Beer Review 0507: Evil Twin Justin Blåbær Berliner Weiss

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Did you know that Mikkel Borg Bjergsø, mastermind behind Mikkeller, had a twin brother? His name is Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø, and he also makes beer under the Evil Twin name.

Like Mikkel, Jeppe is also a gypsy brewer, roving around the world and using breweries to stage his creations, leading to plenty of collaborations. It all started in 1998, when Jeppe started a beer club in Denmark, tired of the same tried and true beer offerings available there. He and his friends would share new beers they found; this eventually led to home brewing. Opening up a bar of their own was an idea, but it never worked out — Mikkel continued to purse brewing, while Jeppe went in a different direction: he opened a bottle shop.

In 2010, Jeppe found himself a busy man — not only was he running a bottle shop, he was also teaching school. Why not have another job? After a chance meeting with a big-time distributor, Jeppe sent him 20 pallets of beer he’d made, and it sold out in less than 24 hours! Today, he and his family reside in New York City, and are leaving a mark in the beer world, making highly acclaimed beers that generally receive lots of praise. Guess it must run in the family.

Obviously, this beer is named after a famous pop star, which we will try not to namedrop in this review. Justin Blåbær is a collaboration beer between Evil Twin, Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina’s Westbrook Brewing Company, and the Charleston Beer Exchange. It’s a Berliner Weiss, a style of beer that has origins in Northern Germany, dating back to the 16th century. Traditionally, the beer is brewed with wheat and is soured with a secondary fermentation with added Lactobacillus bacteria. Justin Blåbær, which was brewed at Charleston Beer Exchange’s facility, is produced with blueberries. In fact, ‘blåbær’ is Danish for blueberry.

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The pour produced a large collar of foamy head, bright white in color and lasting. The beer was golden-orange in color, with just a tiny tint of purple from the blueberries. As I got to the end of the bottle and mixed up the yeast dregs, the beer became more purple. At the start, it’s quite cloudy; by the conclusion of the bottle, this is like cloudy river water, but there aren’t any chunks of particles or sediment. Lacing is a no-go.

The nose is quiet — I didn’t really get any blueberries until it warmed up significantly. Mainly, Justin Blåbær is about the funk; it’s musty and barnyard, the tartness apparent. There’s some light notes of straw and grain. Overall, not much going on here. Subdued is the correct word.

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On the palate, we’ve got a big punch of sour blueberry, tart like Spree candies. It’s a shock until you take a couple of sips and get used to the sourness. There’s just a small hint of white vinegar, but that fades as you get further into the glass. The blueberry is complex; tart and downright sour at first, then mellows to actually show some sweetness. This beer opens to some grainy malt before a dry finish of earthy blueberries and funky yeast. The concluding taste is like carbonated fruit juice. Justin Blåbær is light-bodied, with a thin, foamy mouthfeel. Adding the yeast dregs doesn’t really alter the taste much; perhaps it tames the sourness just a bit.

Overall, Justin Blåbær wants to be outstanding, but falls just shy of doing so. Two factors at play here: the complexity is low; other than the tasty use of blueberries, there really isn’t anything terribly unique going on here. Also, the price is stiff for this bottle, in my opinion. I’ll let you draw your own analogies to the pop star this brew is named after.

Evil Twin Justin Blåbær Berliner Weiss, 88 points. Price: $11.99 US for one 22 oz. bomber size bottle.

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