Find me a beer similar to Golden Road Berliner Weisse
November 22, 2013 9:37 PM   Subscribe

What beer can I easily find that will be closest to Golden Road's Berliner Weisse?

I had dinner at Abbot's Cellar in San Francisco recently and asked the waiter for the "most wine-like beer" they had on their mindbogglingly long beer menu. I was given a glass of Golden Road's Berliner Weisse and it was awesome. I've had lots of other weiss/hefeweizen beers before but this was a whole 'nother ballgame. It was fresh and citrusy and complex and delicious. I usually don't care much for beer but will drink it on occasion. This i would drink all the time but it's a limited release and only available at the brewery in LA (and I guess this restaurant in SF). So what can I buy in the store that's closest to the flavor profile?
posted by otherwordlyglow to Food & Drink (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I can't give a specific recommendation, but note that the Berlinerweisse style is *not* a typical Weissbier. There are a number of beers labeled "Berliner Wei├če" out there; they're typically a summer beer - low abv, crisp, a bit sour, refreshing.
posted by notsnot at 10:05 PM on November 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

Berliner weisse is a particular style of mild, wheat-containing sour beer. A sour beer with Lactobacillus might give you more of the sour character you're looking for, Brettanomyces and Pediococcus will add more of a funky flavor and aroma that might fall into the complex flavor you're looking for, or you might find un-appealing. Wild-yeasted sours can be more unpredictable.

Unfortunately, the complexity, unpredictability, and need for aging time and often wooden barrels to age in makes many sour beers much more limited in availability. They are often only distributed more locally (not nationally) and are often available for a limited time. I would look into different styles of sour beer and into local breweries that offer sours and try their seasonal offerings. I'm more familiar with Colorado breweries that make good sours (Funkwerks, Crooked Stave, Trinity, etc.), but Russian River is a large brewery near you known for their sours (as well as IPAs). Many of those will be stronger than a Berliner weisse, but may share some of the tartness and complexity you liked.

Good luck!
posted by JiBB at 10:18 PM on November 22, 2013

Get thee to a decent beer store and by a selection of Belgian ales. They are usually much more sour and wine lik etc per the above. A lambic is a type of belgian beer made with so-called volunteer yeast which are extra delish and probably closeest in fkavor profile. If you'd enjoy a fruit note raspberry lambic (or kriek lambic on the bottle) has raspberries chucked in.

The Belgian beers are going to be "heavier" by a good measure but I think if sour beers or what beer is most wine-like is your gateway the the Belgian beers will be a good match for those concepts. And they're mass market enough to find a variety cheap enough to explore PLUS they're almost universally sold as singles so you don't have to commit to 4 or 6 to try one....

posted by chasles at 5:17 AM on November 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

I really need to proof read better on my phone during preview.
posted by chasles at 5:18 AM on November 23, 2013

Berliner Weisse is a style that brewers will usually only do on a limited basis. Heretic sells Tartuffe in the summer. The Bruery sells Hottenroth on occasion as well.
posted by mkb at 5:25 AM on November 23, 2013

Festina Peche is Dogfish Head's so-called "neo-Berliner Weisse". It's my favorite beer, though it tends to be in stores only in the summer.
posted by unknowncommand at 6:30 AM on November 23, 2013

Best answer: There's a spectrum of sour funkiness among Berliner Weisses. According to this beer's "Beer Advocate" review page, this one's extremely tart but not super funky. So you have a great tolerance for tartness, but unproven tolerance for funk. Sour beers can be found at all extremes of both these axes.

Good news: sour beer is an incipient trend. You'll be seeing more and more. And it is indeed something beer-dislikers often enjoy. Be aware that Berliner Weisse isn't the only sour beer style; there are lots of others. "Sours" is sort of the overarching descriptor these days. So you might want to adjust from thinking you like Berliner Weisse to self-identifying as a fan of sour beer. You're in very good's some of the best stuff!

Nobody makes better sours than Russian River in Santa Rosa, CA. Some are more or less funky. We still don't really know your funk tolerance/appreciation, so that's something to suss out. Know that the main source of funk in sour beer is brettanomyces ("bret"), a yeast that gives a range of flavors (depending on how it's used) ranging from tangy/pineapple to funky gym socks (in a good way). As you drink sours, you'll get familiar with it.

Moving forward, you need to explore the sour beers from The Bruery in Orange County. The good ones come in tall bottles, and they're pricey (ranging from $10 to $30) but worth it. Sour in the Rye is an excellent choice. But cheaper, and more like the beer you just tried, is their Berliner Weisse, called Hottenroth. I think that may become your go-to beer (and, like all Berliner Weisses, it's very low alcohol, so you can enjoy without getting sloppy). You can find these beers in any real good beer shop (to find one locally, try this search engine, or, if you live in a covered area, you can check availability of any beer in local stores and bars at BeerMenus).

This is all just a start. Again, there are lots of sour beers out there, and many more to come. If you don't like one, don't be turned off to the whole range; it's like anything: there's good and bad, and stuff that more or less pleases your palate. Enjoy your position of just beginning to enjoy something that's on the way to becoming a mainstream fascination!
posted by Quisp Lover at 9:36 AM on November 23, 2013

PS: Just noticed Hottenroth and Russian River were mentioned earlier. Sorry I didn't read responses first.

Beware neo Berliner Weisses and flavored Berliner Weisses. The crispness you liked about the one you tried will be less apparent in such beers.

Also, if you'll let us know where you live, maybe we can offer local suggestions (and where-to-buy tips).
posted by Quisp Lover at 9:39 AM on November 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Yes, it was definitely tart but crisp. I'm probably not too interested in the funky ones.

On the restaurant's menu it was included in the Sour section of the beers. I'll definitely keep my eyes open for other sours, especially when summer comes around again. (I'm in San Francisco).
posted by otherwordlyglow at 1:56 PM on November 23, 2013

One thing to be aware of: sours are especially susceptible to having ear flavors thrown off by temperature problems. Most bottles in bars are way too cold. Try to warm up frigid ones 15 mins before opening and pouring.
posted by Quisp Lover at 8:08 PM on November 23, 2013

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