Fundamentals #131 — Pastore Blood Peach Waterbeach Weisse

I confess, I don’t drink a lot of fruit sour beers. I do, however, enjoy the term “fruit sour” if you’ll allow me to explain.

It’s been very enjoyable observing the return of some classic, near extinct central European styles over the past 10 years or so. If it wasn’t for experimentally-minded, plucky brewers digging through the history books, styles such as gose and Berliner weisse might have been consigned to history, and not the colourful cans that now adorn our bottle shop shelves.

However, as brewers have increasingly sought to experiment with these styles by, for example, loading them with fruit, they have drifted further and further away from what made them significant. I don’t believe a lot of these styles on the market are actually goses or Berliners – but after a recent experience, I do consider them to be as fun as they are increasingly varied.

On a recent trip to the States, I had the opportunity to spend an evening judging fruit sours, which meant I had to taste over 20 variations in very quick succession. Initially daunted, once I got into the groove, I found my smile widening as each beer was served.

Some were more conventional, using fruit alone, while some added vanilla for a sweet kick. One was a riff on a paloma cocktail that was so accurate I could’ve been convinced it wasn’t beer at all and some really pushed the boat out… I tried both pickle beer and beetroot beer – and they were both great!

Thanks to this experience, when it came to trying Blood Peach Waterbeach Weisse from Cambridge’s Pastore, I found a great deal of joy. From the moment the burnt orange beer cascaded into my glass, I felt enticed and was keen to discover what flavours the addition of blood peaches, along with fermentation via Hornindal Kviek yeast and Lactobacillus, would bring.

The answer was tart, sharp flavours of lemon and peach juice. While the first sip made my cheeks curl up to the ceiling, the sharpness calmed down as my palate adjusted to the acidity with successive sips. Although it might not be a true Berliner weisse in terms of history, it is evidence that there’s still plenty of deliciousness to be found in fruit sour beers – and this is as good as any of them.