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Monday, September 8, 2014

Off Color Brewing's Fierce

  • Style: Berliner Weisse 
  • ABV: 3.8% Gravity 9.7 & IBU 3(ish) Do I love that Off Color lists all of this on their label?  Short answer: yes.  Long answer: YEEEESSSSS!
  • Ease to locate: Carried by most craft stores, but somewhat limited.  The first delivery sold out ASAP, but the second seems to be a bit larger.
  • Color: Straw yellow with a bare hint of yellow-green. Clear with visible carbonation.  
  • Head: 2 fingers of pure white foam with good retention.  Soapy lacing. 
  • Aroma: Lemon, bread, fermented sour wheat
  • Mouthfeel: Light, crisp & effervescent 
  • Finish:Medium & typical for a Berliner Weiss
  • Food friendly: But of course!  Try it with lighter  dishes such as fish, grilled vegetables, chicken (especially with an herbal pesto) and a plethora of appetizers. Stay away from anything acidic or garlicky.
                                                                                             What's Fierce? David Johansen is Fierce.  What's Funk funky, but chic?  Fierce is.   

I am not a trendy sort of person.  The minute something comes into vogue is the exact moment that I no longer want anything to do with it.  I have never watched Breaking Bad, not because it doesn't look like a quality, intriguing, binge worthy show but because everybody and their cat have already seen each and every episode three times over. That ubiquitous ice bucket challenge?  Yeah, I so didn't do it.  And my donation went to a small charity that didn't have the luxury of figuring out that sheep would pour freezing water over their heads as long as somebody is willing to film it on their cell phone.  So it does surprise me that I still get excited every time a Chicago brewery releases a new Berliner Weisse beer.  Maybe Berliners aren't exactly trendy, yet, but they are quickly becoming the thing to do fermenting wise around these parts. I can name at least four Chicagoland breweries that have released at least one version this summer alone (and one of those places released TWO excellent Berliners, so props to you DryHop.) You'd think that by now I'd be tired of their tangy, sour, bright, fermented wheat, lactic gorgeousness.  Nope.  Not me.  Bring it, Off Color.

My Fierce poured a clear, straw yellow, lightly golden ale with the barest hint of a yellowish green tint when held to the light.  A fluffy two finger head of pure white foam rose in my glass.  It settled after a time to a half a finger of a surface covering cloud for a good portion of the drink.  Delicate, soapy lacing crept up the sides of the goblet, giving me just enough of a lace show to keep this lace lover happy.  The nose wasn't overly strong, but distinct and present.  The easiest note to detect was the strong lemon brightness, but characters of bready yeast and fermented wheat were also simple to pick out.  The aroma wasn't as fruity as many other Berliner Weisses are.  Neither was the taste.  The expected fruitiness of the esters was there, but they took a backseat to the stronger characters of acidic lemon, bready/doughy yeast and sour fermenting wheat.  There was a dank, murkiness on the taste that I really enjoyed.  To me, it set Fierce apart from other Berliners.  I liked the depth of character it added to the lightness of the beer's typical style.  The mouthfeel was very light and crisp with a wonderful effervescent dryness that made drinking it extremely easy.  A medium finish, that concluded with the murky farmhouse note on the tail, nicely rounded out the beer.

I'd drink Fierce with a great variety of foods.  The dryness & depth of flavor lends it self to easy food pairings. Serve this beer with a simple Grilled Butter flied Trout in a Lemon & Parsley Butter Sauce.   It would also be the perfect beer to drink with a vegetarian friendly dish, such as Grilled Vegetables With Pesto Sauce.  The green, herbal notes in this dish would benefit from the dank murkiness on the finish while cutting through the initial doughiness on the taste. I love that Off Color decided to release their Berliner Weisse in an easy to buy (and drink) four pack.  All of Off Color bottled beers are released in the four pack version, which is refreshing in and of itself.  It would be just as easy for them to go the bomber route as many other smallish breweries do.  It's difficult to remember, but Off Color has only been around a little over a year.  And what a year it's been.  We've been treated to the marshmallow chocolatey decadence of Dino S'mores.  I don't know about you, but their farmhouse Apex Predator was the first bottle I reached for when pairing with dinner this summer.  And now, we we have been gifted to their version of a Berliner Weisse, named appropriately Fierce.  To me, "fierce" is less of a term of strength and more of a show of character. And while it would probably be really easy right now to mention that any brewery that is obsessed with otters must be gifted with an abundance of characters, I'm just going to let you all draw your own conclusions instead.