Saturday, August 4, 2012

Grand Teton Snarling Badger Berliner Weisse review

Grant Teton Snarling Badger Berliner WeisseLeave it to someone to come out with an Imperial Berliner Weisse. Grand Teton decided to bump up the ingredients for their Grand Teton Snarling Badger Berliner Weisse and add it to their Cellar Reserve Series. They wanted a Berliner Weisse that could stand the test of time in a beer cellar and it looks like they have accomplished that with the Snarling Badger.

Grand Teton Brewing Company has been distributing their Idaho beers to Colorado for at least 5 years now. I had previously tried another of their Cellar Reserve series from 2011 and since I absolutely love the tartness of a Berliner Weisse, I thought that an imperial version of one might be interesting to try. Snarling Badger comes in a big 750ml sized bottle (capped not corked) and has been bottle conditioned. The bottle comes with an attached card that describes this beer in detail.

Snarling Badger weighs in at 7.5% ABV, higher than your usual Berliner Weisse (if you can call a Berliner Weisse a usual beer - it isn't). This style of beer tends to have a funky-tart / acidic aroma and is also on the sour side in taste. This is the result of adding Lactobacillus, a microorganism much like yeast, that gives beer a slight yogurt tang. Germans used to offer syrups to add to a Berliner Weisse to take some of the sourness off and sweeten it up a bit. Me, I like this style straight as I am a lover of the sour ale. How would a bigger version of one taste though? I was eager to give it a try...

Appearance: Snarling Badger was poured aggressively into a clean glass and had so much head that it overflowed the top (my bad). The brew was slightly cloudy as you might expect for this style. The color was a medium yellow with hints of orange in it with a nice billow white head. It was darker than any other Berliner Weisse I had seen to date. Swirling the glass left a slick white lacing that quickly fell from the sides. A nice white ring was left on top of the beer that lasted for several minutes.

Snarling Badger info cardAroma: Ooo funk! This Berliner Weisse had a classic lacto aroma (tart/funky) that reminded me slightly of a Saison, only with a wheat twist. There was a background sweetness, perhaps fruit, mixed with a mild acidity. Just what I was expecting for a Berliner Weisse. I was expecting the higher alcohol to change the aroma slightly, it did, but it still had all the classic presence of the style.

Taste: There was plenty of carbonation in Snarling Badger. The first sip gave a big wheat taste up front that soured instantly. The funkiness of the lactobacillus was very present from start to finish. The beer was slightly sweet, but the component that took center stage was the tart acidity, the bitterness and the dry finish. This beer was definitely not a light-weight, it had a big bold taste and a rich mouthfeel. The taste seemed to linger with me for a while after each swallow.

Overall: Grand Teton does not disappoint with their Cellar Reserve series. This Berliner Weisse sticks well to the style only with a bigger malt and bitterness mixed in with the tart-acidic sour taste. Sour fans will love this beer. Some may think this beer could use a bit more sweetness, and for that you can add some flavored syrups. I tend to experiment with this style a bit and occasionally add some MIO water enhancer - Mango/Peach is a good flavor to add if you desire a bit more sweetness.

Let by itself, this beer and one glass was plenty to satisfy my sour craving for the evening. It's a nice bold Berliner Weisse. I suggest that if you've never had a Berliner Weisse before that you start off with a lower ABV version and get use to the sourness, then work your way up to this one. I'm always impressed with what they come up with in Victor, Idaho at the Grand Teton Brewing Company. I'm sure I'll look for more from this brewery in the future.

Disclosure: I paid full retail price for this beer.

Video showing the pour of the Grand Teton Snarling Badger Berliner Weisse:

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