When Texas Monthly’s barbecue editor, Daniel Vaughn, eats barbecue, he doesn’t drink beer — or, at least, he didn’t until he discovered a style of beer that he writes is “the only beer I really love with barbecue.”
That’s the Berliner Weisse, a slightly tart, low ABV wheat beer originally from Germany that, it turns out, is pretty prolifically made in Texas. But he didn’t stumble upon it here.
“I recently sipped an old style of German beer while tucking into a smoky beef rib at Hometown Bar-B-Que in Brooklyn,” he writes in a recent Texas Monthly article about his newfound love for Berliner Weisse-style brews. “It was crisp, bubbly, and a little acidic — basically, it was everything the beef rib wasn’t. And that’s how I discovered the Berliner Weisse.”
His article dives into a history of the style in Texas. It’s a popular beer to make here — as I noted in this 2015 story about locally produced Berliner Weisses, including Live Oak Brewing’s traditional version — and has been since well before the craft beer boom. In his research of the style, Vaughn dug up an 1886 advertisement in the San Antonio Daily Light, a now-defunct newspaper, about Alamo Brewery’s Berliner Weisse, coming out just in time for summer.
“It turns out that Texas has loved Berliner Weisse about as long as barbecue joints have existed,” Vaughn writes. “In the late nineteenth century, breweries in Fort Worth, San Antonio, and Denison advertised the release of their seasonal Berliner Weisse beers.”
So what modern-day example of the brew should we seek out for some Texas brisket at our favorite local barbecue joint?
Vaughn has quite a few recommendations, many from the state — they go with just about any kind of meaty barbecue item you could think of except for pastrami, as he discerned during more research of a hands-on variety, testing out Berliner Weisse pairings with various smoked meats at Dallas’ Cattleack Barbeque.
These include Live Oak’s Berliner Weisse, Blue Owl Brewing’s Little Boss and Independence Brewing’s RedBud Berliner Weisse.
“The tart beers like Live Oak’s (Austin) Berliner Weisse and Blue Owl’s (Austin) Little Boss were the perfect foil for the spice and fat of the house made sausage links,” Vaughn writes. “I’ll spare you all the tasting notes, but the hint of sweetness of Raspberry AF from Saint Arnold (Houston) married just as well with the smoked brisket at Cattleack as the first pairing I’d tried in Brooklyn.”
And don’t forget Austin Beerworks’ beloved Einhorn, a newly canned seasonal offering. A picture in Vaughn’s article shows the powder-blue can decked out with unicorns (Einhorn means ‘unicorn’ in German) with a luscious-looking strip of brisket draped around it.
Is your mouth watering yet? To get some Texas barbecue and test out Vaughn’s delicious pairing for yourself, check out one of these local joints recommended by our restaurant critic Matthew Odam.
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Get to know Austin’s breweries, distilleries and more in the Austin360 Boozery Guide