Berliner Weissbier–once called by Napoleon the “Champagne of the North” and brewed in over 700 Berlin breweries–is now one of a handful of beer styles that can be considered truly endangered. A light, sour whet beer, Berliner Weissbiers get their characteristic tartness (which can sometimes be extreme, the point of puckering one’s mouth!) from a mixed fermentation culture of top-fermenting yeast and bacteria of the genus Lactobacillus. The end result is a dry, highly carbonated, tart, low alcohol (2-3.5% abv) beer that has traditionally often been served with woodruff or raspberry syrup to cut the sourness of this crisp and refreshing style.
Here at the Cebruery, we’re determined to keep this style alive. A wort made with equal parts barley and wheat malt and 50% pilsner malt is used to make a wort that is not boiled at all, but is instead inoculated with a controlled sour culture populated with Lactobacillus delbrueckii bacterium that inhabited the very grain that was used to make the wort they’re inoculating – we prefer this method to using commercial strains, which we find too subdued and domesticated for our tastes. We then keep the wort outside our fermentation chamber at the near ideal range for this bacterium before we move it to our cellar and inoculate it with a mixture of traditional top-fermenting yeast and Brettanomyces bruxellensis. The end result is a complex, tart, funky beer that’s bright enough to be refreshing in the hottest of summer heats but also challenging and intriguing enough to keep you coming back for more.
We have plans to age this beer on an assortment of local fruits and with as-of-yet undomesticated local yeast strains. Stay tuned to our Experimental Series page and blog for more information!