Well hello! I didn’t see you all come in. Welcome back to our series on aging Beer!
Last time, we talked about some of my favorite stouts, and why they’d be good for aging. We featured beers by Evil Twin Brewing, Founders Brewing, Southern Tier Brewing, and our local (well, local if you’re in NYC) favorite, Singlecut Beersmiths.
If you haven’t read that, or my other two articles on aging Beer, head over to my writer page here on TLT and check them out. Don’t forget to share them with all your Beer loving (and non-Beer loving) friends! Let’s spread love, joy, and beer in 2018!
Alright, let’s get down to it. Pucker up, suckers, because we’re talking about sours, y’all.
Why age sours? Aren’t they simply delicious right away? Why, yes, yes they are! But! Sour beers are acidic (most have a similar pH level to wine), and are usually made with fewer hops, meaning they’re perfect for aging, as flavors will change and develop in the bottle over time (think like vintage red wine! 🍷)
On the left, Finback’s amazing Star Child, a Sour Ale brewed with grapefruit. I picked this up a few years ago right around my birthday, and I kept one of the four cans for about 6 months, and it was still amazing. That grapefruit pithiness mellowed, leaving a tart, lovely little sour.
Again, it’s not an exact science, but when properly cellared, sour beer should age, change, and become more complex for up to 5 years in the bottle.
Mikkeller Brewing Fruitface, a small (I believe around 3.5% ABV) Berliner Weisse brewed with tangerine, green tea, and lemongrass. Fresh, the lemongrass and tangerine give it notes of Froot Loops (don’t laugh). As it ages, it may get more tart, balancing out the flavors and leaving you with a delightfully smooth, tart little sour.
According to the Rare Barrel, a sour beer company in Berkeley, California, they bottle condition their beers with fresh yeast, and fermentable sugars. What this means is, there’s little to no carbonation in the beer as they bottle it, but that hungry fungi (shout out to my buddy Rickommended for that terminology) will eat up all of that delicious sugar (mm… sugar…) and fart out bubbly, bubbly, toil and trouble-y(?) CO2. This means their beers are designed to ferment for up to 5 years (but they’re ready to drink by the time they’re released!)
One of my favorite new breweries, Garvies Point, out of Long Island, has been putting out variations on their Sour Batch. Each is hopped with a different hop varietal, and this one has Mosaic, and was brewed on tons and tons of blueberries. While, when aged, the mosaic will be the first to fade (mosaic gives notes of citrus, with a bit of a barnyard funk), leaving you with a sweeter, blueberry forward brew. Not so bad if you ask me!
Sours also are made with particular strains of bacteria, that give it its mouthwatering, lip smacking, pucker-up-buttercup tart flavor. You’ll see beer with lactobacillus, brettanomyces, and pediococcus yeasts, which can be naturally occurring or can be added to the beer, giving it its acidic and complex flavors.
Destihl Brewing has been releasing their kettle Sour series as well (meaning it’s soured in their tanks, not naturally). It’s a bit higher ABV than the others pictured in this article, which always lends itself well to aging.
So, give it a shot. Next time, we’re going to talk about barrel aging (yeah, and there’s some sour beers that do AMAZING in barrels).
Join the sour revolution, folks. It’s just beginning, and it’s way too much fun!
Until next time…