Sunday, May 9, 2010

Sunday Suds: New Glarus Berliner Weiss

No wonder this struck me as so wine-y when I stuck my nose in my glass.... I didn't know it at the time but I'm now reading on the New Glarus Brewing Company website that their "Unplugged" Berliner Weiss, based on a mash of Wisconsin White Wheat, was indeed fermented with both Riesling and Pinot Gris grapes included in the barrel. The damn beer reminded me of something I'd had in my wine glass before. Actually, a cross between a couple of things. Namely, Thierry Puzelat Romorantin and Movia Lunar, with all the citrusy, zesty, floral and herbal intensity of the two, but minus the mineral depth of the former and the slightly oxidative character of them both. This was all about freshness and savor. I'm not sure it's exactly a typical example of the berliner weisse style but in this case I really didn't care. I was so tasty that, man, I could have kept on drinking it all night.

I asked my friend Jeff, who'd wheeled it along to dinner in response to my recent plaint about the absence of acidity in most beers, to bring me back a case on his next trip to Wisconsin. It seems, he told me, that little if any of New Glarus' production leaves Wisconsin. Exacerbating those logistical issues, it turns out that the "Unplugged" series of beers produced by New Glarus brewmaster Dan Carey are essentially one-offs, brews made on a whim and with wild abandon, with little or no promise of repetition.

Brewed with top-fermenting yeasts (five different strains in this case) along with the addition of lactobacillus culture, the berliner weisse style usually has a refreshingly tart, citric character. In Germany as well as here in the States, berliner weisse is often served with the addition of raspberry syrup (red) or woodruff syrup (green) to cut the beer's tartness. But please, no sweet'n'sticky stuff when it comes to the New Glarus version. This beer is way too good in its unadulterated and, dare I say, unplugged form.

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