Sour, Sour Beer of the Hour
Are you curious about sour beers, but haven’t had the courage yet to take the plunge? Well put on your floaties ‘cuz we’re throwing you into the pool. We won’t let you get away without trying a sour beer this year.
By Shira Kogut on Nov. 09, 2017
Sour Beer Not Just A Trend; It’s A Style
Are crazy, hazy IPAs and funky sours stickin’ around for 2018? Yes, we believe sours are here to stay while NEIPAs might be relinquishing their crown to something new, but let’s focus on those sours. It took North Americans most of 2016 to wrap their heads around the idea, but by 2017 they were hooked and now that it is in their heads they just can’t get enough.
The Sour Substyles
As brewers get more adventurous so do beer lovers. While sour beer is a relatively new trend in North America with the American Wild Ale style as the standard it’s nothing new in Europe where they’ve had sours for ages. Belgians are known for their Lambics, Oud Bruins, and Flanders Red Ales while Germans are known for the Gose and Berliner Weisse. Wait, you thought you hated sours, but you’ve tried a Flanders Red Ale and loved it! I have to tell you same here. When I tried the Duchesse de Bourgogne at the ABF Calgary International Beerfest in 2016, I was shocked to learn that I too liked a sour beer and that a sour beer didn’t necessarily have to be an insanely, mouth-puckering, tear jerker to be a sour beer. It also picked up awards at the 2016 Canadian Beer Awards which means that a lot of others liked it too.
What is Sour Beer?
It is a beer style where the beer has a more acidic, tart or sour taste than other beer styles. They don’t all taste like drinking liquid forms of sour-patch kids although some of them do. Like other styles, it all depends on the brewer’s interpretation, but the basic style criteria is that a brewer must add a bacteria during the brewing process this is what “sours” the beer. The most common are Lactobacillus and Pediococcus. They can also add “wild” yeast strains like Brettanomyces (aka: Bretts) which add some funkiness to the beer. Sometimes the word wild is used interchangeably with sour, but a wild beer is actually one that has “wild” yeast strain in it. If a brewer really wants to funk sh*t up then all three ingredients can be used and that is a wild and funky sour.
Sour Beer and Holiday Cheer
Now that you’ve got the basics go out and explore! The timing of this article is perfect actually because sour beers are great with turkey, mashed potatoes, pretty much anything you can put a nice, rich gravy on top of. Sours cut right through rich, fatty and spicy foods with their awesome acidity, so maybe use your Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner as a sour beer taste test. We’d love to hear about the pairings you put together!
If you are taking your Sour Taste Testing on the Road, we loved this excerpt from The Daily Beer:
Fake Knowledge of Sour Beers
Say the following things to show you are ahead of the beer curve:
- “IPAs are so last decade. Sours are so much more interesting.”
- “Oh, this is kettle-soured? That’s a shame.”
- “Is this soured with lacto, pedio or Brett?”
- “I love the barnyard nose. And there is definitely a subtle hint of fig in there.”
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