Why Isn't There More Berliner Weisse?
When beer geeks get together, talk often settles on beer styles we love—especially those styles we just don't see enough of. Brewers are answering our dreams by boiling up more session beers (and more interesting ones, at that) but there are still some styles that cause us to sigh. Why don't we see more Gose? Couldn't we all use another super-fresh local pilsner? And why isn't there more Berliner Weisse?
There's a lot to love about Berliner Weisse. Because the wheat beer is made with lactobacillus, it gets tart, tangy, and citric—just the thing for a hot day when you want more than lemonade, but not that much more alcohol. The ABV levels tend to range between 2% and 5%.
I recently had the chance to taste a sample of a soon-to-be-released Berliner Weisse from Grand Teton Brewing Co. in Idaho. Named Snarling Badger, it has a nice lactic tang (and great tart scent), plus a wonderfully apricot-like fruity flavor, but it's a big beer at 7.5% ABV. It's tart and fresh but packs a punch, and more body than most summer-sippers I'd normally choose. The folks at Grand Teton did this on purpose: "We've tripled the strength over the traditional beer, which should only increase its aging potential," they say. "The extra strength helps our Cellar Reserves age gracefully and also makes them a little more 'special," suitable for enjoyment with friends on special occasions." They also made use of a hefeweizen yeast to boost the spicy banana-and-clove flavor.
It's tasty beer, but it's not satisfying my thirst for sessionable Berliner Weisse. Besides The Bruery's Hottenroth—and perhaps Dogfish Head's Festina Peche—I'm not sure where to turn. Do you have a local source for this light-and-tart beer?