We here at Deadspin are not a trendy lot. We prefer to honor the timeless beauty of the classics instead of mindlessly following this or that faulty prophet with his new hop-bursting techniques or euphemisms for “replacing half of your beer with powdered lemonade.” Plus, we don’t always learn so good, which makes it safer to focus on more established beer styles.
This is why we still trot out at least one new IPA a week. Will the next one have a “firm malt backbone”? Or will it feature a “heavy citrus aroma, mostly grapefruit but I guess some orange too”? Will we go all out and suggest similarities to tropical fruits we’ve never eaten? “If this doesn’t taste like passion fruit, then I don’t know what does (a passion fruit, probably, if that’s a real thing)!”
But even though I tend to favor lame old pale ales and pilsners, I am disappointed that one of last year’s most popular trend predictions seems not to have come to pass. A lot of beer-world insiders promised we’d be up to our beards in Berliner Weisse this summer, but that hasn’t been the case, at least not in my beer stores, at least not yet. Bigger, bolder, markedly more expensive sour styles are still gaining steam, but I haven’t seen as many $12 six-packs of slightly tart, lower alcohol, German-inspired wheat beer as I’d hoped.
As Boulevard Brewing’s Jeremy Danner cranked just this morning, it’s time to stop referring to “sour beer” as a single category, as sourness is an attribute that can be imparted to any style. Boulevard, for instance, has recently imparted it into their $22-per-goddamn-bottle Love Child No. 5, a fantastic beer that is, nonetheless, not what we were promised this summer. We already had plenty of buck-an-ounce aged, blended, and boozy sours. But alas, as far as I can tell, most of the people who were supposed to be making us Berliner Weisse this summer are still busy pumping out session IPAs and shandies.
Not the handsome souls at Central New York’s Ithaca Beer Company. Their Cayuga Cruiser Berliner Weisse is complex enough to command your full attention, with an aroma of sourdough bread smeared with expensive, resolutely tart lemon yogurt, as the lactobacillus used in addition to the Ithaca house yeast is very present throughout. A strong, clean wheat flavor comes through beneath the bracing, minerally tartness, adding depth and balance to this 4.2-percent ABV all-day chugger.
Cayuga Cruiser is scheduled to disappear in the fall, so grab some now, and then tell every brewer who’ll listen that we’re all set on shandies; we can mix PBR with Country Time by ourselves. Next summer, dang it, we want our Berliner Weisse flood.
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Image by Jim Cooke.
Will Gordon loves life and tolerates dissent. He lives in Cambridge, Mass., and some of his closest friends have met Certified Cicerones. Find him on Twitter @WillGordonAgain.