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TBT: The future of Berliner weisses, via 2011

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Three years is a long, long time in relation to the ever-evolving craft beer landscape. Back then we thought we were going out on a limb when we declared Berliner weisses the next big thing in beer. Our reason for the declaration? It was a style that fit perfectly within the two emerging trends of Belgian sours and session beers. If you’re still playing catch-up, here’s an excerpt from the German-style primer we published in our 2011 September/October issue:

If there were an endangered beer species list, Berliner weisses would be on it. Once declared the “Champagne of the north” by Napoleon’s troops during their rather un-neighborly invasion of Prussia, this puckering, effervescent pale wheat ale, marked by a clean sourness (think plain Greek yogurt) from its top-fermenting yeast and Lactobacillus bacteria, now teeters on the edge of obscurity. tweet

Born around the 16th century along with the rest of Germany’s weissbiers in Berlin, the formerly ubiquitous brew not only predates the popular German pilsner, but it’s been described as the most refreshing style in the world; its sourness falls somewhere between a weizen and a lambic while its ABV is a tame 2.8% to 3.8%. Today, you can count the number of Berliner weisses from Germany on one hand. Like other forgotten styles (heard of Broyhan alt or Licktenhainer?), it’s almost impossible to pinpoint why Berliner weisses’ popularity waned; certainly, though, the extensive floor space and fermenting time required to create the beer have kept brewers away. But now that demand for Belgian sours and session beers has exploded, the tart style is poised for a comeback. tweet

Read the rest of the piece here.

Of course, Berliners haven’t just made a comeback: U.S. brewers are rethinking the style by fermenting the stuff with fruits and spices that range from exotic passionfruit and yuzu to kiwi and hibiscus. Some even call it the Florida weisse.

So, three years after the fact: Have you jumped aboard the Berliner train? Which are your favorites?

 

Author
Chris Staten is DRAFT’s beer editor. Follow him on Twitter at @DRAFTbeereditor and email him at chris.staten@draftmag.com.

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