Sour Power
July 12, 2015 4:38 PM   Subscribe

An Introduction to Sour Beers + 5 to Get You Started - Billy Broas, Primer Magazine: "Sour beers are hot right now, but they’re anything but a new concept. They’ve been brewed in Belgium for hundreds of years."

6 Essential Sour Beers, and the Science Behind the Style - Adam Lapetina and Zach Mack describe how this style of beer came about:
"The short answer is literally blowing in the wind. Centuries ago, Belgian brewers in lambic-producing regions would pump beer into wide, shallow, open-topped tanks (now called 'coolships'), often in their attics during the cooler months. They would then throw open the windows, where the breeze from nearby orchards would carry in microflora, including the most feared yeast in the wine world: Brettanomyces.

"Brettanomyces is this wild yeast that does a fantastic job of burning off sugars during 'spontaneous fermentation' and creating the puckering acidity in the beers we covet. This is also (along with water) what most argue is beer's closest 'terroir' quality (or what the wine community calls the effect that a winery's location and soil composition has on the finished product). In this case, the result is a beer with barnyard-y, horse-blanket notes in the aroma, and a dry, sour finish that is as unique as it is refreshing and thirst-quenching."
Sour Power: The 18 Best Sour Beers, by Casey Mclain for HiConsumption:
"There are a variety of sour beers available at many price ranges. Considering many sour beers are among the best beers in the world, if you compare the price of a sour beer to the finest wine in the world, it’s only a fraction of the cost. We attempted to find some sour beers that can be had at affordable prices, and year round. Some of them however, are quite rare, so don’t waste anytime rushing out to your local bottle shop. Here are our picks for the 18 best sour beers available."
Top 10 American Sour Beers - Nathan Borchelt, Paste Magazine Snippet: "...sours are worth all the effort and cost. Unlike the hop-centric world that defines much of the U.S. craft beer scene, sour beers tone down the bitterness and impart a remarkable level of complex, layered flavor more akin to wine than a standard can of beer. As such, the style has attracted a loyal, discerning following, and has served to turn non-beer-drinkers into budding cicerones."

Sour/Wild Ale List at RateBeer.

Sour Beer Blog

25 Sours You Need to Drink Before You Die - Chris Schonberger, First We Feast
"Part of the fun of discovering sours is going back to the Belgian O.G.s to understand where the tradition comes from, then exploring the ways American brewers have adopted and remixed age-old techniques. There’s also all manner of sub-genres to dig into, from salt-kissed German gose, to fruity lambics, to complex Belgian grand crus and Flemish reds."
Tasting and Ranking 40 of the Best American Sour Beers, by Jim Vorel (Paste)

Previously: Cantillon’s character has led some drinkers to declare the beer infected
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome (56 comments total) 41 users marked this as a favorite
I almost thought this would be a companion piece to the ClickHole article posted recently ;)

Looking forward to digging into these lists... in the meanwhile:

Council in San Diego makes some of my favorite sour beers, as does de Garde out of Tillamook, OR... so funky, so good.
posted by raihan_ at 4:55 PM on July 12, 2015 [2 favorites]

This is a pretty fantastic collection of resources here.. and makes me want to try a ton of beers I can't get here. (It's gotten a lot better in Memphis and TN in general but there's still a long way to go.) I would have loved to see this before I stumbled into a sour beer as my first choice at a beer tasting a while ago, which summarily destroyed my taste buds for a while afterwards, and not in a good way.

I did not see either Yazoo's Delicieux (which is supposed to be cellared I guess?) or this year's Summer on any of the lists, which (to me, who tends to prefer hoppier beers, ranging into hop bombs) seemed pretty easy drinking and good intros.
posted by mrg at 4:58 PM on July 12, 2015 [3 favorites]

Reptile and I were just at Allagash yesterday for the release of one of their coolship blends - sold at the brewery only - and I'm holding one of the two bottles for my birthday. It was serendipity that we were driving through town the day of a release.

(Trick for lambics that aren't quite one's cup vanilla ice cream lambic floats.)
posted by cobaltnine at 4:58 PM on July 12, 2015 [6 favorites]

Great post, jcifa; thanks!

A friend of mine who was working in Leuven last year brought me back a bottle of Cantillon oude gueuze as a present. Knowing me to be someone who boasts about how he can take the stankest-ass hop-bomb IPAs that the Pacific NW can throw at me without batting an eyelid, she decided to bring me back something interesting.

Reader, I married it am less boastful about my palate than I used to be. But you should definitely try gueuze if you have the chance; it's something else.
posted by Zeinab Badawi's Twenty Hotels at 5:04 PM on July 12, 2015 [3 favorites]

(Trick for lambics that aren't quite one's cup vanilla ice cream lambic floats.)
And suddenly, next Friday seems a long way away.
posted by Zeinab Badawi's Twenty Hotels at 5:07 PM on July 12, 2015 [2 favorites]

Monk's Cafe Flemish Sour if you are ever in Philly.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:08 PM on July 12, 2015 [5 favorites]

I had the opportunity to go to Jester King in Austin earlier this year. Go. Go now. And try the pizza, too.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 5:09 PM on July 12, 2015 [2 favorites]

I love, love, love sour beers, and I am so happy that they're becoming more trendy and pushing those nasty IPAs out of the spotlight. That is all.
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:09 PM on July 12, 2015 [10 favorites]

The Cascade sours intrigue me, but as noted in the ClickHole thread they are OMG SO EXPENSIVE: $30+ for a bottle makes for an expensive "might not like this one" experiment.

OTOH, we did drop $20 on a bottle of this pumpernickel sour after trying it at their taproom because it was AMAZING. (Hermitage do a lot of contract brewing for Almanac, although I don't know if Almanac's sours are brewed there; they were fork-lifting a lot of cases of Emperor Norton out of the warehouse when we were there.) Makes me think that the Bruery Sour In The Rye mentioned in two of the lists might be my kind of thing.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 5:12 PM on July 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

Lambics have long been just about the only thing that could possibly be called beer that I could stomach. But if these are in that same vein, I am extremely intrigued.
posted by Sequence at 5:15 PM on July 12, 2015

I'll go one more, Faint of Butt - I'm glad that the general trend towards Belgian-inspired stuff in general is starting to really push out a lot of the IPAs. The willingness and ability to make a really good saison or something similar is, for me, a big sign that a brewery is worth paying attention to.
posted by Punkey at 5:24 PM on July 12, 2015 [4 favorites]

I am so happy that they're becoming more trendy and pushing those nasty IPAs out of the spotlight. That is all.
I promise not to pursue a derail about horrible beer in a thread about nice beer, but: holy shit, inorite? I had a taster at a recent beerfast of a beer called something like "Hop Bastard Full 100% Portland-Style Dry-Hopped Hop Massacre" (I exaggerate by less than you might imagine) and my immediate reaction was basically, "I can stay at home and strain beer through my own socks, thanks." Very happy to see the eye of fashion turn to another style of beer, and I say that as an IPA fan.
posted by Zeinab Badawi's Twenty Hotels at 5:29 PM on July 12, 2015 [9 favorites]

My local did a small-batch saison this spring. What a revelation! Definitely something to pay attention to.
posted by Zeinab Badawi's Twenty Hotels at 5:32 PM on July 12, 2015

I had never tried sours until I was visiting Colorado last month and someone handed me a La Folie on tap. Holy crap, I'm hooked....
posted by JoeZydeco at 5:33 PM on July 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

One of the fun things about sours is, as a homebrewer, they're almost devilishly hard to brew. They take a ton of time and effort, and can mess up in a lot of ways (I've had oud bruins that people spent over a year brewing which just tasted like vomit. Seriously. Thank you butyric acid). That makes tasting and comparing commercial ones a whole lot of fun, in an "I wish I could do this" kind of way.
posted by Itaxpica at 5:38 PM on July 12, 2015 [3 favorites]

A friend of mine who was working in Leuven last year brought me back a bottle of Cantillon oude gueuze as a present.

Man, that's a hell of a gift. If you ever see Cantillon in the States (and that's a big "if"), it usually runs like $60 a bottle (despite costing six euros at any beer store in Belgium). I snag bottles from friends who are traveling in that part of the world whenever I can, and I horde them jealously.

Boon also does a great oude gueuze that's not too hard to find in the U.S., as does Lindemans (yes, seriously, despite the general crappiness of their fruit lambics they do some amazing non-fruit lambics). The trick is to look for "oude gueuze", not "gueuze" - the "oude" term is legally protected and carries certain guarantees about process. It's more relevant for fruit lambics (it guarantees that they use real fruit at fermentation, not syrup at bottling), but it makes a difference for gueuzes as well.
posted by Itaxpica at 5:46 PM on July 12, 2015 [3 favorites]

I will be the jerk that says American sours are generally just not that good. I like La Folie, but I've been really disappointed by the massive number of new American sour releases.

I will second RobotVoodooPower's recommendation for Jester King. They're doing things right, the brewery is gorgeous, and their best beers are REALLY good. A number of them are just average, but even then they're interesting and thoughtful.

I like handing people Rodenbach's Grand Cru if they've never had a sour. Its reasonably priced, really flavorful, and doesn't punch your face too hard.
posted by lownote at 5:52 PM on July 12, 2015 [3 favorites]

The trick is to look for "oude gueuze", not "gueuze" - the "oude" term is legally protected and carries certain guarantees about process.
That is some seriously useful knowledge. I promise to use it only for good and never to make myself sound like an expert on Belgian beer without giving attribution to Metafilter!
posted by Zeinab Badawi's Twenty Hotels at 5:53 PM on July 12, 2015 [2 favorites]

I've been really disappointed by the massive number of new American sour releases.

Eh, a lot of them aren't really very good, but then I'm not very picky about sours and will cheerfully drink sour mash beers that people with better taste scorn. (I miss you, Bell's Oarsman!) They're the closest thing I can get to a proper sour for cheap!
posted by asperity at 5:57 PM on July 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

Nice post, I look forward to looking through everything.

I will say up front that about 10 years ago I went to Belgium, and randomly looked for a brewery to tour, and it happened to be Cantillion. We went in the front door and they told us to go ahead and look around, no guide or anything. It seemed like we had the run of the brewery, rickety staircases and all.

One thing they did tell us was that they replaced the tiles on the roof, but because of the wild yeasties living in the old tiles they left them up there and just tiled over them.

At the end there was a tasting, and the sours here in the US are pretty tame compared to that stuff. I don't really like sours as a style, but that stuff tasted like a moldy lemon.
posted by Huck500 at 6:00 PM on July 12, 2015 [2 favorites]

Monk's Cafe Flemish Sour if you are ever in Philly
I've had bad batches of this before. Sometimes its just way too vinegary flavored to go down. Could be me though.

Anyway, if Consecration can't get someone into sour beers, nothing will.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 6:00 PM on July 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

Monk's Cafe Flemish Sour if you are ever in Philly.

This gets pretty wide distribution now, at least over here in California: even saw it briefly in our local Trader Joes.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 6:01 PM on July 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

Saw this and immediately knew Jolly Pumpkin was going to be on some of these lists; hooray for the brewery down the street.
posted by kiltedtaco at 6:01 PM on July 12, 2015

Ok, so I'm a little obsessed with sour beers. I've brewed about 10 batches of sours so far, and read most of the science available online.

They're actually not that hard to homebrew, contrary to popular opinion. People tend to be afraid of contaminating their other beers. My philosophy is that if you're reasonably confident in your sanitation process, it's not a big deal. If a commercial brewery loses a batch to infection, that's a big deal. If you have to (in the worst case) pour out five gallons of beer, it's disappointing but not a huge setback.

One way to try making a sour beer is to do a kettle soured Berlinerweiss. These are pretty easy and tasty.

However, I think the best way is to make a sour saison. You can make a normal saison, pitch a normal saison yeast (e. g. 3711), and pitch in the dregs of a couple bottles of fresh-ish sour beer. I've done this with Crooked Stave dregs and had good, sour beer in about three months.

In addition, Brett has some really interesting qualities. It appears to scavenge oxygen really well, meaning that it could potentially make hop flavors stuck around much longer. It also transforms hop flavors into new and exciting flavors.

I'm on mobile so is relatively brief. If any of y'all are interested, I'll post more of my findings when I get to a real keyboard.

In the meantime, go read the Mad Fermentationist blog.
posted by Adamsmasher at 6:03 PM on July 12, 2015 [6 favorites]

That is some seriously useful knowledge.

Glad to help! To go a little deeper: traditionally gueuze as a style consists of a blend of old (2 or 3 years) and young (~1 year) lambics, refermented in the bottle. Like scotch, there's a lot of artistry that goes in to blending different vintages and batches to get the flavor profile just right. For a while, the 'gueuze' label was totally unregulated, and some unscrupulous producers were just bottling any old sour and calling it gueuze. Legend I've heard is that producers doing the legit method pushed for the name to be legally protected, and the aforementioned unscrupulous producers pushed back, and the ultimate compromise was that 'gueuze' would be unregulated but 'oude gueuze' (Flemish for "old gueuze") would be (and currently is) legally defined as a blended lambic produced in the traditional way. Similarly, a 'kriek' can be anything (and tends to be syrupy sweet cherry beers, with aspertame syrups added at bottling), but an 'oude kriek' is made in the traditional way, with actual cherries added to the secondary fermentation, which results in all the residual sugars in the cherries being fermented, leading to a very dry and tart (but still fruity) beer.
posted by Itaxpica at 6:06 PM on July 12, 2015 [5 favorites]

I will be the jerk that says American sours are generally just not that good.

Them's fighting words! Seriously though, there may be some bad sours here, but there are so many good ones. I'm a little spoiled living in Colorado, but there are terrific sour breweries all over the country. They may be hard to find on tap, though.
posted by Adamsmasher at 6:06 PM on July 12, 2015

Adamsmasher, I'm a huge fan of kettle sours and short-ferment sours like berliner weisses - I've done a few (and I just have separate gear for regular beer vs brett/lacto beers to prevent cross-contamination). What's tricky is Flemish reds, oud bruins, and lambics, all of which require at least a year of aging and have a lot of surface area for stuff to go very wrong.
posted by Itaxpica at 6:07 PM on July 12, 2015

I would go so far as to say sour beers are possibly one of the few things worse than an IPA. I look forward to several more years of curmudgeonly behavior re:beer trends. (seriously why not 'just' Belgian style ales? Is that really too much to ask?)

At least brewers are embracing an approach other than 'extreme hoppiness', for which I am begrudgingly pleased.
posted by combinatorial explosion at 6:21 PM on July 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

Itaxpica: I suspect that even the traditionally long-aging beers like lambic can be done on the ~6 month timeline. I've found a couple of things that can speed up the process:

- Plastic bucket fermentors. Most people are scared of oxygen, but aging for six months in one isn't that big of a deal if you have Brett to eat up the oxygen.

- Healthy yeast. I have a sour brown with the rosealare blend that's been aging for more than a year, and it's barely sour. I did a sour stout that's 12% ABV, which I fermented only with Crooked Stave dregs, and it was enamel melting sour at six months.

On my list of things is to do some side-by-side brewing so that I can isolate the effects of my changes. I'd like to have a more definitive idea of how my process works so that I can share it with the community.
posted by Adamsmasher at 6:22 PM on July 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

Some friends of mine made some Christmas-spiced sour beers by accident. What happened was that they tried sanitizing their bottles in the dishwasher, but I guess the water wasn't hot enough. I offered to take it off of their hands.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:30 PM on July 12, 2015

(Remember, no known pathogen that can survive in beer can kill you... I think)
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:31 PM on July 12, 2015 [2 favorites]

Itaxpica, yeah, I've learned the hard way about aspartame-sweetened krieks, but I had no idea that there were protected appellations. Thanks!
by throwing some yogurt into a weird fruit beer I'd made
Greg Nog, I used to lurk on a few homebrewing forums - and I used to smuggle brewing ingredients into Indonesia - and that is the maddest, most death-or-glory beer-related phrase I've ever read.
posted by Zeinab Badawi's Twenty Hotels at 6:43 PM on July 12, 2015 [5 favorites]

At a local beer festival, about two years ago just when this was starting to heat up, I took a sample of some local brewery's new Gose. The sentence which instantly sprang to my lips, without bypassing the part of my brain that normally regulates politeness, was: "Is it supposed to taste like that?!" It was like seawater. With distinct notes of bile.

The brewery employee smiled in a way that suggested that this wasn't the first reaction of that type she'd had that day and assured me that, yes, it was supposed to taste like that.

This post may give me the courage to try some other sour beers. But my God that was foul.
posted by ostro at 6:50 PM on July 12, 2015 [3 favorites]

FWIW, my brother, who lives in Brussels, has reviewed many, many Belgian beers, sour and otherwise, on his beer blog ... Beerly Coherent.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:56 PM on July 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


I am lucky enough to live in one of two places that has Where the Wild Beers Are. It is a delight and I recommend it.
posted by clavicle at 7:01 PM on July 12, 2015

One mention (that I saw) of Kentucky Common beer. But then they failed completely on explaining what a common beer is.
posted by Seamus at 7:09 PM on July 12, 2015

Adamsmasher: I didn't move to Texas until about a year ago, and NJ didn't have a ton of american sour offerings. The local breweries here have all seemed to do a take on sours in the last year and they've mostly just been kind of bland. I think the biggest issue is that the beers seem to be pretty young. I don't have a ton of space for aging right now (my homebrew is already taking up every spare inch, minus Stone's Enjoy After...), so maybe I should hold off on that and let one sit for a year. A company here in Austin has been threatening to open since I've lived here promising to sell canned sours. It's certainly a novel idea.
posted by lownote at 8:34 PM on July 12, 2015

Seems odd that wicked weed didn't make the list. They have so many sour/funky offerings they built a funkitorium to hold all the requisite barrels. Give them a shot if you're in Asheville.
posted by schyler523 at 8:38 PM on July 12, 2015

Sad to see only one representative of the excellently tasty New Glarus Brewery lambic-style fruit beers, but then they are only available in Wisconsin. Belgian Red is my favorite.
posted by impishoptimist at 10:45 PM on July 12, 2015

Ooh, I remember it very clearly: my wife and I first 'discovering' sour beer many years ago at the Portland International Beerfest--they somehow had obtained a case of Cantillon Iris and were serving it for $5/4oz pour. It was transcendent... my wife and I were stunned. Like, choirs of angels, receding into infinity good. We had to know, and taste, more.

We discovered we are exceedingly lucky to live so close to Cascade Brewing (named on many of these 'best of' lists) and have been regulars at the SE PDX Barrel House since its first year of operation... there are constantly 8-10+ world-class sours on tap. Another highlight is their "Tap It Tuesdays", where each week they retrieve a single wooden barrel of something unique, possibly experimental and most likely awesome from the depths of their vault. This is tapped old-school, using a brass faucet and a BF wooden mallet, and the pressure is on because it can quite easily go spectacularly wrong. My wife and I finally got our chance to do this just a couple of weeks ago, and were petrified we would fuck it up... but pulled it off with negligible spray. (I think we were more concerned about the possibility of good beer ending up on the floor, than any fleeting embarrassment on our part!)

We don't drink a ton of wine, but I'd say we usually top out at $10-15/bottle. Any more than that and I start to suspect I'm being taken advantage of... I just don't have the palette to justify it. But we do not hesitate to drop $25-30+ on 750ml Cascade sours... we can taste where that money went. And for what it's worth, I won't join in any hate pile for IPAs... I love those too and there's a whole lot of amazing imperial/double IPAs happening right now--100+ IBU, 9%+ ABV--that are super balanced and delicious.

Anyway--two years ago, we were fortunate enough to take our two young sons to Europe for a spring break trip. We looked at places to go, saw that Delta flew nonstop from Portland to Amsterdam and used that as our starting point. Paris was another logical stop, mostly because we wanted an excuse to go through Belgium, and specifically to stop at Cantillon... still chasing that high. I mean, Amsterdam and Paris are world-class cities, and we had an unbelievably great trip... but if pressed, I'd have to say that getting the chance to walk through the brewery (self-guided tour!) with our boys, talking with the brewers, and tasting (what we think is) the greatest beer in the world, which we can almost never have... that was the highlight of the trip.

If you have the means, opportunity and motive... go there. Or if not, find a way to try them near you... Cantillon has their "Zwanze Day" every year, where a special beer is made and distributed to selected sites around the world, and all are tapped on the same day. ("Zwanze" is apparently Flemish for something close to "joke" or "prank", and these beers usually have a twist to them.) They have recently announced that this year's date will be September 19, and that it will be some sort of "Wild Brussels Stout". More details, and the list of global locations to get it, should be coming soon. Not guaranteed, but often places that get the Zwanze release may have other Cantillon offerings as well.

On preview... impishoptimist, we are actually in Wisconsin right now visiting my parents--as we do every summer--and have had several New Glarus beers, including a bottle of their Belgian Red earlier tonight! The nose was excitingly sour, but the actual taste was just too much sugary cherry for me. (I kept thinking of Jolly Ranchers.) :-/ My wife liked it fine, so she was happy enough to take most of it. :-) We've had similar thoughts about their other sours in the past, and both agreed that their current "Thumbprint" (limited release) Berliner Weisse was our favorite of theirs this summer... our tastes clearly run to the more sour end of the fruity spectrum... we want to pucker.
posted by rodeoclown at 11:24 PM on July 12, 2015 [3 favorites]

If any of you find yourselves in Belgium and are interested in the style, come stop by Leuven and check out some geuze from my beer library.
posted by Blasdelb at 1:41 AM on July 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

Just wanted to reiterate rodeoclown about the Cantillon tour; I was there last week. They weren't brewing, since they can only do that during the cool seasons, but it was still pretty neat nonetheless. I think they said they are one of the last, if not only, remaining lambic producers that does it the traditional way. The only really modern looking equipment was the bottling station. So if you find yourself in Brussels, make your way over there. It's only a few euros and you get a tasting as well (but you'll probably buy some more, like everybody else was when we were there).
posted by bonje at 1:50 AM on July 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

It's nice to see some enthusiasm about sour beers, but if I can be grumpy for one comment, it's disappointing to see that none of those 6 essential sour beers actually list any proper lambics or geuezes rather going for the usual American we've only heard of this last Tuesday and brewed up our own take on it this weekend and it's the best ever interpretations.

It's understandable that the Belgian brewers are less easy to find in the States but at least some attention should be given to the people who actually created, maintained and rescued these styles, other than as just a background sell for whatever wacky variant the latest hip West Coast brewery comes up with this week.

(Though European brewers can go Xtreme as well; I got a stunt lambic/English IPA mixture that I was warned about not to bump too much and be careful opening as it might explode..)
posted by MartinWisse at 1:55 AM on July 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

Trick for lambics that aren't quite one's cup vanilla ice cream lambic floats.

“It’s not so bad when you get used to it,” said Doc. “I’ve been drinking it for seventeen years.”
posted by villanelles at dawn at 2:27 AM on July 13, 2015

Zeinab Badawi's Twenty Hotels: "Hop Bastard Full 100% Portland-Style Dry-Hopped Hop Massacre"

Any IPA fans want to claim their new sockpuppet account?
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 2:56 AM on July 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

The United States (and the world in general) isn't doing so great in so many ways, but at least one way that the United States (and other places, too) is excelling at is craft beer. No irony intended here--this is a real golden age of beer.
posted by zardoz at 3:25 AM on July 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

My first exposure to lambics was also a "Is it SUPPOSED to taste like that?" moment. But I'd bought six of them, so what's a man to do?

I think I was addicted about half-way down number three.

(If memory serves, this was - of all things - a supermarket own-lbrand lambic, which I'd bought because I never knew there was such a thing. Then a friend with a spare room and a chef for a boyfriend moved to Brussels... and the list of beer (and other) things I never knew existed expanded as rapidly as his waistline).

Incidentally, if you're in North London, like beer and don't know about Kris's , then you won't know where I'm going this evening to scratch the itch this thread has given me...
posted by Devonian at 3:50 AM on July 13, 2015

I've never had a great american beer/ale. Best I've had has been okay but nothing has ever blown me away. Sour beers are great though, I'm a big fan of the lambics and berliner weisses, Siren Craft Brew Calypso is such a good sour beer I'm glad they made it part of their core beer lineup.
posted by ACair at 4:35 AM on July 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Also @Devonian, I've been to Kris Wines in Camden/Holloway-ish quite a lot, my friends live behind it. It's cool but Mother Kelly's Bottle Shop in Homerton is better I feel.

Nothing in the UK beats Bitter Virtue in Southampton AFAIK though, they're ridiculous. Owners / staff are super nice / enthusiastic and very knowledgeable.
posted by ACair at 4:37 AM on July 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Brettanomyces is this wild yeast that does a fantastic job of burning off sugars during "spontaneous fermentation" and creating the puckering acidity in the beers we covet.

Not so much. Brett provides the barnyard "horse blanket" funky complexity, not typically any acidity. It will make some acetic acid in the presence of oxygen, but that is normally undesirable (a little acetic is nice a in Flanders Red but it can be a bit harsh). Most sour beers are sour from the activity of Lactobacillus and/or Pediococcus, which make lactic acid.

One of the best beers I've had recently was Embrace the Funk from Yazoo in Nashville. Beatiful complexity and wonderfully balanced. I had it at the Savor craft beer event in DC where I also had a glass of La Folie poured by Peter Bouckaert of New Belgium, formerly Rodenbach. I swooned and called him Dr. Rodenbach but he humbly asked to be called Peter.
Here is a nice write-up from him of the Rodenbach process.

I have about 30 gallons of various homebrewed sour and funk beers in my basement. A nice thing about them compared to IPAs is that an IPA can be good fresh if well-brewed, but after a few months the hop aromatics will fade and you'll just have a lingering bitterness. If you have the patience and space to store them, funky and sour beers just get better with age. Lots of resources at the Milk the Funk wiki for (home)brewers.
posted by exogenous at 6:11 AM on July 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

I think they said they are one of the last, if not only, remaining lambic producers that does it the traditional way.

There are a handfull left, but a lot of them are super tiny and almost impossible to find outside of Belgium. Cantillon is the last lambic brewery actually in the city of Brussels, though; most of the others are out in the countryside.

If you're interested, there's a great book called Lambicland all about the remaining lambic breweries. It's one part history book, one part travel guide.
posted by Itaxpica at 6:14 AM on July 13, 2015

Huck500: "... looked for a brewery to tour, and it happened to be Cantillion. ... One thing they did tell us was that they replaced the tiles on the roof, but because of the wild yeasties living in the old tiles they left them up there and just tiled over them."

More recently, they sprayed the walls and ceiling of their new facility with their house flora.
posted by exogenous at 6:26 AM on July 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Exogenous- I had no idea there was a New Belgium/Rodenbach connection. It explains a lot about my taste preferences.
posted by lownote at 7:00 AM on July 13, 2015

The most....interesting sour I've ever had was Mikkeller's Spontanbeetroot, which tastes so earthy and beet-y that I imagine people who do not like beets would hate it.
posted by Juliet Banana at 9:30 AM on July 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

I've always loved Rodenbach, and there was a bar in Baltimore that celebrated having Rodenbach on tap by preparing a special menu where every course used Rodenbach. I've forgotten all the details, but I remember the mussels steamed in Rodenbach and meat marinated in Rodenbach. And to drink: Rodenbach. A representative of the brewery was there, calling himself "Rudy Rodenbach". It was a great evening.

One christmas I gave all my beer-loving colleagues Grand Cru, and was very disappointed when they all said it was something they would never drink again.
posted by acrasis at 3:37 PM on July 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Aw, acrasis, that sucks! I'm sorry all your colleagues are wrong. Also I don't like mussels at all but I'd think about eating one if it were steamed in Rodenbach.
posted by clavicle at 7:35 PM on July 13, 2015

« Older Home   |   "25 years ago, shots rang out on the Mohawk... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments