Thursday, April 30, 2009


Until Tuesday night, I’d never decided to “give up” on a beer style that wasn’t working for me. No, I’m not a big pilsner drinker, but that’s only because I drank gallons upon gallons of bottom-feeding pilsners during my college years. No, I don’t know a whole lot about lambics, about guezes, about eisbocks. I’m working on those. But I do know what I don’t like: the Berliner Weisse style of beer. As you might expect, this is a German ale that grew up around the Berlin area and was apparently – and inexplicably – very popular at one time, pre-WW1, pre-Weimar, pre-Hitler. Wikipedia’s got all sorts of information about ‘em, as does this link.

I bought a TELEGRAPH BREWING RESERVE WHEAT ALE the other day and was pretty psyched to get going on it. It’s from TELEGRAPH – one of my favorite brewers on the planet. The afternoon before I’d set a date and time to drink what I thought was going to be some specially-formulated, weird-ass wheat beer, I read this post on SUMMER OF BEER, who hipped me to what it actually said on that bottle I’d procured:

This intensely sour "wild ale" recalls the earliest rustic beers crafted centuries ago before brewers had an understanding of controlled fermentation. Brewed with the addition of lemon verbena, as well as lactobacillus and brettanomyces, Telegraph Reserve Wheat is an all-together different beast from modern beer. Not for the faint of heart, this special brew is available in extremely limited quantities.

Now folks, I’m not “the faint of heart”. I’m a hearty, strapping, meat-eating American male with a love of grog, grub and wild adventures. But I can’t stand this stuff, nor the other Berliner Weisse-style beers I’ve tried before this one (another Santa Barbara-area brewer called ISLAND BREWING made one that I once savaged here). This is an ultra lemon-heavy, thin-bodied sour and very, very wild ale. You drink this when you’ve tried everything else. But does one really drink this for enjoyment? Really? I definitely love the pound-the-chest feeling that comes from throwing down a sour beer or a super-high ABV coffee imperial porter or whatever, but I can’t imagine ever buying another Berliner Weisse beer when life, such as it is, is so fleeting and filled with opportunity. If Telegraph can’t make one that gets me all excited, then I don’t know who can. Hedonist Beer Jive Rating: Totally unratable.


Steve said...

LOL! Well, if you ever are in the Bruery area, make sure you try theirs too, just to see. It's a bit different than the Telegraph one, it's not really wild at all like the telegraph you say, and it's top notch drinking.

BJR said...

Don't give up on the style until you try The Bruery's version. I had the Telegraph version on tap at Toronado SD and didn't like it much either.

Get a growler of the Hottenroth, go somewhere where it's not always overcast and dreary, and you'll love it. Light, mildly sour, refreshing, and packed with flavor for a 3.2% abv beer.

Steve said...

oh yeah, just to throw in an extra comment here, this Telegraph here isn't even really a traditional Berliner Weisse, since Brett is not traditionally used in the style. That's why the Bruery one is so good. A little tart, very light, but not funky since there's no Brett.

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