'Sour' style beers are a large family of sour beers.
Beers are sour according to the use of specific yeasts or raw and untreated raw materials. Most often we call sour beers that do not fit into the following styles: gueuzes and lambics, Flemish browns, berliner weisse, goses and wild ales.
It is therefore not incorrect to say that a berliner weisse is a 'sour', but the first name is more precise. Also, there are no binding specifications for 'sour', it is a group of styles rather than a style in itself.
Historically, beers were sour because of infection during brewing, this was usually not intentional.
Before the scientific mastery of brewing, some breweries were already trying to achieve this specific acidity. And it should never be forgotten that acidity in beers is as old as the beer itself.
In the case of gueuze it is the yeast that gives the acidity, and the yeast is naturally present in the air of the Senne valley.
In the case of the first berliner weisses, it is the use of wheat, raw and untreated, that contributed to the acidity, before yeasts were crossed to facilitate the production of these beers.
For goses it is a combination of yeast and lactic acid bacteria that is responsible for the acidity.
If you have never tasted sour beers, you can see that there are so many different styles that there must be at least one that will suit you.
Want to know more about ‘sour’ beers? Then continue reading while we answer some of the most commonly asked questions.
So what exactly is a sour beer, and what beers are considered sour?
In short, the style ‘sour’ refers to the taste of beer. Any beer that has acidic flavours is considered sour. These acidic tastes are often created with the use of fruits like cherry, peach, and raspberry. Despite being one of the oldest styles, it has not always been popular. Craft beer breweries are increasing the popularity of this style.
Sour-style beers differ from other types of beer and stand out from the most common beer tastes. With the use of hops, most beers have a slight bitterness, but with sour beers, the bitterness is unnoticeable. Generally, the fruity and acidic flavours dominate the beer.
The term sour beer is rather new. That is because the first sour beers have developed their own categories, and the sour style category is quite wide. Also, the sour beers are only making their name now with the craft beer movement.
How is a ‘sour’ beer brewed?
There are several methods to make a sour beer sour. One of the options is spontaneous fermentation. Another method is using fruits while brewing the beer. Lastly, you can age sour beers in wooden barrels to achieve acidity.
Nowadays, sour beers are mostly impacted by two types of bacteria, the lactobacillus and pediococcus, and a wild yeast called Brettanomyces. These bacteria and yeast give the sour beers their acidic taste.
Where does the sour beer style come from?
The Belgians were the first to brew this type of beer, and then the Germans quickly followed. The lambics and gueuzes made the style popular in Belgium. In Germany, the Berliner Weisse and gose brought fame to the sour styles.
Are sour beers strong in alcohol?
Generally, sour beers have lighter alcohol content. Still, you may find some sour beers with an alcohol level of 8%. Most sour beers fall somewhere between 2-5% ABV.
Which type of beer glass is best to use with sour beer?
Although, theoretically, you can use any beer glass for any beer. If you are a proper beer geek or Belgian, this would be unacceptable. The best beer glass for sour styles is a tulip-shaped beer glass. The tulip-shaped glass will allow the complex aromas of the beer to release better in the nose.
What foods pair well with sour beers?
If you are looking for food pairing tips, then luckily sour beers go along with various dishes. Some foods that go well with sour beers are strong cheeses, spicy foods, salty meats, deep-fried foods, omelettes, oysters and mussels
Thirsty for a sour beer? See our collection of some of the best sour beers above!
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