Thursday, April 12, 2012

Bell's - Oarsman Berliner Weisse Review

Brewery: Bell's (MI)
Style: Berliner Weisse / Sour Beer
ABV: 4%
Grade: B+

It's odd to me that a major brewery in the United States (regional, but still pretty major) bottles a Berliner Weisse in sixpacks. Well done, Bell's — yours is the only one I've ever seen packaged thusly. There are a few obscure German producers of Berliner Weisse, all of which are hard to find even in good beer stores. Some smaller breweries / brewpubs make one (such as Peekskill Brewery, which anyone in the lower Hudson Valley area should check out.) So basically, having this rare, neglected style available in sixpacks for a standard sixpack price is awesome.

Berliner Weisse, as a style, feature a fairly mild sourness compared to others (lambics, Flanders, etc.) It's more of a sour-accented tartness, smoothing out and drying out, the wheat beer base. I judge Berliner's by how thirst quenching they are, like a glass of lemonade in summer, and Oarsman hits the spot. The tartness and acidity are where they should be. Not the most interesting, not as forward as in some German examples, but not superficial either — this is a dry, crisp, thirst quenching beer. The "funk" from the Lacto is mild, but nice. Maybe a bit flabby on the backend —Oarsman's trails off where it should add some lingering complexity. The carbonation, too, could be a bit higher, to add some effervescence. But that's me being a stickler for the complex and obscure; as a session beer, this is much more interesting than most.

Oarsman is a mild, pleasant, agreeable beer; great for summer months, as a Berliner should be. This is about as accessible as anything sour is going to get — good thing it's in sixpacks.

Availability: Sixpacks! Yep! Bell's doesn't actually distribute to New York, but you can find this in Pennsylvania, and probably most of the states around the mid-west.

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