Thursday, August 1, 2013

Supermoose of Norway - A Decoction Mashed Berliner Weisse

My last batch of Berliner Weisse was overly tart and needed some age to clean up an off putting aroma caused by whatever I cultured from the 2-row husks, some Brett dregs did eventually clean that up however. In an attempt to dial in my process for this style I made 2 minor changes for this batch. The first of which was adding a single decoction to the mash schedule. My goal here is to add a bit of body and malt sweetness to balance the sourness of the beer while hopefully getting a bit of graininess as well for complexity.

The second change is the method for which I am souring the beer, harvesting the lacto from grain is just too unpredictable for what I am going for here. This time I am going to go with a commercial pitch of Lacto from White Labs, WLP667. I followed the same fermentation schedule as previous batches where I will pitch Lacto only to warm wort, 110f, and let it go for 48-72 hours then taste to see if I achieved a sufficient level of sourness.

This was my first decoction so I kind of learned along the way, the measuring pitcher I used wasn't the best tool for pulling mostly thick mash so more wort than I wanted was pulled. I will make sure to have one of these around next time around, as seen on Brewing TV's Decoction Day episode. After a Protein Rest of 132.5f, I pulled 15 quarts of the thickest mash I could and boiled it, stirring often for about 10 minutes.

As you can see, the decoction was a bit too thin.

After I added the decoction back to the mash and stirred I took a measurement and I missed the Saccharification, target was 154f and it was reading 149f. It probably would have been fine to let it ride as is but I wanted the saccharification rest to be a little bit warmer in hopes of adding a little bit of body to what can be a thin beer. So I pulled 1.5 quarts of wort from the mash, boiled it briefly, then added it back to the main mash and I hit 154f on the head. A wort only decoction step if you will.

The decoction smelled amazing, and the color it produced was really nice once it was added back to the mash. A much deeper yellow as opposed to the white-ish yellow I was noticing prior.

I pitched the lacto 6 hours after racking to the fermenter once it naturally cooled to 110f, then kept the fermenter on a heating pad for 72 hours. I tasted the wort and it was decently sour, there was no noticeable activity in the fermenter. I removed the heating pad and gave it another 24 hours to cool down to 68f I then pitched Conan ale yeast since I happened to have fresh slurry around. 10 days of primary fermentation and then I racked the beer to the keg to bulk age at room temperature for ~3 months.

The color was amazing, a bright almost neon yellow going into the keg.

I feel confident in my process for this brew session, and my hopes are high for this beer. Tasting notes to follow, I plan to enter it into a local (although quite large at 500 entries) competition, I will post the judges reactions in my tasting notes post down the road.

Full recipe after the jump.

Brew day 4/14/2013
Transferred to Keg for secondary 4/28/2013
Tapped 7/26/2013

Recipe Specifications
Batch Size (fermenter): 5.50 gal   
Kegging Volume: 5.00 gal
Estimated OG: 1.031 SG
Estimated Color: 2.8 SRM
Estimated IBU: 0.0 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 68.00 %
Boil Time: 0 Minutes

60.0% - 7 lbs 8.0 oz  Belgian Pilsner        
40.0% - 5 lbs White Wheat Malt


60ml - Conan Ale Yeast          
1.0 pkg - Lactobacillus Bacteria (White Labs #WLP677 Yeast)        

Protein Rest - 35 min @ 132.5
Sacch rest - 45 min @ 154 F      

3.65 gallons @ 168f

Notes: Pulled 1.5 quarts wort only decoction, boiled to reach 154f after being 5 degrees short after decoction.


  1. Where does the name Supermoose of Norway come from?

    1. Ah, I was afraid someone might ask that. Unfortunately, it means nothing, to me at least. A friend once sent me a photo of a superhero moose t-shirt that I found funny. I have become a fan of naming my beers off the wall phrases, an idea stolen from Tired Hands, although I think alot of theirs come from literature. Some other beer names I've used are "It gets dark early out there"-Yogi Berra and "When they're bored they shoot alligators"-My sister.

      Here is the inspiration...

    2. Haha, I like it. I've always been a fan of zany beer names, especially for homebrew. Tired Hands beer names would be absurd on a beer bottle or can, but for the way they run their brewery, it works and I love them. (Like you said, a lot of literature references, including Kurt Vonnegut references, which I can always get behind).

  2. I think I'm hooked on the decoction method as well. And next time I won't boil at all.
    Why the decision to not use hops?
    Do you do any aeration?

    1. Hey Jeff, I had used hops (Mash hopped) in my previous attempts at the style and kind of always questioned what I was getting out of them. After talking to a few local brewers who make some nice Berliners I decided to give the un-hopped version a try. Next batch, coming up soon will be identical but I will add hops to the decoction which I guess is the traditional method.

      I did not aerate prior to adding the Lacto, I racked from mash right to the fermenter with minimal splashing. I did give the carboy a shake for 30 seconds when I pitched the ale yeast, I wanted to give Conan a little bit of o2 but didnt want to blast it with my o2 stone.