It’s an undisputed fact that while our men’s soccer team is generously ranked #13 in the world right now, the good ol’ USA has the most vibrant, creative craft beer scene anywhere. Take that, Germany.
Because of that, it takes more and more to stand out these days. Dogfish Head has even taken to putting moon dust in their beer. While some breweries continue to fight a hops arms race, others are scouring the farmer’s market for new ingredients.
This is not a complaint. I’m all for experimentation and extremes, especially when anyone who wants a good traditional hefeweizen or pale ale already has plenty of options. But it’s nice when a brewery can keep an eye on tradition while giving the old a new twist.
Such is the case with Smuttynose’s Straw-Barb Short Weisse, part of the New Hampshire brewery’s Short Series, a “place to experiment with new styles, ingredients and brewing techniques.” It was inspired by the Berliner Weisse—a highly carbonated wheat beer unique to Berlin, where it’s customary to add a shot of berries or herbs. Smuttynose added strawberries and rhubarb to their special fall brew (that was originally intended for summer).
While the rhubarb and the presence of souring Lactobacillus keep the strawberries from turning this into a fruity soft drink (bubbly and only 3.5% abv), you have to really love rhubarb to love this beer. But it’s easier to like—a novel experiment if you’re really looking for something rare and new.
The beer pours nice and foamy with a cloudy tan body. Sour notes and the rhubarb hit you first. Then strawberry is a subtle bonus at the end.
Only 30 barrels of the Straw-Barb were brewed, enough for 929 pint-sized bottles. It was, after all, an experiment.
City: Portsmouth, N.H.
Style: Fruit/Wheat Beer