Beer: Guide for Sour Beers

Of course my first beer post is going to be about sour beers because they are my FAVORITE! Up until about a year ago, I didn't even know such a thing existed. This beer business is still relatively new for me, I've only started taking interest in it these last few years (mainly due to the caveman). To my greatest surprise, the world of craft beers is enormous! Arguably just as vast as the wine industry but very down played. It's definitely something that's gaining more momentum these days.

When I didn't know any better, I thought all beers were just slight variations of Coors Light, BudLight, Budwiser, etc, so initially after I had a few "beers," I decided it wasn't not my cup of tea. Well turns out, I didn't even scratch the surface. After being introduced to a lot more varieties and types of beers, I slowly began to develop a newfound respect for it. 

I ran across an article by Lucky Peach: A Guide to Sour Beers, that I'd like to share. Even though sours are my favorite, I actually don't know a whole lot about them so this is a pretty cool article to go through for some basic starting information and recommendations. Unfortunately some of the descriptions doesn't really do the beer justice, if anything it may sound gross but just note that the description is generalized and when it says things like "barnyard" it does not mean the pungent punch you in the face smell you get when you walk into an actual barnyard, it's talking about subtle notes of the aroma, like if you were a few houses away subtle. 
So here is a quick summary guide: 

  • originated around Brussels
  • wheat ale fermented by wild yeasts
  • hops are aged for several years to provide oxidized and cheesy aromas
  • the hot wort (unfermented beer) is left open to the cool air overnight to inoculate with wild microorganisms for fermentation
  • beer is tart, acidic, barnyard and animal funk, lemon, vinegar, and sharp cider
  • could be vintage specific or a blend of vintages
(pronounced gooz, if you're French and ger-za if you're Dutch, and ??? if you're American? ...a little bit of American humor?)
  • made similar to lambics but is a blend of old and new lambic to create a new concoction. 
  • usually made up of lambics 1-3 year olds although sometimes can be much older
Fruit Lambics:
  • made same as lambics but cut with whole, crushed, or juiced fruits to help balance harsh overtones of pure lambics
  • young lambics sweetened with Belgian candi sugar
Flanders Red:
  • originated in West Flanders region
  • blend of aged and young beer
  • reddish-brown malts, lacto fermented in oak vessels for 2-3 years
  • funky, bracingly tart with fruity esters and red wine-like tannins 
Old Bruin: 
("old brown" or brown Flanders)
  • similar to Flanders Red except this is from East Flanders
  • more malty and sweeter notes of ripe plum and raisins, lower tartness
Berliner Weisse:
  • native to Berlin
  • quick ferment wheat ale
  • lactobacillus fermentation causes tartness in beer
  • very similar to Berliner Weisse except with the addition of salt and coriander. 
Smoked Sour Ale:
  • no longer made but was once produced using smoked wheat that were unintentionally smoked using old malting techniques
** side note: I guess similar to wines, old world naming systems for beers are very region specific and strict which basically states that only beers produced in that region can be called that specific name. Example: Lambic are called lambics because of the region in which they were produced, like Champagne is produced in Champagne, France and the rest of the world has to call their bubbly "Sparkling Wine" even though they may be made the same way (another topic for another day)
Spontaneous Ale: 
  • the American made version of German lambics minus the official name of being called Lambics
Mixed Fermenation Ale:
  • like spontaneous ale but with specific strains of yeast/bacteria that are intentionally added to the fermentation
  • several different types of yeast are added and goes through a couple of fermentations
  • not necessarily sour if there was no lacto- or pedio- aids during fermentation where tartness is developed
American Style Gose:
  • better known as German Gose inspired new world version of the historic one which means its free play, like a remix
American Style Berliner Weisse: 
  • same as above but Berliner Weisse inspired.
  • kettle souring: where lactobacillus is introduced to the warm wort in the boil kettle there the wort is acidified then the bacteria is killed off by boiling the wort.
Dry-hopped Sour:
  • a blend between Gose and Weisse but hops are added to the mix to introduce citrus characteristics