Why are Commercial Breweries Afraid of the Berliner Weisse?
The Berliner weisse style is a favorite among homebrewers.
It’s a sour session beer, around 3% ABV, which originated in Germany back in the 16th century. I’ve brewed this style several times, with great results, and it always seems to popping up in homebrew tweets. Just last week, James from Basic Brewing Radio and The Mad Fermentationist talked about brewing the style in a podcast.
Yet, for all our love of the BW, there are very few examples of the style that are commercially available. If I am lucky, I might be able to find a few bottles from two breweries at the best local beer store. The Bruery’s Hottenroth and Fritz Briem’s 1809 immediately come to mind.
This had me wondering why are the commercial breweries so far behind the homebrewing community with this style?
And let’s not pretend that I have some inflated opinion of the homebrewing and its effects on breweries. Sure, most pro brewers started their careers with small batches made at home, and homebrewers have the ability to wildly experiment with new styles and ingredients without hurting the bottom line of a business. So there a safety net there in that only pride, and not a company, is hurt when a 5 gallon batch is poured down the drain.
This isn’t an experimental style. It is pretty clearly defined, and no more challenging to make than any other sour. In fact, it can be turned around in a matter of weeks, rather than months, so that should be attractive to a commercial brewery from a simple logistical standpoint.
I can think of dozens of other reasons why and why not, but it seems like something better throw out to the community.
I say this in some jest, but why are commercial breweries afraid of the Berliner Weisse?