Beer Review: Neshaminy Creek’s Cherry Berlinerweisse

Name: Cherry Berlinerweisse
Brewing Company: Neshaminy Creek Brewing Company
Location: Croydon, PA
Style: Sour – Berliner Weisse
ABV: 3.5%

Tart, yet refreshing. A flavorful beer that makes you pucker, but sweet enough to make you want more.

A warm day by the pool is a perfect way to enjoy this beer.

From Neshaminy Creek’s page for the beer:

German-Style Summer Ale Conditioned on Tart Cherry Juice from King Orchards of Michigan.

Refreshing and tart with a balanced Cherry and cracker-like malt backbone, simple yet well defined, we’ve never brewed a beer this perfect for the Summer before, and we hope you agree..

This past weekend, Neshaminy Creek Brewing was hosting the Trenton Punk Rock Flea Market. My wife and I went, having had a good time when visited the Flea Market in the past when they set up in (shocker!) Trenton. With Trenton being just a short ride over a bridge to Pennsylvania, the Flea Market has set up shop at Neshaminy Creek Brewing in Croydon, PA in the past. So, considering how much I’ve enjoyed Neshaminy Creek’s beers and the Flea Market had a day set in August at Neshaminy Creek Brewing, we knew we were going. I also knew I was going to walk out of there with something to take home. Keeping with a theme of lower ABV beers I’ve been following, I grabbed a four pack of this beer upon my wife’s suggestion. She knows I like the style and figured it would be a good summer beer. She doesn’t drink beer, but she’s extremely observant of what I like and when I ramble on about beer.

Short story: my wife was right about the beer. Long story: let me expand upon that.

I’ve had my fair share of Berliner Weisses, about 20, not nearly as many as I’ve had of Pilsner, Stouts, or IPAs. But enough to have a good idea of what I like in the style, what to expect. That’s just a precursor for where I come from when it comes to the style.

There was a huge pop when I cracked open the can. The funk aroma coming of the beer was welcome and gave me an indication that this beer was crafted fairly well. The beer pours out a reddish pink, which is exactly as expected given the beer was made with cherries. So far, so good.

First sip is potent, tart cherry. Maybe the most tart of any beer I’ve had with cherries. The yeast and acidic bacteria at play in the beer likely enhanced the natural tartness of the cherries. This is all good.

The tartness lingers throughout the progression of the flavors, but becomes less pronounced once the sweetness takes over. This beer is supremely tart, but extremely flavorful aside from the tartness. Fortunately, the tart/sour components don’t overpower the other flavor elements even they if are the most prominent elements of the beer. Many Berliner Weisse beers have some kind of sweet fruit – or traditionally in Berlin, a sweet syrup is added as I pointed out in my feature on the style – to balance the tartness. Using a fruit that exhibits both components – very sweet and tart, is a fine way to hew along that tradition and plays well into the base elements of the beer.

I probably should have let the beer sit in the fridge or on ice a little longer than I did, I was too eager to try it. Although the beer came from a fridge at the brewery, that fridge was constantly being opened and closed as the brewery was VERY packed with people, customers who were buying cans of beer, so the beer wasn’t at optimal coldness to begin with AND I’m about an hour drive from the brewery. Long story short (too late), I may have enjoyed it more were it colder, and it may have taken a little longer to warm outside if the beer was colder when I poured it. Be that as it may, the beer was still quite good.

I wanted to give this beer the full chance to shine, so I had a second can the following day. Just like the first can, it popped big time, the sugars and yeast making for quite a bit of pressure and a big fluffy head. I tasted even more than what I expected from the interpretation of the style – the tartness of the cherries popped a little more and carbonation was more fizzy. Both pleasing elements of the beer. It isn’t a beer you can chug (and really, who wants to chug a beer with this much flavor!), but with the low ABV, it is a flavorful ale with a low enough ABV (3.5%) that having three in quick succession would likely not knock you on your rear end.

Neshaminy Creek Brewing Company’s highest profile beers are their IPAs, particularly The Shape of Hops to Come, one of the most acclaimed Imperial IPAs from the East Coast. However, in Cherry Berlinerweisse, Neshaminy Creek has brewed a flavorful, sour & tart Germanic inspired ale that shows off a similar level of complexity and a beer well-suited to warm weather and poolside sipping (as my picture above shows).

Neshaminy Creek has always had very eye-catching artwork on their cans and when they did a “rebrand” earlier in the year, they reached out to their longtime artist JP Flexner to help out. The art on the can below is shows a battle between (I’m guessing) the yeast, lactic acid bacteria, and cherries that give the beer its complex flavor all tamed by a brave undersea diver who just might be a brewer.

Cool can, tasty beer. What more do you need?

Neshaminy Creek Brewing Company’s beers are available in PA, NJ, MD, and DE.

Recommended link to Untappd 3.75-Bottle Cap rating.

Draught Diversions: Thanksgiving 6 Pack 2018

Draught Diversions is the catchall label for mini-rants, think-pieces, and posts that don’t just focus on one beer here at The Tap Takeover. We hope you don’t grow too weary of the alcohol alliterative names we use…

Thanksgiving is a week away, so why not some recommendations for beers? Beers I think would work well on the day of the year dedicated to a big, multi-course meal. Last year, I did a broad “recommendation” for beers to enjoy with the family on Thanksgiving. Since doing these types of posts over the past year have been in the “Six Pack” format, I’ll continue that format for Thanksgiving 2018 and as usual, I’ll go alphabetical by brewery

Dubbel – Allagash Brewing Company (Portland, ME)

Image Courtesy of Allagash’s Web site

A well-made dubbel can be a rich, sumptuous beer that is exploding with flavor. It is a style I really enjoy and one of the premiere breweries of Belgian styles in America is Allagash. I haven’t had their take on the classic style yet, but based on how incredible their Saison and Tripel is as well as their iconic White, I think I need to track it down. This one should be fairly easy to find. I could work during the meal and after the meal as well.

What Allagash says about the beer:

Allagash Dubbel hews close to the Abbey ale tradition. Its combination of 2-row malted barley, Victory, Carapils, malted red wheat, Munich, and black malt imbue it with a rich, copper color and complex, malty taste. Despite its full flavor, it finishes dry with subtle hints of chocolate and toffee. Not to be outmatched, our house yeast asserts itself by lending the beer undertones of classic Belgian fruitiness..

Snow & Tell (Scotch Ale) – Boulevard Brewing Company (Kansas City, MO)

Image Courtesy of Boulevard’s Facebook page

Boulevard has been making frequent appearances here on the Tap Takeover, whether I’ve had or have been seeking their beers. Snow & Tell is a beer I’ve been intending to try for a couple of years. The sweet, malty goodness of a Scotch Ale is a perfect accompaniment to the cornucopia of flavors present at the Thanksgiving Day table. I’m not sure how available this one is or will be (at least by me), but I know if I see it, I’ll be snagging a six pack. If you’ve had it, let me know what you think.

What Boulevard says about the beer:

A perfect winter beer for curling up by the fireplace, this malt blanket features prominent toffee and caramel notes with just a hint of smoked malt. A subtle spiciness is provided by hopping with Magnum, Chinook and Styrian Goldings.

Devil’s Harvest – Ironbound Hard Cider/Jersey Cider Works (Asbury, NJ)

Image Courtesy of Ironbound’s Facebook page

Ciders are an adult beverage that shouldn’t be overlooked and quite a few people enjoy them in the fall. I’ve had my fair share of ciders and an Apple/Cranberry Cider would be a great start for Thanksgiving. This one is (I think) available only in New Jersey, but beer drinkers shouldn’t rule out cider as a good option. Outside of a few big nationals like Angry Orchard, Woodchuck, and Strongbow, cideries seem even more local than nano/craft breweries so chances are, a smaller, local/independent cidery may have their ciders available where you live.

What Ironbound says about the cider:

Devil’s Harvest marries the fresh apple taste of Ironbound Hard Cider with the tart bite of blood-red cherries, bright acidity of wild cranberries, and soothing warmth of white pepper. The result is a deep-rose tinted cider that is fragrant with the sublime aroma of fresh-pressed cherries. Dry harvested cranberries from the New Jersey Pine Barrens lend an herbaceous note to this complex cider. Finishing with a flash of tart cherry and a lingering warmth, Devil’s Harvest is the ultimate food friendly, cool-season cider.

Cranberry Gose – Long Trail Brewing Company (Bridgewater Corners, VT)

Image courtesy of Long Trail’s twitter

A gose may not be the thick, dark style that comes to mind for Thanksgiving, typically. But if you really want to capture one of the fruits most associated with the holiday, one of the more American fruits, then this tasty, light tart ale could be a great start to the Thanksgiving gathering. The low ABV makes it perfect for that predinner drink as opposed bock or stout you may have with the meal. I had this gose when Long Trail first launched the beer a couple of years ago and recall really enjoying it. This is a year round beer for Long Trail so should be fairly easy to locate.

What Long Trail says about the beer:

Brewed with freshly pressed cranberries, coriander and a splash of salt. The result is a refreshingly tart and effervescent cranberry concoction built to fuel your warm weather-inspired wanderlust.

Transport your senses from bog to barrel with just one sip!

Neshaminator (Weizenbock) – Neshaminy Creek Brewing Company (Croydon, PA)

Image courtesy of Neshaminy Creek’s twitter

I briefly mentioned this beer back in my Bock post, but it really is worth a second mention, at the least. I’d suggest well-made bocks as a beer to have any time, but the big often sweet and malty flavor is great for Thanksgiving. The added sweetness from the honey, for me, would be a great accompaniment to the traditional sweet potatoes most folks have as a side dish on Thanksgiving. When I first had the beer a couple of years ago, it was in a 22oz bomber. Breweries seem to be phasing out those bottles and the beer is now available, I think, in 16oz canned four-packs. This should be available throughout the Northeast, or at least the NJ/NY/PA/DE region.

What Neshaminy Creek says about the beer:

This is our take on a German wheat bock, but with a small twist. We brew this 8.5% ABV holiday offering with orange blossom honey, malted wheat and dark Munich malt, a hint of Chocolate malt, and German Hallertau and Tettnanger hops. While most German bock beers named with the ‘-or’ ending are traditional double bock lagers, we decided to break from tradition a bit with not only the name of this beer, but the use of orange blossom honey as well. Prost!

Hazelnut Brown Nectar – Rogue Ales – (Newport, OR)

Image courtesy of Rogue’s web site

Brown Ales are great, fairly easy drinking brews. Not as heavy or potent as stouts, they can have a good flavor profile and this hazelnut sweetened brown ale from Rogue is a great one to bring to Thanksgiving. At 5.6% ABV, it won’t knock you on your ass and with Rogue’s fairly large distribution footprint in the US, should be fairly easy to locate.

What Rogue says about the beer:

From the hazelnut capital of the United States, this nutty twist on a European brown ale was originally crafted by Rogue Brewmaster John Maier’s good friend and avid home-brewer, Chris Studach. Hazelnut Brown Nectar offers a hazelnut aroma with rich nutty flavor and a smooth malty finish.

Another suggestion that always works: pick up a growler or half growler at your local brewery. I may wind up getting something filled up at Conclave (hopefully, their outstanding Espresso Milk Stout is available for growlers.

 

Beer Review: Neshaminy Creek Brewing Company’s Dunks Ferry Dunkelweizen

Name: Dunks Ferry Dunkelweizen
Brewing Company: Neshaminy Creek Brewing Co.
Location: Croydon, PA
Style: Dunkelweizen
ABV: 5.2%

Proper weizen glass for a proper weizen beer

From the beer’s description on Neshaminy Creek Brewing Company’s Web site:

We stay with the German wheat beer theme for our Fall seasonal, and much like it’s Summertime sister, Dunks Ferry Dunkelweizen has a unique banana and spicy clove character but this time paired with a chewy, bready (dare we say banana bread) malt backbone. Again, we hop this German wheat beer with Hallertau and Tettnanger hops. 5.2% ABV.

I may have mentioned I like Dunkelweizens so it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that I’ve come around to reviewing one. As I said in the post about Dunkelweizens, there just aren’t enough of this traditional European style widely available. Thankfully, the fine folks at Neshaminy Creek brew Dunks Ferry as a fall offering. Originally available on draft and in 22oz bomber bottles, last year Neshaminy Creek Brewing began distributing the beer in 4 packs of pint cans.  But what about the beer itself?

Over the past couple of years, I’ve had only 9 beers from Neshaminy Creek, but I have really enjoyed each of them. Their stout offerings in particular are repeats for me and this one is probably my favorite that isn’t a stout. But this one is a darker, somewhat maltier beer, so there is that common strand…

A nice pop when opening the can hints at the freshness before pouring unleashes some of the aroma, but it doesn’t fully breathe (obviously) until the beer is in the class. Like many Dunkelweizens, Dunks Ferry’s aroma is similar to that of a Hefeweizen, but this one in particular might be a little sweeter, with slightly more banana in the flavor profile.

The hazy brown color is maybe slightly lighter than some other Dunkelweizens I’ve enjoyed (well, Erdinger’s I recall being quite dark), but the taste from the first sip really nails the expected notes of the flavor profile. Most Bavarian wheat beers lean towards a strong clove notes or more fruity notes. I like both flavor leanings, Dunks Ferry is nicely balanced with both in almost equal measure with maybe, just maybe the fruit/banana presence being slightly more prominent. The yeast, as it does in these more bready beers, gives Dunks Ferry a nice, balanced flavor profile that is subtle and welcoming. I wouldn’t go so far as to say this is like drinking banana bread (Well’s Brewery has you covered for that), but the beer evokes some of the same hits in the taste buds that a tasty bread does.

I gave a brief shout out to this beer when I suggested more breweries should be brewing Dunkelweizens on a regular basis. At least in the Northeastern US, Neshaminy Creek’s Autumnal Wheat beer is one of the only ones available in distribution near me in NJ. Fortunately, it is a high quality Dunkelweizen so it is far from the worst-case scenario of beggars not being choosers. In other words, if other Dunkelweizens were readily available, I would likely still go for this one repeatedly.

This late summer/fall, I unfortunately did not see Dunks Ferry as much as I recall seeing it in previous years. Breweries tend to tweak their annual beer portfolio from year to year and I hope this one doesn’t go away or become just a draft-only release.

If you are curious to try a solid American Craft take on a classic German/Bavarian dark wheat ale, Dunks Ferry is well with giving a try (and picking up a four-pack).

Recommended, link to Untappd 4-star rating.