Berliner Weisse is one of my favorite styles of beer. Said to be one of Napoleon's (not the one above) beers, he and his troops called it the Champagne of the North. It is light, refreshing, tart and low alcohol. It also is the shortest brew day I have. I brewed a batch a few years back and it was a huge hit. I think the best commercial version I have tasted is The Bruery's Hottenroth. I wanted to shoot for a beer like Hottenroth. I did quite a bit of research on methods and procedures to brew a Berliner when I was planning the first batch. What I found was a blend of 50% pilsner, 50% wheat malt, lactobacillus bacteria, neutral yeast, a small amount of aged hops (which do not inhibit the growth of lactobacillus delbrueckii) gave the best approximation to what I was going for. I emailed Patrick Rue of the Bruery and asked them some questions about yeast and bacteria. They shared with me that they grow their lacto in a starter of preservative free apple juice. I grow mine in the apple juice and left it in my warming oven which sits at about 70F or higher. This would promote the most bacterial growth in the shortest time period. I mash the beer (hops included) and then run off and bring the wort to a boil. I kill the flame and chill to about 80-90F and pitch my bacterial starter. I let that go at it alone for 2-3 days keeping a warming belt on while the bacteria grows. Then I pitch the neutral yeast, and take teh warming belt off. The beer comes out nice and tart with a clean finish and so easy to drink on a hot summer day.
I will probably use the yeast/bacteria cake for a gose, another interesting German Style Wheat!
Recipe: German Pilsner Malt, White Wheat Malt, Lactobacillus delbrueckii, aged cluster hops, and US-05.