Style: Dark Sour Lager/ Dark Lager-style Berliner Weisse
OG: 13 Plato
From: Framingham, MA
Brewer’s Note: “This is a spin on a traditional Berliner Weisse, which is usually low in ABV, light in color, brewed with wheat and quite tart. Our version is darker and stronger than normal. The plan was to age all of this beer in bourbon barrels with tart cherries. However, when we tried it before putting it in the barrels we thought it stood up on its own and decided to release a small amount of the unaged version on Friday, 2/7./ We brewed this beer for two reasons: We wanted to brew a beer that would age well in Bourbon Barrels. We wanted to hone in a process for which to brew a traditional Berliner Weiss for the summer./ Berliner Braun uses a sour mashing process to force a sour fermentation. A strong lactic and funky fermentation ensues for twenty four hours before the beer is boiled and fermented as normal. The PH of this beer dropped from 5.2 to 3.4 overnight. This unaged version is tart, sour, and has a corresponding dark fruit malt character. We decided that instead of aging all of it, we will release a small amount of it before it goes into barrels./ Unlike a traditional Berliner Weisse our version features a lot of dark malt character which lends a deep fruited flavor and slight residual sweetness. We plan to capitalize on these flavors by aging the majority of this beer on Tart Cherries in Bourbon Barrels. We hope to have this aged version available for the summer! Also look out for a more traditional Berliner Weisse beer this summer.”
The beer pours a nice mellow amber brown, sitting in the glass the color of a dark ruby. The beer pours with a very small head of off-white bubbles, but that quickly fizzles away, as often happens with a Berliner weisse. It sits in my glass without even a hint of a head. In body, the beer is dark but super clean and clear bodied. On the nose, the beer smells supremely jammy. Like grape jam or grape soda. The sweet grape character is amazing on the nose of this beer with just touches of cider and a faint ghost of yogurt. On the tongue, the beer tastes distinctly like a Berliner Weisse. Lactic tartness gives way to wheat flake sweetness. Touches of vinous and cider-like acidity also play into the beer’s character. This beer is really only mildly tart, as the sweet malt balances it out quite well. In flavor, the beer tastes initially like grape juice and apple juice. This opens into yogurt and bizarre citric notes that touch upon bitter vegetal flavors. Grape jam and wheat flakes move in on the finish, like jam on wheat toast. The finish is middling in length, and the aftertaste continues with similar flavors. In the mouth, the beer feels medium in body with thinner accents. The beer feels crisp, yet slightly gooey in the mouth. There is an odd feeling in the back of the throat, which I assume comes from the tartness of the beer, but seems reminiscent of tannic astringency in the mouth. The mouth is left with light acid-canceling spittle, a tingling pucker, and a tight, astringent tongue that is almost dry. Carbonation is middling, with a nice prickle that briefly becomes too much on the tongue. Overall, I’m not quite sure what to think of this beer. I can imagine it with the barrel and fruit treatment that it will get, and I am excited to try that, but as is it just seems to be lacking something. It’s fairly one note with its jammy, tart-malt notes. I’m intrigued by the extra-malt in the Berliner weisse style, and by the lager yeast used, but the beer has a harshness in the back of the sip that needs other flavors to mellow it out. The barrel aged version of this beer will probably be superb. This beer was designed to have more added to it, and as such it is a little lackluster as is. I’m glad I got to try it though.