Norway is also lacking in a musical heritage, apart from Grieg, but Berlin has attracted many great musicians including David Bowie who lived there in there in the late 1970’s. A singer who greatly influenced Bowie was Lou Reed (1942 -2013). In 1973 Lou Reed released the LP Berlin which got to No 7 in the UK album charts. This is quite a depressing album which would probably go down well in the perpetual Norwegian winter.
Berliner Weisse is an old style soured wheat beer traditionally brewed in the Berlin area. The souring by the addition of a lactic culture makes it different from traditional German wheat beers. Berliner Weisses are quite hard to find and this one is actually brewed by the Lervig Brewery in Stavanger, Norway. This is a low alcohol beer which was highly acclaimed by Napoleon. In Germany, Berliner Weisses are sometimes served with the addition of a fruit syrup.
Berliner Weisse pours a pale yellow colour with a big foaming head which soon dissipates. There is a slight lemony aroma with the beer tasting a little like homemade lemonade. The beer is brewed with wheat, barley, Makrut lime leaves and lactobacillus. Unlike some sour beers, this does not have a particularly astringent taste. Berliner Weisses are low alcohol beers and this would be a good thirst quencher on a hot summer’s day. This beer could make a good accompaniment to a fish dish, especially a plate of Norwegian smoked salmon.
Lervig Aktiebryggeri is based in Stavanger, Norway and run by an American brewer, Mike Murphy. They brew a wide range of beers including Saison, Rye, Stout, Barley Wine, Oat and Cherry. They are listed on Ratebeer as one of the 100 best breweries in the world. This is an amazing achievement given that 80 of the 100 best brewers are American and that there are somewhere in the region of 20,000 breweries worldwide. Lervig export 30% of their production to countries as far afield as Australia, Thailand, Singapore, USA, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany, Holland, France, England, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Estonia, Poland, South Korea, Russia and Iceland.
Norway does not have much of a brewing tradition. From 1919 -1926 they had prohibition and off-licences are still owned and operated by the state. Low alcohol lager was the national drink until the craft beer revolution arrived in 2002 and Norway now has around 70 craft breweries. Beer is heavily taxed in Norway with most craft breweries offering more interesting beers which attract premium prices.
Pour yourself a glass of Berliner Weisse, make a sandwich of Norwegian smoked salmon and revel in the Cabaret type decadence Lou Reed’s “Berlin”.