North Coast Tart Cherry Berliner Weisse

North Coast Brewing Co. - Tart Cherry Berliner Weisse

Brewed by: North Coast Brewing Company

Beer Classification and Specs

  • Style: Ale
  • Variation: Berliner Weisse
  • Seasonal: No
  • ABV: 4.1%
  • IBU: 0

Brewer’s Notes and Ingredients

Michael Jackson describes “Berlin White Beer” as having an “insistent sparkle, a fragrant fruitiness in the nose, a sharp, dry palate, and a frisson of quenching, sour acidity in the finish.” North Coast Tart Cherry Berliner Weisse is made with the juice of Michigan Montmorency cherries, whose addition softens the lactic finish of the beer and gives it a springtime blush. This very limited release is available 22 oz bottles as well as in 1/6 barrel kegs.

Hops: N/A

Malts: N/A

Additional: Juice of Michigan Montmorency cherries.

More Cherry Berliner Weisse Images

First Impressions

Artwork: Follows North Coast branding for Berliner Series w/ cherry blossoms added.

Color: Rosé wine.

Aroma: Pretty much all lactic, with a hint of earthy cherry.

The Tasting

Arrived in: 22oz. Bottle

Served in: Stemmed Stange Glass

North Coast Brewing Company is one of the oldest craft breweries in California, independently owned and operated since 1988. They have several high gravity “old” classics in their repertoire like Old Stock Ale and Old Rasputin, so we were pleasantly surprised to learn they were doing a three bottle series of tart Berliner Weisse.

As with anything in craft beer, it doesn’t take much to spark controversy among its fanbase of fickle nerds. Apparently North Coast’s idea to bottle these Berliners in clear bottles to showcase their vibrant colors was met with some opposition. We thought these beers looked cool in the clear glass.

However, clear glass (or green) has always come with the connotation of allowing beers to become lightstruck and developing skunkiness and off flavors in the bottle. We didn’t think a beer soured on purpose would be affected by bottle decomposition, and neither did North Coast:

Whether in the clear bottle or tall stange, Tart Cherry Berliner’s unique, eye-catching hue was just beautiful. It poured like a glass of rosé wine in color, with the sparkling effervescent body of champagne. Typical to the Berliner style, its supple pure white head died off momentarily, and only lasted for the first few sips.

On the nose, Tart Cherry Berliner was fairly nondescript. Of course it featured lactic notes, and maybe a little earthiness from the cherries added, but overall emitted mildly tart aromatics.

Once Cherry Berliner splashed down on our palates, we were both immediately impressed. We weren’t sure what we enjoyed the most — its mouthfeel, nuanced cherry flavors, or perfect level of tartness. Let’s start with the mouthfeel, which North Coast absolutely nailed!

Based on their tasting notes, North Coast set out to brew this beer to Michael Jackson’s style guidelines and they definitely delivered “a sharp, dry palate” as he described. Cherry Berliner featured a light and crisp body, but not overly sharp mouthfeel while maintaining maximum effervescence.

A lot of what goes on in today’s craft beer arena involves “bigger is better”, or doing things to excess. Some Berliner Weisse beers in today’s market can almost be more stuffed with fruit, or tooth enamel stripping than a special release barreled sour purchased on BPT.

North Coast brewed a down to earth Berliner, with just the right amount of tartness to it. It still zapped the back of our tongues with each sip, but the cherry also shined through to cut that a bit, and offer some earthiness in the finish.

We absolutely loved this beer, and thought it was one of the best Berliners we have had in a while. We’re pretty sure you’d agree but for only $5.99 a bomber, it’s a risk worth taking.

Final Score: 4/5

4 Stars

North Coast Brewing Company Cherry Berliner was such a refreshing beer, with huge sparkle and just just enough tartness. There were subtle cherry flavors, but those didn’t get in the way or dominate the tartness of the base beer — only helped to accentuate the finish.

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