Sour beers offer the ideal kick of fruity tartness to greet the last couple of months of summer. The best ones offer a youthful zap of energy, reminiscent of some of the candies we coveted as kids.
What makes them sour? Well, acid. But the source of that acid can come from a handful of things, from certain added fruits to fermentations involving certain bacteria that convert sugars to acids. Dealing with acid levels and fermentation cultures like this is something more akin to winemaking, so it’s no surprise that a lot of these beers end up aging in the tank or barrel for a while before bottling.
As a result, you may shell out a bit more for certain sours given all the TLC that’s sometimes involved but that’s certainly not always the case. There are simpler, just as satisfying ones too that are very much worth your time. And, again, they’re extra-primed for late summer, offering a brightness that keeps the glow alive even as the days start to shorten, and they tend to be very, very refreshing.
Here are some of the best to try for the remainder of summer 2021. And if you want to learn a bit more about the style, check out this nice breakdown from the Pacific Northwest sour masters at Cascade Brewing.
A lot of breweries incorporate passion fruit for its tropical kick be far fewer have the recipe exquisitely balanced. Portland’s Breakside brewery makes one of the best, an incredibly refreshing beer with sweetness, tartness, and a rounding hop-driven bitterness on the backend. It’s informed by the great Berliner weisse beers of Germany, the beer really emphasizes the hops-for-sourness swap, coming in at just 3 IBUs.
A gose style beer is essentially a sub-category of the sour beer realm, fit with tartness and also often a briny aspect. The South Carolina-made beer comes off like the Southern pie it’s named after, with zesty qualities, a bready backbone, and a hint of coriander. A little salty, a little sour, and all kinds of delicious and palate-cleansing. Better still, it has a session-like ABV of just 4%, meaning you can drink it pretty much all day.
Cascade Brewing should be credited with starting the sour craze well over a decade ago. It has become of the preeminent producers in the country, operating since 1998 and defining the expanding sour style with creative and expertly crafted offerings. This barrel-aged blond is assembled with apricots and honey and teems with sweet-and-sour goodness, all courtesy of 16 months spent evolving in old wine barrels.
A fine beer from New York’s Grimm, this release is made with orange zest and aged in white oak. It’s a little bit reminiscent of a hazy IPA, minus the bitterness. The aromatic German hops meld beautifully, creating flavors of mandarin orange and floral, yeasty notes. It’s the kind of beer you’ll have as much fun sniffing and you will sipping.
Passionfruit is tailor-made for sour beer with its tart, topical notes. Mikkeller puts the fruit to excellent use in its Passion Pool sour beer, brewed with sea salt. The artistic can design very much captures the experience — a giddy person plunging in to a pool-sized passionfruit. It’s an immersive, balanced, and seductive beer that will leave you wanting more. The Danish outfit has brewing operations stateside these days, so accessing refreshing releases like this is far simpler.
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