Friday, 28 March 2008

Berliner Weisse (again)

The section on Berliner Weisse in "Die Herstellung Obergähriger Biere" (by Dr. Franz Schönfeld, 1902) is far too long (26 pages) for me to translate it all. I'd be busy until Christmas. You'll have to make do with edited highlights.

  • Weissbier had been brewed in Berlin for centuries.
  • Between 1892 and 1897 the number of top-fermenting breweries in Berlin increased from 47 to 71. In the same period, production of top-fermenting beer increased from 1,000,000 hl to 1,300,000 hl.
  • In Berlin, 33% of beer brewed was top-fermenting.
  • The two largest top-fermenting breweries each produced about 150,000 hl a year.
  • In the early decades of the 19th century Berlin Weissbier brewers regulalrly refreshed their yeast with fresh Bitterbier yeast brought in from Cottbus. If they kept repitching harvested yeast, their beer was too sour.
  • Only in the 1830's or 1840's did the mixed yeast/lactobacillus strain develop which could be safely repitched without needing to be periodically refreshed.
  • Before 1850 most Berliner Weisse was sold young, just a day or two after being brewed. The beer was finished by publicans, who also bottled it.
  • In the 19th century, Weisse was often watered down a bottling time, but not as universally as in 1900. It used to only happen in working-class pubs, while posher establishments sold it uncut.
  • Until the 1860's smoked wheat malt was used to brew Berliner Weisse. Then one brewer experimented with an unsmoked version that was so well received by drinkers that all the other brewers quickly followed suit.
  • Two things remained constant between 1800 and 1900: the use of wheat malt and barley malt; not boiling the wort.
(Taken from pages 67 and 68 of "Die Herstellung Obergähriger Biere")

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

and when did the use of the woodruff/raspberry schuss to cut it with begin? any info on that? or do you know that one off the top of your head.

i got odd looks in berlin back in january when i asked for plain berliner weisse. i didn't really care that it may be (is?) a pale imitation of what it used to be, but it was still sufficiently different from most other beer i drink to be an interesting once every two year treat (we got to germany every two years to see inlaws).

(in New Zealand).