“A good sour beer is like that friend you have who gets along with everyone she’s ever met.”
We couldn’t agree more.
Just like rosé and hard seltzers, sour beers are ridiculously refreshing. The flavor is so interesting because it is so unique; or more pointedly, the flavor doesn’t really taste like beer at all. Sour beer is not bitter but very fruity, with a tart, acidic kick rather like dry champagne.
Sour beers can have a very tart flavour that can be as aggressive as sucking on a lemon, or be a bit more balanced, like the sweet-and-sour interplay of a Sour Key candy. Conventional beers balance sweetness and bitterness. But sour beers drink more like white wines, balancing acidity and sweetness.
So what makes a beer a sour beer?
Sour beer is the oldest type of beer in history. Nearly all beer used to be at least somewhat sour before pasteurization and sterilization, since sours are made with wild bacteria and yeasts.
Conventional beers are brewed with a single strain of yeast to yield the same taste in every batch. This is Saccharomyces cerevisiae which makes ales and Saccharomyces pastorianus which makes lagers. In sour beers, Brettanomyces is a wild yeast that makes the beer sour. Then there is also the wild bacteria: lactobacillus turns sugars into lactic acid (it’s the same acid that makes yogurt taste slightly sour) and sometimes pediococcus that’s often used in Belgian beers to add acidity. Some sour beers are made with lactose to get a creamier sourness or lactic acid to get a cleaner, more refreshing sourness.
We hope that next time you’re looking to try something new, you try a sour.