Distilled: Actual’s Curiosus is curiously straightforward

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From the May 15, 2014 edition

Actual Brewing Company has released a handful of bottled beers in the last few months, mostly twists on traditional styles. Some, like Fat Julian Imperial Stout, stick fairly close to familiar recipes, while others, like (the ironically titled) Orthodox Winter IPA, break way outside the box.

It’s interesting these are my two favorite offerings from Actual — undoubtedly because they both have bold flavors — given their vastly different approaches.

The latest from Actual, Curiosus Berliner Weisse ($9.99/750-mililiter bottle), falls somewhere between conventional and novel. It’s why Curiosus is a solid beer, but not one of my favorites from the local brewery.

Curiosus is similar to the traditional German style Berliner Weisse, only with a few modifications. It pours cloudier and more orange-ish than I expected, which piqued my interest. Upon an initial taste, I was surprised it wasn’t a stranger brew.

With subtle notes of citrus (mostly a heavy lemon) and good carbonation, Curiosus is an immediately refreshing beer ideal for this time of year. Where I was slightly disappointed — and this is only because I expected Actual to go weird — was how closely it resembled the traditional recipe. This isn’t a knock at all; Berliner Weisse is a wonderful style that more beer drinkers should get to know … intimately.

Where Curiosus could have gone crazy, but didn’t, is with its tartness. There’s a middling amount of sour acidity; it’s a bit watered down. I was hoping for more of a bite, but can’t grumble too much about its absence.

If Actual had gone in a more exotic direction — which I fully endorse, especially in regards to the wonderful Orthodox — with its Curiosus recipe, the beer may have lost seasonal appeal. With the warmer weather, easily drinkable beers are generally preferred, not something extremely sour.

I’ll surely down the refreshing, clean Curiosus here and there in the next few months. But it’ll be more of a stopgap until the weather cools down and I can relish in Actual’s heartier, more flavorful brews.

Photo by Meghan Ralston