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Sour Beer: Innoculating beers with wild yeasts and aging them in wood, craft brewers are turning out fragrant but sour … really sour … beers. Not for everyone, but catching on among sophisticates……
A new breed of brewers is coming up, where they take a huge risk simply to bring in beer which people may not even like. These are the brewers of sour beer. Sour beer is brewed in barrels, and then they are left to sit for up to 3 years before the brew is then tested to see if the wait was worth it. This is a risky and expensive affair and the brewers of sour beer must be out of their minds.
Sour beer started being brewed in Belgium but lately some of the brewers in the U.S. have taken a liking to the practice. The first sour beers were introduced in the USA in 2002.
Here are some comments I have read about sour beer:
--“The rise of craft brewing in the United States and the emergence of upstart small breweries in other parts of the world has produced a new generation of brewers who aspire to create increasingly unique and flavourful beers. Many of these brewers have taken inspiration from classically sour Belgian beer styles. Not content with mimicking Belgian sour beers, they have started to develop what might be termed ‘new world’ sour beers. Many of these new sour beers have no agreed-upon guidelines and are yet to be classified in any particular category.”--
--“This, of course, is part of the fun for the brewers who are making them. Some are aged in wine barrels, while others are aged in bourbon or whiskey barrels, successfully blending flavours that typically might not work well together… The wild yeast strain Brettanomyces is considered a scourge in most of the world’s vineyards [but] cultured Brettanomyces is often used in the making of new world sour beers. Desirable flavours with sour beer using Brettanomyces are earthy, barnyard, mushroom, musty and a general ‘funkiness’.” --
--“What is certain, if improbable, is that sour beers are taking hold, especially in the United States. Just as ‘natural winemaking’ is slowly emerging from cult status, so is the production and enjoyment of sour beers.” --
--“I came to realize that sour beers are primarily about funk, and funk, when it comes to beer, means complexity. Sour beers are fascinating, often strange, and generally food-friendly because of their acidity, but one thing they're not is easy-drinking. Well, most of them aren’t.”--
--“this is a trend that is not necessarily new, but there are now more beer drinkers who are accepting these styles of beer. Beer does not always have to be sweet; it can be induced with fruit to provide a
sourness on the palate. The variety originated in Belgium and is now catching on in the US. Many brewers are creating sour styles as an alternative to their regular line-up of beers.”--
--“As sour styles gain greater acceptance by a wider audience, new drinkers are trying these beers, which are often balanced like fine wines. Pairing these styles of beer with cheese can help create a perfect balance… The original traditions of sour beer-making come from Belgium and parts of Germany, and some of these beers are gaining cult status  among American beer geeks who until recently weren't familiar with this funkiest end of the beer spectrum.”
Comment by Andy Sparhawk, the American Brewers Association's craft beer program coordinator, is a Certified Cicerone® and BJCP Beer Judge.
If I had to choose one category of beer that might challenge the current IPA craze in the U.S., I would have to go with barrel-aged sour beers. Like the bitterness of IPAs, sour/wild beers pack a punch with, well, their sourness, but it may be the complementary flavors—from wooden barrels or additions of fruit—that keep beer fans wanting more of these exciting beers. That said, truly complex sours take care and patience throughout the entire production process to ensure that the final product is an experience for the consumer, rather than just an experiment for the brewer.
|At the end of 2014 Slabtown Brewery|
will release it's first sour beer!