Rob Hill: Hello! I am Rob Hill, Certified Cicerone with Total Wine & More. Today I am sharing a few interesting facts an insights about sour beers. Let's list the beer styles and review what makes them sour. The historical roots of these beers are in Belgium and Germany. Classic Belgium styles are Flanders Red, Flanders Oud Bruin and all versions of Lambic beer which are Fruit Lambic, Unblended Lambic, Gueuze and Faro. And from Germany the enduring styles are Berliner Weissbier and Gose.
American craft breweries have stimulated arising sour beer popularity by producing delicious interpretations of these time honored Belgium and German styles. Some are going beyond these styles continuing to push the envelope of the genera and turning out fantastic, sour and funky ales spending the range of beer color, strength and flavor complexity. These unique new creations are often characterized as American wild ales.
These beer styles offer a spectrum of sour and what's called funky character that ranges from mile to intense. Sour aroma and flavor properties are typically described as zesty, tart, acetic, acidic, fruity and vinous or wine-like. While funky aromas and flavors are often expressed as musty, farm or barnyard, hay, horse blanket, leather, Earth and wood.
The sourness occurs from intentional exposure of the beer to friendly bacteria such as lactobacillus which is naturally presents in the air and in wooden barrels used for ageing beer.
Funk characters are produced by brettanomyces, a strain wild yeast that has been cultivated. Brewers can purposefully inoculate their beer with either or both of these to achieve desired levels of sour and funky character.
The Saison & Biere de Garde styles also know as farm house ales are not traditionally considered to be sour styles, but do exhibit notes of funky, earthy and even tart character in some examples. Many beer and wine enthusiast are drawn to sour and funky beers for the complex character that brings all of our aroma and taste receptors alive at once.
Treat yourself to sipping, tasting and exploring this world of flavor that awaits you on beer shelf, you just may open a new door to your discovery of beer. Sour beer!