Released for the first time in 2008,1 New Glarus Brewing Co.’s Berliner Weisse is a somewhat modern spin on a classic German style.

New Glarus Berliner Weisse bottle

The New Glarus, Wis.-based brewery’s 5 percent ABV berliner weisse is brewed with Wisconsin white wheat and “five proprietary yeast strains” and then fermented in barrels with Riesling grapes. While it has been released a multitude of times over the years, it is now part of New Glarus’ Thumbprint series, which is made of up beers that head brewer Dan Carey thinks up and brews more or less whenever he feels like it.

The New Glarus website goes into more detail on the beer:

A few times a year we cut Dan loose to brew whatever he chooses. Always handcrafted, the bottle you hold is brewed for the adventurous soul. This is a very limited edition and we make no promises to ever brew this style again.

Napoleon hailed this tart beer style “the Champagne of the North.” A lively and elegant masterpiece this Berliner Weisse is a kaleidoscope of fresh flavor. Barrel fermentation, Riesling grapes and Wisconsin White Wheat are bottle fermented with five proprietary yeast strains. A connoisseur’s rare jewel both spirited and subtle, enjoy your sparkling toast under summer stars.

Over the years, there have been a multitude of different beers in the Thumbprint series, some of which have been released more than once:

  • Scream IIPA (9 percent ABV)
  • Apple Ale (4 percent ABV)
  • Berliner Weisse (5 Perzent ABV)
  • Wild Sour Ale (5 percent ABV)
  • Oud Bruin (5.6 percent ABV)
  • Cran-bic Ale (6 percent ABV)
  • Spiced Ae (8.8 percent ABV)
  • Dubbel (7.8 percent ABV)
  • Winter Warmer (9 percent ABV)
  • Barley Wine (12 percent ABV)
  • Enigma (5.5 percent ABV)
  • Cherry Stout (6.5 percent ABV)
  • Chocolate Abbey (7 percent ABV)
  • Saison (6.5 percent ABV)

The New Glarus Berliner Weisse pours a light lemon blonde that is so light you can almost see through it, along with three fingers worth of stark white head that sticks around for quite a while. The lacing that is left over is thick and fluffy while aroma from the glass is a combination of oak, white wine, grapes, green apples, sourdough bread and a slight hay-like funk.

New Glarus Berliner Weisse

The first sip of the New Glarus Berliner Weisse brings immediate flavors of sour lime, lemongrass, creamy oak, white pepper and yeast. The beer is light bodied from the start, with a finish that is both short and quite dry, while the carbonation is aggressive without being overwhelming to the palate. Even with that, the overall profile is tart as well as very creamy, and both attributes are balanced nicely with the flavors and carbonation. The finish has a dominant wheat note, and is gone almost as soon as you finish drinking.


New Glarus Berliner Weisse
BREWERY: New Glarus Brewing Co.
LOCATION: New Glarus, Wis.
STYLE: Berliner Weisse
ABV: 5 percent
IBU: n/a
PRICE: $2.50 (four-packs of 12-ounce bottles, $10)
AVAILABLE IN: 12-ounce bottles
New Glarus has long been known for taking classic styles of beers and putting its own spin on them, and the Berliner Weisse is no exception. The profile is creamy and tart, with a combination of flavors that reminds me strongly of a both champagne and white wine. The oak barrel presence is very obvious, and adds quite a bit of complexity overall, while the carbonation retains its effervescence even after a while sitting in the glass. All in all, a very refreshing, nicely balanced beer that is a joy to drink, even if the final product is not exactly a classic berliner.
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