28 August, 2008

So, I had this idea...

Mr. Fleishman has inspired me with a simple text message: Have you tried Berliner Weiss?

New Glarus has a brew out that we must have missed somehow, and this in itself bears scrutiny--what were we thinking?

The Berliner Weiss style is interesting, complex, and at times just hard to find in the states. I spent some time reading traveller's accounts of attempting to order a Berliner Weiss in Berlin, and it sounds like an adventure in itself--I'll explain momentarily.

The beer itself is low in alcohol, has a pale, straw-like color, and a head that dissipates quickly. Sounds pretty plain to start, but the flavor profile will more than make up for any perceived shortcomings.

Berliner Weiss is a wheat ale, fermented with traditional warm temperature, top-fermenting yeast, and also a lactobacillus culture. Peaked your interest yet? The culture helps to add one of the most prominent mouthfeel qualities: sourness. This is a tart, sour beer that may be mildly reminiscent of a lambic or gueuze, for you Belgian beer fans. Spence may have encountered such at the beer festival he neglected to invite me to. Thanks Spence. The brew also sports a fairly high acidity, something like grapefruit juice with its citric sharpness.

Now, the truly interesting thing about this bier is the culture surrounding it. I mentioned the adventure of ordering such a drink in Berlin. The tradition among Berliners is to add a fruit syrup to the beer, which is then served in a large bowl-shaped glass with a straw. Think of it like a not-so-poor poormosa (cheap lager and orange juice). The syrups most often used are Himbeere (raspberry) and Waldmeister (woodruff). These also impart a red or green color, respectively. The fashion behind this suggests the drink as a fun, refreshing, and light summer drink. One might call this the true Champagne of Beers. The syrup cuts the sourness substantially, some think to the point of removing almost all beer-like qualities.

The purist accounts I've come across suggest the beer served "ohne Schuss" in a tall Pilsener glass--meaning, of course, without syrup in a tall Pilsener glass. I plan to try both ways and make the call for myself.

And so I pose a challenge to my compratriots: a beer profiling competition of sorts. Not really a competition, I suppose, since I offer no prize and have no criteria for judging you at all. What I ask of you is to seek out a new style of beer. Do some research, give it a shot, and record your impressions. Step 2: post these on Debaser, for the enjoyment of all!

Prost!

8 comments:

Cassady said...

Adendum:

I was speaking of the style in general, not the specif New Glarus brew.

spencer said...

I did invite you, if I recall correctly. Though the Belgian beer festival hasn't happened yet.

I've had the Berliner Weiss with a raspberry syrup and it was...interesting. Was much more like a Belgian than any German I've ever had. I'm not a fan of fruity beers though.

Sounds like a good competition of sorts. I'll do my best to find something I haven't tried...

Cassady said...

Bully to that! I'm glad you got to try it. Next time go for the beer in its natural state--supposed to be wild.

spencer said...

I actually wanted it that way but my waiter insisted on the syrup...

Cassady said...

That's exactly what happens to most travellers! The Germans just can't understand why you wouldn't want it the way everyone else does, and they're too stubborn to let you do it your own way!

spencer said...

Except I was at a brewpub in Philadelphia...

Cassady said...

Probably being served by a douchebag who thought they were the end-all be-all of beer serving and that there was no other way of drinking a Berliner.

Guadalupe said...

I'm just a fan of the idea that this is a competition with no winner... just my type.

Hmmm, somehow I'm hungry for an arugula salad...