of 76C.

For the grain bill I used 300g of wheat malt, 300g of Pilsner malt and 300g of Maris Otter.  I did the same routine of re-hydrating the contents of the Swanson’s gut tablets and pitching that in after a ten minute boil, cool-down and pH adjustment to 4.6

Then, guess what?

Less than 48 hours later and it was merrily fermenting – just like the other one.

It’s no fluke, and despite my tongue-in-cheek statements, it’s not a Lambic.  Something’s going on, here’s my current top conspiracy theories:

  1. Somehow there’s yeast on some of my equipment that is contaminating the wort.  Starsan just won’t kill yeast.  A fact that I usually love it for!
  2. The Swanson’s pills have some yeast in them…doubtful, the ingredients don’t mention yeast at all.
  3. I really do have a resident microbial flora (yeast in particular).  I do actually live next door to an orchard and it is Autumn, after all…
  4. The Lactobacillus Plantarum in the Swanson’s pills have found themselves in a situation where they can act in a heterofermentative way: i.e. they can produce lactic acid AND alcohol.  More info here: https://foodsafety.foodscience.cornell.edu/sites/foodsafety.foodscience.cornell.edu/files/shared/documents/CU-DFScience-Notes-Dairy-Cultures-HomoHeteroferm-10-08.pdf

Either way, as long as the beer ends up finished and clean-tasting, I couldn’t really give a toss.

I’ve saved myself a couple of sachets of S04!

These two beers are evolving – so I will fill in more detail as I have it…

The Kinder Face of Lambic: @FaroLindemans – Faro

20150423_200933The first time you have a Lambic, especially something like an Oude Gueze, you wonder what on earth possess people to drink something that acidic; but, you soldier through and after a while you start to appreciate the nuances of mustiness, acerbic lemonyness and huge mysterious complexity…

Fortunately, you can bypass that first alarming Lambic experience by trying out Faro.  Faro is a sweetened Lambic – so you get all the fun of a Lambic without feeling like you’re about to lose the enamel from your teeth.

I must confess being a fan of Faro.  I mean, I like a decent Gueze as much as the next man, but sometimes you want something complex, interesting, satisfying and above all else easy-drinking.

Lindemans Faro eventually arrives in a glass* a lovely deep amber with a vigorous fizzy head that fizzles itself away to virtually nothing – but hey, there’s not normally much in the way of head-forming proteins left in any Lambic by the time the wild yeasts and bacteria have finished working on it – so that’s to be expected.

(*I say “eventually arrives in a glass” as I took the cap off to no pop or fizz, and found a cork underneath to take out too.  Our kitchen is still in pieces, so it took ages to find a corkscrew)

20150423_200723The nose is sweet and overlaid with cut hay and earthy, soiley goodness, stored apples in newspaper, pear skins and a muted citrus note.  I told you Lambic was complex…

Taste-wise it’s mercifully sweet with a lovely mouth-filling, lively carbonation…the taste put me in mind of crisply tart apples – all malic-acid sharpness – that lingers before winking away to leave you sat alone in a dusty, musty, bone-dryness…but then that sweet appley-malic-acid note runs strong again and makes your mouth pour with saliva.

It’s that dryness that makes you to keep going back again and again…a bit like peanuts on the bar making you want to drink more.

Some may say that the Lambic theme is spoilt by it’s sweetening into a Faro, but I disagree.  I mean, alright, the sweetness is definitely separate and weirdly perpendicular to the taste – but I like it’s quirkiness…

Difficult to leave alone.  So many aromas, tastes and experience in one glass.

Yum.

http://www.lindemans.be/beer/faro

Lindeman’s: Framboise Lambic

framboiseAfter a couple of IPAs last night I was starting to crave something a bit different.  Lindeman’s came to the rescue with their framboise (raspberry) lambic.

If you’re a regular reader you know that I’m quite keen on Lambics and how they’re made, if you want the complete 101 on that you can always read up on Wikipedia here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lambic or even check out Mike Tonsmeiere’s excellent Mad Fermentationist site – which has more experiments, comment on and reviews of Lambics and sours than anywhere else on the ‘net: http://www.themadfermentationist.com

The Lindeman’s Framboise was an extraordinary vision of fairground pinkness when it arrived.  In a tall glass it was the beer world’s equivalent of Danny La Rue.  You would probably not want to drink this in your local – as you’d soon know about it from the other regulars.

The beer was hazy, boiled sweet rhubarb red and the head was the most obscene candy-floss pink.  An aroma was of pungent sweet raspberries coupled with just a hint of dry, untouched-for-years, attic.

The taste was all at once a tumult of sour followed by sweet raspberry and then intense bone-dry raspberry pips -you remember the first time as a kid when you crushed a raspberry pip in your teeth?  Lindemans make this with real fruit and you can certainly tell that.

The mouthfeel at first seems thin, until your mouth fills with flavour and dryness and pips and everything – until it’s over-crowdingly mouthfilling…then you swallow and the whole thing reverberates around until you’re left with a dry mouth and feeling the urge to take another sip and careen down the rollercoaster just one more time.

This beer is both heady and intoxicating in it’s taste and fragrance.  Hugely complex, but at times very sweet…if you don’t like sweet – you probably won’t like this.  If, on the other hand, you fancy a fairground ride of a beer (in every sense of the word) then this is for you.

http://www.lindemans.be/start/framboise/en

St Louis Fond Tradition Gueze

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Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been really getting into the whole lambic thing…starting off with the fruit lambics from Bacchus, Timmermans, etc.

I’m definitely down with the whole Gueze thing, but am taking a little more time to get into the Oude Gueze side of things as it can be a little on the tart side..so I thought I’d give the Fond Tradition a whirl as it’s advertised as a standard Gueze.

When poured the fluffy white head hangs around for a while, but eventually peters out to a single layer of fine bubbles.  Aroma-wise, Fond Tradition doesn’t blow me away and it certainly isn’t as “forward” as other lambics I’ve had (I’m looking at you Boon Oude Gueze) but it’s certainly there…the first taste is like crab apples straight off the tree: sharp, sharp, sharp malic acidity and a bone dry finish.  That’s not to say it’s unpleasant, far from it, it just takes a bit of getting used to.

I must confess it’s not a beer I greatly enjoyed, but I do recognise it for what it is…and that’s a quality beer, that’s taken a lot of skill to make and blend.  It’s just a shame it’s not completely to my taste.

I scored a 375ml bottle of Fond Tradition from Beers of Europe http://www.beersofeurope.co.uk for £2.59