Monday, August 19, 2013

Beer Review: Thumbprint Berliner Weiss (2008 vintage) and Unplugged Berliner Weiss (2013 vintage)

Reviewing both vintages (2008 and 2013) of New Glarus' Unplugged/Thumbprint Berliner Weiss. New Glarus is a Wisconsin brewery that no longer distributes its beer outside of Wisconsin. I reviewed the 2008 vintage of this beer last year. The 2008 vintage used a mix of Pinot Grigio and Riesling grapes, while the new release only used Riesling grapes.

Score: 91 (2008), 85 (2013)

2008 and 2013 vintage bottles served side-by-side in Perennial snifter/tulip hybrid glasses and enjoyed on 05/07/13.

Appearance: The older vintage pours a hazy amber color with a slightly yellowish hue in the light that is substantially different than the lighter white wine golden straw color of the new vintage. Both beers pour a thin layer of white head, with the older head having a darker tinge. Both vintages have above average lacing, with the fresher one having substantial better retention. Both have good retention. 4/5 (2008), 3.5/5 (2013)

Smell: The 2008 vintage aroma is red wine sweetness, apples juice and light vanilla. The 2008 vintage smells like charossets without the nuts. A little fruity oxidation too in a good way. The newer vintage smells of grainy apples, white grapes and cheap white wine (like those single serving bottles they serve on airplanes). The newer vintage has a faint lager-like quality to the nose with hint of banana too. 4/5 (2008), 3.5/4 (2013)

Taste: The 2008 vintage is much more vinous than I remember it being a year prior. The 2008 vintage tastes less like apple cider this time around, and instead tastes like charossets without the nuts plus a light earthiness and fruitiness. The 2008 vintage has a mild, but pleasant tartness. Finishes with charrossets and fruity positive oxidation. By contrast, the 2013 vintage primarily tastes of tart apples, cereal grain, cheap and tannic white wine and wheat. The 2013 vintage tastes a lot like a better Hottenroth, with more tartness and better carbonation. The 2013 does not taste bad, but it tastes very average side-by-side with the 2008 vintage. The 2013 vintage gains a little more tartness as it opens up, but this unfortunately the accenuates grainy finish, which I am not a fan of. 4.25/5 (2008), 3.25/5 (2013)

Mouthfeel: The 2008 vintage is heavier in body (just shy of medium bodied) and has minimal carbonation, less tartness and a mellow dryness. The newer vintage is lighter in body ad has more carbonation and tartness. The 2013 is pretty effervescent out of the gate and less dry on the finish. 3.25/5 (2008), 3.75/5 (2013)

Overall: I much preferred the older vintage, which is drinking nicely. The new vintage was too grainy and the cheap white wine quality was off-putting to me.

Cost: $10 for a four pack of 12 oz bottles.

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