Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Berliner-Ryesse with Lemon zest, GOP and black pepper (Tasting)

A dark picture for a dark outcome

This has been my first berliner (weisse) experience. As seen in my post here, I decided to go the traditional route by not boiling the wort at all, and I innoculated with a starter I made from grain.
For most people, Berliners can be pretty quick turn around sour beers that can be done in a month or two, or much sooner if you do kettle souring, but for me I had to leave this beer for several months.

Here's the problem:

Tomato soup.

It smelled like tomato soup for a long time.. not enough like tomato soup to dump it, because by the second or third sip you could get past the taste and wonder if it was still there. It was just a hint.. just enough tomato soup.

What could have caused this? Well, DMS is usually the contributor that is blamed for tomato soup. I've heard that when doing no boil you should aim to mash a little bit lower in order to avoid any DMS formation that can occur during the mash. Others have said that they mash normally to no ill effect. Could it have been the quasi wild innoculation? Certainly, it could have been. I've read several reports of people getting tomato soup from their grain bacterial culture, but I was reassured that it would age out.

Did it age out?

Kind of.

The taste faded a bit, but it was still present for sure. I'm stubborn and I don't find it particularly unpleasant so I decided to keep it. I'm very much against throwing out food that isn't revolting or potentially lethal.

Full disclosure then: I used the lemon zest, grains of paradise and black pepper in order to mask the taste of the tomato soup a bit. I plead guilty, but I plead so with the sneaking suspicion that I am not the first or the last to do so! How many of us have tried to fix beer rather than dump it? I would rather administer medicine to the beer than to waste time, resources and foodstuffs.

For my next iteration which may be a gose, I bought a bunch of probiotic pills with bacteria in them in order to make a bacterial starter beforehand. Post to come!

Tasting notes:

Appearance: very slightly cloudy and a very light colour. Minor head which dissolves quickly.

Aroma: Lemon, grain, acid, a bit of funk and a bit of DMS

Flavor: Very sour. Makes your mouth water and your face pucker, but not quite warhead sour. Lemon comes alongside a grainy flavor and fades with a minor taste of pepper. Hint of barnyard and DMS.

Mouthfeel: Undercarbonated, thin mouthfeel backed by the minor carbonation. Very sour.

Overall: Decent. I can drink it, I enjoy it, but it's not good enough. I want to make a good berliner, so I will repeat using a probiotic culture next time.

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