Pucker up! Craft beers are going sour
When you take a sip, it’s like biting into a Granny Smith apple that’s soaked in a French red wine: crisp, refreshing and a bit odd.
Sour beers are probably the oldest style of brew in the world, but they’re just starting to get popular in the US. They were all the buzz at this year’s Great American Beer Festival. And with hundreds of brewers now dabbling in sours, it’s easier than ever to find them at a local bar or grocery store.
Most sour beers have little or no hops. So they’re a good option for those who don’t like bitter beers or for wine lovers who prefer a pinot noir to a Pilsner, says, Kim Jordan of New Belgium, Fort Collins, Colo. This craft brewer, which produces the popular Fat Tire Ale, has started a whole series of sour beers called Lips of Faith — one of the most widely available lines of sour.
So what are these strange brews? Sours beers are to the adult beverage world what yoghurt is to dairy. It’s beer that’s been intentionally spoiled by bacteria — the good bacteria.
“We use the same microbes that make yoghurt, miso and salami,” says Alex Wallash, who co-founded The Rare Barrel in Berkeley, Calif, one of the few breweries in the US devoted solely to making sour beers.
Bacteria gobble up sugars in the beer and convert them into acids, like the ones in Granny Smith apples and lemons. They also churn out a smorgasbord of flavours and aromas. The result is a brew that has all the complexity of a wine and the zing of a sour candy.
“Sour beers are tart like a raspberry or strawberry, but a lot of them are dry, like Champagne,” Wallash says. So their taste sits somewhere between an ale, wine and cider, he says. “It will definitely change your expectation about what a beer tastes like. It’s a new flavour experience all together.”….
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