“Oh, this isn’t what I thought it was going to be.”
That was my first impression of North Coast Brewing’s Tart Cherry Berliner Weisse. Labeled on the wall at my favorite local bar, Toronado, in San Francisco as just “Tart Cherry” I went into that first sip naively expecting a full-on sour. I was definitely wrong, but not disappointed.
At first sip, for a second I thought I had a cherry cider rather than a beer. The beer pours a reddish pink color and has a strong scent of cherry on the nose. Once it hits your tongue you’re hit with a mouthful of cherry, but it’s not super sweet, and as advertised, it is a little tart. It’s the perfect balance of both tartness and sweetness without being overpowering on either front.
It’s light-bodied, as you might expect from a Berliner Weisse (presuming you realized you were ordering one), which is also what made my mind immediately go to cider. Light malt and hints of vanilla pair nicely with the tart from the cherry to make a beautifully balanced beer. I found myself almost wishing they added a tiny bit of spice to the mix to give it the perfect “cherry pie” flavor.
The best part about this one? It’s only 4.1%.
I’ve written a few times before about my love for fruit-forward low-ABV beers. I’ve been obsessed with IPAs (along with everyone else) for years, but last summer goses managed to steal my heart and became my go to whenever I went out during warmer months.
North Coast’s Tart Cherry Berliner Weisse definitely fits that bill. This is one of those beers you could drink a six-pack of (if it came in six packs) and still have a solid chance of being a functioning human being.
It’s delicious, so much so that after passing it around my table of friends everyone ended up ordering one as their next beer. I can tell you that in a group of beer nerds at a beer nerd bar that pretty much never happens.
The bad news is my draft pour of the beer looks like it was a reasonably rare one. Lost Coast distributed the beer in 22oz bottles to a few markets, but it’s a limited release rather than something we’re going to see around all summer. Definitely a bummer.
If you see this one out on a hot summer day I definitely recommend giving it a go. You won’t be disappointed.
Brewery: North Coast Brewing
City: Fort Bragg, California
Style: Berliner Weisse
Availability: Limited, Draft and 22 oz. bottles