One of the biggest craft beer trends of the last few years would have to be that of Sour Beers. 15 of the 120 GABS Festival specialty beers this year were of the sour variety…definitely punching above their weight. There have been countless articles written about how awesome sour beers are, how they will be the next biggest thing in craft brewing…but I am sorry, I just don’t get it.
I don’t know what it is about these beers, that I run from them like I did when my Nanna wanted a kiss from me as a kid…but I do! I keep trying to like them, and keep failing, so I have taken a long hard look in the mirror and tried to work out what my fears are, and how to face them!
Don’t Know What I Am Gonna Get
After all these years loving beer, I am pretty confident with the differences between them and I am confident in ordering them at a bar. But with the sour beers, I am not sure what the difference is between a Gose and a Lambic. Which one is the entry level sours, and which is going to make my face pucker so hard that I will look like that character from the new Preacher TV Series on AMC….you know the one!
So I guess that my ignorance, and not wanting to look like a clueless idiot at the bar, means that I just avoid it and go for my favourite APA, or Porter, or whatever. Probably not practicing what I preach about drinking outside of my comfort zone!
The Fix: Educate myself on the sour styles and their differences…taste them all!
Try it with food they say…but I don’t love the suggestions.
Beer and food are a match made in heaven, and sour beers offer yet another distinct set of flavours to play around with. Not being an expert in sour beer, I had to look this one up, but apparently sour beers match awesomely with salty foods, and things like cheese, seafood and in particular Asian food.
My problem here is that I am not a fan of cheese, unless it is on a pizza, I am limited in my appreciation of seafood, light fish yes, crayfish and scallops, no. I do like Asian food, but then prefer sweet flavours to saltiness…sour beers and chocolate would be a match for my palate!
The Fix: Find something nice that goes with flathead. I catch them at the shack and eat then as soon as I get out of the boat, if I can’t get a good sour beer match with such fresh fish, I give up.
I cant quite explain the taste…is it weird good, or weird bad?
When I do pluck up the courage to try a sour beer, I can’t explain the sensation. Is the fact that I am sucking my face in and shaking my head as it goes down the hatch, kind of enjoyable in a weird way, or is it actually off putting. I think it is the latter for me, but does someone with a more mature palate actually like it because they understand and can articulate what they are experiencing?
The Fix: Education again, but it’s more about understanding what I am tasting…the subtleties and the complexities that make up these beers. I used to hate my kids sour lollies that they love, but now I find myself sneaking a few from them and enjoying that sour shock that hits my palate, and then becomes nice and sweet at the end.
It’s made with Bacteria, right?
It sounds gross, yeah! Lactobacillus, Brettanomyces, and Pediococcus…they sound like terrible illnesses, as opposed to good little critters doing their best to create sour beer goodness. I think it looks even worse when they are doing their thing to the beer…it reminds me of what you might find in your coffee cup on a Monday morning at work if you forgot to clean it out before you left Friday night.
The Fix: I am sensing a common them here…education. Learn about the process, maybe try and visit a brewery that is conducting an active ferment.
Am I cool enough to drink it? I’m no hipster!
I have a pretty poor beard and have bugger all fashion sense…lets be honest, my wife dresses me! I do wear black rimmed glasses for reading, but I am no hipster! I drive a family car (diesel to be more fuel efficient) and love a good Dad joke…maybe I am just not cool enough to drink sour beers?
The Fix: I am what I am, never gonna be cool, so I just have to suck this one up!
It’s time for me to get overt these fears and insecurities and dive into the sour beer revolution with both feet! I canvassed some craft beer industry friends to see if they could suggest a few beers to get started with…
Feral Brewing Co: Watermelon Warhead
Everyone talks about this beer being amazing, and its much easier to find these days. It has won a bunch of awards since it first hit the scene at 2012 GABS, and still kicking ass!
A very tasty beer from all accounts, but also a nice way to get your sour beer journey started.
Dogfish Head: Festina Peche
I actually tasted this one quite a few years ago hen I was in Vegas, as I was seeking out some of this legendary brewery’s beers. I had no idea what I was buying and was shocked as shit when this passed my lips.
Now I know a little more, it would be cool to taste it again. Fermented with peaches to give you a fruity sour kick!
Van Dieman Brewing Hedgerow
(Barrel Aged Sour, 6.6%)
Once you have tried the entry level beers above, challenge yourself with something like the Hedgerow.
Aged in oak barrels and brewed sloe berries, hawthorn berries and rose hips that head brewer, Will has collected from around his farm…this one is a labour of love!
So there you have it, time to step out of my comfort zone and get into this sour beer thing. If any of you out there have some suggestions for other beers to try, I would love to hear them!
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Cheers to fresh beers!