Creature Comforts Brewing Co. | Athena Berliner Weisse
Did you know that you might be drinking that Berliner Weisse all wrong? Well, that does depend on where you are when you ask that question. Here, I take a look at the distinct difference between how Americans and Europeans prefer to drink their favorite Berliner Weisse beers using Creature Comforts Brewing Company’s Athena.
It is not too surprising if you haven’t heard of Creature Comforts Brewing Co. They are a small brewery out of Athens, GA, also home to Copper Creek Brewing, Southern Brewing Co. and Terrapin Beer Co. They are a local operation that reached the Greater Atlanta area just this year. Creature Comforts is named so after the idea of those certain luxuries that make our homes so cozy and comfortable. These amenities are known as “creature comforts” and the brewery hopes you will think of them and their brews when deciding what you want at arms reach during a relaxing weekend at home or out camping. Creature Comforts is known for their Tropicalia IPA which froths over with tropical citrus flavors and aromas and is among the few beers available in 6pack cans from this amazing brewery.
Also available in 6-pack cans is Athena Berliner Weisse, one of my favorites of this style. It is a light and delicious beer that fits the brewery’s core concept very well. Athena is a casual strength beer with a flavor that is more relaxing than in your face. The beer pours a light hazy straw color thanks to its unfiltered nature. The abundantly white and fluffy head spritzes with aromas of fruity esters and zesty citrus. This Berliner Weisse has a robust tart flavor that may surprise you at first, but give it some time out of the can, and a few sips, and the tart flavors will mellow to more of an accent with hints of apricot. At that point, you will find a complimentary balance between the yeast and lactic acid, giving it a similar flavor to a sparkling cider or Sauvignon Blanc. There is a subtle dryness that will blanket the tongue as you work to the bottom of the glass. That is, if you drink it the American way.
Historically, Berliner Weisses are served with the addition of some fruit syrup; yes, much like a Shirley Temple or Roy Rogers. Most knowledgeable beer resources will tell you that the two most popular options are green woodruff or raspberry syrup. However, peach syrup is sometimes an addition to that list. This is done to make this beer style more palatable for European imbibers.
Athena is a tribute to our home that shares a name with the Greek embodiment of wisdom and curiosity. Given our affinity to the peculiar and curious, we think Athena is a perfect ambassador for the Classic City. – Creature Comforts Brewing Co.
I had never experienced this and only recently discovered the tradition. So, in the name of science, I decided it was time to try. For this milestone in scientific research, I chose to go with raspberry syrup. This is mainly because green woodruff syrup is not readily available on any shelves near me and I am too impatient to order it online. I also limited my addition of syrup to one shot (or approximately 44ml) to one can of Athena. However, there is no rule about how much to add. It is all based on personal preference. Many of the pictures I found showed a glass of fluorescent green or red, so some like A LOT.
I poured Athena first than added my shot of raspberry syrup. While mine did not result in a radioactive red hue, it did change the body from a pale straw to orange. The aroma was softened with subtle hints of raspberry. Additionally, the tarty scent of citrus was lightened. The syrup also cut the tart flavor and gave the body a smoother, thicker, wet feel than the previously bare
Berliner Weisse with its dry, fizzy, puckering attributes. It had a pleasant raspberry accent that complimented the ale very well and reminded me of sparkling juice; or, in the my wife’s opinion, Cherry 7UP.
All in all, I found both preferences enjoyable and completely right in their own respects. The American style of drinking Athena allowed the flamboyantly tarty, dry flavors to shine, while the European style softened some of the more offensive characteristics and increased Athena’s drinkability. Both still bring picnics, cool breezes and the comfort of friends to my mind. However, if you find the American way to be too tart or dry, splash it with some fruity syrups and enjoy. Go crazy, be creative in what syrups you use! That is what craft beer is all about. Creature Comfort Brewing Company’s Athena Berliner Weisse is available in local Athens and Atlanta, GA markets.
Like the idea of using raspberry syrup? Try making it at home like we did with this recipe below.
Jane’s Raspberry Syrup
2 cups fresh raspberries
1 cup water
1 cup white sugar
Place raspberries in a small pot over low heat, stirring occasionally until soft.
Remove raspberries from heat. Strain through a medium to fine mesh strainer into a bowl or measuring cup, pressing out the juice with a spoon or rubber spatula. Let sit.
Heat water and sugar in a small pot over medium heat, stirring frequently until sugar is completely dissolved. Bring to a boil and stir for 1 to 2 minutes.
Press the raspberries again to release any remaining juice.
Add strained raspberry juice to water-sugar mixture and stir until the mixture begins to thicken, about 5 to 10 minutes.
Remove from heat. Cool to room temperature before putting syrup in a sealed container and refrigerating.