02 Apr 2014

Its tough to find Berliner Weiss at this end of the globe, and as a result Im constantly scouring other blogs for ideas and recipes in order to make what I think in my mind is going to be the perfect session beer. Tart, sour, funky malty and low enough in alcohol to drink in quantity, it really does tick a lot of boxes for the beer nerd. Ive been inspired by the likes of The Mad Fermentationist with his Rhubarb Berliner Weiss and Ive been ogling at the rhubarb bush outside my kitchen window for months now with this very beer on my mind.

Ive decided to do a short boil, then sour the wort with Lactobacillus Delbrueckii (Whitelabs 677) at 30C for a few days before bringing the wort back up to a boil and then commencing primary fermentation with Brettanomyces Clausenii (whitelabs 645). This should add some complexity to an otherwise mild beer. Lacto Delbrueckii produces a very soft acidity that doesn't exactly sizzle on the tongue…. I can imagine that rhubarb will bring some bracing acidity to the table and fill the gaps nicely

Ive also decided  to use some assertive hopping at the end of boil with some Riwaka and 'mystery German' hops  that my friend Logan Douglas grew in his backyard. They have a mild spicy lemon note that should work well with the acidity and fruity profile of the beer. 

I can't wait to see what the Brett does with all these flavours, if it gets anywhere near the 'pineapple and fruit bowl' descriptors that I hear others swooning over Ill be a happy brewer!

IngredientsBerliner Weiss 1 2  

O.G. 1.040 - Batch size 20L

2Kg Gladfield Pale malt

1Kg Weyerman Pale wheat

80g Acidulated Malt

40g Riwaka at 10 minutes 5.2 IBU

30g Saaz (mystery German) whirlpool for 15 minutes 2.1 IBU

Fresh Rhubarb (not sure how much yet, or if any at all… Will wait to see how the base beer turns out first)

Calcium Sulphate & Calcium Carbonate to taste



Berliner Weiss 2 116 03 2014 - Pitched one vial of Lacto culture into a 2 litre starter and one vial of Brett into a one litre starter. Left to ferment for one week.

23 03 2014 - Pitched the one litre Brett starter into a fresh two litre starter on the stir plate.

26 03 2014 - Mash at 68C for 40 minutes and batch sparge into the kettle.

N.B. For any pale beer such as this which will end up with next to no residual sweetness, monitoring your sparge ph and being gentle with your wort is a must to avoid tannin extraction which will stick out like dogs balls when there's nothing left in the beer to hide it… So acidify that liquor to 5.6 keep the temperature below 75C and everything will be gravy! 

Boil wort for 15 minutes then chill back to 30C. Set the thermostat.

Add Lacto Bacillus starter and purge the head space with cO2 and cover with plastic wrap. Replace the lid and let it sour!  

02 04 2014 - The wort was ready a few days ago but I only just got time to complete the process... As a lot of others have noted this strain of Lacto is very mild, it does have a lovely lacto aroma however… Boiled the wort for 60 minutes untill all of the DMS aromas (cooked corn and veges) were gone and added hops, chilled to 24C and pitched Brett. Added pure O2 at a rate of 1L per minute for thirty seconds. Left to ferment at 22C. 

There's nothing like the smell of Riwaka at the end of the boil!

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26 Mar 2014

One of the really great things about the ever expanding interest in home brewing is the availability of cheap and quality equipment.  SS Brewing Technologies is filling a gap in the fermentation department with affordable stainless vessels.

Ranging from a 17 gallon conical to a 6.95 gallon stainless bucket with a cone on the bottom dubbed 'the brew bucket'. Homebrewers with a powerful lust for stainless can feed the hungry demon and still have some cash left over for ingredients!

Now if only they would stay in stock long enough for me to actually buy one!

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20 Feb 2014

apple pie mead 1Every year my apple trees are kind to me with an abundance of fruit, Im not sure why because I don't treat them nicely by any means…. One year I took to them with my chainsaw in a pathetic attempt at pruning, only to later find out I had cut off all of the most important branches. But despite my butchery they grew back with so much fruit I struggled to make use of it all. Nature is a patient and kind lady! 

 Im not sure what kind of apples they are, perhaps some kind of Braeburn, they are tart and slightly bitter and don't taste much like culinary apples, I really should do some investigating. Last year some friends and I spent the afternoon mincing and pressing the juice. I then added some whitelabs 007 dry english ale yeast and fermented the must out, then back sweetened with concentrate. It was a delicious cider and opened my eyes to just what was growing in my backyard (we inherited the trees when we purchased our home 5 years ago).  That cider went on to win a bronze medal at NHC last year and considering it was a year old and pasteurised I suspect it could have done very well if fresh and not long in the bottle.


So this year I decided to make a Cyser. Ever since I heard of Moonlight meads apple pie mead Ive been wanting to try it. Apples, honey, Vanilla and cinnamon…. Its a combination of flavours that even when heard, gets the old saliva running! Unfortunately you can't find it in New Zealand and I just happened to stumble across 6 kilos of organic Manuka honey from Great Barrier island and I thought the strong musky taste of the Manuka would work well in a spiced Cyser. Ive selected Vinters Harvest MA33 wine yeast which ferments some malic acid since my apples are very tart I don't want the mead to end up too acidic and I don't want to do a malo lactic fermentation if I can avoid it. This is the first time Ive fermented with wine yeast and the first time Ive ever made a mead. One thing that has been very new to me  is the way mead and wine makers work with yeast. I can't for the life of me find a good reference to inoculation rate. With beer we go by 1 million cells per millilitre of wort per degree plato, nice and simple. But there are no references like this for mead. Because the must is %100 fermentable, a different technique is used where by the focus is on yeast nutrition and environmental health  throughout the fermentation i.e. Rather than the focus being on pitching rate, wine makers turn their attention to yeast nutrients and correct ph of the must in order to get the cell growth and fermentation character they are looking for. Im still a little uneasy about not having a firm inoculation rate to work with, but Ill wing it for now and stagger my nutrient additions over the first week of fermentation.




apple pie mead

20kg apples crushed and pressed (I added three bags of culinary apples to fill out the batch)

6kg Organic manuka honey

4 campden tablets crushed

16g of Vinters Harvest MA33 wine yeast

11g of Fermaid A nutrient (staggered throughout the lag phase)

1 Vanilla Bean (split)

1 cinnamon quill


19/03/2014 - Mince the apples in a blender and then into this great little piece of gear my friend Logan Douglas built. He's a bit of a genius with wood (even builds his own surfboards) and this is no exception!

Collected 18 Litres of juice 

Added crushed campden (to kill bacteria and slow wild yeast)

Added honey

Blended it all with a stick blender for a few minutes then left in my basement for 24hrs to let the campden do its thing.

O.G. 1.115 - PH 3.6

20/03/2014 - Added pure O2 at one liter per minute for two minutes. Added  yeast and 3/4tsp fermaid A. 

22/03/2014 - Added 3/4tsp Fermaid A. PH shows 3.4

24/03/2014 - Added remaining Fermaid A and degassed the must again. Took a PH reading that showed 2.6 Far too low for healthy yeast metabolism. Since yeast needs potassium and honey doesn't provide enough, Ive chosen potassium hydroxide (KOH) to both raise the PH of th e must and contribute potassium ions.

Prepared a 1N solution of KOH. This was used (1ml at a time) to titrate 100ml of must back up to a PH of 3.6 Multiply the titrant by 10 and then by 18 (the total volume of the must) and you know exactly how much is needed to correct the PH of your fermentation.

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