Summer Beer infusions: Berliner Weisse, rhubarb and herbs

As someone who started drinking beer as local breweries were exploding, I never really explored traditional German beer styles – although it’s probably the country most associated with beer and brewing (right?). I’m also from an unfortunate little part of Wisconsin that warped German culture so much that I really wrote off any value of German traditions and history.

Thankfully, we covered A LOT of German beer ground in my first semester of Better Beer Society University (aka beer school) and I am reformed. *insert prayer hands emoji* Turns out a ton of my favorite modern beers have German roots. One of the best styles I tried was Berliner Weisse. Wheaty. Lightly Sour. Refreshing.

Now, a Berliner Weisse is so completely fine on its own. But it’s also traditionally served with sweetened syrups so there are endless possibilities for fun infusions. Is it even fair to all other beverages to put awesome fruit syrup in beers? They have a Berliner Weiss and many syrups on tap at Day Block Brewing Co. right now.

{Look at these beauties. You'll be surprised which one is from the Farmer's Market and which is Kowalski's.}
{Look at these beauties. You’ll be surprised which one is from the Farmer’s Market and which is Kowalski’s.}

But if you really want to have some fun, pick up your local version of the Berliner Weisse and make your own syrups. The first infusion is a rhubarb simple syrup. I’m a Midwesterner who worships those magenta-green stalks whenever I can get them. Nothing says summer like rhubarb and now it’s paired with your favorite new summer beer.

I also wanted to create an herbaceous infusion so I can use some of the crop from my window herb garden. This basil-mint-strawberry syrup is a perfect complement to this tangy, sour beer without being overly sweet.

The situation for the strawberry syrup is almost the same. But you don’t add the sugar right away. I wasn’t sure I would get enough flavor by using herbs in the first boil, so I divided them so the minty flavor would definitely come through.

 

{Berliner Weiss by New Glarus and Day Block Brewing}
{Berliner Weiss by New Glarus and Day Block Brewing}

For this recipe, I used Day Block Brewing Co’s Berliner Weisse as well as a New Glarus Berliner Weiss that I picked up on the other side of the river this weekend. Finding a nice plain Berliner Weisse was kinda tough. A lot of the modern ones are already infused with something during the brew instead of served with syrup after – like Dogfish Head’s Festina Pêche, made with peaches.

{Rhubarb stalk aka new swizzler}
{Rhubarb stalk aka new swizzler}
{Pouring the rhubarb syrup}
{Pouring the rhubarb syrup}

You can make simple syrup very easily following similar instructions. I like to serve them with some garnish – like a rhubarb stalk or sprig of mint – in a stemless glass.

Here are the recipes!

Rhubarb Simple Syrup
A standalone rhubarb syrup to compliment your favorite Berliner Weiss beer.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
35 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
35 min
Total Time
40 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 cups rhubarb
  2. 1 cup sugar
  3. 1 cup water
  4. A squeeze of fresh lemon juice (optional)
Instructions
  1. Cover the fresh rhubarb with sugar and liquid and bring all ingredients to a boil in a saucepan. Once the mixture is bubbly and rolling, lower the heat and simmer until the fruit softens, stirring occasionally to prevent stickiness.
  2. After about 20-30 minutes, the mixture will be thick enough.
  3. Remove from heat and use a strainer to separate the fruit pieces from the liquid, pressing on the fruit with a spatula to release more juices.
  4. Pour into a clean bottle or container.
Notes
  1. Pressing the fruit adds some particulates to the syrup (which I like) or you can skip it.
Girl Meets Growler http://girlmeetsgrowler.com/
Strawberry-Basil-Mint Syrup
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
35 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
35 min
Total Time
40 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 quart strawberries, hulled and sliced
  2. 1 cup water
  3. ¾ cup sugar
  4. ¼ cup fresh basil and mint leaves
Instructions
  1. Cover strawberries with water and bring to a boil in a saucepan.
  2. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. About half way through, add a bit of the herb mixture and continue to simmer and stir.
  4. Once the fruit is soft and pale, strain the liquid.
  5. Return the liquid to the pan.
  6. Add sugar and remaining herbs.
  7. Dissolve sugar and cook for about 10 more minutes or until the mixture thickens slightly.
  8. Pick out remaining leaves and pour syrup into a bottle or serving container.
Girl Meets Growler http://girlmeetsgrowler.com/
What kind of syrup would you want to make for your Berliner?
Cheers!
Cali

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