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Berliner Kindl Weisse - abv 3%; £1.75/33cl
The wheat beers of Germany come predominantly from the southern region of Bavaria, but a variation on the style exists in the North East too in the form of Berliner Weisse.
It has a much lower strength than its Bavarian counterpart at only three per cent, and reached the height of its popularity during the 19th century when there were 700 breweries producing it. Apparently Napoleon’s troops dubbed it “The Champagne of the North”.
By the end of the 20th century, only two breweries survived, Kindl and Schultheiss, both owned by the same parent company, and today just a single brand remains in production.
In Berlin, it is common to drink the beer from a large, bowl-shaped glass, and flavoured with either raspberry or woodruff syrup.
Finding myself inexplicably short of both these latter ingredients, I shall try mine neat.
The colour is very pale yellow, and unlike its Bavarian counterpart there is only a thin head. On the nose, it is dry, grainy and yeasty, with some light fruit notes in the background…gooseberry and raspberry.
Not surprisingly given its strength, it is light-bodied with a very dry, acidic and slightly sour flavour that brings to mind both the Belgian witbier style, and the spontaneously fermented lambic beers of that country’s Senne valley.
Presumably Berliners like to add the syrups to balance this sharpness.
There are flavours of stewed apple and lemon, a hint of vanilla too, and a little herbal hop note. The finish is tart and thirst-quenching.
I don’t know what Napoleon gave his troops, but this is unlike any Champagne I’ve ever tasted.
Recommended by Jim Helsby, of the York Beer And Wine Shop, Sandringham Street, York.