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Chicagoist's "Beer of the Week:" Dogfish Head Festina Peche

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Sep 16, 2009 6:20PM

2009_09_16_botw.jpg Not all weizens are alike. A Berliner weisse is a sour take on the popular German style. The late Michael Jackson (beer historian, not the entertainer) traced the origins of the style back to the 16th century Hamburg. A brewer named Cord Broihan copied the style and brought it north. Berliner weisses are known for their extreme tartness and low alcohol content. The sourness is caused by bottle fermentation or by adding lactobacillus yeast bacteria. By the 19th century there were over 700 breweries in northern Germany specifically brewing Berliner weisse. Now, only a few breweries remain; 2 of those are in Berlin proper. The term "Berliner weisse" is protected in Germany. to combat the sourness, Berliner weisses are often served with raspberry syrup or woodruff.

Stateside a few breweries dabble with making Berliner weisse. Dogfish Head's Festina Peche is probably the most common of them, and a good representation of the style. Sam Calagione and his brewers at Dogfish add peaches to the brewing process, giving the yeast extra sugar on which to feast. Peach flavor is also seeped into the brew, which means that no extra syrup is needed to counter the tartness. Festina Peche is still plenty sour but paired like a wet teenage dream with Skylark's creme brulee. Skylark carries Festina Peche on tap for $4.50 a pint. This is a seasonal selection from Dogfish, so it won't be around much longer. Get it now.