This past summer (which started in April in Las Vegas) I was really into beers that were lower in alcohol, and preferably, a bit sour. These beers are perfect for Las Vegas summers. The lower alcohol means a lighter body, which increases drinkability and adds a nice refreshing quality to it.
Sour beers are a bit of another story, but if it’s a little tart, and low in alcohol, it has even more refreshing qualities to it. Think of lemonade, for example.
Berliner Weisse beers fit this description perfectly. Here’s a quick run down: German origins, features around 50% wheat in the ingredients list (much like a hefeweizen), low alcohol (traditionally under 4%), and a little bit of tartness. Napoleon’s troops referred to this style as “Champagne of the north” (according to the BJCP). Champagne is a fair description. Mimosa may be a little bit more accurate.
If you are new to sour beers. Berliner Weisse would be a good starting point. The tartness comes from the lactic acid cultures that are used in the fermentation process. Lactic acid adds a green apple level of sourness. Careful though, some are only mildly tart, others are puckeringly sour.
Sadly, this isn’t an overly popular style beer. The most readily available Berliner Weisse in Las Vegas would be Dogfish Head’s Festina Pêche. It’s their summer seasonal beer, so it’s not necessarily that readily available. Also, they call it a “neo-Berliner Weisse” so don’t expect this to be a traditional representation of the style.
If the name didn’t tip you off, it’s made with peaches. The aroma is filled with the smell of ripe peaches. It is very light body and has a crisp finish. The flavor is very peachy throughout, but it isn’t a sweet, sugary beer. It would be in the lightly tart range in the sourness scale.
Extremely refreshing beer. If you still find some around town, (honestly, a bit unlikely) scoop it up and enjoy while it’s still warm outside!