Posts Tagged ‘Berliner Weisse’


I have visited Berlin repeatedly over the last decade, and there has been interesting beers to seek out, particularly among the brewpubs scattered around the city. At the same time, the industrial brews generally available are not all that interesting, and there are juste echoes of the old brewing heritage of the city. The Berliner Weisse that the waiter poured over syrup in your glass now comes pre-blended in bottles. But while the old is not very present, the new is moving in, and things are happening fast.

Sometimes I travel primarily for beer (and beer writing), sometimes it’s business or family holidays. This time it was the latter, meaning limited time to seek out new bars and new breweries. But I still have a few nuggets to share with you, and even a suggestion for a day out.


While Berlin has not yet seen the staggering number of breweries you can find in London, the number has been growing fast. Ratebeer lists a bewildering number of contract breweries, but there are still a few dozen bricks and mortar operations scattered around the city. Some of them have their won brewery taps, others are to be found in specialist beer bars and shops – or just in restaurants  and shops where they have managed to get in. The most concrete example of small scale – well, they call it craft in German as well, they are surprisingly eager to adapt English words – beer finding new markets is in the restaurant and bar of one of the Berlin landmarks – the TV Tower at Alexanderplatz. Three beers from contract brewery BrewfactuM are not only listed, but they are given a whole page of descriptions in the menu, a bit inaccurately identified as a Berlin brewery, but you can’t get it all right the first time. Pity I was there having breakfast…


One place close to Alexanderplatz to have a beer is Kaschk.  I’m pretty sure there is Norwegian ownership here, they have a strong selection of Scandinavian beer, and the name is a phonetic spelling of the nickname of the staple drink of Norwegians – coffee, sugar and home distilled alcohol. Never mind, they are open at lunchtime, and there are always some local beers on tap, too. Very studenty at midday, taking advantage of free wifi and decently priced coffee.

Ten minutes away is a charming second hand bookshop, dedicated to cookery books and related items. Bibliotheca Culinaria, but it is far more gemütlich than its pretentious name. It’s an Aladdin’s cave of food books,  including publications from the DDR. Some shelves of beer and brewery books, too, well worth browsing into.

And a piece of advice if you want to open a pub: Instead of buying the interior from someone who makes replicas of English or Oirish pubs, go here and buy their selection of original beer mugs. There were at least fifty different ones on display, including a number of fine ones with pewter lids on sale for ten Euro a piece. I am sure this is a good place if you are looking for more rare beer books, too. Thanks a lot to Micromaid for the tip!

That’s all for to today. But stay tuned. There is a side street beer shop with friendly natives, Stone Berlin – and a 30 liter beer glass coming up.


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There are beers which claim to hail back to the beginning of time, or at least a millennium or so. And they have probably been brewing at the Weienstephan hill in Freising since Ninehundredandsomething. But I don’t think the beer has stayed the same. The brewery has been an educational institution for a long time, for example, and I’m sure the yeast is of a more controllable kind now than they were in the Dark Ages.

No, I think we have to look for more extreme beers to be able to drink liquid history.

Berliner Weisse is one of these extremes – a sour wheat beer.

One reason I think this may be a kind of ur-beer is that this sourness was how they used to brew it, but they did not necessarily like to drink it that way. Like the Belgian sweetening their lambic with candy sugar to create a faro, the burghers of Berlin sweetened theirs sour beer with fruit syrups.

And this was done in cafes. If you are asking for a Berliner Weisse, the waiter will answer you: Mit Schuss? The syrup is then added in the glass. The famous traffic light were the three varieties – the yellow beer without addition, the red with raspberry syrup, the green with woodruff, Waldmeister in German. The versions with the syrup in the bottle are more recent additions.

Low in alcohol, at 3%, these were summer refreshers. According to Michael Jackson, there used to be stronger versions available, and they probably spiked them with stronger stuff, too. Maybe a shot of Jägermeister?

Is it any good? It is not difficult to understand that this has gone out of fashion. It is an acquired taste. Midway between a Bavarian wheat and a Belgian lambic is a way to describe it. The citrus flavour is bordering on vinegar, but it is a sourness that is very refreshing if you like that kind of thing.

There used to be a number of brewers making it, as far as I know there is now only one major brewer and the odd micro brewery producing it. The glass in the photo is from a Berlin visit many years ago. Schultheiss does not make any Weisse any longer.

And how does it taste with the schuss? The woodruff mix is sweet and sour, and it not resemble beer at all. There is a minty toothpaste flavor here, which I frankly would not seek out frequently even if I had the opportunity.

The pink version tastes overwhelmingly of raspberry syrup. A beer to have with ice cream if there ever was one.

There are micros around the globe that make similar beers. But if you want the authentic stuff, I think you should grab it if you have the opportunity.

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