What is a Sour beer?
Sour beers have been around since the beginning of beer but have only recently become a popular style in the United States. The sourness of the beer is caused by yeast, more specifically yeast that isn’t “pure” but it is wild. It was common years earlier because there was no way to control the yeast without the technology we have today, now it has become an art form (replicating those wild yeasts). This style can take months and years to perfect a particular beer and the results can be puckering goodness.
Common Yeasts for Sours: Brettanomyces (Brettanomyces Bruxellensis, Brettanomyces Lambicus or Brettanomyces Anomolus), Pediococcus or Lactobacillus. It can also be wild yeast pulled from the air by leaving the wort out overnight next to an open window for example.
What does that mean to you?
Sour beers should not be taken lightly particularly if it’s your first foray into the sour world. Without a doubt your first sour will be an experience you will never forget. They range from very tart to insanely sour. The fruit and barrel flavors can exploded on your palate. Depending on the brewery some sour styles can be lighter and almost salty, while others are just a hint more sour than the average beer. It’s a complicated beer, partner with your beer-tender to find the right one for you. Once you like one, you will be hooked.
What to look for in a good Sour:
Visually: The visual just depends on the particular style. Sours can be beautiful beers both dark and light often reflecting the color of the fruit they were blended with, the base golden is quite a site. There will be minimal head and carbonation.
Aromatically: Varies but it will smell sour, a bit off, a bit like wine or like the fruit / barrel in was aged or blended with during the fermentation or aging process.
Taste: Varies but common flavors are sour, acidic, tart, dry and fruity (If you drink wine – think about those flavor descriptors).
ABV: There are no set guidelines on the ABV but due to the nature of the brew process you can expect a range on average of 6% to 10%
American Wild Ale
Flanders Red Ale
Colorado Breweries for Sour Recommendations:
Black Project Spontaneous and Wild Ales
Crooked Stave Artisans
Dry Dock Brewing Company
New Belgium Brewing
Avery Brewing Company
TRVE Brewing Company