Style Details

Ber­li­ner Weisse
Euro­pean Sour Ale
BJCP Style Code
23 A
Very pale straw in color. Cla­ri­ty ran­ges from clear to some­what hazy. Lar­ge, den­se, white head with poor reten­ti­on. Always effervescent.
A shar­ply sour cha­rac­ter is domi­nant (mode­ra­te to modera­te­ly-high). Can have up to a modera­te­ly frui­ty cha­rac­ter (often lem­o­ny or tart apple). The frui­tin­ess may increase with age and a light flowery cha­rac­ter may deve­lop. No hop aro­ma. The wheat may pre­sent as uncoo­ked bread dough in fres­her ver­si­ons; com­bi­ned with the aci­di­ty, may sug­gest sourdough bread. May optio­nal­ly have a res­trai­ned fun­ky Brett­anomy­ces character.
Clean lac­tic sourness domi­na­tes and can be quite strong. Some com­ple­men­ta­ry doug­hy, brea­dy or grai­ny wheat fla­vor is gene­ral­ly noti­ceable. Hop bit­ter­ness is unde­tec­ta­ble; sourness pro­vi­des the balan­ce rather than hops. Never vin­ega­ry. A res­trai­ned citru­sy-lem­o­ny or tart apple frui­tin­ess may be detec­ted. Very dry finish. Balan­ce domi­na­ted by sourness, but some malt fla­vor should be pre­sent. No hop fla­vor. May optio­nal­ly have a res­trai­ned fun­ky Brett­anomy­ces character. 
Light body. Very high car­bo­na­ti­on. No sen­sa­ti­on of alco­hol. Crisp, jui­cy acidity.
Over­all Impression
A very pale, refres­hing, low-alco­hol Ger­man wheat beer with a clean lac­tic sourness and a very high car­bo­na­ti­on level. A light bread dough malt fla­vor sup­ports the sourness, which shouldn’t seem arti­fi­ci­al. Any Brett­anomy­ces funk is restrained.
Typi­cal Ingredients
Wheat malt con­tent is typi­cal­ly 50% of the grist (as is tra­di­ti­on with all Ger­man wheat beers) with the rema­in­der typi­cal­ly being Pils­ner malt. A sym­bio­tic fer­men­ta­ti­on with top-fer­men­ting yeast and Lac­to­ba­cil­lus (various strains) pro­vi­des the sharp sourness, which may be enhan­ced by blen­ding of beers of dif­fe­rent ages during fer­men­ta­ti­on and by exten­ded cool aging. Hop bit­ter­ness is non-exis­tent. Decoc­tion mas­hing with mash hop­ping is tra­di­tio­nal. Ger­man bre­wing sci­en­tists belie­ve that Brett­anomy­ces is essen­ti­al to get the cor­rect fla­vor pro­fi­le, but this cha­rac­ter is never strong.
A regio­nal spe­cial­ty of Ber­lin; refer­red to by Napoleon’s tro­ops in 1809 as “the Cham­pa­gne of the North” due to its lively and ele­gant cha­rac­ter. At one point, it was smo­ked and the­re used to be Märzen-strength (14 °P) ver­si­on. Incre­asing­ly rare in Ger­man, but some Ame­ri­can craft bre­we­ries now regu­lar­ly pro­du­ce the style.
In Ger­ma­ny, it is clas­si­fied as a Schank­bier denot­ing a small beer of start­ing gra­vi­ty in the ran­ge 7-8 °P. Often ser­ved with the addi­ti­on of a shot of sugar syrups (mit schuss) fla­vor­ed with raspber­ry (him­beer), wood­ruff (wald­meis­ter), or Cara­way schnapps (Küm­mel) to coun­ter the sub­stan­ti­al sourness. Has been descri­bed by some as the most purely refres­hing beer in the world.
Com­mer­cial Examples
Baye­ri­scher Bahn­hof Ber­li­ner Style Weis­se, Ber­li­ner Kindl Weis­se, Nod­ding Head Ber­li­ner Weis­se, The Bruery Hottenroth
Ori­gi­nal Gravity
1.028 - 1.032 SG
Final Gra­vi­ty
1.003 - 1.006 SG
2 - 3 SRM
2.0 - 3.0 %vol
3 - 8 IBU