Beer Man is a weekly profile of beers from across the country and around the world.
This week: Pearl-Iner Weisse
Pearl Street Brewery, La Crosse, Wis.
It was only natural that an offshoot of the sour beer craze over the last several years from American breweries would include the Berliner weisse style from Germany.
The style is a mix of pilsner and wheat malt, soured with lactobacillus yeast. If you have ever had a typical weissbier, think of having one that is extremely tart and the sugars downplayed.
When I originally had Berliner weisse beers, I found them too tart to drink without adding fruit syrup. However, after having numerous sour beers the last few years, my palate has become more accustomed to the sourness and I find I can enjoy some of the Berliner weisse beers without any additives. Pearl Street Pearl-Iner Weisse is a good example.
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The aroma was of fresh grain and slightly earthy yeast. Its most remarkable aspect was the insane cascade of bubbles swirling from the bottom of the glass to the top — it made the foamy head look like it was boiling.
The 4.5% ABV beer was a straw color with the flavor, as expected, very tart and sour, but not really vinegary, with lemon-citrus notes. The carbonation was spritzy and tongue tickling.
Although I just bought my 22-ounce bottle of Pearl-Iner a couple of weeks ago, it is apparently at the end of its cycle; however, a new batch is brewing as you read this and will be shipping in August.
By the way, the reason for the image of John F. Kennedy on the label is because of his line, “Ich bin ein Berliner.”
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Pearl Street Brewery is a fine brewery that makes especially good stouts (one enhanced with oat and another with coffee). I have no idea of the quality of its Bedwetter Barleywine, but just from the name, it sounds like it has potential.
The brewery has distribution in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin; its Beer Finder link is here.
Another good Berliner weisse is Terreux Hottenroth from The Breury. It is significantly lighter than Pearl-Iner at 3.1% ABV, but has a similar fresh grain malt profile and healthy carbonation, with the main difference being a more pronounced lemon background.
The brewery’s beers are available in about 29 states and its Beer Finder link is here.
Many beers are available only regionally. Check the brewer’s website, which often contains information on product availability by mail. Contact Todd Haefer at [email protected] To read previous Beer Man columns, click here.
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