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12 West Brewing Drops a Grand Theft Auto-Themed Beer

12 West's Weisse City, a Berliner Weisse with Meyer lemons from Agritopia.
12 West's Weisse City, a Berliner Weisse with Meyer lemons from Agritopia. Chris Malloy
click to enlarge 12 West's Weisse City, a Berliner Weisse with Meyer lemons from Agritopia. - CHRIS MALLOY
12 West's Weisse City, a Berliner Weisse with Meyer lemons from Agritopia.
Chris Malloy
Anyone who played video games last decade will remember Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. Racking up stars. Shredding digital streets lined with palm trees. Fast motorcycles and awesome '80s music. Today, 12 West Brewing in Gilbert is releasing a beer that nods to the game.

The brew is called Weisse City.

Cans of Weisse City ($15 for four) come decorated with frames of cartoon art that pulse with heavily saturated colors. It looks just like the art from Vice City. The beer can's fonts even mirrors the game's. Weisse City will also be on draft, for $6 a pint. But it's all about those cans.

We're in the middle of a beer-can art arms race in metro Phoenix. Breweries have been papering their cans with some eye-catching graphics. You feel less bad about buying four cans for $12-plus when they look this good. Can art gives breweries another way to brand themselves and express what they do. If you follow the subculture of brewery can releases — which happen with regularity and inspire fanfare, long lines, and Instagram posts — you will notice just how epic local can art has gotten.


Weisse City's creative can art scores an A+.

But the beer is interesting for additional reasons. 12 West's taproom is in Barnone, the progressive network of farms, eateries, and non-food craftsmen in Gilbert. More than 200 pounds of lemons were used to brew Weisse City, and they came from within Agritopia, a few hundred feet from the tap room. Weisse City is a Berliner Weisse, a German beer style, and German beers are having a national and local moment. Berliner Weisse falls under the lush umbrella of sour beer — the best drinking in the galaxy for the arid months ahead.

Noel Garcia, co-founder and head brewer of 12 West, has been into weisse beers lately. "Typically, they're a tart and refreshing kind of beer," he says. "Heading into summer, we've been making more."

He says he has been trying to expand on what weisse is. Recently, he spiked weisse with Kool-Aid. Weisse City will be a tamer take, the only real step outside tradition being the addition of Meyer lemons.

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He says he has been trying to expand on what weisse is. Recently, he spiked weisse with Kool-Aid. Weisse City will be a tamer take, the only real step outside tradition being the addition of Meyer lemons.

"Meyer is what's in season," Garcia says. "The flavor's really intense and we just fell in love with it. We just thought it was the perfect thing to do with a Berliner Weisse."

Like most German beers, Weisse City is on the milder side. The tartness created by kettle souring is on the soft end, dovetailing with the more perfumey than acidic character of Meyer lemons. With a mellow citrusy backbone and an ABV of a mere 4.3 percent, this beer is crushable.

The first batch of Weisse City is 10 barrels, which is the capacity of 12 West's brewing system. Cans go on sale today, April 5, at 3 p.m.

12 West Brewing Company. 3000 East Ray Road, Barnone, Building 6, Suite 110, Gilbert; 480-404-9699.
Monday to Wednesday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Thursday to Saturday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
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Chris Malloy, former food editor and current food critic at Phoenix New Times, has written for various local and national outlets. He has scrubbed pots in a restaurant kitchen, earned graduate credit for a class about cheese, harvested garlic in Le Marche, and rolled pastas like cappellacci stuffed with chicken liver. He writes reviews but also narrative stories on the food world's margins.
Contact: Chris Malloy