Craft brewers are an adventurous lot always on the lookout for new methods of brewing and new styles to brew, whether that’s intense hopping or barrel aging or wild fermentation. Sour beers have grown in popularity both with brewers and with drinkers looking to explore and experiment with something different, so it’s no surprise that some have turned to an almost forgotten style… Berliner Weisse.
Reportedly referred to by Napoleon’s troops as the “Champagne of the North”, this style of beer dates back to at least the 16th century and was at one stage the most popular beer in Berlin beer houses before almost completely disappearing in the 20th century with the growth in pale lagers.
Brewed using a mix of yeast and lactic acid bacteria, Berliner Weisse is wheat based, low in alcohol and with a distinct effervescence and unmistakable lacto sourness. Hops are not evident here with many examples of the style containing no hops at all.
Berliner Weisse is refreshingly tart and lively with no residual sweetness making it an ideal summer sipper. These characteristics also make it a great match with salty, oily and starchy foods, try it with some crisp and fluffy French fries or salt cured meats. For the sweet toothed Berliner Weisse also works great with cheese cake.
Calypso from Siren Craft Brew keeps all the lacto sourness and refreshing spritziness of Berliner Weisse but dials up the hops a notch. Each batch of Calypso is dry hopped with different hop varieties lending each a new batch different flavour and aroma profiles.
From Wexford brewers YellowBelly comes Castaway, a limited release Berliner Weisse brewed in collaboration with Dublin brewery Hope Beer. Brewed using YellowBelly’s own house strain of lactobacillus and copious amounts of passionfruit. Expect a lot of passionfruit here both in the aroma and on the palate leading to crisp and refreshing tart finish.
Some may be turned off by the idea of sour beers but these two crisp and fruity beers are just the pair to change their minds. Enjoy