You won’t find a prettier beer than Smuttynose Brewing Company’s Blackberry Short Weisse.
Which isn’t to say a beautiful beer is always a tasty one. But visual aesthetics never hurt, and poured into a tulip glass, Smutty’s Blackberry Short Weisse shines brightly, a stunning magenta hue that’s sure to get nearby tables asking, “Hey, what are you drinking?”
What’s in the glass is the New Hampshire brewery’s twist on a classic German style, the Berliner Weisse. Smuttynose ferments the base wheat beer twice, once in the kettle with lactobacillus — a microbe used to make yogurt and sour cream — and once in the fermenter with a German hefeweizen yeast. The beer is then aged over a variety of fruits. To date, Smuttynose has released blueberry, blackberry, peach, and cherry versions of the Short Weisse series.
“It’s quite difficult to make,” says Charlie Ireland, a brewer who runs Smuttynose’s “Smuttlabs” innovation brewery.
During the first fermentation, the pH of the beer drops from 5.2 to 3.4, making it quite tart. The hefeweizen fermentation “creates an amazing strawberry aroma and light crisp flavors,” according to Ireland. The entire process takes 72 hours. As for the gorgeous color, Ireland says, “I really never know what color the fruit is going to impart . . . just pour and pray.”
The result is a beer that’s as delicate as it is beautiful. Blackberry puree, cotton, and a touch of damp earth mingle in the nose, but no single element overpowers the flavor. The beer is fruity but isn’t sweet, and it’s less tart than sour — notes of lemon and cherry exist but don’t present as paint-stripping. Let the brew warm a little to savor its musty, funky depths.
Smuttynose launched in Portsmouth, N.H., in 1994 with one beer, Shoals Pale Ale, and over the years has expanded a lineup of well-known brews including Old Brown Dog, Robust Porter, and Finest Kind IPA. Recently, the Smuttlabs series has pushed the boundaries to produce beers like Satchmo, a porter brewed with black trumpet mushrooms, and The Stallion, an imperial stout aged in red wine barrels.
Blackberry Short Weisse was released in March, and patrons can sample that beer and others in a LEED-certified brewery at Towle Farm, in Hampton, N.H., which opened in 2014. The property includes a farm-to-table restaurant, Hayseed, with 30 taps, as well as a nine-hole disc-golf course. The can’t-miss brew has also started hitting Smuttynose accounts, on tap and in cans, in the Boston area.Gary Dzen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GaryDzen