Thursday, April 5, 2012

Bayerischer Bahnhof - Berliner Weisse Brettanomyces Lambicus Review

Brewery: Gasthaus & Gosebrauerei Bayerischer Bahnhof (GER)
Style: Berliner Weisse / Sour Beer
ABV: 3%
Grade: A-

Man, what fun typing out this beer's name — not so much a name, even, as a succinct description. But that very literal name is exactly why I picked up this beer, so hey, it worked. I'm not sure how many people other than sour-beer-nerd homebrewers would get instantly excited upon spotting a Berliner Weisse brewed with Brettanomyces (and actually brewed in Germany!), but hell, this isn't the kind of beer you stumble across every day. I still have a few questions, of course, like how was the Brettanomyces used — was it aged with Brett, was it a 100% Brett fermentation, was it... okay, fine, too nerdy? The review. Right.

And, whoa. This is easily the best Berliner Weisse I've had so far. Better than even some full-fledged sours. This style is typically handicapped by its sour mash methodology, which produces a more one-dimensional and far less interesting sourness than a long-aged wild ale. Berliner Weisse tend to have a flavor that is technically sour... but just not the same. This one, though — well, I don't know how they did it, but the sourness is full-fledged and intense; as mouth-puckering as most lambics I've had. The complexity of flavor still isn't up to the standards of a lambic, but it's far more interesting than I've had in any of its peers.

The aroma suggests a typical Berliner Weisse — it's got that earthy, grainy, bacterial sour mash smell. But take the first sip, and boom. Sour. Flavor. Acidity. Lemon. Prickly. Puckery. Sour. There's no moment where the biting, mouth-puckering acidity falls away to reveal a cheap, un-complex facade; the flavor is filling and genuine, and holds up into the aftertaste and beyond. If anything, it improves, growing more complex the longer you hold it in your mouth. I imagine the Brett is helping there, adding something to the back-end the other sour mash / Berliner Weisse style beers just can't compete with. But Brett itself doesn't explain how sour this beer is to begin with, because the Brett character is never more than a suggestion, a background hint of funk. There are multiple methods of making a Berliner Weisse, too complicated to get into here, but whatever they did, it works.

Availability: This one was kind of hard to find — good luck. 11 ounce bottles.

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