Sometimes a brewery is so consistently good that you buy anything it puts out, even if it is a little outside of the wheelhouse. That’s exactly what I did when I saw that longtime favorite SweetWater Brewing Company had made its way to the Midwest. I snapped up the Atlanta-based brewery’s new peach Berliner weisse Peach, Love & Happiness with no thought of how SweetWater’s best offerings are all of the hop-forward variety. That proved to be a mistake.
Peach, Love & Happiness actually looks more like an unfiltered IPA than a Berliner weisse, pouring a dull orange-yellow color that definitely doesn’t catch the light. A quickly fading layer of foam gives way to an island of lonely bubbles resting on top—an altogether average appearance if I’ve ever seen one.
The aroma provides the first hint of the peach, with a sweet and lightly artificial peach syrup smell. There is only a hint of the signature kettle-sour tartness that a Berliner weisse should bring, which allows the artificial quality to become magnified. Peach, Love & Happiness ends up smelling like a slightly tart peach candy.
Peach, Love & Happiness either needs to be more peach or more Berliner weisse.”
Unlike the aroma, the flavor does bring some bright tartness, though probably not enough. Peaches are naturally a delicate flavor, while the artificial peach flavor present here can be a hammer of syrupy sweetness. SweetWater does a good job controlling that inherent sweetness by pairing it with the tart and wheat flavors more typical of the style. Unfortunately, in dialing back the peach to control the sweet and reining in the tartness to allow that delicate peach to peak forward, SweetWater made a pretty bland beer that is only vaguely peachy and barely tart.
Bland isn’t the way I’d describe SweetWater’s catalog of normally very good beers, but that is the best descriptor of Peach, Love & Happiness. It either needs to be more peach or more Berliner weisse. Or maybe neither, because I’m simply not sure a good beer exists with this combination, and deriving the beer’s peachiness from “natural flavors” makes it worse—tasting anything but natural.