It's not very often that one has a beer wish granted, but Saint Arnold has done just that. Of the handful of classic beer styles that are obvious for Texas weather and culture yet still missing, Saint Arnold makes that list one shorter with the release of Boiler Room.
Boiler Room is a Berliner weisse, a classic German beer style that once almost disappeared even from Germany. Often called the "people's champagne" (Napoleon dubbed it the "Champagne of the north"), it is a light, effervescent wheat beer with just a touch of tartness and perfectly suited for the brutal summers we have here in the Lone Star State.
What sets the Berliner weisse apart from ordinary weizen beers -- other than the product name, protected under European law like "Parmesan" or "Champagne" -- is that the wort is not completely boiled and is allowed to sour. Normally, a rolling boil is necessary to sterilize the beer so the yeast can do what they do without competition but Berliner weisse leaves just a little bit of naturally occurring Lactobacillus delbruckii to produce some pleasant sour flavors. (Modern brewers sometimes also add a little Lacto at the end just to help it along.)
Brewed to a very sessionable strength well under other beers, what results is a golden ale with a lightly sweet, toasty pilsner base with a clean, tart flavor that is less like citrus and closer to vinegar. It's not complex like lambics or other Belgian sour beers you may know but the combination is perfect for the heat. Trust me, it works -- think of a lemonade with a fraction of the sugar, or a very, very dry margarita.
Boiler Room is centrifuged instead of filtered, so it can have a slight haze but with a light and refreshing body. It is fermented with a kölsch yeast to a crisp 3.7% ABV and is made to guzzle outside on humid summer days. Here's hoping consumers pick up on the style and demand more from local brewers.
(Traditionally, Berliner weisse is served mit schuss, or with a shot of sweet flavored syrup like raspberry, woodruff or caraway, or sometimes even schnapps or flavored vodka, but it can be enjoyed any way you prefer.)
Availability: Typically not a draft product, Boiler Room is now found year-round in larger-format 22-oz bottles. Hopefully, six-packs are not far behind.