When it comes to Berliner Weisse, it has a history of being consumed for well over 500 years, with a pert, sour taste that can be customised with additional sweetness – making it highly customisable since it can be tailored to suit everyone’s personal taste. Intrigued by this? So were we!
What Is Berliner Weisse Beer? What Is The History Of Berliner Weisse?
Dating back to the 16th century and hailing from Northern Germany, Berliner Weisse is a sour and tart wheat beer that has a low alcohol content. Due to its malleable nature, it is most often served with a syrup such as raspberries or Woodruff, so those who drink the beer can sweeten it up to their personal preference.
One theory as to the origin of Berliner Weisse is that it was created by Huguenot protestant refugees, who came across to Germany from France when protestants were in fear of their lives from their Catholic kinsmen in the 17th century.
Along the way, it seems that some became acquainted with the brewing methods of wild fermentation – such as Flanders Red and Brown and Lambics. This wild fermentation is the opposite of the normally carefully cultivated yeast strains most beers used at the time – and the wild fermentation method is what lends a sour, more cidery, powdery taste to the style.
While this is indeed a romantic notion, there’s little to support this historically other than folklore.
The more plausible option is the natural evolution of the traditional Broyhan beer that was famed in Northern Germany. Many brewers likely began trying a new style based on the original methodology with the addition of the lactic acid that provides the thoroughly tart and sour taste of the Berliner Weisse. It grew in fame slowly and really only took off after Napoleon Bonaparte and his army came on the scene in the 19th century and declared Berliner Weisse was the ‘Champagne of the North’.
How Do You Pronounce Berliner Weisse?
While most English speakers pronounce Berliner Weisse as ‘burr-lyn-ahr – whys’, the correct pronunciation is actually ‘Bear-Lean-Er Vice-Eh’.
Is Berliner Weisse A Lager Or An Ale?
Berliner Weisse is classed as an ale. Sadly, like many ales in Europe, it seems to have been on a losing streak to the popularity of lagers over the past few decades. While there were once several hundred producers of it at the turn of the 19th century, fast forward to the present day and you’ll discover that there are currently only two producers of it left within Berlin: Schultheiss and Berliner Kindl – both of whom are owned by the Oetker Group.
What Is The Difference Between A Gose And A Berliner Weisse?
While both Gose and Berliner Weisse can be classed as classic kettle sours, Berliner Weisse is differentiated by being more acidic and as it more often has a lower alcohol content that ranges from a 2.8% – 3.8% alcohol volume. On the other hand, you can tell which is Gose since the beer is less acidic and has a 4.2% – 4.8% alcohol volume. Berliner Weisse is usually served with a sweet syrup alongside it while Gose on the other hand is not.
How Much Berliner Weisse Is Consumed Worldwide? Who Drinks The Most?
When it comes to consuming Berliner Weisse around the world, it’s hard to precisely track exactly which countries consume the most. This is due to the fact that Berliner Weisse’s name is protected, and beers cannot be called Berliner Weisse unless they are created and made in Berlin.
There are ways around it, and it would seem that many countries like America, have numerous neo-Berliner Weisse micro-breweries and craft beer enthusiasts trying their hand at it. As for worldwide consumption of the Berliner Weisse beer: According to Tastewise.io – Berliner Weisse is consumed on average 2.87 times per year and has around 25.41% growth.
How Are Berliner Weisse Beers Made?
Berliner Weisse beer is quite a simple beer to make when compared to far more intricate processes. The fact it’s a kettle sour beer helps since it speeds up the fermentation time.
The main components of a Berliner Weiss beer are pilsner malt, wheat, and lactobacillus and the resulting beer is very pale and very sour. Modern interpretations of Berliner Weiss beer include adding things such as herbs, fruit, hops – and in some places even pastries (the limited-edition Fruit Pie Pastry Berliner Weisse (Key Lime) by Orono Brewing Company). These alternative additions may have strayed from the original recipe, but it has elevated the resulting Berliner Weisse beers into something quite extraordinary.
Does Berliner Weisse Have Hops?
Traditional Berliner Weisse beer does not usually have the bitter characteristics of hops being added – so having a 1 – 5 international bitterness recognition indicates this very low likelihood of hops having been added to it. However, modern styles of Berliner Weisse inspired beers often do include a touch of dry hops within them and this does add a bit more summer fruitiness to the final products.
What Does Berliner Weisse Taste Like?
While Berliner Weisse is usually known for being sour, many don’t realise that this low-alcohol beer is also incredibly refreshing due to its tartness – and the addition of syrups alongside the beer gives a beautiful contrast that can be adjusted to suit many palates, occasions, and seasons.
It truly does bring out the best characteristics of the lactic acid and yeast with a bright, light, zippy zing to it. When unfiltered, the beer is usually quite cloudy, and it is known for being incredibly pale. The taste offers a lemon-like sour hit, which could also be compared to a young, tart apple picked in early spring. If it tastes at all vinegary, however, then the brewer has missed the mark by miles.
How Sour Is Berliner Weisse?
Berliner Weisse is typically quite tart and sour. It has around 3% alcohol volume, and a taste reminiscent of lemons and very young apples.
How To Serve Berliner Weisse? What Kind Of Glass?
Since Berliner Weisse, unlike other beers, often has a flavoured syrup served alongside it, a large bowl-shaped glass is the best way to have it served – so the sweeter syrup such as Waldmeistersirup – aka woodruff – or Himbeersirup – aka raspberry – can be added to it with ease.
Which Breweries Make The Best Berliner Weisse?
Berliner Weisse beer during its heyday had around 700 different breweries producing it. However, at the turn of the 20th century, it was reduced to having only two dedicated breweries left in Berlin, and a bare scattering, more are left around Germany. The two breweries left in Berlin are Schultheiss and Berliner Kindl.
With few options, when it comes down to precisely which brewery makes the best Berliner Weisse, most Germans would agree that the Berliner Kindl Weisse is the winner – especially since it’s the only one that is available at most bars and pubs.
Which Breweries Make The Best Berliner Weisse?
When it comes to producing Berliner Weisse, the name is trademarked, much like Champagne in France is, which means most companies who produce Berliner Weisse beers called them ‘styled’, ‘inspired’, ‘neo’, or any number of similar synonyms. This style of beer has gained popularity with craft beer brewers around the world, especially in the United States of America. Apart from the two Berlin producers, there are six other noteworthy ones to mention.
In America, the top Berliner Weisse styled beers are:
- Stush from J. Wakefield Brewing
- Athena from Creature Comforts Brewing
- Tartuffe from Heretic Brewing
- Oarsman Ale from Bells Brewing
Outside of Berlin’s two producers, there are Berliner Weisse influenced beers available for sale from brewers in Germany. The top options are:
- Berliner Wiesse from Bayerischer Bahnhof
- Berliner Weisse from Brewbaker
What Is The Most Popular Berliner Weisse Brand In The World?
The most popular Berliner Weisse in Germany, Berliner Kindl Weisse deserves a spot on this list. Berliner Kindl once produced traditional Berliner Weisse but the brewery has been taken over by the food giant Oetker Group. Though not exactly a traditional product anymore, Berliner Kindl Weisse is widely consumed in Berlin. It’s often the only Berliner Weisse option available at bars.
What Foods Can You Pair With Berliner Weisse?
Due to the sheer adaptability of Berliner Weisse, it is easy to pair it with numerous dishes. It goes very well with fresh fruit salads, light green salads, lemony fish dishes, crispy Asian-fried spring rolls, and even appetisers like rich oily nuts.
We honestly can’t wait to try pairing a Berliner Weise beer with some lemon and herb Tilapia sometime soon. Though to be honest, it would be far more fun to try drinking it at one of the local pubs in Berlin if we get the chance.
Jake has been a craft beer and homebrew enthusiast since his college days. He loves scouring Europe for unique and unusual hops to add to his beers.
Founder of Jake’s Brew Haven – he currently hosts beer-tasting sessions at select local pubs in Baltimore.
Jump To a Section Below
- What Is Berliner Weisse Beer? What Is The History Of Berliner Weisse?
- How Do You Pronounce Berliner Weisse?
- Is Berliner Weisse A Lager Or An Ale?
- What Is The Difference Between A Gose And A Berliner Weisse?
- How Much Berliner Weisse Is Consumed Worldwide? Who Drinks The Most?
- How Are Berliner Weisse Beers Made?
- Does Berliner Weisse Have Hops?
- What Does Berliner Weisse Taste Like?
- How Sour Is Berliner Weisse?
- How To Serve Berliner Weisse? What Kind Of Glass?
- Which Breweries Make The Best Berliner Weisse?
- Which Breweries Make The Best Berliner Weisse?
- What Is The Most Popular Berliner Weisse Brand In The World?
- What Foods Can You Pair With Berliner Weisse?