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What is Sour Beer?

Ah, the wonderful world of craft beer! There is so much variety, so many flavors and styles to choose from.

From crisp refreshing lagers to mouth-puckering porters, there is something for every beer lover.

Today we’re going to focus on a less-familiar member of the beer family: sour beers.

Sour beers have been around for centuries, dating back to the 1500s in Europe.

The sourness comes from fermentation with wild yeast strains or bacteria such as Lactobacillus or Brettanomyces.

These sour beers have become increasingly popular in recent years, leading brewers to explore new flavor combinations with different fruits and spices.

Let’s take some time to learn about what exactly makes a beer “sour” and why you should try one!

Overview Of Sour Beer

Sour beers are part of a broad family of ales that range in flavor and color, but all share one thing in common: they are intentionally tart or sour.

Brewers achieve this tartness by using various methods such as barrel aging, wild yeast strain fermentations, blending with younger non-sour beers, adding bacteria such as Lactobacillus or Brettanomyces during fermentation, or adding fruit juices at the end of fermentation.

Types Of Sour Beer

There are several types of sour beers: Berliner Weisse, Gose, Lambic Blonde Ale, Flanders Red Ale, and Fruit Lambic beer. Each style has its own unique flavor profile and characteristics; some are heavily fruity while others are more tart or acidic.

  • Berliner Weisse is a German wheat beer that has a light body and is lightly hopped with a tart lemony flavor
  • Gose is brewed with salt added for balance; it has an herbal/spicy character along with a slightly salty taste
  • Lambic Blond Ale is brewed with wheat malt and aged for up to three years in wooden barrels; it has notes of apple cider and stone fruits
  • Flanders Red Ale is an intensely tart ale that gets its coloring from roasted malts; it has flavors reminiscent of cherry pie filling
  • Fruit Lambic Beer is fermented using the same process as traditional lambics but with added fruit juices giving it more sweetness

History Of Sour Beer

Sour beer has been around since ancient times but it wasn’t until the mid-1800s that brewers began experimenting more with these styles due to increased access to better ingredients and brewing equipment.

Since then, sour beers have become increasingly popular and brewers have been experimenting widely with various fruits and spices as additives in their recipes which gives them even more variety than before!

Taste Characteristics Of Sour Beer

Sour beers typically have lower alcohol levels ranging from 2% ABV up to 8%. They can range from light straw-colored hues all the way up to dark brownish-maroon colors depending on the type of malt used during the brewing process.

When drinking a sour beer you will find aromas of citrus fruits (lemon, lime), and floral hops (rose/geranium), along with faint hints of spice (black pepper).

On your palate, you will mostly find tartness (due to acids) along with sweet notes from any fruit addition. The acidity tends to linger on your tongue long after you swallow making it quite an enjoyable experience!

How To Serve Sour Beer

Serving temperature plays an important role when enjoying sours so be sure not to serve them too cold as this will mute out some of their subtleties. Most sours should be served between 45-50 degrees Fahrenheit (7-10 degrees Celsius).

It’s also important not to pour too quickly as this will create excessive foam at the top which may diminish your drinking experience somewhat. Take your time when pouring your beers into appropriate stemmed glasses such as tulips or flutes so you can enjoy their full aromatics!

Health Benefits Of Sour Beer

You may not think about it but there are many health benefits associated with drinking sours due largely because most contain natural acids like lactic acid which can aid digestion.

They also lack many carcinogens found in other types of ales due largely because they don’t go through any boiling process which removes these compounds from entering our bodies when consumed!

So next time you reach for that delicious-looking bottle why not opt for something sourer instead?

Popular Brands Of Sour Beer

If you’re looking for some great examples try some:

  • New Belgium Brewing Company’s Le Terroir Dry Hopped American Wild Ale
  • Oskar Blues Brewery’s Ten Fidy Imperial Stout
  • Anchorage Brewing Company’s Galaxy White IPA
  • Firestone Walker Brewing Company’s Parabola Russian Imperial Stout
  • The Lost Abbey’s Devotion Belgian Style Pale Ale
  • Ommegang Witte Belgian White Ale
  • Russian River Brewing Company’s Consecration Dark Wheat Wine Style Ale
  • Avery Brewing Company’s White Rascal Belgian White Ale
  • Deschutes Brewery’s The Dissident Flanders Oud Bruin
  • Lagunitas Brewing Company’s Wilco Tango Foxtrot Wild Ale
  • Sierra Nevada Brewing Company’s Barrel Aged Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale
  • Allagash Brewing Company’s Curieux Belgian Tripel Barrel Aged In Jim Bean Bourbon Barrels

The list goes on…so get experimenting!

Pairing Sour Beer With Food

As far as pairing foods goes sours tend to pair well with dishes high in fat content like pork belly sliders accompanied by pickled vegetables, fried chicken, fish & chips, grilled cheese sandwiches, oysters, mussels, cheesecake, salted caramel ice cream, and more.

They also work well alongside crisps & crackers, nuts & olives. So don’t be afraid to pair different foods together when trying out different sours just remember not to overpower any subtle nuances within each individual brew!


To conclude if you haven’t yet tried out any sours then now would be a great time to start exploring this wonderful craft beer style!

From fruity lambics, all way down to rich stout aged for years intense oak barrels there is truly something for everyone! So why wait to crack open the bottle something interesting today !!

Author Image Fabian
I’m Fabian, homebrewer and beer taster. I’m also the editor of Beer100. I love travelling the world and trying out new handcraft beer and different beer styles. I’m not an expert in brewing beer, but I know a few things about beer, which I share on this blog. If you need help or have a question, please comment below.

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