Sunday, March 25, 2012

Brew Day: Berliner Kriek

Deviating from my usual British inspired beers, I though I'd brew up another batch of Berliner Weisse for the upcoming summer weather. I have brewed about a dozen batches of this type of beer over the years, although not all of them have been traditional - I've tried a bunch of different ways to sour the beer, including using the lacto, acid malt, and sour mash methods. Let's just say some versions came out better than others; for instance, all of my sour mashed BWs were pretty awful tasting! Also, while some people decoct their Berliners, I just stick to a single infusion mash and a very short 15 minute boil with minimal hopping. To get the sourness level I like - I prefer a very tart character - I pitch a large, stepped up lacto starter into the chilled (75F) wort and let it ferment for a few days before pitching US-05 at a reduced temperature. This way the lacto gets a head start on the saccharomyces and produces a more assertive lactic acid character than just by pitching the lacto and yeast together.

While it is not uncommon to let a batch of Berliner Weisse sit for five to seven months for the lactic sourness to develop, I have found that two or three months is plenty of time for my process. One instance when the sourness wasn't quite at the level I wanted, I tried adding a small amount of food grade lactic acid to the keg. The result were fine, sufficient for something to drink after a long day of landscaping, but not as good as the natural method. However, the one big difference between my Berliner Weisse and what most people make, is that I like adding spices and/or fruit to the beer. In this case, I'll be adding a good amount of tart cherry concentrate about a month into the fermentation. I've done this a few times now and have really enjoyed the results. It turns out similar to a Kriek and makes for a wonderful, refreshing summer drink. Another worthwhile combination has been hibiscus syrup with ground coriander and lemon zest. Not traditional by any means, but quite tasty!
Berliner Kriek : Berliner Weisse

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (Gal): 4.5
Total Grain (Lbs): 6.5
Anticipated OG: 1.036
Anticipated FG: 1.008
Anticipated SRM: 3
Anticipated IBU: 5
Efficiency: 70%
Boil Time: 15 Minutes

61.4% - 4.0 lbs. Pilsner Malt
38.4%   - 2.5 lbs. Wheat Malt

0.5 oz. US Goldings @ 15 min for 5 IBU

Yeast: WLP 677 Lactobacillus Delbrueckii, Safale S-05
Mash 149F for 90 min.

Brewed 25 March

Edit: 3/28 - Checked the gravity for pitching the ale yeast and the lacto took the gravity from 1.037 to 1.010 in two days! Decent amount of sourness already. Reduced temp from 80F to 63F and pitched S-05. 


  1. Awesome. Brewing up a Berliner next week. One question, are you letting the batch sit on the cake the whole time or are you racking at any point?

    1. I'll probably end up leaving it on the cake. I have done it both ways, racking when I've added fruit, but I can't imagine leaving it on the yeast cake could do much harm?

      One thing that is for sure, the lacto I pitched is ripping through this beer like crazy. Took off right around the 6hr mark. I did pitch a decanted 2 liter starter though. Hopefully it will ensure it gets sour quick.

  2. the best temperature for lactos is not about 35-40 celsius?


Leave a comment. No spam please.