Siren – Calypso, Berliner Weisse
As the style name suggests, this beer originates from Berlin and is predominantly made from wheat. However, what the name doesn’t tell you is that this is a sour style. Dating back to at least the 1500s, this style was incredibly popular during the 19th Century with up to 700 breweries producing it. Since then it’s stock has plummeted with only a handful of German breweries still brewing them. Indeed, such was its popularity that Napoleon had dubbed it the “champagne of the North” due to their lively effervescence and sharp finish. Typically these beers would be 3.0% ABV or below, however, do not think that a low ABV is indicative of a low flavour beer!
Traditional Berliner Weisse have a very sharp, acidic sourness with very little hop aroma or flavour coming through. This sourness is achieved through the use of a culture of lactobacillus bacteria that metabolises sugars produced in the malt to produce lactic acid. Normally lactic acid is undesirable in beers, but is essential in sours – one of the reasons why, when trying their first sour, people often remark that the beer has gone bad! It is believed that when they were originally brewed, they may have been stored in earthenware buried underneath warm sand to facilitate the bacteria’s metabolism. When served nowadays, it is more often than not accompanied by a flavoured syrup, either raspberry or woodruff, that cause it to become violently red or green, respectively.
Siren’s Calypso is a single hopped Berliner Weisse that changes the hop with each batch, creating a slight bitterness within the beer that is not normally associated with the style. However, this beer is named after the Greek goddess Calypso who was famed for her sharp tongue, and this beer most definitely has a sharp tartness about it! At 4.0% ABV it is slightly boozier than what you would expect a Berlinner Weisse to be, but this does not come across in the flavour or aroma of the beer itself. The beer pours a cloudy pale yellow, creating an instant, funky aroma. Each hop brings its own distinct twist to this beer. Citra causes a very sharp, citrus and grapefruit bitter/sourness on the finish whilst mosaic has more of a melon flavour, not quite as sharp but a bit more tangy. This is the perfect aperitif, or a drink to keep you company in the hot sun.
If you like this, try Chrolton’s Woodruff Berliner or Buxton’s Red Raspberry Rye