by Jeff Dietzman
Some like it sour, others do not.
I’m the former, I love sour beer. Gose (“Gose-uh”), American Wild Ale, Berliner Weisse, Flanders Red Ale, and Lambic, just to name a few.
I’m not quite certain why I’ve fallen in love with these funky tart varieties. Perhaps, it’s a bit of a burnout from years of drinking big bold stouts, floral and bitter IPA’s, and spicy Belgians ales. There’s something about them that’s not a familiar “beer” flavor that we’ve all become accustomed to, and so it’s a refreshing change of pace from the usual drinking regimen.
Refreshing is the key to these styles lately as temperatures are heating up. Usually clocking in at a lower ABV (Alcohol By Volume) and with tart and sour flavors of lemon, lime, fresh berries, and stone fruit, they’re bound to quench your thirst.
All of your standard beer ingredients apply to sours: water, malted grain, hops, and yeast. The difference being the infecting strains of souring bacteria like lactobacillus, brettanomyces, and pediococcus. Also, lactic acid and acidulated malts can be used for a souring effect. Finally the addition of fruit and barrel aging is prevalent across the realm of sours, contributing additional flavors, acidity, tartness, and complexity.
Jester King Brewery in Austin is the most well known wild ale and sour producer in Texas, but many of our local North Texas breweries are cranking out soured brews just as good, if not better.
Audacity Brew House – Cliff Diver (Berliner Weisse)
Bearded Eel Craft Brewery – Bee Funky (Sour Mash Farm Style Ale) & Pretty Fly (Gose)
Cedar Creek Brewery & Black Man Brew Collaboration – Opening Act (Berliner Weisse)
Collective Brewing Project – Petit Golden Sour (Sour Ale)
Community Beer Company – Public Enemy #1 (Sour Ale) & Brett’s Get It On (Sour IPA)
Martin House Brewing Company – Salty Lady (Gose)
Revolver Brewing – Sangre y Miel (Sour Wheat Ale)
Brewing a sour can take much longer than brewing a more standard style ale, especially if barrel aged/conditioned. In addition the ingredients can be much more expensive and the yeast much less efficient, so please keep this in mind if you find production is slim at times and prices are higher than you expect. Good things come to those who wait.
Love them or hate them, they’re becoming a more serious part of craft beer and should be celebrated and appreciated, like all other styles. If you haven’t tried one yet, please do. If you’ve tried them before and they weren’t your thing, try them again. There are new and intriguing varieties being brewed every day.
Jeff Dietzman is a local beer enthusiast and partner of LUCK in Trinity Groves.