Tag Archive: Berliner Weiss


8 Wired: Hippy Berliner (New Zealand: Berliner Weisse: 4% ABV)

Visual: Pale lager yellow to grain look. A small amount of small bubbled carbonation. Thin white head.

Nose: Quite thick. Passion-fruit. Oily resinous feel. Light bitterness and hop character. Slight apple. Oats. Slight fresh lemon.

Body: Fresh and acidic. Tart apples and tart white grapes. Dry mango. Slight cloying twist centre. Oats. Light kiwi. Light bitterness.

Finish: Tart white grapes. Elderflower. Vanilla. Light hop bitterness. Flour. Light salt.

Conclusion: This is very unlike most Berliner Weisses that I’ve had – in fact it feels like what Bonaparte wanted to be; It is a berliner that tries to match that freshness with extra flavour from a good use of hop character.

Things are distinctly different from the off – while it has fresh undertones, the aroma is quite resinous with this muggy passion-fruit character. It feels like a heavy resinous hop styled beer, not something I’d associate with most sour beers, but it doesn’t eclipse that aspect either.

The beer below that aroma is closer to expectations with fresh lemon and acidic apple; Smoother and lighter than most berliner weisses in harshness but still recognisable in the style. It actually feels kind of elderflower drink like as an additional unusual characteristic – the sour character mixes with the moderate fruit hops to give this refreshing characteristic about halfway between the two. Odd, but nice.

Overall it is refreshing – despite its unusual takes it ends up not feeling that revolutionary. The odder elements come together over time to balance pretty well, losing some of the odder edges, but making for a better beer.

It is not a must have, but does the job well – the hop usage feeling like a nice replacement for the adding of syrup that is traditionally common. Not bad at all.

Background: 8 Wired! I love these lot’s stuff, but they turn up comparatively rarely in the UK – so when I saw this one in Independent Spirit I grabbed it. With it being a brightly coloured, hip and happy bottle, I decided to put on Paradise Lost – Gothic as music. They just seemed to go so well together. This is a Berliner weisse, hopped with American and New Zealand hops – wasn’t sure how well that would work – oft hops get over used these days to wreck an originally not hop based style. Still when done well a pinch of hops can really rock a beer in new ways, so happy to give a go.

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Mikkeller: Drink’in Berliner Yuzu (Denmark: Berliner Weisse: 2.7% ABV)

Visual: Very pale lemon to grain. Very large white head that laves lace. Clear. Moderate carbonation.

Nose: Musty fruit. Slight fruit syrups. Stewed peach and apricot mixed with tart white grapes. Fresh. Light menthol. Peppermint. Dry lemon juice.

Body: Fresh and lightly tart. White wine and juicy grapes. Stewed peach. Vanilla. Light squeezed lime. Light acid at the back of the throat.

Finish: Light acidic apple to cider. Tiny chalk touch. Lime cordial. Slight dry oak. White wine.

Conclusion: You know, generally I don’t add anything to a berliner weisse beer – if it comes neat, I take it neat. If it comes with fruit, obviously I have it with fruit. The thing is, the level of soft syrup and fruitiness they have used here does such a great job of muting the harsher edges, while adding complexity to the base beer that it makes me rethink that policy. If I can come close to this by adding syrup to a standard berliner weisse then maybe I should start looking into that.

This is a very interesting beer, with a very white wine style at the base – which reminds me of how the Belgian sour beers, the lambics, are often describes as the wines of the beer world. Obviously this beer is after that title. It has a similar dry character matched with sweet grape fruitiness. On the subject of fruit, I have only tried a few Yuzu related drinks, but what it seems to add here is a set of slightly tart grapes, lemon and lime squeezed citrus notes and a soft strewed fruit character. I think. Some of that is probably the base beer.

Anyway, a mix of the expected berliner weisse, white wine and a mix of sweet and tart fruit makes this a surprisingly easy to drink beer. A light level of tartness and acidic that makes it refreshing, but never reaches a level that would be harsh for any but the most sensitive taste-buds.

At under 3% this is a great summer refresher – Drink in the sun series indeed! Not a world beater for complexity, but gives it a good go – and fresh, flavoursome, low abv and satisfying.

A spot on summer beer.

Background: I love Mikkellers “Drink in the” series. A bunch of very low alcohol, high flavour beers. Now, this one is not as low as some of those sub 1% abv beers, but still definitely in the session range, so seemed an easy one to pick up from Independent Spirit. As a beer it seems mix of two odd styles – “Berliner Weisse” – a sour beer from Germany, often mixed with syrup to take away the sour character, and Yuzu a fruit with which I have had but a little experience, but what I have had has been fascinating. Anyway, for such a light beer I went heavy with music – Metallica: The Black Album. Just because. This was drunk after listening to a few Philosophy Bites podcasts, so I was feeling fairly chilled.

berliner-kindl-weisse

Berliner Kindl: Weisse (Germany: Berliner Weisse: 3.0% ABV)

Visual: Hazy lemon juice. Large white head.

Nose: Musty and oats, yet tart feeling. Slight lemon.

Body: Tart. Light chalk. Oaks. Lemon. Slight syrupy lemon core. Slight milk to cream. Slight bitter greenery. Light mint leaves.

Finish: Oats and muesli. Thick sheen on tongue. Lemon syrup. Vanilla. Light greenery. Light salt. Slight grapes.

Conclusion: This is a lot less sour than I remember. Then again I have drunk a lot of sours in the intervening years. Also I don’t have a fucking tooth cavity this time. Which may explain things.

Anyway, this is fresh, with a tart lemon in a kind of traditional lemon juice style and feel – what I don’t remember from last time it it having a kind of oat and muesli roughness to it. Nor do I remember the greenery touched gritty bitterness it the back. It feels quite nature touched, with a pre hops bittering agent style to the taste. Though all this is background to the main lemon freshness. By itself fit is refreshing, but slightly empty. I can see why most new beers in the style add fruit, or most drinkers add syrup to the traditional base. This feels like a very good start to a beer, but not an ,and nowhere near an, end point.

Still, taken as it is it still works the refreshing side well and delivers a good texture while waking up the taste-buds. In fact, to concentrate on that aspect for a moment – it really is an interesting texture progression. It feels kind of light when it firsts touches your lips, gains tart but gritty as you hold it, until it finally finds a slightly thicker syrup touch at the centre. It may be a base that needs something extra, but I can see why it is so popular as a base.

Not one I will return to often, but it has given me a new respect for the base of the style.

Background: Years ago, back when I was first trying sours, it turns out I had a cavity – It was around that time I was trying Cantillons, and this – the Kindl Berliner Weisse. I cannot remember which exactly it was that caused me to realise I had a cavity, but let us just say it was painful. So, with that in mind I returned to this beer, grabbed from Independent Spirit, for a hopefully less painful experience. To psyche myself up I broke out a mix of Iron Maiden tunes. Often Berliner Weisse is drunk with syrup such as raspberry or woodruff for added sweetness, but for this tasting I took it au naturel.

Chorlton Woodruff Berliner
Chorlton: Woodruff Berliner (England: Berliner Weisse: 3.8% ABV)

Visual: Hazy lemon juice. Small bubble carbonation and a large white loose bubbled head. Audibly fizzy.

Nose: Wood chips and twigs. Tart sour apple. Furniture shop and a hint of polish. Fresh apples. Light nuttiness. Dandelions.

Body: Light sour character. Wheaty mouthfeel. Squeezed lime. Dandelion and burdock. Vanilla. Nuts.

Finish: Fresh lime. Floral and vanilla yogurt. Light raspberry yogurt hard chunks. Oat clusters. Dandelion and burdock. Lemon.

Conclusion: Ok, I just used “dandelion and burdock” in a tasting note. That is either a new high or a new low for me. Or possibly both at once. Ok, non Brits may have no idea what I am talking about there. It is kind of like root beer but a tad more “Famous Five”. Yes I read Enid Blyton when I was a kid – yes I know now there is a host of racist and classist shit in there , but as I kid I had no idea and enjoyed them in my ignorance. Anyway…

Beer.

This is not what I expected. It is sour, but less so than expected. Maybe it helps that I don’t have an unknown cavity this time. No seriously, first time I drank a Berliner Weisse I had a cavity I knew nothing about. It hurt. A lot.

Anyway. this beer. This is sour, but it has a kind of rustic thickness to it that mutes that – probably the woodruff, I have no idea what that is like so I am guessing – but it gives quite the turned fields imagery. Behind that is the, yes here it is, the dandelion and burdock twang. Even odder it has soft vanilla and raspberry yogurt notes. I seriously think my tastebuds give up on sour beers and start sending random signals to my brain.

Ok, I really need to work on stopping avoiding trying to work out how to describe this properly. Ok, predominantly tart and apple with lots of unusual notes backing it. Like a rustic saison meets a berliner weisse. With woodruff. Whatever the hell that is. yes, I’ve googled it, I still have no idea.

It isn’t really my thing, but I’m not exactly hating it either. It’s just that it tastes like tart apple mixed with a traditional British soft drink. And woodruff. Interesting but not really what I am looking for in a beer.

Background: I have no idea what woodruff tastes like, please take that into account when reading these notes. Picked up from Independent Spirit, this is a Manchester take on the German Berliner Weisse sour style. Drunk while listening to a bit more Godspeed You! Black Emperor, very calming drinking music.

Four Winds Berliner Weisse

Four Winds: Berliner Weisse (Canada: Berliner Weisse: 3.2% ABV)

Visual: Hazy lemon juice. Thin off white head.

Nose: Tart apples, in an almost cider fashion. Raspberries. Lemon juice and dried dates.

Body: Apricot. Lemon juice. Slight vanilla and ice cream. Syrup sweetness. Raspberry sharpness. Cider and lychee.

Finish: Stewed apricot. Tart raspberries. Dry wine mouthfeel. Light lime. Lychee.

Conclusion: This is proper lovely. I’ve got used to the tart berliner weisse style over the years and been rewarded for it, but despite that it is nice to find one so easy to get into.

The tartness is there, but delivered so softly that it refreshes rather than punishes, and then pushes the soft stewed fruit so that the fruit and sweetness just rises to fill your mouth. Then, as that vanishes slowly a white wine finish rises to meet it. While not the most dominant element, it is the soft fruit lychee character that seems to define this beer best – sweet but fresh.

The beer, metaphorically, just falls apart on the tongue – breaking open the initial tartness and leaving the, again metaphorical, piñata worth of sweet fruits to fall out. I wonder if that analogy actually makes sense. Nay bother. I’m sure my regular readers are used to me making no sense whatsoever.

This is a genuinely great berliner weisse, and it feels like it would be heresy to add syrups to it to sweeten it, as is often the tradition, it just stands perfectly by itself. A proper tart fruit juice meets berliner weisse experience, and at a perfect abv to drink for a warm day. So, another of those hard to find perfect summer session beers.

Well worth it and a fine welcome to Vancouver.

Background: Drunk at the Alibi Room in Vancouver which has a great set of taps and is deeply involved in the local craft beer scene. Awesome place, they even leant me a pen when I realised I had left mine at the hotel so would have problems doing notes. Notably this was my first encounter with sour beers on the trip, Vancouver seemed much more experimental in its beer scene than most of the places I had visited. It was a very hot day so a low abv, sour and thirst quenching beer seemed a good pick to go for an opening choice.

Blitz Passion
Brewdog: Blitz: Passion (Scotland: Berliner Weisse: 2.8% ABV)

Visual: Hazy apricot. Small dust of off white bubbles. No evident carbonation.

Nose: Dried mango. Sour grapes. Stewed apricot. Acidic, with soft lemon.

Body: Fresh. Acidic apple. Passion fruit. Stewed banana. Slight chalky touch. Dried mango.

Finish: Tart apples. Soft passion fruit. Chalky and acidic mix. Dried mango.

Conclusion: My views on this changed a bit over the period of drinking, not in quality, but in style. Initially this seemed to be one of the tartest of the Blitz beers I had encountered. Quite surprisingly so as passion fruit is not something I associate with tartness. It could, of course, be that time has just eroded my memory of the sharpness of the others.

As I say, I have never associated passion fruit with tart, but here it delivers. Either that or it just doesn’t get in the way of the base berliner weisse and therefore allows it to express more of its character.

The fruit does seem to have its own separate character away from the sharpness, which seems to back this hypothesis. It is this kind of thick stewed fruit character. There is obviously passion fruit in the flavour, but also dried mango and stewed apricot characteristics. It is quite soothing in the middle of the beer, contrasting the sharp cider like introduction and exit. It is both a moment of relief and a release.

As I get used to the beer the character changes, the heavy sharpness and tartness soften significantly, making me wonder if it was just initial shock that made it seem so sour. In fact, when you get use to it, the softness of the middle becomes less a release, and more a point for greatest exploration of the flavour.

It is an interesting progression, which first wakes you up, and then soothes you down, for an always refreshing and yet surprisingly easy going drink by the end. More sessionable than you would initially think – it’s closest comparison is the Brodies vs Brewdog Berliner Weisse, but it doesn’t quite reach those high levels. The fact that it is close enough makes it something worth appreciating. Sharp, then mellow, and always very nice.

Background: I have also seen this listed as Blitz Passionfruit. No that doesn’t really make a difference but I have to put something in this section. The latest in an ongoing lien of berliner weisse beers with added fruit. So far they have been pretty good. I think I mentioned before, for ages I thought I hated berliner weisse beers as the first time I had them they made my mouth feel like pure agony. Turns out I had a cavity and pouring a quite acidic beer into that didn’t help. Anyway, I eventually realised my mistake, and now can enjoy the slightly odd style with ease. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers.

Blitz Redcurrant

Brewdog: Blitz Redcurrant (Scotland: Berliner Weisse: 2.1% ABV)

Visual: Clear gold. Half inch of white tight bubbled head that leaves suds. Moderate carbonation.

Nose: Ribena and earth. Lemon.

Body: Sharp. Red berries. Sour tang. Lime cordial. Cake sponge. Sour apples. Light funky yeast or cheese puffs character. Late on some cheesecake.

Finish: Lime cordial. Red berries. Tart. Apples. Sour lemon. Sour grapes.

Conclusion: I’m hiding from summer and its accompanying sun, but at least I can take advantage of the summer beers. Let’s find out if it is worth the trade off.

This has a nice balance in its use of refreshing sharpness, it isn’t mouth puckering, but simply enlivening. I was unsure of how well the redcurrent would be shown, due to the colour of the beer, but it is there, pocked amongst lemon and lime cordial and tart apples. So, not the dominant force, but they combine to make a refreshing base.

There is a bit of fun with the texture, a kind of cheese puff or Belgian yeastie character that gives a bit more grip and lets the beer have a bit of grounding to counter the sharpness.

While you get a very ribena like aroma, the red fruit mid body is definitely just an element, not the defining element, so I couldn’t recommend the beer if it is the redcurrant that made it appeal to you. Of all the blitzes, this is the one that seems to show the most of the raw beer’s character.

However if you just want a refreshing summer drink, that happens to have some tasty bit of red fruit to it. then this is very nice. The base calls more to an easy going lambic than a harsher berliner weisse, it reminds me a bit of Mikkellers spontanale. As you go along the beer expresses a different range of soft fruit and at the end even some cheesecake notes.

Very refreshing, enough notes to be interesting, balanced, and very low abv as well. This doesn’t quite justify summer’s existence, but it does a lot to help it go by.

Background: I am currently campaigning for the sun to be banned. On account of it being evil. Enforcement and the survival of the entire species may be an issue of I succeed, but I still think it is a worthy goal. Which is my way of saying it was a warm day in Bristol when I tried this. This is the latest of Brewdog’s varied berliner weisse with fruit beers, which have generally been enjoyable so far.

Blitz Sour Cherry

Brewdog: Blitz Sour Cherry (Scotland: Berliner Weisse: 2.1% ABV)

Visual: Clear reddened amber. Dash of off white head.

Nose: Musty cherries. Twigs. Sour. Vinegar touch. Horse blankets.

Body: Sour cherries. Twigs. Sucked cherry stones. Dry. Cheeseboard feel after time but not matching flavour.

Finish: Sour cherries. Musky. Ginseng.

Conclusion: OK, I have a line in the sand drawn. Not just for sourness in my beers, but how it is delivered. I’ve come to very much enjoy Rodenbach Grand Cru, Cantillon and various Berliner Weisses. This, however, hits my line and passes it. It is the aroma more than anything else, almost vinegar in delivery at times. The body is sheer sour cherries sucked off the stone, but without any of the contrasting sweetness to play with.

You do acclimatise over time, but the odd complexities that often come with this kind of sour beer never really develops here. A pity, it almost begs for some of those shimmering extra flavours to come out and give it some extra depth.

You do get a bit of a change over time though, late on it somehow develops a subtle sweetness which is much needed and gives a bit of extra good grace to the beer. It gives a kind of cherry crumble effect which is much appreciated.

The base sour cherry is well defined and suits a Berliner weisse well when you get used to it. It really does need something else though to make it more than the short sharp shock that it is. At the abv a bit of extra play would make it a perfect summer session refresher.

As is it is a bit single note, and a bit too sour for me. A nice wake up call to break up a run, but I can’t imagine having more than a half. As is I don’t even find it too great as a beer myself. However when that extra sweetness comes out I think it will suit some of you a bit better than me.

For me though, not a favourite.

Background: Third in the Blitz series. Ok fourth if you include the original prototype blitz, but that beer had nothing in common with these, Berliner weisse based beers. I had enjoyed the previous two beers to varying degrees so was looking forwards to giving this a shot. Incidentally, drinking this beer made me realise I had a small cut on my lip. Not the best way to find that out but effective. Drunk at Brewdog Bristol. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers.

Apricot Blitz

Brewdog: Blitz Apricot (Scotland: Berliner Weisse: 3% ABV)

Visual: Very hazy bruised apricot to grapefruit juice. Thick yellowed white head that leaves some lace.

Nose: Stewed apricots. Prunes. Figs. Tart but emphasizes the stewed fruit. Slight sulphur. Stewed banana. Mead and honey.

Body: Apricots. Sharp lemon. Tart and sour. Sulphur. Slight toffee or possibly caramel. Honey.

Finish: Prunes and stewed apricot. Drying, into a dried apricot taste. Slight dusty feel early on but freshens up. Caramel apples.

Conclusion: A stewed Berliner weisse? Maybe, or at least that is what it tastes like. This thing is heavier and thicker than I expected. Most Berliner weisses are quite crisp, but not this one. The main flavour is the expected apricot, albeit in stewed style, but beneath that are hints and calls to darker fruit.

The sweetness is pushed up with a honey like aroma that smoothes into a caramelised like touch in the body. This, when combined with the stewed fruits, could become sickly but here the sharp sourness against it just cleans it right up and cleanses the pallet.

The beer manages huge flavour without wearing out its welcome and at an abv well within session range. It is however a bit single minded, for all the flavour they are the same elements from start to finish.

Not as high quality as the Brewdog/Brodies collaboration, but it is a big refreshing beer of surprising weight for the abv.  It wouldn’t work well for a sole drink for a session, but  having repeated halves in between pints of other beers it would work brilliantly as one to come back to.

Background: Drunk in Brewdog Bristol. They were releasing it at 7 and I walked in at two minutes to after watching the new Alan Partridge movie. Perfect timing.  There was a previous Brewdog prototype called Blitz, but this seems to have nothing in common with that apart from both are attempts at comparatively low abv beers.  In case you hadn’t guessed, it is made with apricots.

Sour

Brodie’s: Cherry Sour (England: Fruit Beer: 4% ABV)

Visual: Hazy raspberry red. Dash of white bubbles around the edge and thin trails across the middle.

Nose: Raspberry syrup and vanilla ice cream. Strawberry. Slightly tart but surprisingly sweet.

Body: Tart. Raspberry. Squeezed lime near the back, Twigs and cheeseboards. Slight cherry syrup.

Finish: Sour lemon. Sherbet. Fresh lime touches at very end. Sour grapes. Kaffir lime leaves. Light almost nutty air.

Conclusion: It’s odd how mood seems to affect this one, or possibly just time. I had it on Monday and found it tasty but single note and really tart. I came back to it Saturday and found a whole different ball game going on.

Ok, it’ still tart but the aroma is actually surprisingly sweet and the body now feels like a raspberry and lime fight for dominance. You get a mix of tartness and sourness, and occasionally even a touch of the cherry that was used to make it. Oddly for a beer made with cherries, the flavour seems much more towards other fruit, possibly just because of the tartness. You also get a few cheeseboard like elements broken out, though never in large quantities.

The cherry sweetness you do get seems to play referee between the aforementioned lime and raspberry, cutting a line between them whenever they get too heavy.  I do feel I had this beer at the wrong time of year. Had mid summer I think this would be thirst quenching as heck.

I’ve not had a huge amount of experience with Berliner Weiss so have little to compare this to on that account ( My first experiences of Berliner Weiss was when I had a tooth cavity, unbeknownst to me at the time. Let’s just say it put me off for a few years) However if I compare to the similar style of lambics it fares well as a mix of tartness and challenge to refreshing and flavour.

It’s not Cantillon insane level experience but I found it very enjoyable and will have to drink a few more Berliners to compare.

It’s a hard life.

Background: Drunk at Brewdog Bristol. Yes again. I am enjoying their guest beer selection. This one is a Berliner Weiss from what I have been told, I’m guessing same basic recipe as Brodie’s London Sour, though that comes in at a slightly lighter 3.6% ABV.  Brodies are a brewery my friends from London rave about so when I got the chance to give this a try I thought I shouldn’t pass it up. I’ve had a few Brodies before, but I’m usually too busy catching up with mates to get the chance to do a tasting note.

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