Author Topic: Berliner Weisse Fermentation Woes  (Read 1241 times)

Offline hairyhood

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Berliner Weisse Fermentation Woes
« on: May 15, 2013, 06:29:38 AM »
Brewed a quick extract Berliner on Saturday. 1.75lb Wheat, 1.75lb Pilsner....5 gallons.  I forgot my yeast and was unable to pitch until Monday evening.  Oxygenated for 2 minutes with a stone, then pitched one vial of White Labs WLP630 Berliner Weisse Blend...no starter.  It is now 2 days later and I still see no signs of fermentation.  This is the first Berliner I have done and the first time I have used any bacteria.  I realize this is a very small amount of malt in 5 gallons and I didn't do a starter....Am I just being impatient?  Any thoughts or tips would be greatly appreciated.

Offline kylekohlmorgen

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Re: Berliner Weisse Fermentation Woes
« Reply #1 on: May 15, 2013, 11:01:18 AM »
You should have plenty of yeast in the vial for that low of a starting gravity.

Could your bucket lid/carboy stopper be leaking?

If not, you could probably wait another day and take a gravity reading if you don't see any activity. If you really weren't fermenting, you can try rousing the yeast or adding some dry yeast.
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Offline nateo

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Re: Berliner Weisse Fermentation Woes
« Reply #2 on: May 15, 2013, 11:52:53 AM »
My $0.02: Brew 1/2 of the BW with ONLY bacteria, keeping the wort hot (100* or so) until its done fermenting, brew the other half with only yeast, then blend to taste. I've found the gravity to be very stable post-blending, but you can use heavier bottles if you're concerned about that. I've never used the premade "blends" because I've read a lot of people have trouble with them. I just get the lacto from base grain. It's super easy, super cheap, and super fast.
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Offline hairyhood

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Re: Berliner Weisse Fermentation Woes
« Reply #3 on: May 15, 2013, 12:39:17 PM »
I will try that on the next batch.  I am an all-grain brewer, but did an extract batch of this while brewing a Belgian Dubbel.  My LHBS didn't have lacto.  My only option was the blend as I decided to do this last minute.  I like the idea of the sour mash.

Just want to save this batch.

Offline FlipMasterFlash

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Re: Berliner Weisse Fermentation Woes
« Reply #4 on: May 15, 2013, 12:53:06 PM »
Wish I could find where I read this but I believe that blend is notoriously slow starting.  I was digging into doing a berliner weisse and someone I'd trust (Kristen England) said to build up a 5:1 lacto to yeast pitch and throw that straight in.  I suspect that is what White Labs blend has as a ratio has which gives the lacto some time to get started before the yeast takes over which would make it appear slow starting.

I do like nateo's idea of speeding up the process by doing a sour batch and a 'straight' batch and blending to taste.  Seems like a great way to be able to blend your way to the amount of tartness desired.

Offline hairyhood

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Re: Berliner Weisse Fermentation Woes
« Reply #5 on: May 15, 2013, 01:05:11 PM »
I agree that does sound like a great way to do it.  I may just try that on my next one.

Thanks for the info.  I guess I will give it a couple of more days and maybe take a reading.  Just was confused as my beers usually take off in a few hours.

Offline kylekohlmorgen

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Re: Berliner Weisse Fermentation Woes
« Reply #6 on: May 15, 2013, 01:26:42 PM »
My $0.02: Brew 1/2 of the BW with ONLY bacteria, keeping the wort hot (100* or so) until its done fermenting, brew the other half with only yeast, then blend to taste. I've found the gravity to be very stable post-blending, but you can use heavier bottles if you're concerned about that. I've never used the premade "blends" because I've read a lot of people have trouble with them. I just get the lacto from base grain. It's super easy, super cheap, and super fast.

Nate - how long does it take the bacteria to reach full attenuation? When I try this, I always seem to get a LOT of acidity but little drop in gravity.
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Offline nateo

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Re: Berliner Weisse Fermentation Woes
« Reply #7 on: May 15, 2013, 02:22:35 PM »
Nate - how long does it take the bacteria to reach full attenuation? When I try this, I always seem to get a LOT of acidity but little drop in gravity.

Lactic acid is barely lighter than sugar. That's your problem. The SG isn't a good guide for when it's done. If you taste it, and it tastes super sour, then its done. If you taste it, and it tastes sweet, it's not done yet.
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Offline kylekohlmorgen

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Re: Berliner Weisse Fermentation Woes
« Reply #8 on: May 16, 2013, 07:58:34 AM »
Nate - how long does it take the bacteria to reach full attenuation? When I try this, I always seem to get a LOT of acidity but little drop in gravity.

Lactic acid is barely lighter than sugar. That's your problem. The SG isn't a good guide for when it's done. If you taste it, and it tastes super sour, then its done. If you taste it, and it tastes sweet, it's not done yet.

That makes sense - you're just producing acid with the bacteria, not alcohol.
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Offline nateo

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Re: Berliner Weisse Fermentation Woes
« Reply #9 on: May 16, 2013, 08:16:09 AM »
That makes sense - you're just producing acid with the bacteria, not alcohol.

You're making a little bit of alcohol too, but usually a lot more acid than alcohol.

IIRC, don't quote me on this, but I believe lactic acid is about 75% the weight of sugar. So if you're expecting it to go from 1.030 to 1.010, that'd be a drop of 20 points. You'd likely only see about 1/4 of that drop, so the FG should be around 1.025. At least, that's the typical attenuation I see when I do that. I've stopped measuring the FG for that reason, and just go by taste.
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Offline hairyhood

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Re: Berliner Weisse Fermentation Woes
« Reply #10 on: May 16, 2013, 11:35:55 AM »
I finally got some visible signs of fermentation now.  I white foam on top.  Not sure whether this is krausen or a pellicle (don't have any experience with bacteria).  Anyway, thank you to all that responded.  I guess I was just being impatient.  I was mostly concerned that something happened to my wort as it did sit for 2.5 days before I pitched anything.

I think I will go by taste on this one as suggested.  I also will take an FG reading so as to guestimate the alcohol.

Thanks again to everyone!