Style: American Weisse w/Strawberry
FG: 1˚ Plato
Malts: North American 2-Row, Wheat
Hops: Saaz (for both First Wort and Whirlpool additions)
Yeast: WLP-300 Hefeweizen Ale
Other Ingredients: Natural Strawberry Puree, Lactobacillus
Brewer’s Note: “Our first Berliner Weiss was brewed in the winter of 2008 just as the “ice storm of the century” glazed a very large portion of the Northeast. New Hampshire was hit particularly hard, with 400,000 customers losing power, including Smuttynose. Our plan for the beer was to divide the batch in two, a small lactic fermentation and a large, traditional yeast fermentation that would then be blended back together. Thanks to poor timing, we lost power right as the yeast batch was at the peak of fermentation, causing a massive temperature spike which filled the beer with headache-inducing fusel alcohols. The large yeast portion had to be dumped, leaving only seven or so barrels of bacterial ferment. Running a clever bootleg, our brewers added a healthy slug of ale yeast to complete the fermentation while bags and bags of organic strawberries followed a few weeks later. The batch was kegged off and distributed with little fanfare./ When our packaging manager asked about revisiting this for his wedding beer (Congratulations, Chris and Emily!), everyone who remembered the first batch got really excited. We hope you’ll get to try it and see why.”
The beer’s label is not my favorite from Smuttynose. I have come to really love the photograph labels of Smuttynose’s regular beers, but the Short Batch series with its “film reel-esque” feel and washed out background don’t quite capture the eye. I love the font and text layout, and the minimalism of the label, but the background is too dull. I’m not positive it’s this particular labels background color, but I think that is what is throwing off this particular label for me. The bottle is rare, which has some saving value, but overall it is a bit boring and mundane, especially compared with other Smuttynose label offerings.
The beer pours a cloudy, pinkish yellow with a very deep, opaque murk and medium sized head of soft white bubbles that slowly filter away to a scrim. The strawberries in the beer seem to give it a bit more viscosity than the traditional Berliner Weisse. On the nose, the beer smells of plastic with strong twinges of strawberry jam and chalk. The plastic is fresh and strays towards paint-like scents as you throw your nose into it. Light citric acidity can also be sensed on the nose. The strawberry, when it shines through is delicious and fresh, but the plastic scents get in the way. On the tongue, the beer tastes softly tart with strong fruit-sweetness and a sweet wheat flake finish. The sweetness is kept nicely in line by the citric acidity. Bitterness is little to nonexistent. In flavor, the beer begins with tart lactic lemon, chalk, and a touch of the plastic from the scent. This plastic, however, quickly morphs into unripe strawberries, then fresh picked strawberries, and then strawberry jam with a strong wheat flake flavor in the finish. Light lemon does stick with the flavor, as well as a touch of orange juice, giving this beer a delicious, citrus-fruit juice feel to it. The strawberry on the finish lasts beautifully on the tongue and even lingers in the aftertaste, which is sublime as far fruit flavors in beer go. In the mouth, the beer feels medium in body, with a soft effervescence and a creamy mouthfeel that nearly reminds me of fresh fruit juice. The mouth is left clean and slightly wet from the acidity. Overall, this is a hell of an American Weisse, and a hell of a fruit beer. The strawberry flavors are fresh, and develop with the sip, and the acidity is completely under control, helping to add to the beer instead of killing all the other flavors. This beer is a fine example of the balance an American/Fruited Weisse should have. The plastic aroma is a little off-putting, but the flavor more than makes up for it. This is a beer to try, and hopefully it is brewed again.
4.33/5, 41/50 BJCP, A in Style