Red Kite – Brett Hibiscus Berliner Weisse



Sour beer brewing is very much the ‘long game’. The turn around time for most sour/wild beers is in months if not years, rather than weeks as when brewing conventional beer! I have a good few sour beers on the go at the moment but non of them will be ready any time soon! So I’ll just have to wait!

Hang on a minute though………sour mash! Could this be the ‘quick fix’ I’ve been looking for? Well maybe, but lets not get carried away! I’m under no illusion that I’m going to be able to turn around a beer in a few weeks that will stand up next to a Cantillon or Drie Fonteinen, but…… maybe I can make a few quick sour beers to keep me going while the more traditional ones do their thing!


I’m not inventing the wheel here! It’s been done before, but for my brewing exploits I’m breaking new ground here! Pdtnc has blogged about his efforts at a sour mash wheat beer. A bee that I had the fortune of trying and a great, refreshing beer it was too!Other bloggers that have helped me make this beer by documenting their previous beers are Sean Coates, Nick Ladd, and as always Michael Tonsmeire from the Mad Fermentationist.


I’ve also been wanting to try a 100% brett fermented beer so I ordered a vial of WLP644 Brett B Trois.


“This Belgian strain, used traditionally for 100% Brettanomyces fermentations, produces a slightly tart beer with delicate characteristics of mango and pineapple. Can also be used to produce effervescence when bottle-conditioning.”


This shouldn’t provide too much funk, if any. I think the tropical fruit flavours will hopefully play well with the sour, tartness of the lactic acid and hibiscus.




Another factor that brought on this beer is the fact that, as some of you may know, it’s coming up to one of the highlights of the home brewing year in this part of the country. The Northern Craft Brewers Saltaire Brewery meet and competition! Past years (2013) (2012) have beer fantastic days out. This years promises to be no exception! New to this years agenda will be a ‘Meet the brewer’ style presentation from a range of local breweries including;
Roosters Brewin Co
Northern Monk Brew Co
Mallinsons Brewery
Wharfedale Brewery
The Cheshire Brewhouse


This years competition is very interesting and opens up scope for a fantastic range of beers!

*coppied from pdtnc’s blog post*

“The Homebrew Competition is to brew your most interesting *Speciality beer:
It could contain Herbs, Spices, Vegetables, Fruit but the idea is you get a 5th ingredient to compliment and add to the Water – Malt – Hops – Yeast, you have free reign on ABV (We suggest no higher than 7%, spare a thought for our Judges!!) Let your imagination run wild! *Check BJCP Cat 21a but you can include Fruit too if you wish.”

So for my secret ingredient I’ve chosen to use Hibiscus flowers to give the beer a great red colour and a slight tartness, although with the sour mash and brett this might not be too perceivable!?


OG 1.032
FG 1.005
ABV 3.6%
Colour 5.3 SRM (Mosher)
IBU 6.5
30 min boil
70oC Mash
45oC sour mash for 64hrs


Ingredient Amount % MCU When
UK Golden Promise 2.069 kg 59.1 % 0.8 In Mash/Steeped
UK Wheat Malt 1.379 kg 39.4 % 0.6 In Mash/Steeped
German Melanoidin Malt 0.054 kg 1.6 % 0.4 In Mash/Steeped

Variety Alpha Amount IBU Form When
German Perle 8.0 % 13 g 6.5 Loose Whole Hops All Of Boil

White Labs WLP644 Brett Bruxellensis Trios


I went for a high mash temp to try and give a little more body as I’ve read that the 644 attenuated about 85% so maybe it will leave a bit of body in their? We’ll see!


DSC_0387 The grist is pretty standard for a Berliner Weisse . The melanoidin malt is there as I am not doing a decoction mash, which is typical of the style.

Once the mash was done (this was back on Monday), I cooled it down to 44oC with 5L of cold water. You have to make sure that the water you add to cool the mash is subtracted from your sparge water later on otherwise your gravity and volumes will be all over the place!



To inoculate the mash I added 1kg of crushed grains to the cooled mash. The lactobacillus on the grin husks will go to town on the mash and sour it over the next 64 hours. 64 was not a number I choose but rather a combination of when I had the time and when the mash got sour enough. I’ve read that you can go anywhere from 50 hours to over 70!

It is important to create an anaerobic environment as lactobacillus works best without oxygen. Too much oxygen and Acetobacter can take over, creating a vinegary wort rather than a lactic one. I simply did what others have done and put cling film over the surface of the wort, flooded the mash tun with CO2 and then cling filmed the lid onto the mash tun

DSC_0390 DSC_0391

It worked like a charm. One the tun was removed from the fermenting fridge, yes it smelled but it was a clean, lactic acidic aroma. No dustbin, vomity smells that would have signalled that something was awry!

So comes today!  Vorlaufing and run off were a PITA!!!!!! I am defenitly adding rice hulls next time! I forgot to up my sparge water temp to take into account the relatively cool mash. This intern dropped my mash efficiency down to about 66%!



Without doubt this is the weirdest wort I have ever made! the clarity is down to the starch that has come form the 1kg of malt added after the boil. While the kettle was coming up to temp the foam on top of the wort was like meringue!



The rest of the brew day was very uneventful! Only a 30 minute boil to drop the gravity to 1.032 and add a slight bitterness from the 13g of Perle. I added a protafloc just to try and drop out some of the protein. It worked a bit but the wort was still like pea soup when it went into the FV.






DSC_0410 DSC_0418  DSC_0413          DSC_0425


After some words of advice from Tom Dobson aka @Quadrangularus1 I have set this up in the fermenting fridge at 26oC. Im hoping this will push the fruity aspect of the yeast.


Once fermentation has finished, which I am not expecting to take much longer that a fermentation with saccharomyces cerevisiae, I will add the hibiscus by way of a tea. I’ll have a play with the weights and measures but I’ll take a starting point from Mr Tonsmeire again and his Hibiscus Wit. If I can get anywhere near that colour I will be very happy!


Hibiscus Wit ala The Mad Fermentationist. A great colour that I hope to emulate!


The name comes from the fantastic Red Kites that fly over our house. Harewood house, a nearby country estate has had an extremely successful breeding and release program for these amazing birds since 1999. They can be seen in the skies above Leeds quite often and seem to have claimed our skies as their own1 they are an absolute joy to watch while in the garden.


Updates to follow as and when! Any thoughts, comments or observations, please feel free! I’m all ears!





28/03/2014 update


18hrs after pitching and it was going great guns! Gotta love Brett!


3 thoughts on “Red Kite – Brett Hibiscus Berliner Weisse

  1. Good thanks matey! I may have soured it a little too much for most tastes! I think its ace. For the comp I may ‘cut’ it a little with some pale ale just to take some of the edge off. The hibiscus is a strange but pleasant taste! I’ve just been experimenting with a couple of half pints drawn off, a glass of hibiscus tea and a syringe, to try and get the right balance. I’m kegging it tomorrow so will be able to work out the ratios better next week then bottle the night before!

    You not making Saltaire this year?

  2. Sounds awesome! Adding a tea is defo the way to go… I bet the hibiscus will work a treat!

    I wish I could make it to Saltaire but not this year alas. Haven’t done a homebrew in 7 months which I’m soon to rectify! Hopefully I’ll catch you guys up there next year tho!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s