Friday, August 10, 2012

What to Drink This Weekend: Full Sail Chris's Summer Delight Berliner Weiss

Posted By on Fri, Aug 10, 2012 at 9:30 AM

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Photo Robert Caputo

By now you've probably seen Full Sail's Session lineup around town—those excellent Oregonian lagers that come in short, stumpy throwback bottles like so many American beers used to. They were early examples of what beer enthusiasts now call "session" beers—easy-drinking, low alcohol brews that lend themselves to extended stays at the bar. Really they function like a case of Bud Light, but the distinction is usually reserved for light, easily-drinkable beer with more interesting flavor. Something that won't offend the craft beer contingent.

The “session” descriptor might be relatively new to American beer menus, but cultures supportive of all-day boozing have long-brewed light yet flavorful beer which postpones passing out until a socially acceptable hour. Case and point: even Guinness is only 4.2%. Germans aren't averse to prolonged consumption either, and 500 or so years ago a light and lemony style later deemed the Berliner Weisse caught on in Northern Germany. Apparently it was hugely popular for a time, and Napoleon once called it the "Champagne of the North." By the late 20th century there were only two producers left. The Pilsner may have done it in. But the Berliner Weisse has re-emerged with all of this rampant craft-brewing.

As part of their Brewer's Share small batch series, Full Sail recently started bottling their take on the style, expanding their repertoire of session-able beers. Chris's Summer Delight is unfiltered—hence the cloudiness—low in strength at 4% ABV and brewed with 50% wheat malt for a light, refreshing body. And like the originals, it's intensely tart. There's a huge lemony nose and even more citrus on tasting—you have to like lemon to like this beer. But the acidity is balanced with a mild sweetness for an awesome, enjoyable summer beverage.

Chris's Summer Delight is a session for sour beer fans. If you're unfamiliar with sours, this is a perfectly light introduction to those puckering brews. And if you're in the "beer should taste like beer" camp, which I entirely get, add a dash of traditional raspberry syrup for something close to a weirdly good, lightly fruited pale ale. Or figure out what woodruff is. Per Wikipedia: an aromatic perennial used to flavor wine, Berliner Weisse beer and savory dishes which deer tend to avoid.

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Bret Stetka

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