Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Sour Beer Trio

by Jim Lannen

As the craft beer market continues to thrive, so do the different styles of beer. Over the years, we have seen the rise in popularity in such styles as West Coast IPA's and ciders. This week, we are tapping into an entirely new category with the addition of "sours" to our drink menu.

These are not your average, beer chugging brews. Take your time to enjoy and savor each sip. These types of beers are better when enjoyed slowly, similar to a bottle of wine. Each drink will make you pucker, yet savor, the flavor and make you want to come back for more. 

Here are a few that made our list:

Destihl Brewery Here Gose Nothin Wild Sour - 5.2%ABV
This Bloomington, IL brewery is one of the hottest new breweries out there. Here Gose Nothin undergoes spontaneous fermentation, similar to Belgian-style Gueuze/Lambic beers, and exhibits a complexity of acidic flavor and aroma contributed by wild yeast lactic fermentation. Lemon, lime and other citrus-like qualities are present in aroma and on the palate, which is balanced by the spicy character of added coriander and a mineral-mouthfeel from added sea salt.

Petrus Aged Red - 8.5% ABV
This deep ruby red is from Belgium. Petrus Aged Red is constructed from a base of Double Brown Ale. 15% Petrus Aged Pale is added to provide a dry character to the brew and give it a slight sour essence. Finally, the brewer adds fresh cherries,which are evident in the rich thick head.

Duchesse de Bourgogne - 6% ABV
This Belgian top fermented sour is reddish-brown in color. It is a blend of 8- and 18-month-old beers. It is a sweet, fruity ale with a pleasant, fresh aftertaste. This ale is brewed with roasted malts and with hops with a low bitterness. The tannins in the oak lend it's fruity character.

I must admit, I had never experienced a sour up until the last few weeks, but sours are 
as old as the the process of brewing beer itself. Before the days of stainless steel brewing, beer was aged and shipped in wooden barrels.  They were all sour to some degree. Back then, natural bacteria in the barrel had given the beer a tart flavor.

Although the category of "sour beer" is somewhat undefined, it certainly is rooted in a long brewing history. Belgium is home to the Lambic style, the oldest still-produced beer in the world, and a style many would agree had laid the original groundwork for sours.

Nowadays, with modern technology, we continue this ancient style using wild yeasts such as brettanomyces or lactobacillus. These give this style of beer its distinct acidic, sour and tart character. This sour-making process is very challenging and expensive to make. Many brewers are apprehensive in taking on the risk in brewing these beers because of the time involved. Most other beers take a few weeks, whereas, sours can take years.

No need to wait around for them here, though!  Check out these sours the next time you're in. They definitely offer an interesting taste on the palate! 

As our beer list continues to grow, we look forward to offering a vast selection of the different styles of beers out there. These "fringe" beers (meaning unconventional, or not part of the mainstream) will give our customers a chance to experience something they may have never tried before, including me. 


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