It's no secret that I like beer. It's also no secret that I've been quite contemptuous of breweries who use obscene amounts of hops and alcohol in their beers to mask flaws when they're so unbalanced. So last week when my wife and I were out to dinner I noticed one of the breweries I have taken to task had a very different style of beer available on tap.
Berliner Weisse is a rare style of wheat beer that is soured with lactobacillus, it is very light and low in alcohol. It's also flavored with raspberry or woodruff syrups to cut the acidity. Back when I was in the beer and home brewing business, there was no Berliner Weisse commercially available in Ohio until the late 90's. Boldly, I went all in and attempted to create the style in my kitchen without having tasted the style. I attempted an all grain beer and special ordered the liquid yeast and lactobacillus culture to add to the wort. I even buried a couple of bottles in the backyard for a few months, as tradition stated.
The results were, meh, I was never a decent home brewer to begin with, but the beer was pale, low in alcohol but not well balanced with the acidity. Not a failed effort, but not quite sound. So when Berliner Kindl came to our shores, I could see what I did wrong.
What was on tap where we ate was a Festina Peche made by Dogfish Head. Since I avoid their beers because of their overwhelming and unnecessary addition of hops and alcohol I did not realize they had been making this beer for a few years.
I thought the tartness and acidity were spot on for the style, and the use of peaches was a good touch. A very refreshing beer on a hot day. Not a warming winter brew at all. Overall, a very representative version of a rare style, with a unique twist on the syrup tradition with the addition of peaches during fermentation.
Dogfish Head, you got one right. Slainte!