Beer of the Week: Tartare Sour Berliner Weisse, Bear Republic Brewing Co., Healdsburg, CA
What a great name for a soft, easy to drink at 4% ABV beer. Usually tartare evokes raw beef, bloody rare. It’s not usually a bucolic term. This tartare evokes sunny days in the California Wine Country, or this time of year, a perfect session beer to carry you through hours of Oktoberfest oompah bands.
Tartare manages to balance being both a tart and slightly fruity beer with subtle elements of mango and blueberry. It has far more character than the typical Berlin style wheat beer, that often seems like a muddled down hefeweizen, if that’s even possible. Perhaps the character of Tartare comes from being fermented in a 2500 gallon oak vessel. It’s treated with all the care that the Zinfandel grapes receives at the hundreds of wineries surrounding Bear Republic in Healdsburg, CA.
The beer’s body is less murky and hazy yellow than most of this genre. Instead it’s almost a healthy straw golden hue, nearly shining. Of course Bear Republic is best known for its Racer 5 IPA, a slightly lighter, less bitter version of an IPA than by nearby rivals Lagunitas and Russian River. I didn’t care for the somewhat prickly Jack London ESB or the indistinct Red Rocket Red Amber Ale. However, the Hop Rod Rye, the not too burly and heavy Big Black Bear Stout, and a sensational double IPA hop bomb called Café Racer 15 show why Bear Republic is one of the country’s leading craft brewers…and they’re from the heart of Wine Country.
Well, this is Wine Country after all. No wonder they call Tartare the “champagne of beers.”