Ultimate 6er – An Intro to Sour Beer
Working at a beer store I find the most common style people are insatiably curious about is the sour beer category. There are a few different ways to make a sour beer. The most common methods include using wild yeast strains like brettanomyces or adding certain types of bacteria into the brew – saccharomyces, pediococcus, and lactobacillus being the most common. I’ve done my best to include an ecclectic mixture that showcases a little taste of each in my Ultimate 6er – An Intro to Sour Beer.
Cuvee De Jacobins Rouge by Brouwerij Bocker N.V.
ABV – 5.50%
Flander’s Red Ales are the light bodied “red” beers of the west Flanders region of Belgium. They’re distinct for their sharp acidic tartness with notes of fruits like cherry, grape and raspberry. The Cuvee De Jacobins showcases all of the best elements of a Flanders red- apple cider like vinegar tartness, a round present dark cherry/raspberry in the middle with light oak presence creating a pleasant finish.
St Louis Gueuze Fond Tradition by Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck N.V.
ABV – 5.0%
Most beginning sour drinkers have had a Framboise but most have no idea what a Gueuze is. To break it down Framboise’ are a mixture of taking a Gueuze which is a sour beer brewed with wild yeast and then aging it with rasberries (or with cherries which is called a Kriek). Cut out the fruit and your left with a delectable somewhat harshly acidic beer. St Louis does this style justice. Its got a quenchable lactic acidic tart mixed with a slight earthy grassiness and a long puckering finish.
Leifman’s Goudenband by Brouwerij Liefmans
ABV – 8.0%
Oud Bruin’s are given their name because of their long aging process. Aging for longer periods of time allows the yeast to consume the remaining residual sugars in the brew and thus give off a a sour like quality that is best balanced with a nice malt backbone. Leifman’s characterizes itself neatly in the style with a mild sweet maltiness, a dry vanilla like essence and a refined sour that has notes of berries and oak.
Saison Brett by Boulevard
ABV – 8.50%
Saison’s traditionally use wild yeast like brettanomyces to get their earthy funky tartness that with cellaring will enhance the yeast qualities and will often become more tart/sour over time. With its pungent use of brett and its zesty use of dry hopping, Saison Brett showcases the best qualities of this style. Its spectacular dryness match well with its light to medium body mouthfeel and then finishes with a lemon zest grassiness. Wet hay, subtle pepper spice with some floral overtones on the nose demonstrate the overall earthiness of what a saison should smell and taste like.
Supplication by Russian River
ABV – 7.0%
This barrel aged brown ale mixes tart cherries with lactobacillus, brettanomyces and pedioccocus, then ages it for 12 months in pinot noir barrels. What’s special about this concoction is that the barrel mellows out some of the harsh acidic notes and makes way for a puckering dark cherry/apple and a quenchable oakiness. Earthy brett shines through with an off dry finish.
Mikkeller It’s Alive series with Lychee Fruit
ABV – 8.0%
MIkkeller’s It’s Alive series takes a wild yeast brew, ages it in white wine barrels and with this edition adds lychee fruit. What’s nice about this particular one is that the lychee fruit adds a round ripeness to the middle, pairing perfect with the dry wine barrel. Brett tart funkiness pleasantly couples with the mild sweetness of the fruit, almost peach like.
Hopefully this article not only makes you thirsty but does some justice to how awesome these beers are. Get your sour on!