Saint Arnold Boiler Room Berliner Weisse, the first beer to join Saint Arnold Brewing Co.‘s year-round lineup in more than two years, started with a brewing mishap. The brewers’ efforts to make lemonade out of lemons resulted in a slightly tart, relatively low alcohol beer (3.5 percent ABV) that will be released on draft on March 19, followed by 22-ounce bottles on March 24.
In the initial steps of brewing a batch of Lawnmower, nobody had noticed that half of the malt ended up on the floor rather than in the mill. The result was 136 barrels of half-strength wort, and brewer Stephen Rawlings had two choices — dump it all or pull 10 gallons off and see if he could make something out of it. He put the 10 gallons into a carboy, topped it off with a bottle of funky Belgian beer known to have lots of bacteria in it, and stuck it in the boiler room to sour for a couple of days. Then he boiled it, let it ferment normally and the happy result is what is now being called Boiler Room Berliner Weisse.
“This is the most complicated beer we have ever made, yet it is very light and delicate,” said Saint Arnold Founder/Brewer Brock Wagner. “The result is an incredibly refreshing beer with the light sweetness of the malt balanced with the tartness from the sour wort. While intended to be enjoyed as is, I can also imagine it mixed with syrups or in a beer cocktail.”
Brewing this beer is challenging for a couple of reasons. First, while typically the Saint Arnold brewers are fanatical about keeping bacteria from ever entering the brewing process, with this beer it is intentionally not only being added but encouraged to flourish. Second, the brewing of this beer requires the wort to be held in the brewkettle for 48 hours during which no other brewing can occur, basically shutting down production. Rawlings says the brewers, “hacked the brewing system,” so they could isolate the lactobacillus bacteria without contaminating other beers.
Saint Arnold Boiler Room Berliner Weisse is the first new beer in the brewery’s year-round lineup since the introduction of Saint Arnold Endeavour in February 2012. Rawlings was also the mastermind behind Saint Arnold Divine Reserve No. 13, Saint Arnold Bishop’s Barrel No. 4 and Saint Arnold Weizenbock — all small batch brews.