It’s funny how taste and perceptions change. A couple of decades ago when I started in this business Berlinerweisse was an extremely niche product. Even those punters who had encountered it on their travels through Europe would dismiss it as the ugly stepchild of the noble Bavarian Weisse. Cheap, milky & sour it was the antithesis of refined drinking. To make matters worse, it was invariably served in some crowded bierkellar, with a shot of green herbal gunk resulting in a lurid, radioactive looking liquid that even Delboy would be wary about drinking.
A Belinerweisse is traditionally modest in alcohol (typically 2.5-3.5% abv) cloudy, foamy and with a distinctive, mineral, tart quality. For years that tart-sourness has proved a stumbling block to commercial success in the U.K. But now, with all things sour thoroughly in vogue, the time is ripe to reappraise this little German underdog.
Modern interpretations of the Berlinerweisse style have led to some stunning wee beers from the likes of Buxton, Siren & The Kernel, but short of jumping on an Easyjet, your best way of sampling the genuine article is to grab a bottle of Berlinerkindle Weisse from your friendly, neighbourhood independent retailer.
Poured from it’s dumpy little bottle into a tulip glass, it’s a muddy, creamy, wan yellow beer with a couple of inches of cappuccino froth. The nose is distinctive with a fair bit of green apple, tart lemon and a definite, musty cheesiness. The palate is light in body, with a slight mineral undertow, a bit akin to alka seltzer and a pronounced soor ploom sourness. But unlike so many more astringant sour beers, this finishes crisp, fresh and light: Making it a perfect gateway drug into the world of the tart and unusual.
It’s far from my favorite example (that honour goes to Siren Brewings peerless Calypso) but it is the real Mccoy, It’s of a moderate strength (3%) and crucially, it should cost you a good deal less than a couple of quid for a 33cl bottle