Fearful Symmetries

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22 July, 2016

Your Brewer Was a Hamster: Berliner Weisse with Elderflower by Victory Brewing Company



I'd bet a dollar to a doughnut that most people who laughed at the scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail where the French guard insults King Arthur by saying, "Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!" hadn't the faintest notion of what elderberries smell like. We laughed anyway not because of any inherent quality of the elderberry but because of the sheer absurdity of the scene.

I'd also wager that most people who see a bottle of Victory's Berliner Weisse with Elderflower will have never tasted elderflowers and that a sizable chunk of drinkers will, like me, have Monty Python and the Holy Grail spring to mind.

Late last year Victory announced its Blackboard series, an annual run of four limited edition brews. The beers are alternately draft-only and bottled. Berliner Weisse with Elderflower is the third entry this year having been preceded by an Agave Eyepah with Grapefruit and a Dry-Hopped Brett Pils. (Oatmeal Porter with Hazelnut will close out 2016.) Thankfully the Berliner Weisse was bottled because there's no way I'd be able to make it out to sub(ex?)urban Philadelphia to try it.

Now that we're firmly entrenched in the dog days of summer, the Berliner Weisse is a fine style to indulge in with its light body, abundance of carbonation, and tangy tartness. And hell, who knows what additional delectations the elderflower may bring to repulse the positively plutonian heat.

Berliner Weisse with Elderflower pours a pale yellow with the characteristic haze that wheat brings to beer from its proteins. (I wonder when we'll have Kristall Berliner Weisses.) I got a half inch or so of frothy, white foamy goodness that lasted about half a minute. As expected, this is an effervescent brew with bubbles aplenty inside.

There was a big lacto-lemony sour scent along with a floral/herbal aroma that leant towards the sweet. This was my first encounter with the elderflower in the beer and quite pleasant it was. New Belgium's Gruit also had elderflowers and it too had a nice floral smell.

That lemon did double duty and made for a bracing, sour salutation for my tongue. The lactic acidity along with the firm carbonation gave the bier a really nice bite. Wheat was hinted at while the elderflower added a floral touch that was on the earthy side and another layer of tartness. I presume this latter taste was the elderflower, anyway. It was a bit like the child of a tart, baking variety of apple and a quince.

This may not be the most tart Berliner Weisse I've ever had but it has a good, sturdy sour taste and it should not be surprising that it lingers well after the liquid has left my mouth. Oddly enough, the wheat then comes on strongly followed by a little berry fruitiness and a hint of sweetness. A most unexpected, though welcome, finish. Alas, my glass was left with no Schaumhaftvermoegen.

Fantastisch! Even ohne the elderflower this is a great Berliner Weisse. The tartness is strong but not deadly as you with a Destihl brew and it has the requisite light body and plentiful carbonation. At 5.2% A.B.V., it's a bit more potent than usual. Adding in the elderflower laces an already wonderful brew with shades of sweet botanical joy.

Junk food pairing: The Berliner Weisse pairs well with lighter fare such as thinly cut potato chips. Plain ones will allow you tease out the elderflower accents. On the other hand, you may want to play up the lemony-citrus flavors of Berliner Weisse with Elderflower and so get your hands on a bag of Lemon Oreos.

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|| Palmer, 6:15 AM

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