The Road to Munich: Berlin – Berliner Weisse from Terramar Brewing

Berlin: Berliner Weisse - the WA take.

In our previous installment of “the Road to Munich, we kicked off our educational beer journey to Oktoberfest in the city of Berlin. Last week we explored the brewing history and traditions of the city, but specifically looked into its most popular beer style; Berliner Weisse. (If you have not yet read that post, you may do so here). We discussed how the beer style came to be, what makes it unique in the vast universe of beer, and what is next for the style and the folks brewing it.

For this installment, will jump over to Washington State to explore Berliner Weisse through the lens of Terramar Brewing of Edison, WA. During the month of May, they release their own interpretation of Berliner Weisse called the Raspberry Kettle Sour.  We look into why Terramar and head brewer, Greg Spore, decided to brew this particular beer style, how history and tradition played its part, and how they pushed the envelope by putting on a unique twist to make something one of a kind. 

Berliner Weisse is not all that common to see on tap, so we wanted to understand why Terramar decided to brew this style. Come to find out, Greg spent time studying and completing his brewing science degree in Munich. While in the country, Greg had numerous opportunities to travel and spent a bit of time in Berlin. There, he had the chance to drink traditional Berliner Weisse and fell in love with the style. Greg told us that he enjoys sour beers and how a well-crafted Berliner Weisse is a great base to feature local Skagit Valley fruits. The raspberries sourced from Berry Acres Farms that are incorporated into one of their Berliner-Weisse beers is their play on the German tradition of serving a Berliner Weisse with woodruff, raspberry, or other fruit based syrups. 

Terramar wanted to stay as true as possible to the traditional Berliner Weisse style, but also allow the local WA ingredients to shine. Traditionally, Berliner Weisse is served off the tap with the option of adding woodruff, raspberry or other fruit syrups directly to the glass. These syrups help to balance out the intensity of the tartness and dryness of the beer. Across the entire Terramar beer lineup, they strive to highlight local, seasonal ingredients of the Skagit Valley area. The Terramar team found that a variety of local fruits lend themselves very well to the Berliner Weisse style. They condition their Berliner Weisse beers for some time on fresh, whole local fruits. 

For the grain, Terramar utilizes a classic Berliner Weisse grain bill with a near 50/50 ratio of malted wheat to barley.  Instead of using imported grains from Germany, Terramar again wants to keep everything hyper-local.  The Raspberry Kettle Sour has a grain bill made up of Skagit Valley Maltings, Skagit White Wheat and Pilot Pale malt, which adds to the beer’s uniqueness. While Berliner Weisse is traditionally a mixed culture fermentation, Terramar employs a modern kettle souring technique that utilizes a blend of lactobacillus strains ahead of fermentation with a clean and neutral ale yeast. They also fully boil their Berliner Weisse, with a small amount of hops (Northern Brewer), and do not employ the use of Brettanomyces for a secondary fermentation. Though this method and the fruits used may not be traditional as utilized in Berlin, it is Terramar’s own take on the style, and something uniquely Washington.

Terrmar releases three Berliners throughout the year, each using whole local fruit – Raspberry Kettle Sour (May), Shuksan Strawberry Sour (June), and the Peach Sour (August).

About Terramar Brewing

Located on a historic property in Edison, WA surrounded by views of the Cascades and Puget Sound, Terramar Brewstillery is an award-winning brewery, cidery, and distillery paying tribute to the farmed and foraged ingredients of Skagit Valley’s land and sea. We don’t do flagship beers. Our tap list is always changing, a reflection of local seasonal ingredients and our desire to explore and highlight the many different flavors that Skagit Valley has to offer. Our beers range from PNW takes on traditional and historical styles, Belgian or Farmhouse styles to barrel-aged mixed fermentations.

About Terramar’s Raspberry Kettle Sour

Style:  Fruited Berliner Weisse | ABV: 5.5% | Hops: Northern Brewer | Malts: Pilot Pilsner, Skagit White Wheat

Featuring Skagit Valley Malting’s Pilot Pilsner and Skagit White Wheat, this fruited berliner weisse style ale was kettle soured on a blend of lactobacillus strains, fermented out dry and clean and then conditioned on loads of local raspberries from our friends at Berry Acres Farms. Bursting with raspberry aroma and flavor this sour is dry, tart, crisp, and highly refreshing.

About the Road to Munich 

Hop into your Bimmer and merge onto the Autobahn (rather your Subie and I-5 since we live in WA), and let BeerNav lead you on an educational beer journey to Oktoberfest

“The Road to Munich” is our new blog and social media series that will run monthly from May until the beginning of October. BeerNav will highlight six of the most influential, historical beer cities and beer styles across Germany, and how Washington Breweries are influenced by tradition but add their own unique twists to each beer style. 

Here is the route: