Thursday, May 29, 2014

A Couple of German-Style Tarts to Press to Your Lips this Weekend in Oshkosh

Mention sour beer and people tend to think of Belgium. But sours have never been exclusive to the Belgians. Every great brewing culture has, at one time or another, made a place for acidic beers on their bill of fare. English porters of the 1800s were known to be quite tart and in Germany there were a host of sour ales that were once popular regional styles. In America, sour beer is thriving and today we have a couple of Midwest-made sours that take their cue from the Deutschland of old.

New Glarus Berliner Weiss
It’s back and, once again, it’s nearly perfect. I quaffed a lot of this last summer and hope to do the same this year. This is a gently sour wheat ale based upon the Berliner Weisse style that was all the rage in 19th century Berlin. The beer pours to a hazy straw color under a voluminous head of stark-white foam. A bright, lemony aroma races up from the cup and follows into the sip. This is an especially effervescent beer with a palette of fruit (green pear, green apple, white grape) flavors that come rushing by and then get swept off by a refreshing tartness that makes for a crisp clean finish. For warm-weather drinking, there’s just nothing better than this. New Glarus doesn't list the ABV on the bottle, but I’d be surprised if it’s more than 4%. Berliner Weiss is currently available in 4-packs of 12 oz. bottles at Gardina's and at the Jackson St. Pick 'n Save. I imagine it won't be long before you see this popping up at a few of the other beer depots around town.

August Schell North Country Brünette
Here’s something I’ve never tried before. Hell, I haven’t even heard of this sort of beer before. According to Schell's website, this is “a Märzen Weisse. There is very little information that remains about this beer, as it has been extinct for many years now.” We’ll have to take their word for it (for now). Regardless, this is a delicious beer. It drops from the bottle cloudy and brown with a big, rocky head of khaki foam. A sweet, milk-sour aroma hovers over the glass that's interesting enough to stop you for a moment before diving in. The mouthfeel is light, but creamy with the flavors see-sawing between sweet and sour. It reminds me of a tart jam made from sweet, dark fruits. The sourness is easy going, but firm enough to balance the beer. This would be a great beer for the next time you want something complex, but not overbearing. At 5.4% ABV it’s appropriate for anytime of day. The only place you’ll find this anywhere near here is at Gardina’s where you'll see it in the packaged beer section in 750ml corked and caged bottles.

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