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Sours. Where to start?

So I would be lying if I said I wasn’t intrigued by this new craze in the craft beer world known as “sours.” I admit I am a bit off-put by the thought of beers with “horse blanket” and “sweat” characteristics. I do however pride myself in the ability to try things with an open mind.

So my question is, where should I start? There is a section at a local craft beer store that is labeled “sour beers” but I would have no idea what I was choosing. I want to experience the “sour phenomenon” but I don’t want to jump in at “sweaty barnyard” but also don’t want training wheels akin to using Bartles and James to introduce someone to the world of wine.

So to you sour experts out there, point me in the right direction. Any suggestions on brews to lookout for that will help me in my exploration of new things?

Lindemans’ fruit bombs notwithstanding, Berliner Weisse is the most approachable style I know of. Ultimate lawnmower beer, too. I tend to like sticking with local breweries for this one; all the imports I’ve tried have clearly been sitting on the shelf for a while. Three Floyds makes one that I haven’t been able to get my hands on yet.

I usually get a bottle of Duchesse de Bourgogne if I’m trying to convince a friend to like sour beers. It’s assertive about the sourness, but still pretty well-rounded and doesn’t have anything weird or vinegary going on.

If you want to find out right away whether you like horse blankets, try a bottle of Orval. It’s not a sour beer, but it’s got the barnyard thing going strong.

I am admittedly not a fan of sour beers but this one was pretty good if you can find it.

Brux

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Monks Cafe Flemish red is a good one that I don’t think is too over the top. There are a some good Petrus variations that are good too. The Duchesse reccomendation is spot on as well.

I thought Goose Island had a sour that was on the milder side.

I haven’t had the hankering for a sour beer in a while.

Rodenbach Grand Cru, Duchesse De Bourgogne and Monks Cafe are really good.

One of my favorites is Cuvee Des Jacobins Rouge and I think it has more sourness than the others I listed.

+1 to Duchesse. Its backsweetened with either lactose or asparteme so it has a great balance of tart and sweet. After you’ve developed your palette for these, you may find it a touch ‘artificial’ tasting, but I would still order one, given the right price…It was one of the first ones I really appreciated, and it was the first sour I gave my wife and she really dug it.

Also, if you can get them in your area, Jolly Pumpkin’s house culture has a great blend of lacto and wild yeasts, so there is some tart, and very restrained barnyard/horse/sweat/etc. in VERY well-made beers.

Of course, anything by Lost Abbey will simply blow your doors off…hard to find though.

Sours can be an acquired taste. It took me a few years to get to the point I would want to drink one regularly. Now, I can’t get enough. My favorites are very tart lambics and sour red ale. Monks Cafe is a good place to start. Rodenback Ale is good too. It has some sourness, but it is not as sour as the Grand Cru. The sour reds have more of a vinegary type acidity and may or may not have some of that horse blanket character. Part of what makes them good is the balance between malt, oak flavors and the sour. If you don’t like the wood character, you can try Lindeman’s beers. They are less sour and have a nice malt and fruit character. If you like lactic acidity more than the vinegar character, you should try Berliner Weiss. Freetail Brewing in San Antonio makes a nice one, but you will probably have to come to San Antonio to get it. I still stick with European imports more than U.S. examples. Some of the La Folie series is great, and some of them are mediocre to bad. Jolly Pumpkin and the California sours are usually pretty good, but not as good as the Belgian’s for the same money. That is just my opinion. I appreciate the creativity of the craft brewers, and I would spend the extra money if they were superior beers.

Agree 100%

I like an occasional sour, but not enough to buy them regularly. Definitely not on my homebrew roadmap.

Tart of Darkness is another to try. “Ewww… I think I like it.”

Haha- that was my first sour beer response as well. Now I actively seek them out one in a while.

Their Matilda supposedly has brett in it. I can just taste it in the bottled versions but honestly can’t pull out the flavor in the draft version. It’s probably there but just too subtle to stand out to me.

To be accurate, sour and mixed fermentation beers are far older and have been around much longer than clean ales and lagers.
I think Rodenbach Grand Cru is the standard-bearer for Flemish style sours. It is reasonably priced, highly available, and very consistent. It is amazingly refreshing on the hottest day of the year and comforting and warming on the coldest day of the year.

Their Matilda supposedly has brett in it. I can just taste it in the bottled versions but honestly can’t pull out the flavor in the draft version. It’s probably there but just too subtle to stand out to me.[/quote]

I’ve never had it on tap. I had it bottled once and thought it was probably a decent beer to try since it was on the milder side. Most other sour beers are very bold.

The problem for me with sour beers is that it seems like kind of a trendy bandwagon for micros to jump on, and a fair amount of what comes out in new beers of that variety just don’t taste particularly well-crafted to me. I also don’t care for the way some brewers seem to think that all they have to do is throw some brett, or other funky microorganism, into their beer, and then they can slap some absurdly high price tag on it, even if it’s just some crazy experiment they threw together that just happened to come out drinkable.
The ones I like are the ones that have been around for a long time, like Rodenbach, where you can tell that they’ve worked very hard to perfect the product, and they integrate other flavors, like fruit or wood, into the beer instead of relying on the yeast alone to make the beer what it is. I also think that the attenuation range of the yeast is highly important to the drinkability of the final product. I’ve tasted some sour beers that I thought were underattenuated, where I thought that what I was tasting was reminiscent of throwing up in my own mouth. I’ve also tasted some that were so incredibly dry that all I wanted to do was grab a glass of water to wash it down with.
All in all, I can’t say I’m a huge fan of sour beers, but the ones I liked did tend to have some fruit element to them. I think there’s still some room for experimentation for American micros in this arena, but I’d like to see the product as a whole deglamorized and fine-tuned.

Cascade Brewing here in Portland has been my introduction to sours, and while I have no interest in drinking one every day, they do make for a fun and tasty change of pace. They do bottle and have distributors across the US. Anybody’s guess as to whether a bottle shop near you would carry them,

http://www.cascadebrewingbarrelhouse.com/

New Craze?
Just jump in and buy one, your going to like it or not.
Brux is not sour it is just brett.
A lot of the qualities your talking about are brett brett is not sour, though brett is in most sours
Duchese is way way sweet and nothing like a true flanders red.
Same with Lindemans lambics way way sweet, horrible IMHO except for Cuvee Renne, that is probably the most readily available Lambic out there.

Rodenbach…Not Grand Cru the classic red. It is a weaker blend and is not as sour as Grand Cru.
Flanders are going to be more Acetic.
Berliner is a good start lactic sourness but completley different than a lambic or flanders.

What do you have for choices, give me those and can give you a scale if you want weaker to stronger. But like I said I would just jump in and get some, your going to like it or hate it.

Sours are almost wine like, extremly complex, be prepared to expect something you have never tasted before. I love them all except for the backsweetened crap

Our local Costco has Rodenbach Grand Cru at a very reasonable price right now. I tried one, and can’t say that I’m eager to have another, however, I can see where some people would really like it. it is impressive the amount of sour (more like tart) cherry flavor they get in that beer from just fermentation character. I don’t think there is actually any cherry in the beer. I find that impressive, even if its not a style that is really to my taste.

My first sour was Boulevard Love Child #1 at a microbrew fest a few years ago. I dumped it out. Since then, I’ve had a few that I’ve enjoyed (including Love Child #3), but it’s still a style that I can only consume once in a setting. Unfortunately the US brewed sours tend to be produced in extremely limited quantities and they fly off the shelves nearly the moment they’re unboxed–so it’s hard to find a variety of domestically produced examples. You’re likely going to have to go with the imports noted above and keep an eye out for locally released sours.

If you can get your hands on a Berliner Weisse, definitely give it a try. It’s a very approachable style. I’ve really enjoyed the handful I’ve been able to try. Unfortunately these are also difficult to find.

[quote=“kcbeersnob”]My first sour was Boulevard Love Child #1 at a microbrew fest a few years ago. I dumped it out. Since then, I’ve had a few that I’ve enjoyed (including Love Child #3), but it’s still a style that I can only consume once in a setting. Unfortunately the US brewed sours tend to be produced in extremely limited quantities and they fly off the shelves nearly the moment they’re unboxed–so it’s hard to find a variety of domestically produced examples. You’re likely going to have to go with the imports noted above and keep an eye out for locally released sours.

If you can get your hands on a Berliner Weisse, definitely give it a try. It’s a very approachable style. I’ve really enjoyed the handful I’ve been able to try. Unfortunately these are also difficult to find.[/quote]

There are a couple Berliners that are readily available. 1809 and I forget the other names.
If you have a local brewery that does sours you can have them on hand. I just brew them to expensive to buy constantly.
I have two on tap know and 3 ready anytime a keg opens up.

[quote=“Wahoo”]
I think Rodenbach Grand Cru is the standard-bearer for Flemish style sours. It is reasonably priced, highly available, and very consistent. It is amazingly refreshing on the hottest day of the year and comforting and warming on the coldest day of the year.[/quote]
I found this at Coscto for around $7.99 for a 750ml. I’m not really into the super funky sours either and I really like this one. Pretty sour but not overly so. Very drinkable. I’ve been told the Costco price is pretty good for this particular beer.

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