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Sunday
Feb032013

CEPHALOPOD BLACK BERLINER WEISSE

Cephalopod Black Berliner Weisse. Last year after drinking 378 different beers for the Yeer In Beer challenge the one that came out on top for me was a brilliant collaboration from a couple of local brewers Young Henry's and Doctor's Orders, the utterly beautiful Night Nurse White Stout.

A flavour-packed big drink, this took all sorts of risks (it was a white stout for a start) and it blew everything else off the page to be my favourite by far.

So when the head beeristas at Young Henry's and Doctor's Orders got together again to try their hand at a Berliner Weisse, I knew I was going to be one of the first in line to try it.

My first sip was a few weeks back just after it had all gone in the fermentation tanks, it was cloudy, still had chunks of malt and hops floating in it and was SOUR. Not bad, but definitely sour. Like licking a battery while drinking lemonade sour.

"Trust me on this," said Young Henry's Richard Adamson with a grin, "It'll be something different".

Well, today I went back to see how it all came out and he wasn't kidding, this is different.

A Berliner Weisse is a sour beer to start with, a regionally-protected brew that the drinkers of Berlin love. This homage to that style is unfltered, uses acidulated malts from Germany and a few other secrets to recreate the style... with one major difference.

They've added squid ink, hence the name.

The result is something that looks truly strange - a slate-coloured cloudy mix that sits in the glass like a slightly drunk artist has used your schooner to rinse his brush.

The smell is equally confronting, there's no denying the citrussy hit that pops out the glass, it's almost like a lemon lime and vodka before the vodka goes in...

But the taste? You know what? It's not bad at all.

As you'd expect there's loads of lemon/lime/fizzwizz flavour there, but with a nice maltiness underneath.

Not much in the way of hops that I could taste and despite what I'd feared, there's not a hint of squid in there at all.

In the words of the brewer, it's achieved through: "a traditional brewing technique of a sour mash and non-boil before being fermented with a German Ale yeast blended with lactobacillus and brettanomyces". I have no idea at all what any of that means aside from some uncomfortable feeling that Lactobacilluss was mentioned in a yoghurt ad I saw once.

Anyway, they reckon the result was supposed to be about 4.6% ABV, but the guy at the brewery pouring it said it's come in around 3%. So my guess is somewhere in between.

It really is a challenging beer to drink, you have to switch off that part of you that judges a book by its cover - or a beer by it's colour -  but the reward is just what the brewers promised, something different and that acidic freshness, this would be a good beer for a summer day.

Just make sure you drink it in a glass so you can enjoy the best part of it, explaining to others at the bar what you've got.

"Oh this? It's a squid ink black Berliner Weisse. What's yours? Oh, just a lager? Yeah, I've had those before."


7/10

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