Athena Paradiso (4.5% ABV)
Creature Comforts Brewing Company (Athens, Georgia)
Athena Paradiso pours a jewel-toned raspberry pink with a teensy sudsy head. The beer is slightly hazy with a little carbonation throughout. As you pour the beer, the fruitiness hits you.
The taste is a slightly tart and fruit-forward with what I taste as a little saltiness coming through. This beer is so juicy and refreshing, and it brings together the flavors of raspberry and cranberry beautifully. I can't divvy up the flavors to tell which fruit is bringing in the tartness versus which gives the beer a sweeter taste, but my best guess would be raspberry leads to the latter. That's the fruit I think of first when drinking this beer, while the cranberry feels like a way to balance what could otherwise be an overly sweet or overly tart beer.
On the can, you'll also see the most amazing art featuring a Georgia Theatre sign that reads "Playing Tonight Lacto Bacillus". Lactobacillus, I learned on a tour at Creature Comforts and confirmed through a quick google search, is a bacteria that eats up sugars in the wort, lowers the liquid's pH and makes it sour. It leads to the tartness in goses and berliner weisses, such as this one.
Athena — the OG, not Paradiso — was actually my first foray into the Berliner Weisse style. Creature Comforts opened in Athens, Georgia the year I turned 21 (they're celebrating 4 years this weekend), and quickly became a go-to destination on the weekends. One of their first beers was Athena, a 4.5% ABV Berliner Weisse, and it struck me as weirdly tart and wheaty. I was so used to the pine-y IPAs from Terrapin (also in Athens) that a tart beer took me by surprise.
On a tour one of the co-founders explained they hoped to serve it in a traditional style — plain Berliner Weisse with a variety of syrups that could be mixed in to add more flavor. Four years later, and they've got their syrups in the tap room, but they've also experimented with their canned Athena, including cranberry and raspberry or event guava and passion fruit.
I don't get to drink nearly enough of this beer since they don't distribute to Birmingham (my husband picked up this six pack on a trip back to Athens), but it is easily one of my favorite summertime beers. In fact, I pulled it out of the fridge in celebration of warm weather after yet another cold snap in Birmingham.
Before I get to rambling too much, here's what you came here for (maybe) —
Overall rating: 4.9/5