16 July 2008

Indiana Beer Week Bar Hop - Day Three - In Rainbows

Mike, Gina, and the Electric Boogaloo Crew descended upon Greenwood's Oaken Barrel for day three of our latest excuse to drink - Indiana Beer week.

Tonight's beer of honor was none other than Oaken Barrel's Berliner Weise - a sour beer that allows you, the customer, in on the fun by giving you a choice of syrups to add to the beer.

This is certainly an odd choice of beer to brew - only two commercially known version of the beer are available, and the process of brewing this particular style can be hazardous to a brewery's equipment. "Skull and Crossbones!" were the words used by assistant brewer Andrew Castner.

So why brew the style? The choice was inspired by head brewer Mark Havens' trip to Europe. After discussing the style, the two brewers headed to Shallos to give the available examples a whirl. Oaken Barrel is trying to introduce small batch beers throughout the year, in an effort to liven up their reputation. I'd say this is an excellent example of that effort.

The beer comes out without any syrup added, and looks like this:

But with a mix of sweet syrups soon looks like this:

From left to right: Blackberry, Raspberry, Strawberry, Kiwi

The taste without syrup: A malty, sort of ashy thing, with just a hint of sourness. Despite our initial concerns, this wasn't an overly sour beer, and goes quite well by itself.

The taste with syrup: Same sort of nose, but the taste is something different - the syrups add a tart and punchy sort of slushpuppy element. Really tasty. And pretty fun, actually.

This style won't last long - Mark thought it might last a week - so if you're interested, head on down soon. It's a beer experience you won't soon replicate.


  1. We were all really excited for this beer and I know I was more than impressed. The syrups can really sweeten the beer (I liked it that way), so take caution.

    Oaken Barrel really has something great here. Get it while you can.

  2. Sorry I couldn't stay around for longer tonight, but with a 4 month old I am on her schedule most of the time, but I am glad I at least made it down there. I liked it so much I had three of them. My favorite was without anything added to it.

    I talked with Mark Havens before he left and he said they were pretty happy with the beer for the most part, but were not happy with the carbonation and the head retention, but I've never had a BW with a lasting head, and it is part of the style guidelines. Well done in my amateur opinion.

    I was quite impressed and really happy to see this style, and really excited to see what OB will come up with next with Mark and Andrew at the helm.

  3. I'm just wondering if Claire got olives out of this beer...

  4. With every Beer Week post, I become more jealous...

  5. we miss you Jim! Maybe on your way back from B-town you could stop in for a pint?

  6. I definitely did NOT get olives-- I am cured :)