For this edition of Tasting Notes, we get all literal by enjoying a close look at a true Berliner Weisse actually from Berlin: Stone White Ghost Berliner Weisse from Stone Brewing (Escondido, California / Berlin, Germany).
Already established in Europe as a Core/Year-Round offering from Stone Brewing – Berlin, Stone White Ghost (or White Geist) is an authentic take on the Berliner Weisse-style that “gains its orthodox lightly sour and acidic character from a specially selected historic Lactobacillus strain sourced from Berlin’s cultures.” Well . . . mostly authentic because you know Stone Brewing had to put its own twist on the style by raising the ABV just a skosh to 4.7%. Rounded off with newer German hop varieties (Calista and Hüll Melon), Stone White Ghost Berliner Weisse’s “aroma leads with lemon, peach and melon and the unexpectedly bold and pleasantly refreshing tart flavor punches above its ABV weight.”
To give their American fans a taste of what the brewery is doing in Berlin, Stone Brewing has decided to import Stone White Ghost Berliner Weisse for a limited time. Stone White Ghost is already available throughout California and a “broad national launch” is expected to follow in the fall of 2018. Once fully launched, you can expect to find this Limited Release offering available in 6-packs of 0.33cl cans and on draft at select craft beer establishments located in Alabama, Florida, California, Virginia, and throughout the rest of Stone Brewing’s nationwide distribution footprint.
Now that we know where it has come from and how we can get it, let’s get into these Tasting Notes to see how scary good this White Ghost is!
Tasting Notes for Stone White Ghost Berliner Weisse from Stone Brewing
Appearance: Stone White Ghost materializes in the glass as a slightly cloudy, pale golden brew. When held to direct light, the gold color softens, and the liquid takes on more of a lemony yellow appearance. Although cloudy, it is by no means opaque and a gentle carbonation presence can be seen within. The pour built just over a finger of airy, wispy white foam. Retention is decent for the style, but the head eventually falls to a thin ring that does its best to leave sporadic spots of lace behind on the glass.
Aroma: A distinct note of straight lemon juice absolutely billows from the glass as the beer is being poured. Clean wheat then moves in to support and mellow the citrus a bit, allowing notes of peach, apricot, melon and tart berries a chance to develop as well. That lemon quality ultimately returns to close things out with a just a touch of grassiness in the background.
Taste: Just as it should be, the flavor is nearly all tart, lemony goodness. Sure, the wheat is there to add a bit of balance and the hops have a chance to offer a grace of apricot and melon, but this is pretty much just a sour, Lactobacillus-driven experience dominated by those lemon notes. And it is gorgeous.
Mouthfeel: On the light side of medium in body with a slightly fizzy carbonation presence, White Ghost carries a nice weight while still remaining superbly refreshing and easy-drinking. This brew works the palate with its tart and acidic qualities, but it cleans up quick enough to keep things pleasant and crushable. Although the ABV is slightly elevated for the style at 4.7%, it does not really show. Aftertaste is all lemon.
Final Thoughts: Given that this Limited Release is meant to give American beer drinkers a glimpse at what Stone is brewing over in Berlin, they really could not have picked a more perfect beer to do that job. Stone White Ghost reads purely as a clean and true Berliner Weisse. Other than raising the ABV a touch and introducing some new hop varietals, Stone Brewing left this beer alone for the most part and just allowed it to be what it is: a tart and refreshing brew that is perfect for any occasion.
With that said, if you are looking for the fruit and adjunct-laden take on the Berliner that is so common in the U.S. right now, Stone White Ghost is not that. It should not be, and the reason why is simple. Think about it, Stone Brewing is making a Berliner Weisse . . . in Berlin. They needed to produce a traditional take on the style – with just a touch of Stone Brewing flair – to be taken seriously in that region. They did just that with this stellar Berliner Weisse, and we are now left itching to try anything and everything we can get our hands on from Stone Brewing – Berlin. Prost!