The benefit of being a beer judge and attending beer judging events is the opportunity to sample the local flora and fauna of different regions. Well, that, and the occasional perk like a free hotel room. And let’s be honest: Jackie O’s is reason enough to head to Athens by itself, so if you throw in that free hotel option, the ability to say no becomes exponentially well-nigh impossible. Enter Ohio Brew Week 2012, and, well, the fickle hand of fate is set in motion. Not surprisingly (as you can tell by the picture), I headed to Athens with the normal cast of characters, our phasers set on “chicanery” (or “idiocy,” depending who you were asking). Earlier examples of the craftsmanship of Brad Clark include Bourbon Barrel Smoked & Portered, OPA, and Bourbon Barrel Aged Impy Razz (plus a bonus beer along the way—it’s at the bottom).
Raspberry Berliner Weisse came served in a tulip; it is a cloudy light pink (basically, a pink grapefruit) with only a hint of a quickly dissipating head. And the nose is, well, beguiling: bright lactic aromas mixed with raspberry tartness, and just a slight touch of yeastiness in the background. Flavors were equally intoxicating, opening with a clean, bright combination of malty bread dough mixed with both citric and lactic bite before moving into a sharp, thirst-quenching, and palate-cleansing middle that prefaces the slightly citric and raspberry finish. Besides the raspberry, there are hints of jam and fruit in the finish as well, even with the brisk, clean finish. The body has a touch of wheat gumminess, although still light and gentle, while the carbonation is crisp & bright. Certainly a well-rounded beer—it exudes the best of both fruit and berliner weisse beers—and the two parts are in perfect balance. In fact, the delicate balance is in many ways the best part of the beer, as all the superlatives I want to throw at this beer—refreshing, bright, thirst-quenching, tart, yummy—all stem from the simultaneous interplay between the fruit and the beer. Needless to say, I’ll be hitting up this beer the entire time I’m in Athens.