Grapevine’s Brewers’ Reserve Tart Cherry Berliner Weisse Is Super Local.

Welcome to On Tap! Each week in this recurring feature, we’ll take an in-depth look at one of the many beers now available in the suddenly crowded North Texas brew scene. The goal here is to look at these area beers without our local goggles on and to wonder aloud, “Is this beer good or do I just like it because it’s local?” Should be a fun experiment, no? Cheers to that!

This week, we sipped on Grapevine Craft Brewery‘s Brewers’ Reserve Tart Cherry Berliner Weisse.

Fast Facts on Brewers’ Reserve Tart Cherry Berliner Weisse.
Style: Berliner Weisse.
ABV: 6 percent.
International Bitterness Units (IBUs): 8.
Color: Dark pink.
Availability: taproom only (as of this writing).

Last week, the DFW craft scene felt a bit of a shock as the MillerCoors craft business unit Tenth & Blake announced that it is acquiring Revolver Brewing later this year. And this week, Grapevine announced that it’s ceasing operation as a wide-scale distribution brewery. And by wide-scale, I mean that you won’t be able to buy Grapevine beer when you stop by wherever it is that you pick up craft beer in DFW.

Like or dislike, this is a step back for the DFW craft beer scene. So, what’s next for Grapevine? From what I read on its “hey, we aren’t closing” press release, Grapevine will continue brewing beer and it will be available for consumption at is taproom. Also, it will continue its contract brewing operation, doing business as North Texas Brewing. Side note: if you have to issue a press release stating that you’re not closing, this means that either shit has gone sideways, or that word has gotten out and you no longer control the message. Just recently, Grapevine changed its hero image on its Facebook page; it now contains the text “Super Local.”

It’s bittersweet. It’s damage control. It sucks and I am sad.

Background on Berliner Weisse.
The Berliner Weisse style is a sour table style that’s both mouth puckering as well as delicious. It’s ABV is normally on the lowest end of the scale, so this is a style that you can enjoy in multiples. Berliners are lacto-soured, usually by sprinkling some finely-powdered grain on the mash and holding the mash at the 100-degree rage for an extended period of time. This can be a risky scenario, because you’re inviting a whole bunch of potential problems in the wort, but the payoff can be worth it. An alternative to this slower and more legit souring method is to just dump in some lactic acid. Homebrew wizard Jamil Zainasheff once compared this quick souring method to microwaving a steak. So, yeah it’s gonna be a cooked steak, but do you really want to put that in your mouth? Berliners are definitely sour, but they are a refreshing kind of sour. This style is usually low on SRM (light in color), and also low on the IBU (bitterness).

BRTCBW pours a deep pink color. This is a cloudy beer, which is fine for the style. Normally, a Berliner is a very pale straw color without a wacky fruit addition. Oftentimes in Germany, this style of beer is served with a sweet syrup that will slightly change the color of the beer, as well as balance out the tart sourness.

The first sensation I get on the nose is puckering tartness. It’s not crazy sour, though, as the cherry hangs around to give it a tiny hint of sweetness. I’m going to guess that this is a rather quick souring job, because the sourness is nice and clean on this beer. It doesn’t have any wacky or unexpected aromas. And I must be honest, I was sort of hoping for a surprise in the funk department. Maybe it’s that I hang around homebrewers who sometimes make super-wacky Berliners. I can understand the risk involved in brewing a large batch of Berliner though, and if I were brewing a commercial batch of BRTCBW, I’d sour it quick and move on.

Unlike some Berliner Weisse style beers I have had, BRTCBW colors within the lines in the flavor department. Tartness is here, which is nice, but it’s not knocking my hair back or anything. Frankly, the style doesn’t necessitate that. Just know that some Berliners can get sort of barnyard-y — but in a good way. Behind the puckering tartness is a bright and subtle, sweet fruity cherry situation. This beer is definitely more about being a Berliner Weisse in the flavor department, even though it sort of throws a change-up pitch with its deep pink color.

Unlike other easier-drinking ales, the Berliner Weisse style is a higher-carbonated beers. BRTCBW does not disappoint; this beer has some serious twang from the carbonation. As I take a sip in, the carbonation coats my entire tongue and sides of my cheeks and I feel the tickle in the same way I’d get from a caged and corked sort of higher carbonated sour. And while I haven’t mentioned it until now, the elevated ABV isn’t a deal-breaker for me. Normally, the Berliner style hangs out in the 3 to 4 percent ABV range, but not so with BRTCBW — this twangy sour clocks in at 6 percent! The finish is extraordinarily dry, and I completely stop thinking anything about its elevated ABV.

Overall Impression.
Grapevine has really hit its stride lately, what with its Wee Heavy, Prickly Pear Wheat, Double Tropical IPA, and now BRTCBW. They’re all very good beers. I wonder if Grapevine would still be in a financial pickle if it had started out with the aforementioned killer beers. Who knows? Maybe! However, and unfortunately, it takes more than great beers to keep a brewery in the black. If you weren’t aware, brewing is not a glamorous career, nor does it provide promise of any sort of financial windfall. Nevertheless, Grapevine says that it cannot keep brewing and distributing its own beer at a loss. And that sucks for DFW beer drinkers that don’t live near the brewery itself. Otherwise, you’ll have to make a drive out to the taproom from here out.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d give Grapevine Craft Brewery Brewers’ Reserve Tart Cherry Berliner Weisse a 7.5.

What’s happening in the area brew scene?
• Friday, August 19. Dart tournament at Oak Highlands.
• Saturday, August 27. Two-Year Anniversary at Shannon Brewing.
• Sunday, September 4. Labor of Love Homebrew Competition at Deep Ellum Brewing Co.
• Saturday, September 10. Brewfest at Dallas Farmers Market.
• Saturday, October 1. Texas Beer Camp at Long Road Farm.
• Saturday, October 8. BeerFeast at Flying Saucer Fort Worth.
• Saturday, November 12. Untapped: Dallas at Fair Park.

Previous On Tap Reviews:
Revolver’s Sangre y Miel: 10.
Peticolas’ Royal Scandal: 10.
Community’s Mosaic IPA: 10.
Peticolas’ Velvet Hammer: 10.
Community’s Barrel-Aged Legion: 10.
Community’s Legion: 10.
BrainDead’s Fill in the Blancs: 9.5.
Oak Highlands’ Freaky Deaky: 9.5.
Deep Ellum’s Barrel Aged Four Swords: 9.5.
Lakewood’s Saint Dymphna: 9.5.
Peticolas’ Lost Epic: 9.5.
Community’s Ascension Porter: 9.5.
Lakewood’s Temptress: 9.5.
Lakewood’s Goatman: 9.5.
Community’s Public Ale: 9.5.
Peticolas’ Thrilla in Brazilla: 9.5.
On Rotation’s Jalapeno Saison: 9.
Woodcreek’s Bourbon Barrel Bock: 9.
Lakewood’s Wild Manimal: 9.
Revolver’s Blood & Honey: 9.
Martin House’s Imperial Texan: 9.
Community’s Trinity Tripel: 9.
Peticolas’ Irish Goodbye: 9.
Four Corners’ Block Party Porter: 9.
Cedar Creek’s Belgian Dubbel: 9.
Peticolas’ Ghost Of Alfred Brown: 8.5.
Deep Ellum’s Easy Peasy IPA: 8.5.
Deep Ellum’s Oak Cliff Coffee Ale: 8.5.
Lakewood’s Rock Ryder: 8.5.
Rahr’s Bourbon Barrel Aged Winter Warmer: 8.5.
Lakewood’s Raspberry Temptress: 8.5.
Texas Ale Project’s Payne Pils: 8.
Noble Rey’s Bridesmaid’s Tears: 8.
Collective Brewing’s Urban Funk House: 8.
Lakewood’s On Call: 8.
Oak Highlands’ Golden Mustache: 8.
903 Brewers’ Crackin’ Up: 8.
Deep Ellum’s Play Date: 8.
Rahr & Sons Brewing Company’s 11th Anniversary Russian Imperial Stout: 8.
Bitter Sisters’ Belgian Tripel: 8.
Noble Rey’s SteamPunk: 8.
903 Brewers’ Citra On Top: 8.
Bitter Sisters’ Hissy Fit: 8.
BrainDead’s Gritz: 8.
Community’s Barrel-Aged Inspiration : 8.
Cedar Creek’s Fisticuffs: 8.
Lakewood’s Punkel: 8.
Four Corners’ El Chingon IPA: 8.
Martin House’s Day Break: 8.
Deep Ellum’s GOURDzilla: 8.
Peticolas’ The Duke (Aged 12 Months): 8.
Deep Ellum’s Pale Ale: 8.
Revolver’s Bock: 8.
903 Brewers’ Sasquatch: 8.
Peticolas’ Wintervention: 8.
Armadillo Ale Works’ Brunch Money: 8.
Martin House’s Salsa Verde: 8.
Cedar Creek’s Spinning Mule Robust Porter: 8.
Lakewood’s Holiday Bonus: 8.
Lakewood’s Hop Trapp: 8.
Martin House’s Stars Above: 7.5.
Grapevine’s Prickly Pear Wheat Ale: 7.5.
Bitter Sisters’ Knock Out: 7.5.
Four Corners’ Notorious O.A.T.: 7.5.
Noble Rey Golden Rey With Raspberries and Ginger: 7.5.
On Rotation Saved By The Belma: 7.5.
True Vine’s Unicorn’s Revenge: 7.5.
Deep Ellum’s Hop Seeker: 7.5.
Four Corners’ El Super Bee: 7.5.
Lakewood’s Hopochondria: 7.5.
Three Nations GPA: 7.5.
Martin House’s Rubberneck Red: 7.5.
Lakewood’s Antigoon’s Revenge: 7.5.
Community’s Texas Pils: 7.5.
Lakewood’s Zomer Pils: 7.5.
Cedar Creek’s Dankosaurus: 7.5.
Backcountry’s Double IPA: 7.
Rahr’s Visionary: 7.
Shannon Brewing’s Irish Cream Ale: 7.
Oak Highlands’ Guava Good: 7.
TUPPS Brewery’ Northbound 75: 7.
Rahr & Sons’ Iron Joe: 7.
BrainDead’s I Like Harvey IPA: 7.
Martin House’s Turtle Power: 7.
Collective’s Petite Golden Sour: 7.
Shannon’s Chocolate Stout: 7.
BrainDead’s Red Ale: 7.
Community’s Razzy Raspberry Witbier: 7.
Martin House’s Gateway Blonde Ale: 7.
Bearded Eel’s Purple Unicorn: 7.
Noble Rey’s Off The Leash: 7.
Shannon Brewing Company’s Irish Red: 7.
Texas Ale Project’s Somethin’ Shady: 7.
Deep Ellum IPA: 7.
Cedar Creek’s The Lawn Ranger: 7.
Martin House Brewing Company’s Cellarman’s Reserve IPA (Amarillo).: 7.
Lakewood’s Till & Toil: 7.
903 Brewers’ The Chosen One: 7.
903 Brewers’ Sugar On Top: 7.
Martin House’s Gateway XPA: 7.
Armadillo Ale Work’s Quakertown Stout: 7.
Revolver’s High Brass: 7.
Community’s Pale Ale: 7.
Oak Highlands’ Chump Change: 7.
Martin House’s River House: 7.
Grapevine Craft Brewery’s Sir William’s Brown Ale: 7.
Community’s Funnel Cake Ale: 7.
Audacity’s Boss Raptor IPA: 7.
Martin House’s The Juice: 6.5.
Collective Brewing Project’s Mom Azacca: 6.5.
Four Corners’ La Lechuza: 6.5.
Revolver’s Ironhead IPA: 6.5.
903 Brewers’ Trot Line: 6.5.
Peticolas’ Operation Collaboration: 6.5.
Grapevine Craft Brewery’s Nightwatch: 6.5.
Peticolas’ The Duke: 6.5.
Deep Ellum’s Double Brown Stout : 6.5.
Wild Acre’s Tarantula Hawk: 6.
Martin House’s Kafkaesque: 6.
TUPPS’ Cotton Mill Gold: 6.
Rabbit Hole’s Tweedleyum: 6.
Rabbit Hole’s Off With Your Red: 6.
Cedar Creek’s Elliott’s Phoned Home Pale Ale: 6
Grapevine Craft Brewery’s Lakefire: 6
Armadillo Ale Works’ WunderMelon: 6
Deep Ellum Pale Ale: 6
Lakewood’s Troll Toll: 5.5.
Martin House’s Hell Below: 5.5.
Lakewood’s La Dame Du Lac: 5.5.
Martin House’s Mind On My Money: 5.
903 Brewers’ The Land Of Milk And Honey: 5.
Deep Ellum’s Numb Comfort: 5.
Four Bullets’ Black Jack Brown: 4.5.
Four Corners Heart O’ Texas: 4.
Audacity’s Sunset Boulevard: 4.
Shannon Brewing Company’s IPA: 4.
Grapevine’s Monarch: 4.
Twin Peaks’ Dirty Blonde: 3.
Franconia Wheat: 3.
Miller Lite: 1.

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