Sour beers have soared in popularity over the last few years with many craft breweries releasing almost endless recipes of Craft Sour Beers. Yet, the traditional sour beer style has actually been around for centuries. Keep reading to learn all about sour beer.
Sour Beer - 101
Many craft beer enthusiasts have sipped and savored a refreshing sour beer, but what tends to happen is drinkers adopt a certain “bias” towards sour beers. Haters of this beer style write it off after one or two tries and even sour lovers tend to narrow their scope to only a few craft sours they love.
The brilliance of this beer style is that it is actually a broad-reaching category of beer that encompasses a variety of styles and brewing techniques. So, the phrase “once you’ve tried one, you’ve tried them all” definitely does not apply.
So you want to drink a Sour Beer
Almost any beer style can be turned into a “sour” but the traditional sour beer styles tend to be the most popular for craft breweries to experiment with. The result, a plethora of sour options for craft beer enthusiasts to sample and enjoy.
Before we shed some light on the types of sour beer styles, take a read below on how this tricky beers actually come to be.
Where did the ipa come from?
The Sour, thought to have originated from Belgium in the mid 1800s, is a tricky beer to brew and requires a certain finesse. These beers are fermented using a unique strain of yeast. Without diving too deep into the biology and chemistry of the brewing process, this yeast strain (an enemy to winemakers) is actually a dear friend to sour beer brewers as it is responsible for adding acidity level to the beer, which results in the sour profile.
The Sour Beer style takes time to brew as recipes typically tend to use blends of different batches to get that perfect flavour. Also, an added hurdle, the yeast cells of the sour beer can actually contaminate other “clean batch” beer so breweries have to be careful when concocting new sours, as not to sacrifice their other brews. Although it may be a tricky brew, the time and effort is definitely worth it!
AMERICAN STYLE SOUR
Style guidelines for the American-Style sour few are far between as craft brewers continue to write and rewrite the rules for what qualifies as an American-Style Sour. Most recipes use traditional sour styles as a starting point but then it’s anything goes. You’ll have to keep exploring to get a solid grasp on these beers.
This traditional German-Style sour wheat beer is a trendy beer style at the moment. Lot’s of craft brewers are flexing their brew muscles and releasing unique and intriguing gose craft beers.
Another popular sour style, the Berliner Weisse originated in Germany but has become hugely popular in North America. Typically low in alcohol, these sours give a clean and fruity flavor that don’t pack as much of a punch as some other sour styles.
Sour Lambics are the most common type of sours and are perfect for newbie sour beer drinkers. These beers take on the colour of the fruit that is added to the brew and can vary in terms of “sour level”. If you’re ready to dive into sours, this is a great starting point.
FLANDERS RED ALE (BELGIAN STYLE FLANDERS)
This style of sour gets its distinct red colour from speciality malts added to the base beer and a long fermentation process in oak barrels. This sour style is a timeless classic and one you don’t want to miss.
FLANDERS BROWN (OUD BRUIN)
A cousin to the Flanders Red Ale, Flanders Brown’s are typically less fruit-forward are aged in stainless steel barrels, compared to wooden barrels. These tend to be more popular in their home country and are a bit harder to find in Canada and the US.
All you need to know about Sour Beers
Sour beer, though one of the oldest types of beer in history, is known today mostly for its popularity amongst craft brewers. Before pasteurization and sterilization were entirely understood, most beers was somewhat sour, though that might not have been entirely intentional. Today, Sour beers are crafted to be tart, fruity, inventive, and highly experimental.
The easy answer, bacteria.
The more complex answer, sour beers are primarily influenced by two types of bacteria and one type of yeast. The bacterias, lactobacillus and pediococcus, turns sugars into lactic acid and add acidity. Fun fact – these bacteria are the same that give yogurt its slightly sour taste!
The yeast, Brettanomyces, in sour beers is typically considered “a beer ruiner”. But with a bit of brewing finesse, it can make add a balancing layer of earthiness (and sour) to a beer.
These days? Pop into almost any craft brewery and you’ll find at least one type of sour beer! These are one of the most popular beer styles to experiment with amongst craft brewers so you won’t have to look far to find a sour beer to try.
Check out our brewery pages or our explore posts to for some great recommendations for Craft Breweries to try!