Love them or hate them, one can’t deny that they are becoming more and more popular in the Craft Beer community. Well, why is that? Why do those of us who drink sour beer regularly love them so much? While I can’t speak for every sour beer lover, I will do my best to explain.
First off, sour beers are a broad category. There are barrel-aged sours, kettle sours, spontaneously fermented sours, less sour sours, Berliner Weiss, Gose’…the list could go on. All of these styles tend to have one thing in common: a tartness or acidity that I have heard people refer to as a “pucker factor”. This is actually why many people don’t like the sour style or are even afraid to try them. I am here to tell you that even if you are one of these folks, don’t give up on becoming a sour beer fan.
What is there to love? Personally, I love a good strong tartness, but even if that isn’t your thing, many sour beers can be extremely complex. I liken them to drinking a good wine. Many sours have more depth than their non-sour counterparts. Take The Dissident for example, a beer that we’ve been brewing since about 2006. It is brewed and barrel-aged with hundreds of pounds of cherries. There is a lot more to it than just being “sour”. When you drink The Dissident, there are notes of toffee from the malt, vanilla and oak from the barrel, and of course, the tart cherries! For me, this is more like drinking a good Pinot Noir or Tempranillo than it is like drinking a beer.
As I have mentioned, there are a lot of different styles of sour beers. If you have yet to find one you like, look for something different. Maybe you would prefer something that is spontaneously fermented. Or perhaps you would enjoy something lower in alcohol. If you are a white wine drinker, you may enjoy a lighter color sour beer. Need something heavier? Several breweries have started making tart dark beers like stouts and porters. Do you like good pickles? Perhaps you should try a Gose’ as that style generally has a salty or brine-like character. Is kombucha your thing? I bet you would enjoy a Berliner Weiss or locally brewed beer that has been kettle soured. Perhaps you would like it even better if it was fermented with some sort of fruit that you enjoy as well. This is why the sour beer style is so great! If you look hard enough, you are bound to find something that you love. The downside is then, like me, you may start eschewing other styles in search of the next great sour beer.
As for us here at Deschutes, with all three locations (Bend, Portland, and Roanoke) having their own brew systems as well as our new pilot brew system in our main facility, and a huge barrel warehouse, we will be experimenting with all sorts of fun and exciting new sour beers in the coming months. So, whether or not you have become a sour beer convert, we will be doing our very best to supply everyone with exceptional new brews that will hopefully please current sour fans as well as interest those who have yet to develop a taste for them.
Cheers to sour beers!!!
Written by Guest Blogger and Brewer at our new Roanoke Tasting Room, Jeff Schauland