According to Beer Advocate, the Berliner Weisse style of beer which originated in Berlin, Germany, has the following characteristics:
- Appearance: Rapidly vanishing head. Clear, pale golden straw-colored
- Taste: Refreshing, tart, sour and acidic, with a lemony-citric fruit sharpness and almost no hop bitterness.
- ABV: 2 to 5%
Keeping in mind that I wrote my notes BEFORE I paid a visit to the Beer Advocate site, here are my impressions of Victory’s Berliner Weisse with Elderflower…
- Appearance: Twas a loud and fizzy pour. The color was slightly cloudy and golden yellow. There was no head or lacing.
- Aroma: The nose was very subdued when I first filled my glass. All I got was oodles of lemony tartness, so I let it warm up a bit to see if it opened up as it approached room temperature. When I went back to it, a touch of vanilla came through. Could that be what elderflower smells like???
- Taste: Lightly carbonated with a bit of fizziness and a slightly syrupy mouthfeel. Very tart from start to finish with a mouth puckering effect that just woldn’t quit! That super tart lemony goodness lingered long after I emptied my glass.
- ABV: 5.2%
I am far from a Berliner Weisse expert, but when I compare my notes to what Beer Advocate has to say about this style, I’d say that Victory hit all the marks. I suppose the ABV is a little on the high end, but I didn’t pick up any booziness in the taste, so I guess they get a pass for exceeding the ABV benchmark. If tart, refreshing, and mouth puckering beer is your thing, then Victory’s version of a Berliner Weisse is definitely worth a try. I really liked it even though I couldn’t pick up any elderflower in the taste (not that I know what elderflower is supposed to taste like).
One last thing…
The Beer Advocate site mentions “that tourists in Berlin will often order one as a “Berliner Weisse mit Schuss: Himbeere” or “Berliner Weisse mit Schuss: Waldmeister”. These are syrups that are added to make the sourness more palatable. Himbeere is raspberry (red) and Waldmeister is woodruff (green)”.
Between the Radler and the Berliner Weisse mit Schuss, I’m guessing that Germans aren’t always as “by the book” with their beer drinking as the Reinheitsgrebot (the dreaded German beer purity law) would lead us to believe. Beer cocktails? In Germany??? Next time I crack open a Berliner Weisse, I’m gonna have to try this “Mit Schuss” thing. I wonder how it would taste with a splash of homemade grenadine.
Many thanks to Victory Brewing Company for the sample!