To mark the mid-point of August I’ve picked this one. Although the Berliner Weissebier is a German style, I thought I would pick Dogfish Head Festina Pêche beer due to it being a great example of a Berliner Weisse and Sours/This style being very popular in America as of late.
As always, let’s start with Dogfish Head‘s description of the beer:
A refreshing neo-Berliner Weisse, Festina Peche is available in 4-packs and on draft during the sweaty months.
Sadly, there are only a few breweries left in Berlin still brewing the Berliner Weisse style, which is characterized by its intense tartness (some say sour). There were once over 70 breweries in Berlin alone making this beer!
In addition to fermentation with an ale yeast, Berliner Weisse is traditionally fermented with lactic cultures to produce its acidic (or green apple-like) character. Served as an apertif or summertime quencher, Festina is delicately hopped and has a pale straw color. To soften the intense sourness, Berliner Weisse is traditionally served with a dash of essence of woodruff or raspberry syrup.
In Festina Peche, since the natural peach sugars are eaten by the yeast, the fruit complexity is woven into both the aroma and the taste of the beer so there is no need to doctor it with woodruff or raspberry syrup. Just open and enjoy!
A medium to long description on this one, but Dogfish always like to give a decent description of their beers. Festina Pêche is a seasonal offering from Dogfish and since the release I am talking about in this post apparently the “tart” flavour has been reduced which I think is a shame given the popularity of sour beers in the US at the moment.
After tasting this beer and doing some research, I think the grains used in this are Castle Château Pilsen 2-Row for the malted barley and Rahr White Wheat for the wheat part. This is Dogfish Head, so I’m guessing they have used Centennial Hops in this brew, but it isn’t a very hoppy beer so it’s hard to tell and could well be Kent Goldings which would also work very well. Someone at Dogfish Head told a friend of mine in Delaware that they used Champagne Yeast to ferment the beer which makes sense as it does have a very sharp taste. I must congratulate them on this, as it can be quite a difficult yeast to deal with.
The beer pours with a very light yellow/amber colour with a thin white head which fades to a thin cap, this is pretty standard for a Berliner Weiss. The only difference is that the carbonation is a lot higher than usual for this style, again probably due to the Champagne Yeast. The carbonation makes you think it’s going to be as fizzy as a supermarket lemonade but it calms down after a while and starts to look very inviting. The smell of this beer is very complex, it has hints of malt, wheat and the peach concentrate is most definitely there. There is also that sour tarty smell from the Lacto conversion of some of the Sugars into Lactic Acid and there’s a small grassy hint that there are hops in the beer (not that this is the most important part of this style). The first thing you notice when you taste this beer is the intense tart sourness of the peaches, the sugar really has been stripped out but it’s such a great addition to such a classic style. You get the wheat and malt after this intense hit and then a slight piney hop bitterness to finish off. The beer goes down very smooth but it is as dry as a Pinot Grigio. The carbonation is still almost champagne-esque but it’s nothing too bad and the quality and complexity of this brew brushes off this almost negative point.
Unfortunately Dogfish Head beers are extremely hard to get in the UK as they have stopped distribution here to concentrate on expanding their market in the US. However, if you get a chance to try or buy this beer in America or you can ask someone to bring it back for you I seriously recommend you do. If you want to try a Craft Berliner Weissbier in the UK that is brewed in the UK I would recommend Siren Craft Brew’s Calypso, you could even add some peach concentrate to try and replicate this great Dogfish Head brew. If you’re looking for something closer to the traditional style, I would recommend Berliner Kindl Weisse but I must warn you it is extremely sour!
EST. CALORIES: 135 ABV: 4.5%