31 July 2012
So go buy a bottle already…
Selling people on sour beers can be a tricky endeavor. These beers usually do not resemble what most people consider “true” beer. Their flavors are pronounced and the price of admission can be steep at times. (Some bottles fetch prices of $30+, but most examples can be had for $20 or less.) But for those with an adventurous spirit, they can be revelatory beverages worthy of your time and money. And as with most great adventures, these brews are best shared with friends and food. Pour yourself a glass and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
The following is a list of recommended brews with general tasting notes. Due to the nature of these beers, production is often small and you may not be able to find some of them in your area. Ask around. The world of sour ales is getting bigger all the time, and as much as I’d like to, there’s just not enough room here to list all the great ones. Cheers.
Sans Pagiae (The Bruery; 5.8% abv)
We make quite a number of sour ales here at The Bruery, however this one is currently one of my favorites. This is our version of a Belgian-style Kriek. It’s perfectly funky with a pleasing sourness and expressive cherry flavors. Find a bottle fast before they’re all gone.
Temptation (Russian River Brewing; 7.25% abv)
Vinnie Cilurzo has been at the forefront of the American wild ale scene for several years now with his line of barrel aged beauties. Temptation is a Belgian style blonde aged for 12 months in Chardonnay barrels with Brettanomyces. This beer showcases a lovely tartness with plenty of oak and fruit to back it up.
Kriek (Brouwerij Cantillon; 5% abv)
Cantillon is one of the most prominent producers of traditional lambic beers coming out of Belgium. Hunt down anything with their name on the bottle, but this one in particular is a real treasure. Earthy, musty, and sour wrap around subtle cherry and red fruit flavors. This is the real deal.
Rodenbach Grand Cru (Brouwerij Rodenbach; 6%abv)
Sour ale lovers would hunt me down and drown me in a vat of Bud Lite if I didn’t mention this beer. This is a great example of the Flanders Red style from Belgium. Aged for nearly 2 years in oak tuns, this is a beer designed for quiet contemplation. Tart cherry and vanilla give way to a background of malty sweetness. Truly classic.
La Folie (New Belgium Brewing; 6% abv)
New Belgium Brewing was lucky enough to steal Peter Bouckaert away from Rodenbach several years ago and it’s a good thing too. Bouckaert is a God in the sour beer world of Odin like proportions, but this beer feels more of a Loki-like effort for all its mischievousness. Sour apple, oak, dark fruits and a hint of Brett: What’s not to love?
Kriek Ale (Cascade Brewing; 7.3% abv)
For my money, these guys are some of the most creative producers of American sour beers. The logo on their T-shirts even reads “House of Sour” so you know what you’re in for here. Their Kriek spends over 6 months in oak with their own special strain of Lactobacillus. This is an intensely sour beer with gorgeous cherry aromas and a hint of cherry pie crust in the mouth.