Andreas Bogk has taken it upon himself to recreate proper Berliner Weisse in Berlin. Not the sad pasteurised beast you get in cans, pre-sweetened with syrup, but a proper one infected with all the correct microorganisms and as authentic as possible.
He’s taking this seriously enough to register a commercial brewery so that people will be able to taste the results. He’s been documenting his progress on a blog – experiments are progressing well but he doesn’t have any beer to sell yet.
But thanks to the blog a reader got in contact. Her grandfather, A. Dörfel, had been head brewer at the legendary Groterjan brewery and had written a document describing how things were done there in 1947.
Herr Dörfel had been in charge of brewing since 1920, so he certainly knew what he was talking about.
The manuscript has (possibly) never been published before and is a priceless slab of brewing history. Andreas has very kindly, with the permission of Dörfel’s heirs, scanned the document and put it online.
I haven’t read the whole thing yet but one snippet caught my eye. For some time I’ve been wondering how old the tradition of adding raspberry and woodruff syrup to Berliner Weisse is. You don’t see it mentioned in nineteenth-century sources, but by the time Michael Jackson wrote about it, it had become ubiquitous.
Dörfel writes that some drinkers of Berliner Weisse like to add a slice of lemon or raspberry juice to the beer. He doesn’t approve: “From the perspective of the beer connoisseur this [practice] ought to be rejected.”