What is the real Berliner Weisse? Ulrike Genz of Schneeeule Brauerei in Berlin is on a mission to let everyone know and taste the real deal.
In an interview with the Beer Idiots (see video above), Genz described the parameters of a style of beer that has been around in Berlin since the late 1600s, when brewers of French origin began producing a light wheat beer in the city.
“I run the only one Berliner Weisse brewery in the world,” Genz said.
Described as a light wheat beer, traditional Berliner Weisse is a lactic fermented beer with an alcohol content of between 3-4%. Traditionally, fermentation takes place in the bottle using Brettanomyces secondary-fermentation yeasts.
Peak production reached 1 million hectolitres in the 19th century by some 50 breweries in the city and all but disappeared from production in Berlin by 1990s due to various reasons, including changing tastes.
Genz’s interest was sparked when she tried a real Berliner Weisse while she was in university in 2012. Her student thesis was on Berliner Weisse and naturally she started home brewing in 2013.
She began brewing to bring the real Berliner Weisse back from the dead using historical yeasts from the bottles of the last breweries that existed after World War II.
Schneeeule or “snow owl” was founded in 2016, as a “study project” while Genz was taking courses in brewing technology.
“My philosophy is to bring back Berliner Weisse to Berlin, to the Berliners and to the world because most people don’t know what the real Berliner Weisse is,” she said.
She exults: “It’s the best beer style in the world.”
Schneeeule is the very model of a microbrewery and produced only 150 hl in 2020, but eventually hopes to grow some more as the style is revived and becomes more popular.
“It’s a 400-years-old beer style. We have to bring it back and give back to Berliners the beer tradition,” Genz said.