With its recent spike in popularity, it's hard to believe that Sour Wild Ales are virtually the oldest style of beer around. At one point, before sterilization and pasteurization practices were fully understood, all beers were somewhat sour beers, specifically in Belgium with their Belgian style Sour Ales. This popularity ranges from beer geeks that love the layered flavors to non-beer-drinkers that love how it doesn't necessarily taste like beer.
What is a Sour Ale? When compared to other beer styles, sour beers use very different ingredients and fermentation methods. To make a sour beer, the brew must be fermented by introducing any of the following genus' of sour ale yeast: Brettanomyces, acid producing bacteria, or any type of non-conventional yeast. The two most used bacteria in a Sour Ale recipe are: Lactobacillus (turns sugar into lactic acid), and Pediococcus (used to add acidity to Belgian beers). The most used wild yeast strain is Brettanomyces, which adds a funky earthy quality to the beers. The most familiar sour ales are: Lambic beers, Flanders, American Wile Ales, Gose, and Berliner Weisse.
Although the style is considered a beer, brewing a Sour Ale is much more similar to wine making. Both are blended, can be aged in oak barrels, and balance sweet with acid. On top of this, sour beers pair excellently with meat, cheese, and fruits, making Charcuterie boards a fantastic pairing. The Sour Ale ABV can be as low as 2% as a Session Sour Ale, and as high as 9% as an Imperial Sour Ale.
The brews have become widely popular apart from just Belgian Sour Ales, with many other sours emerging around the world, especially in America with so many new and unique American Sour Ales.
We have had the pleasure of featuring several of the best Sour Ales, a few being the Olvade Sour Ale, and the Rivertown Berliner Weisse. We look forward to trying and featuring more in our craft beer club in the future.