Hi everyone, it’s Nick! For the last year, Andrew (the newest addition to the shop) and I have been discussing older styles of beers. After doing several sour beers, I finally decided to try my hand at a few techniques that I have researched, and I want to share my results with you.
Recently Ben brewed a German Pale Ale for the shop (on tap now), and at the end of the sparge there was a tiny little bit of sugar still draining off. So, I took the opportunity to try something called a “Sour Mash”. I took the spent grain and mashed in an additional six pounds of grain to get some more sugars out. Once I let it rest I drained the wort off into a sanitized bucket (one of my sour buckets to avoid cross contamination) on top of two ounces of Saaz leaf hops. In the ancient ales of yester-year all malts were kilned over open fire and had a distinct smoke flavor. I wanted to give a nod to that, so instead of pitching yeast I dumped two pounds of smoked malt in to allow the wild bacteria on the grain husks to ferment the wort. Grain husks are covered in Lactobacillus and other wild things. The next day it was cranking away just like any other beer yeast, and in about a week it was finished fermenting! I killed the wild bacteria with a back-end short boil, and after a quick few days in secondary the beer was on tap. It’s more smokey than I would have imagined, but the slight tartness and the light body are perfect for a Berliner Weisse.
The recipe is below! Enjoy!
Step 1: Make a 1.028-1.034 O.G. Mash light in color with at least 30% of the mash being Torrified or White Wheat (in the old world it was smoked wheat)
Mine: (Fresh): 3 lbs Pilsen, 3lbs White Wheat
(Spent): 8lbs Pilsen, 3lbs Organic 2-row, 1 lb Caracrystal
Mash in at 148° F for 6 hours
Step 2: Rack hot onto a pile of Grain and Hops
Mine: 2lbs of Smoked German Malt (Makes the beer more savory, for a more refreshing lemony flavor use basic 2 Row or Pilsen)
2 oz Saaz Leaf Hops
Step 3: Ferment for 1 week or until the Gravity of the wort is ≈ 1.010-1.006
Step 4: To help remove protein haze and a achieve a mild bitterness from the hops, rack the fermented wort off of the grain and leafs into a kettle and bring to a boil for 10-15 minutes. Chill this to below 80 and rack into a secondary container. Try to keep from aerating the beer at this point to avoid O2 ruining your batch. Keep in secondary long enough for any more remaining sediment to drop out (about 4 days)
Step 5: Serve! If you are bottling it at this point you should re-pitch yeast and add priming sugar. Be wary! All your equipment touching this beer is a potential contamination risk for your future batches, so please mark your sour equipment accordingly. Traditionally this beer is served with a splash of Mugwort or Raspberry Syrup, but it is great straight too!
Have fun! If you decide to do this feel free to stop in to O’Connor’s and pick my brain about it!
Nick LaVelle – Professional Home Brewer and honest dude.