Now having made my way across the border from Poland to Germany, I have had the opportunity to delve into the beers that most Americans are likely to never see (and if you do, you are pretty darn lucky). While in Berlin, if you even remotely are fond of beer, you must try Berliner-weisse. While the beer itself is naturally quite sour, the Germans like to add syrups to the beer to beef up the sweetness. In the photo, you can see an example of the rot and lila versions (raspberry and cassis, respectively). Some places even offer a green version of the Berliner-weisse that is well worth trying. Berliner-weisse is fairly low in alcohol content and this makes for the perfect summer afternoon treat.
At one time there were more than 700 breweries brewing Berliner-weisse in Germany. Those numbers have plummeted over the years and now only a select breweries still produce the traditional Berlin favorite. Now, you do not necessarily have to fly all the way to Berlin to get a taste of this amazing beer. In fact, in the states, Dogfish head brews up a fantastic substitute for the original Berliner-weisse. What makes the Dogfish head version unique is that it comes with peach concentrate added to the bottle. Why is the interesting? Well, in Germany, the Reinheitsgebot controls what may or may not be called “beer”. In fact, any drink that contains more than just yeast, water, hops, malt, and/or wheat cannot be called beer. Thus, the peche from Dogfish head is not technically a beer by German standards. What this means in Germany is that the Berliner-weisse is produced as a plain sour beer so that it CAN be called a beer. The fruit additives just bring down the sourness and add a lovely touch of sweetness.
When it comes to pairing with food. There is nothing more fitting than sausage and potatoes. A very traditional German dish is bratwurst and mashed potatoes. I was lucky enough to find a quaint, traditional German restaurant just about a mile west of the Brandenburg gate to get my fair share of this dish paired with the Berliner-weisse. There are few things more German than Berliner-weisse, brats, and potatoes.
Beyond Berlin lies an entire nation full of unique beer creations. You will find everything from your hefeweizens to dunkles and beyond. When it comes down to it, you just cannot go wrong with any beer in Germany. Even if you are not a huge beer fan, I am sure that you will find the uniqueness of the hefeweizens to certainly please your palette. The wonderful clove and banana notes revive your taste buds and make you begging for more. One of my personal favorites comes from Schneider and Sohns. However, most hefeweizens are fantastic.
So while obtaining a Berlin tradition in the united states may leave you on a hunt for Peche from Dogfish head, the world of beers brewed in Germany bring unique, complex flavors that can be found nearly everywhere in the states. And, when it comes a good hearty German meal, there are few things better than German beers.