Fearful Symmetries

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04 August, 2015

Heute bin ich ein Berliner (Redux): Berliner Geist by Vintage Brewing



Scott Manning at Vintage traded smoke for sour this summer and brewed a Berliner Weisse instead of a grodziskie. At least we're still in the light wheat beer ballpark.

The Berliner Weisse is an old beer style. As the name implies, it's a northern German style and is a cousin of the gose and other obscure/extinct German beer styles which as a group are likely cousins of the Belgian witbier. Berlin is reputed to have had several hundred breweries churning out Berliner Weisse in the first half of the 18th century. However, as the lager became ever more popular in the second half, the Berliner Weisse and its brethren faded into obscurity. I do believe that there are a couple of breweries in Germany that still brew the style with Berliner Kindl being the most popular as far as I can tell.

Assuredly acidulous, the Berliner Weisse is imbued with lactic acid bacteria to get your lips a-puckerin' and, back in the day, picked up brettanomyces naturally for a bit of funkiness. I don't think I've run into an American take on the style that had brett but surely some microbrewer out there has made it. I also see that a German is attempting to resurrect the original brett-laden style.

Berliner Geist ("spirit of Berlin") pours a brilliant straw color. It was rather clear which I found odd as all that wheat normally makes the beer hazy. Legend has it that Napoleon dubbed Berliner Weisse the "champagne of the north" and so it should come as no surprise that I got a big white head (which settled quickly) and that the beer was quite effervescent with a lot of bubbles in my glass.

Also unsurprising was the big lemony tartness that assailed my nose when I took a whiff. It smelled mighty fine. My nose also detected graininess and some malt sweetness. The taste was very similar to the nose. On first sip you recoil from the lemony tartness. After a few sips it mellows out, however. Berliner Geist is definitely tart but I have to admit that I've tasted ones that are even more sour. I think Scotty has found a happy medium here. I also caught some grainy flavors that were bready and you can really taste the bubbles.

Berliner Geist finished with its tartness fading into a lingering bread flavor. There are German hops here but very little and certainly not enough to take the focus away from the sourness. Indeed, I didn't notice them at all.

For this review I went ohne the Schuss or syrup that often accompanies a Berliner Weisse. Apparently this practice dates back to the 1920s. Personally I prefer the Waldmeister (woodruff) but Himbeer (raspberry) is also available at Vintage. Plus you can buy both flavors at Bavaria Sausage. At 4.7% A.B.V Berliner Geist is a bit stronger than normal but that's how Scotty rolls. He never misses a chance to make his potables just a bit more potent. Still, it's not overly boozy. With its light body, citrus sourness, and all those bubbles, Berliner Geist is quite refreshing in the summer heat.

Junk food pairing: You don't want anything too heavy to go with your Berliner Geist. You can't go wrong with plain potato chips in most cases but you can get away with some Chicken in a Biskit crackers. For pairing with cheese, try some American or Cheddar Easy Cheese.

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|| Palmer, 8:14 AM

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