After my mammoth translation session last year, I thought I knew a thing or two about Berliner Weisse. Not everything by a long chalk, as it turns out.
I don't know how the VLB book "Die Berliner Weiße" slipped beneath my radar. It was published last year. I only spotted it last week, after seeing a review in the PINT magazine. A whole book, just about Berliner Weisse. Right down my Strasse.
I own several VLB publications, mostly yearbooks from 1900 to 1925. Full of fascinating facts, they are. If only they weren't printed in Gothic typeface. You can see an example here.
Where was I? Berliner Weisse, that was it. I thought I knew pretty well how it was made, after all the technical descriptions I've translated. Well, it turns out there was something everyone missed until the second half of the 20th century. And which came as a great surprise to me. Want to know what it was?
It turns out there's more than just the mixed lactic acid bacteria/yeast culture involved in Berliner Weisse's fermentation. Something I thought wasn't found in German beer: Brettanomyces. Turns out that, on closer investigation, much of the distinctive aroma is formed by a long, slow secondary conditioning in the bottle by Brettanomyces. The reason no-one spotted it was because it wasn't deliberately added but just picked up somewhere in the brewery.
Red face time. I've told homebrewers on beer forums a couple of times that Brettanomyces is entirely inappropriate in a Berliner Weisse. Turns out it's actually essential. You live and learn, eh?
"Die Berliner Weiße" published by VLB Berlin, 2008, pages 85 - 88.
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