Berliner Weisse was always a style of beer I had wanted and longed to try. I had heard tales of it being so dry that it had to have sweet syrups added to take the edge off the acidity and make it palatable to drink. Michael Jackson described not just Wheat Beers, but Berliner Weisse's as some of the most refreshing beers the world has ever seen, and probably ever will. The only thing I've ever seen (and tried) come close to the style was Dogfish Head's Neo-Berliner Weisse; Festina Peche, which in all honesty, I was not too impressed by.
This was all set to change however, as I heard that North Bar had an actual Berliner Weisse from Berlin in the bottle for sale. I had never even seen a proper Berliner Weisse in this country, let alone a bar in Leeds.
I was down there the very next day.
It comes across with a pale, cloudy, greeny-yellow appearance. It smells a lot like many Gueuze beers I've had in the past; really vegetal and mineral like with lots of apple and green plum skins. Some lemon rind, and a flowery aroma is thrown in there too.
The flavour is unlike any other beer available to me. It starts with a puckering light sour tartness, which eventually fades into a sort of vegetal acidity. Lots of fruit tartness comes about too, think Granny Smith apple skins mixed with lemon skin and that's about right. It's intensely drying, a quality which coats the sides of mouth for quite some time, making it obviously moorish in a big way.
Of course you can serve the beer with other accompaniments; some like a Berliner Weisse laced with Kummel (caraway) schnapps or in the winters, have it served hot with lemon juice! Some even come with herbal essences of woodruff, but most will just be served with fruity syrups. (Kevin definitely wouldn't approve!) The 'tradition' conversation was certainly an interesting one. It was argued that the first brewers will probably not have brewed a beer which intentionally needed a sweetener to balance out the acidity, but if people used these syrups - and looked at you funny when you didn't want one - which was the most traditional method of serving?
A little food for thought I guess, but it's certainly a beer style worth trying if you can find it. It's been called 'the champagne of the North', a beer as good as any sparkling wine, it's usually brewed with lactic cultures such as Lactobacillus delbruckii and more often than not has a low abv like the Kindl's 3%. An extreme beer, very much so. One I'd have more of, Hellz yeah... and I preferred it without the syrups...
Have you tried the style before?
How do you like it?