Tasting Notes: Berliner Weisse (Berliner Weiße)

At the risk of sounding a tad immature here, I want to state just how much admiration I have for the beer culture of Germany. And if any beer typified that culture, I believe it would be Berliner Weisse.

Berliner Weisse in of itself is a decent brew, a very light, very low in alcohol top-fermenting wheat beer. It’s appearance can best be described as the color you would have left if you subtracted yellow from color gold – in other words, a very light wheat color. When you taste it, it has a very distinct sour taste that runs contrary to the expectations of anyone who was raised on lager beer. The “sour” is not an unpleasant taste, but it is unique.

However, what makes Berliner Weisse stand out even further is the popular way it’s served – with fruit syrup mixed into the beer. Think Berliner Weisse as the Kool-Aid of the beer world.

If you order an Berliner Weisse, you will be most likely asked “rot oder grün?” (red or green) If you ordered it red, raspberry syrup would be added. Ask for green and a woodruff syrup will be mixed in. The store where I picked up the Berliner Weisse only had rasberry syrup.

It should be noted that Berliner Weisse would not be served in the glass that I used for the picture here. Typically the beer would be served in a glass tumbler as pictured in the bottom of this Wikipedia entry.

Aroma: The mixture of the beer with the raspberry syrup resulted in a very pleasant aroma the came across like a fruity, unsmoked, pipe tobacco.

Eyes: As noted above, the color of the beer depends upon which syrup you used. Without syrup, it looks like a wheat/sand color.

Taste: I liked this beer a great deal, both with and without the syrup. Granted, part of my response to this beer is based on the novelty of it, but it is something that I would recommend to anyone. Without the syrup, the beer is very tart, but not unpleasantly so. I would serve it very cold, as close to freezing as possible.

The amount of syrup added is based on personal preference, although it’s likely that my sweet tooth caused me to add more syrup than is typical. However, the flavors of the syrup do combine nicely with that of the beer.

Overall: American beer fans may cringe at the adulteration of the beer, but it is worth it. I would recommend Berliner Weisse both with syrup and without, although if served without, it would be best served with foods with high starch content (potatoes, breads).

I would say to everyone to give it a try, at least once for the sheer novelty of the experience.