I decided to try out a new type of post and maybe add a little education value to the blog so starting in August I’ll feature a new style of beer every month. Since August still has reasonably hot weather, a nice refreshing Berliner Weisse seems appropriate.
A typical Berliner Weisse is light-bodied, light-colored, low-alcohol and sour. Most people would describe this wheat beer as crisp and refreshing with low concentrations of both malt and hops. Frequently Berliner Weisse exhibits a slight level of cloudiness. These days most brewers add lactobacillus to achieve the souring vs. the traditional method of letting wild critters in to do the work.
A brief history of Berliner Weisse starts over 500 years ago with tart beers brewed in northern Germany and possibly Flanders. The style really took root in Berlin and thrived for about 400 years until the late 1800’s when it began to lose favor. By the end of the 20th Century only a couple of Berlin breweries made the style. Fortunately the beer was saved from extinction and it has enjoyed a renaissance both at home and abroad, although technically a Berliner Weisse must be manufactured in the confines of Berlin. The recent popularity of sours may also help account for its frequent appearance on craft beer taplists.
The two best-known examples in Berlin are Berliner Kindl and Schultheiss. If you order the beer in Berlin you will generally be offered the opportunity to take it “mit schuss“, which translates to “with a shot” of flavored syrup. Most people drink it unadulterated, though. If you choose “mit schuss” in Germany your two options will be a red, raspberry-like option (Himbeere) and a green, medicinal choice (Waldmeister) that I personally would not recommend. Many American craft breweries have added their own spin with fun flavors like peach and prickly pear.
Overall, a cold Berliner Weisse offers a fresh and sessionable experience for hot summer afternoons, whether doing yardwork or just kicking back on the patio.