“Wendorf’s Sour Grapes” 20th Anniversary Berliner Weisse

On October 1st, 1990, Oberstleutnant Detlef Wendorf of the National People’s Army assumed his long-aspired dream: becoming High Commandant of the city of East Berlin. 

His years of Soviet devotion and East German pride had finally paid off. He was only the second Oberstleutnant to ever be charged with such an enviable and honorable role! The city… was his.

On October 2nd, 1990, Wendorf’s office was dissolved, and the next day, the city of Berlin was whole again.

Not much is known about Wendorf after this point, but this traditional Berliner Weisse, brewed on the 20th anniversary of Berlin’s reunification, should at least capture his sentiment that day with its sour profile.

Prosit, Herr Wendorf, wherever you are.

Ingredient list:

0.5 lbs. White Wheat
0.5 lbs. Munich Pils
2 lbs. Light Breiss DME

1.5 oz Hallertau pellets (cold)

Nottingham beer yeast (for neutrality)
3.0 oz Lactic Acid 88%
1.0 lbs Light Breiss DME (priming)

Hop and grain schedule:

80-60 mins – Steep 1 lbs grain ~190°F
60-40 mins – Gradually add 2lbs. DME in boil
30 mins – 1.0 oz Hallertau
15 mins – .5 oz Hallertau

During bottling: for this brew, lactic acid is necessary to provide this style’s classic sourness and mouthfeel.

This is normally produced via a “sour mash” before brewing, allowing environmental lactobaccilus to work upon damp grains and produce the acid in a suspension to be added to the boil. Natrually, my sour mash was more of an “armpit locker room fungus” mash, since other bacteria and fungi out-competed the lacto I needed.

The other method to do this would be to inoculate the fermenting beer with lacto directly, but since I only have one plastic fermenter, I did not want to risk having dormant colonies of the bacteria persist in tiny scratches or nicks within the fermenter for my future beers.

And so, to get that needed lactic acid, I did the obvious: bought some. 88% lactic acid (liquid) is added to the end-stage fermentation (bottling). It is added at this point so as not to slow yeast activity early on.

Original Gravity: ~1.05
Suspected Alcohol-by-Volume: 4.6%
  • Our fourth original recipe!
  • Our first sour beer!
This beer is blissfully tart — its very light and delicate German-style profile gets swiftly overrun like Berlin with a vengeful neo-Poland on the march. Immediate and utter sourness pours over your tongue and pulls your cheeks in without remorse. It’s absolutely unique and delicious at the same time. In short: we need to make more.

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