Achtung: Sweet 'n Sour Berliner Weisse


Korakot Suriya-arporn
Will Blunt
Smoking Steak Tartare, Quail Egg, and Giardineira paired with Makellos Berliner Weisse
Smoking Steak Tartare, Quail Egg, and Giardineira paired with Makellos Berliner Weisse

America's taste in beer has soured as of late, with sour beers such as Berliner Weisse (pronounced bear-LEAN-nuh VISE-uh) taking hold of taps and tastes. At Chicago’s BreakRoom Brewery, Brewer Eric Padilla serves his Berliner Weisse according to Deutsche custom: plain or mit schuss—with a shot of syrup. At BreakRoom that shot come courtesy of Rising Star Chef Dirk Flanagan, who concocts a syrup of blackberry, hibiscus, and anise. “This creates a refreshing, tart, and slightly sweet beer with an added level of complexity,” says Padilla. “The key is not to add too much syrup so that the character of the beer comes through.”

To help achieve Berliner Weisse’s distinctive sharpness and spritz, Padilla pitches lactobacillus culture into cooled wort and waits about 36 hours to reach the pH he wants. Once in the tank, the beer is force-carbonated to create extra effervescence. “This style of sour is a good introductory beer for those that are not too familiar with sours,” he says. Padilla has dubbed his sour Makellos (meaning “pristine” in German), and at just 3.8 percent ABV, it’s the ideal summer session drink—whether or not its tartness is balanced with a sweet schuss.

Blackberry-Hibiscus-Star Anise Syrup

1. In separate pans, toast 2 ounces anise seeds and 2 ounces star anise pods over medium heat. Transfer to a sheet pan and cool. Grind into a fine powder with a spice grinder.
2. In a bowl, rehydrate 1 pound dehydrated hibiscus flowers with an appropriate amount of water; strain.
3. In a large pot over low heat, combine 10 pounds blackberries and 8 ounces sugar. When sugar dissolves, add hibiscus and anise powder. Cook 30 minutes.
4. Transfer to a blender and blend. Pass through a chinois and cool in an ice bath.
5. When purée is below 70ºF, add ¼ ounce of 50 percent citric acid solution and stir. Refrigerate.
6. To serve, rinse beer glass with cold water. Pour in 2 ounces Berliner Weisse and 2 ounces Blackberry-Hibiscus-Star Anise Syrup. Stir and top with more Berliner Weisse.

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