Lo Rez | Circuit Bender
Ah, the Berliner Weisse. A tart wheat beer that was too tart for some so they added Woodruff and fruited syrups to cut down some of that tartness. Still too tart for some, brewers started putting in so much fruit that the Berliner Weisse became a vessel for exploding cans and basically fruit juice/puree. What breweries don’t frequently do is barrel age a Berliner Weisse. Lo Rez has done just that with Circuit Bender.
Circuit Bender has a lot going on. It started as a Berliner Weisse , but not kettle soured; it has saccharomyces, brettanomyces, and lactobacillus. Blackberry juice and aging in neutral rum and rye round out this relatively robust-process beer. Beers like this are usually for special occasions, and Lo Rez’s is no different – it’s both for their 3rd anniversary and to benefit the Brave Space Alliance. (Also, if you accidentally search for Circuit Blender, you get Raphael Saadiq’s wikipedia page on the first page of the search! Or at least I did. Google must be able to go back to my Tony! Toni! Toné! phase in the early ’90s.)
Circuit Blender pours with a fair amount of faintly pink head – about two fingers – that settles to a nice thin coating after a few seconds. A dingy purple or plum color rests below. Tilting the glass a bit reveals some brown highlights, but that plum color dominates the beer. And that blackberry juice dominates the nose as it does the color – it’s the sweetest and most distinct thing. Right behind that is a certain sour or acidity scent, with a bit of bramble bush. It reminded me of those hard candies in wrappers meant to look like the fruit (apparently Arcor candies). Don’t go in expecting any barrel character to come out though!
Oh wow, a traditional Berliner Weisse! Circuit Bender has a tartness that borders on being sour but never crosses the dreaded sour line. There’s a fruit present, but I’ll only say it’s blackberry because it’s on the bottle. The fruit hangs around for a bit, even after the surprisingly dry finish. The barrels don’t do all that much (they’re like Switzerland) except provide some nice body and possibly that dry finish. The tartness dominates the palate, but not overly so, keeping this one a lovely easy drinker.
Those who are in the over-fruited sour game look elsewhere. Circuit Bender harkens back to a time when Berliner Weisses had some kick to them and the fruit complimented – not overtook – the base beer. I realized neutral rye and rum barrels were used, but having any of the barrel character come through on the beer would’ve been a big plus or, at the very least, made the beer stand out a bit more. As is, Circuit Bender is a nice take on a fruited Berliner Weisse that you will not regret. It’s easy to drink, nicely tart, has a lovely dry finish, and was brewed the old fashioned Berliner Weisse way, making it a rarity in the market.