Sour Beer | by beermeister Chris Murphy

Well some time ago in California micro breweries started making IPAs, and more notably strong IPAs.  This went noticed only by beer geeks for some time, now thanks to an amazing beer culture in Calfornia, including right here on the central coast, single, double and even triple IPAs stock the shelves and handles of our favorite beer drinking/buying establishments.  Well what comes next?  What is the new beer geek trend?  Sour beer of course (as opposed to bitter IPAs).  Taking from the tradition of Belgian lambics, sour beers are gaining much popularity, whether it be in traditional form like Cantillon from Belgium, or New World versions like La Folie from New Belgium brewery in Colorado or Cuvee de Tommee from Lost Abbey in San Diego, sour beers are making quite the splash.

 Sour beers were originally wild ferment beers, meaning no yeast is added.  Natural yeast and bacteria from the air, or built up in the fermenting/aging vessels give these beers their unique characteristics.  While there are many compounds, the most notable are lactic acid from Lactobacillus cultures which give the tartness, and a lovely yeast strain that is a bad word in the wine industry (oh no, its Brettanomyces!) which gives unique flavor characteristics that really keeps you coming back for more, don’t be scared of the B word.  To develop the complex flavors takes time and is usually aided by wood aging; sometimes fruit is added to make the profile even more complex.  Now a days we have these beers being made in various parts of the country in small quantities by new world breweries that really go to great lengths to brew their beers in this unique manner.  What this means to them is a lot of messing around with unpredictable wild yeast and lots of barrel aging, which is costly and time consuming.  As such, these beers tend to be harder to get a hold of and more expensive, getting closer to wine prices.

Whether you wanna try what the buzz in the beer world is right now, or just want to try something new come check out what we got at the shop.  My advice is to try one, and if you weren’t way into it, give it a while and try again later.  It sometimes takes a little getting used to, but after a few it’s easy to get hooked.  My personal favorite (I used to pay 35$ a bottle to drink it) is La Folie, a brown ale aged in barrels from New Belgium Brewery(6%).  This isn’t exactly entry level sour, it is true to form and to the point, a complex rich sour beer.  NB also offers their Transatlantic Kriek which is fermented with Polish cherries(8%).  There is a lot of cherry flavor and noticeable sweetness, but not too much at all, there is also sourness, but not too much.  Finally, Ali has brought in Festina Peche from Dogfish Head in Delaware.  This is a Berliner Wiesse, a german style sour wheat beer, that has peach juice added.  Very tart and refreshing and at 4.3% a nice summer sour.


We will try and stock more on the shelfs, but they can be tough to get. 


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