Tag Archive: Berliner Weisse


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.

Blitz Raspberry

Brewdog: Blitz Raspberry (Scotland: Berliner Weisse Fruit Beer: 3% ABV)

Visual: Hazy brown to apricot. Thin brown to off white head.

Nose: Tart lemon. Raspberry. Stewed apple crumble with sugar dusting. Stewed apricot. Rose wine and a perfumed touch.

Body: Tart. Tart apples. Spritzy. Sweet raspberry and ice cream syrup. White wine. Cider. Twigs. Rhubarb.

Finish: Raspberry. Quite sweet. Fresh. Crumble like. Lemon undertone.

Conclusion: I liked blitz apricot, I absolutely adore this. It still has this huge stewed fruits feel, and a thick aroma. It is still tart, here with some cider like qualities, but the difference comes with the sparkle that you get from the sweet and fresh raspberry notes. It is that element that prevents if from becoming too heavy or cloying.

The fruit feels very natural, while it is admittedly backed by syrup like touches the front notes are very much raw raspberry. The combined effect is like you have drizzled ice cream syrup over some freshly picked fruit. It never loses that natural touch, very fruity and through the tartness, very refreshing. It is also restrained, nowhere here do you get the teeth tingling effects of the heavier sour beers like the cantillon lambic, but despite that it has the same ability to reinvigorate.

What really helps it is the apple crumble and sugar dusting that makes it feel dessert like, but without bringing in excessive and fake sweetness. It manages a chunk of the holographic fruit flavour that a lot of sour beers have, the acidity making it seem like there is a plethora of fruit flavours dancing on your tongue.

Overall an excellent sour beer.

Background: Drunk at Brewdog Bristol while waiting for a family meet up. Because of that I will admit the notes were slightly more rushed than usual. I drank blitz apricot a while back and so when I heard there was a raspberry version I was looking forwards to it, James and Martin from Brewdog seem quite obsessed with trying to make raspberry beers. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers.

Dark Matter

Brewdog: Beavertown: Dark Matter (England: Sour Ale: 3.8% ABV)

Visual: Black. Caramel touched head that doesn’t last very long.

Nose: Bitter chocolate dust. Sour back. Brown bread. Coffee granules. Mash tun.

Body: Tangy. Sour cherries. Sour black cherry. Bitter chocolate. Sour white grapes. Fruit centred chocolates and chocolate liquore. Slight vinegar taste.

Finish: Sour fruit and bitter chocolate. Chocolate cake sponge. Belgium chocolate. Ok, so chocolate then. White wine. Apricot (sour-natch).

Conclusion: Wow, what the hell is this? It’s called a Berliner stout, but feels more like chocolate liquore that has been poured into a Rodenbach Grand Cru. There is that vinegar like element that I associate with that beer, and like that beer it is somehow not a flaw but a positive element, then there is massive sour black and red cherry, just as if you were sucking the fruit straight from the stone but backed by a rich stream of chocolate pouring through it.

There is so much going in, that almost holographic flavour that you get with the acidic sour beers, yet here it is delivered silky smooth. It is initially a mouth shocker, but you soon acclimatise and then you can really begin to enjoy it. Oddly the aroma barely hints at the sourness to come, instead calling to a very bare standard stout in style, everything you get is working underneath the surface of the liquid, ready to shake you with the first sip.

Even better, at 3.8%, and with that sourness offsetting the sweetness, you can drink this pretty easily. Ok, the level of flavour means it isn’t for a very long session, but the tartness works very well at keeping it drinkable much longer than you would think and doesn’t get boring quick (I will admit I am extrapolating from my experience here, so don’t take this part as gospel).Still, it seems like it will do pretty well as a session stout, I always find it odd writing those words.

So great flavour, great drinkability, low abv, I am loving this thing’s style. I highly encourage you to try it, for the experience, for the oddity, for the flavour and for the class.

Background: Collab Fest 2013! Every Brewdog bar collaborated with a local brewery to make a beer for the fest, resulting in a grand total of twelve beers released over one weekend. So, what could I do? Normally I limit myself to two of three reviews in a session, but these would only be on for the weekend. So, for you, my readers, I sat in one eight hour stint, drinking thirds, with a glass of water and a chapter of Michael Moorcock’s Elric of Melnibone between each drink to help clear my palette. I suffer so for you. This was the fourth beer of the day, a Berliner sour stout. Seriously I am loving the odd beer styles here. By this point in the day I was deciding to have a longer than usual break after this, less for the abv, but more to give time for the taste buds to clear up again.

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.

Brodies Vs Brewdog

Brewdog: Brodies Tayberry Berliner Weisse (Scotland: Fruit Berliner Weisse: 5.17% ABV)

Visual: Very hazy. Creamed white thin head. Bruised apricot flesh colour.

Nose: Tart. Elderberry. Raspberry. Gooseberry. Bruised peach.

Body: Lemon cheesecake/Lemon curd. Gooseberry. Very soft. Light shortbread. Tart but sweet. Strawberry. Apricot.

Finish: Lemon sherbet frothing up. Very fresh. Custard sweet traces. Dried apricot. Berry tartness. Gooseberry. Passion fruit.

Conclusion: I’ve used the term “Holographic flavours” before, when a beer has a range of flavours that seems beyond what the beer should contain. It comes up a lot with sours and lambics as it feels like the sharpness of the beer is tricking you into experiencing shimmering evanescent flavours. Despite the indication of deception the term is meant as a compliment for the sheer amazing experience such a beer brings.

Which is a long winded way of saying, wow, how fruity is this beer? Tart berries, lemon sherbet, and I could swear strawberry and dried apricot amongst others.

For all the tartness the beer feels soft and it is one of the few Berliner Weisse’s I feel I could drink by the pint. Cheesecake and biscuit base flavours help a lot with that, bringing the aforementioned softness. Reminds me of Mikkeller’s “It’s Alive” but with more wow (and for those that remember that review, no I’m not starting the “Kitteh!” thing again on account of being reasonably sane at the moment.)

Teeth drying, yet doesn’t feel that sharp, I’ve really enjoyed Brodies Sours but this just seems to add so many layers to that. Light custard sweetness, shortcake and lemon curd brought with a metric ton of fruit.

Refreshing and delicious and lemon tart. Easy to drink and a perfect summer days drink.

Excellent!

Background: Ok, what is the name of this? First seen as just Berliner Weisse, Then Brewdog Vs Brodies, then Tayberry Berliner Weisse. The last is most descriptive so I went with that. Drunk at Brewdog Bristol. Bias warning: Not only am I not an unbiased actor on Brewdog Beers, the staff also gave me this pint free. Massive conflict of interest going on. Ah well.  Brodies are an awesome small brewery in East London, who have already done a few Berliner Weisse sours so I’m guessing brought some experience to the mix. As the name suggest this was made with Tayberrys. When I suggested Lemon Cheesecake a staff member added lemon curd as a suggestion, which was very cool so I kept it for my review.

Pineapple Sour

Brodies: Pineapple Sour (England: Fruit Berliner Weisse: 3.7% ABV)

Visual: Hazy yellowed fruit juice. White dust at the edges.

Nose: Juicy pineapple. Tart. Apricot. Light pencil shavings. Stewed banana.

Body: Tart and fresh. Gooseberries. Pineapple. Custard cream biscuits. Cheeseboards. Peach.

Finish: White grapes. Pineapple. White wine.

Conclusion: A pineapple sour? Odd but considering how tart Berliner Weisse beers can be and how tart pineapple can be you can see where they could work. Which makes it very interesting that while this beer is tart it is surprisingly easy going. The beer is around the fresh fruit juice level of tartness rather than the insane Berliner Weisse kick. It is nowhere near the sharpness level that the Cherry Sour brought for example.

There comes a cheeseboard element after while, which gives a much needed bit of body. This is a fine bit of craft to the beer and calls to the similar lambic tricks.  Overall the beer is very tastebud cleansing, but brings with it a nice amount of sweetness. It seems very juicy in its expression of the pineapple, a good twist for what can be a challenging fruit. I think in some ways the closeness of the fruit and the beer styles flavours can work against it rather than benefit.  When they are too in tune it can make the actual flavour seem slightly thin rather than bolster it and all you get left is the freshness. The more welcome times are when you get more apricot and peach rather than pineapple coming through.

Despite that it does make for a good wakeup call  beer, and can cut through hoppier beers drunk before it. Taken for itself it is ok but doesn’t rock my world. As a mid session pick me up and palette cleanser it is quite spot on. So not their best sour but not bad.

Background: Drunk at Brewdog Bristol when that had a Brodies tap takeover night.  My London friends rave about Brodies beer and I try to get hold of them when I can.  A great thing about the Brodies night was they had the owner and brewer down to answer questions and chat (and in my case, kindly agree to be photographed).  It was fun to be able to talk about the beers and brewing background, and added a great amount to the night. Thanks to everyone involved in the event. I also drank the Brodies Raspberry Sour but didn’t get a chance to review, it was by far a better beer and well worth a try. As a sucker for an oddity I had to give the Pineapple version the review.

CIMG2140

%d bloggers like this: