By James Beeson
If you wanted evidence that the craft beer revolution has truly gone global, then the existence of a French-brewed, American sub-style of an historic German beer style would probably be quite a good place to start.
The Florida Weisse, for those unfamiliar with the style, is at its core a Berliner Weisse fermented with fruit. The style came into existence around eight years ago, when Peg’s Cantina & Brewpub in Gulfport, Florida, tapped a small batch beer called Ich Bin Ein Rainbow Jelly Donut.
The beer was a Berliner Weisse fermented with limes and raspberries, and was an unqualified success, with drinkers heralding its sweet-sour balance and refreshing taste. The style was picked up by J Wakefield and other Florida breweries such as Cigar City, before spreading across the continent, and then eventually the Atlantic.
Regarded as one of France’s most exciting modern craft breweries, Brasserie Popihn, in Vaumort, Northern France, has gained recognition for the variety and quality of its output, producing selection of beers that range from juicy New England-inspired pales to decadent imperial stouts.
Brasserie Popihn’s take on the Florida Weisse is a 4.5% sour ale, with 400 kilos of passion ruit and 200 kilos of guava, added for around a week towards the end of fermentation.
“We wanted to brew something fruity, refreshing and without hops,” head brewer Gunther Oltra tells me. ‘We like Berliner Weisse and sour ales in the summer and we are very fond of passionfruit.”
The beer pours a deep hazy yellowy orange with a white bubbly head that laps the sides of the glass like an excitable puppy before fading quicker than a New England IPA on a warm shelf in the sweltering heat. The nose is pungent as an overripe passionfruit, with hints of lime and citrus fruits.
To taste, Pophin Florida Weisse has a slick, almost oily mouthfeel, which gives way to a prickling carbonation that dances its way across the tongue. The predominant flavour is passionfruit, although there is more than a trace of mango, guava and lime in the background.
The use of a New England yeast strain, combined with the addition of the fruit, gives the beer a fullness in the body that can sometimes be lacking in Berliner Weisse’s of comparable strength, while there is plenty of the characteristic natural yoghurt-like consistency in the finish.
“We never expect anything from our beers,” Oltra adds. “We brew and we wait for the results. We were hoping for something tart and fruity, and it has turned out pretty close to that!”
This is a truly excellent representation of a niche style, and further proof that, when it comes to beer quality, a rising tide floats all boats. I look forward to trying more of what Brasserie Popihn and France has to offer in the future.
James Beeson is the British Guild of Beer Writers’ Best Young Beer Writer 2017. You can read more of his work on his website Beeson On Beer, in The Morning Advertiser, or by following him on Twitter @jdbeeson16. Shop the full range of Brasserie Popihn beers here, or check out HonestBrew’s range of French craft beers online.