Tag Archives: weisse

Champagne of the North

A pilsner that accompanied my pizza at I Due Forni.

A pilsner that accompanied my pizza at I Due Forni.

Even before I stepped off the S-Bahn into central Berlin and was struck by the pervasive graffiti and street art, I saw a shocking sight. Two men chatting on the train, drinking beer. And more people drinking beer walking up and down the streets, or waiting for food at a truck. Jonas (a friend of a friend) told me that beer is regarded as a basic food in the German diet, and while there are special taxes on alcohol as in many other countries, the legal and cultural attitude towards beer is as relaxed as towards bread.

And many of my outings in Berlin were accompanied by beer. In Germany it is nearly impossible to escape lagers, which made me a bit uncertain about how happy I would be with my beverages, but I found them to be skillfully brewed and more interesting than I expected. I did eventually also manage to try some of Germany’s distinctive ale styles. But among the pils, helles, schwarzbier, weizen, and kolsch, one style stands apart as totally unique, sharing little in common with most well-known German styles (although somewhat similar to the obscure gose style), and the style calls Berlin its home. The Berliner weiße, a style I brewed before I’d even tried it, was the one beer I was determined to drink during my stay.

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Tasting: Schnellweiße

We here in the apartment have been sucking down bottles of my quick Berliner weisse in the summer heat, but only now have I been able to get a good picture of a pour and write up a review.

Besides serving it quite a few of my friends, I was also able to bring a bomber of the brew to the last NYC Homebrewers Guild meeting. Some said that the beer was mouth-puckeringly sour while others suggested I make it more sour still. Many of those who were just returning from the National Homebrewer Conference in Philadelphia a few weeks before agreed that my beer was much more pleasant than many unfortunate examples of the style that had been served at the conference. One person even said it was her favorite beer that had been shared that night.

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Fermentation: Berliner Weisse

I haven’t made a post solely dedicated to a fermenting beer since my very first brew. I’ve learned a lot about brewing since then and gotten much more comfortable brewing. I feel that the Schnellweiße marks a major milestone for me in my brewing experience – it is my first sour beer, partially fermented with a bacteria called Lactobacillus that I grew in a starter inoculated with just a handful of grains.

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Schnellweiße

Homebrewing has exposed me to styles of beer and methods of brewing that I would not have even suspected of existing. Just before I started brewing, my sister and brother-in-law took me to New Belgium for a tour and tasting. During the tour, I tried and enjoyed my first sour beer. The flavor was totally outside of what I thought was possible with beer. (Interesting note – my brother-in-law, Adam Valuckas, made a short film for their release party of the 2013 La Folie and Transatlantique Kriek, both sours.)

While reading another brewing blog, Brew Science, I came across a post detailing a beer that was low alcohol, citrusy, tart, and has champagne-like carbonation: the Berliner Weisse. It sounded like a beer that would be especially well-suited to summer, but it can require significant time to age. Some brewers report going from grain to glass in as little as a month, while for some as much as 6 months of aging is required for the beer to develop.

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