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Mad Scientists Series #8: Ich Bin Kein

The Berliner Weisse, a cloudy, sour wheat beer that dates back to the 16th century, demands such a complex blend of calculating technique and natural spontaneity that it deserved a spot in our Mad Scientists calendar. Therefore, our eighth installment of the bi-monthly series is just that: a traditional Berliner Weisse, had it not been brewed in Brooklyn instead of Berlin. Call it Ich Bin Kein, loosely translated as, “I am not a,” or, just the Berliner Weisse from Sixpoint.

We are none of the Mad Scientists Berliners, although Jan Matysiak, Sixpoint’s Braumeister, hails from Southwest Germany. In re-creating this traditional style in a different setting, he sourced the lactobacillus bacteria to inoculate the wort. This harmless bacteria is often feared by brewers because it has the ability to sour beers. But, in the case of a Berliner Weisse, “This is desired and the degree of sourness in the finished beer can be controlled by the brewer if done correctly,” said Jan.

The yeast must be pitched and carefully controlled, unlike spontaneously fermented styles. “It took some time for the preparation, but our efforts paid off because the Berliner Weisse turned out well,” Jan concluded.

Note that we can’t really call Ich Bin Kein a true Berliner Weisse, since the style name is protected and can only be made in Berlin to qualify. It’s such a uniquely tasty brew we thought it could use a fresh audience anyway. Although historically popular throughout Northern Germany, by the end of the last millennium, there were only two breweries still producing it in Berlin. The beer typically has a low alcohol content, about 3%, and a fruity tang accented with a nose-tingling bubbliness. In effect, it’s the perfect beer to toast with instead of champagne, and you can enjoy your session of it even longer.

Ich Bin Kein has an ABV of 3.5%, with an IBU of 4. It has an opaque, golden tone and a luxuriously frothy, white head. Crisp and clean on the nose, its tart, spritzy flavor has just the right degree of sourness for a pleasantly sour finish. Grab a glass of it on draft in all markets where Sixpoint is poured before it’s gone — or else, you’ll have to go to Berlin for a taste.

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