Tag Archive: Berliner Weisse


Ilkley: North Brewing: Bonaparte (England: Berliner Weisse: 3.2% ABV)

Visual: Light clear grain yellow body. Thin white head that leaves some white suds.

Nose: Apples and lime. Key lime. Kiwi. Fresh lemon.

Body: Apples. Dry. Flour. Dry hop bitterness. Slight cider vinegar. Pears. Lemon.

Finish: Flour. Apples. Slightly sour. Pear. Vanilla. Kiwi.

Conclusion: Dry hopping made this promise so much, so much lovely fruit in the aroma. However, it seems that the aroma is writing cheques that the body can’t cash.

The aroma is full of fresh green fruit, tart and with a good chunk of complexity – lots to invite you in. That first impression is genuinely amazing. The body that follows is light tart apples to apple cider, with apple vinegar touches and, well, that is just about it.

It is kind of bitter, kind of flour like in the hop grip, but somehow it manages to mute what is usually the huge freshness of the berliner weisse style. In muting that it also seems to mute the complexity and masses of fruit range that the aroma promises. It feels like a real let down.

The finish does manage to recover it again slightly, some of the green fruit comes back and plays again. However generally it feels quite empty – the main body just feels like empty, mild sourness and really doesn’t pay off its gimmick of the dry hopping. Then again, I know dry hopping is basically about adding awesome aromas, but I expect it to follow through with it – I expect it to give something beyond that.

The idea does have promise, adding extra layers to the sour style, and I have seen dry hopped lambics and other sours that do good things with the idea – however in this instance it needs a lot more work to, well, work. This really isn’t worth it.

Background: This was drunk at the Port Street Beer House up in Manchester – was in the area before heading up to Leeds for the NXT wrestling show the next day. Had some good friends with me and was having a very chilled time. Tried a few beers there, they had a very nice tap selection including a good chunk of Cloudwater and a decent, if expensive, bottle selection. Very good beers, if expensive in general. This one is dry hopped berliner weisse which intrigued me.

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.

The Kernel London Sour Raspberry
The Kernel: London Sour: Raspberry (England: Berliner Weisse: 2.9% ABV)

Visual: Beautiful deep hazy strawberry red. Red fizzing head that vanishes quickly. Good level of carbonation in the body.

Nose: Tart raspberry. Light acidic apple. Strawberry yogurt. Twigs. Lemon sherbet.

Body: Sparkling and dry. Dry raspberry. Bitter middle. Tonic water. Light strawberry. White wine. Lemon.

Finish: Dry white wine. Dry raspberry. Tonic water. Lemon slices. Sulphur. Light salt. Mild apple cider.

Conclusion: I’ve given this time to warm up, lest it be the chill that is affecting it, but no, this still tastes kind of empty in the middle.

Good start, eh?

The aroma is great, with softly done acidic and tart fruit – a grace that matches the beauty of the deep red body. That body, when sipped, is like dry white wine with subtle fruit floating within.

Now it actually is sounding really good, right?

It really plies the dryness, tingling in the mouth and giving a clean teeth feel as the acidity strips them down. It has the mouthfeel just right. Problem is that the wine like notes are a backdrop, and the fruit burst is too short and it leaves you with just a middle that feels like tonic water with a slice of lemon in it. Just slightly murky, slightly sharp, but not doing too much in there. When the raspberry is rising it does the job nicely, but that experience is too intermittent to be relied on.

The finish especially ends up feeling just like tonic water,and feeling that way for so very long – normally a long finish is a good thing, but you need positive notes to last out with. The fruit needs more presence, or the base to have more character, or something.

The best bit is probably the start of each sip, when the fruit hits clear and refreshingly – everything after that is downhill. I seem to be going against the trend of opinion on this one it seems – I don’t think it works too well. The end feels slightly salty, like a gose, but without all the character that a gose brings to match that.

To be fair to the beer I did then try it with cheesecake, and the contrast does help, making the lighter notes more evident, but overall I would say avoid; The rest of the internet says they love it. So, take your pick and take your chance I guess.

Background: Apparently this was very popular when it was on tap at Collona and Hunter, me, I just grabbed it at Independent Spirit as I had never tried a sour from The Kernel and wondered how they would do. The Kernel are a solid brewery that I tend to turn to more on tap than in bottles. I am not as big fan of them as many, preferring Wiper and True who I refer to as “The Kernel of west country”, but still a good brewery. According to rate beer this is in their top 50 Berliner Weisses. Huh. Drunk while listening to a random mix of tunes for general chilling.

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.

Brewdog Brodies Southside Zester

Brewdog: Brodies: Southside Zester (England: Berliner Weisse: 3.7% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy lemon juice. Small white head that is mainly clumps around the edges and leaves trails.

Nose: Key lime – tangy. Buttery shortbread. American cheesecake. Kiwi.

Body: Tart. Squeezed lime. Light dry oak. White wine. Apple cider. Passion fruit.

Finish: Squeezed lime. Vanilla. Soft lemon. Pears. twigs. Passion fruit.

Conclusion: Brodies do great sours. Lime makes for a good sour. This rocks. Ok, that is the short review for people with no attention spans. This is like key lime pie, the musical … or more correctly, key lime pie, the beer, but you get my point.

It is tangy but not harsh, sour but soft. It has elements not entirely unlike the drier, less sweet American style cheesecakes, or like buttery shortbread. That is used as a base, then shot full of squeezed lime which just sparkles.

Unusually for a sour, and probably due to the softer nature, the almost holographic range of flavours you get with a lot of sours are not present here. Instead it is more carefully shaped into cider tartness at the height of the intensity – a more mellow but still refreshing high point. The drier points go towards twigs and dry passion fruit, keeping the dry grounding and still quite fruity. It is refreshing, deep and rounded – the lime is the perfect match for the sour.

If you could bottle this it would be basically bottled summer joy, calling to imagery of hot South America days drinking, German Brauhaus, and English bush filled fields. Lovely.

Background: Collabfest! 2014! WOO MOTHERFUCKERS! I like collabfest. Every brewdog bar does a collaboration beer with a local brewery then they are all put on at all the bars. Last year I managed all 12 in one day. This year, with there being 16 now, I had to pace myself. So I will going back to try and grab the ones I missed. Anyway, this one is also called “Livin’ La Vida Lime Juice”. Due to the amount of beers I kept to thirds, for obvious reasons. My later in the day reviews may be slightly incomprehensible…

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.

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