Sunday, June 11, 2017

Blending & Bottling - Berliner Weisse

The haul.

Apparently I know how to make lactobacillus happy. The Berliner Weisse I recently brewed turned out very tart. Too tart is probably the way to put it, at least for my preferences. In trying to determine what to do if your beer is too tart, I jumped on the Milk the Funk Facebook forum. The two answers I got: blend or dry hop.

I didn't allude to this in earlier posts, but I originally planned to use a small portion of this Berliner Weisse as a biere de coupage (AKA acid beer). The intent being to add a portion of it to the Brett Saison I recently brewed to give it a slight / moderate tang and enhance the perception of fruitiness. Early on I decided I wanted somewhere around an 80/20 blend of Brett Saison to Berliner Weisse. This decision was based upon descriptions from Jeff Crane's 2015 Homebrew Con presentation you can find on the AHA website (if you're a member).

I wanted to get this Berliner Weisse bottled quickly so I decided to blend it with the balance of my proposed blend for the Brett Saison. This seemed reasonable given the relative size of my fermenters, kegs, and buckets. Had I been more patient, I probably would have prepared some test blends after the Brett Saison reached a desired level of funk.

Racking to the bottling bucket.

Its hard to turn down the option to dry hop. I recently had a crisp, refreshing, and delightfully fruity beer called 'You're So Punk Rock' from Door County Brewing dry hopped exclusively with El Dorado hops. The simplest description for the aroma I can come up with is candied fruit punch.

The blending session was very successful. Pelletized El Dorado hops were added to a stainless hop filter and added to the blending keg. I purged the keg with CO2 and racked 1 gallon of Brett Saison to the keg with CO2 pressure. After the transfer, I made sure to purge both the fermenter and keg with CO2 to minimize oxygen exposure. Prior to transferring the Berliner Weisse to the keg, I pulled off one gallon in a separate fermenter to await eventual blending. The remaining Berliner Weisse was transferred with CO2 into the blending keg. Finally, I performed one last CO2 purge for good measure. The keg was left at room temperature for approximately 4 days to soak up that delicious dry hop character.

Sampling / drinking.

For bottle conditioning, I chose to shoot for 2.8 volumes of CO2. This carbonation level is high for "normal" beer, but is on the low end of the recommended Berliner Weisse carbonation spectrum. I also planned for the fact that the carbonation level will get higher now that the beer has been inoculated with Brettanomyces. Given I bottled this beer so young, I will have to try and consume this beer relatively quickly or slow down Brettanomyces activity using cold temperatures. No bottle bombs for me.

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