Though sour beers have been around since humans started brewing beer thousands of years ago, they are definitely having a moment right now in the beer community. As American craft brewers continue to push their limits and creativity, more and more sours keep hitting the market.
To put it simply, a sour beer is a style of beer that is specifically brewed to have sour, tart, or acidic flavor. Sour beers can range from being light and crisp like champagne to fruity or to funky and mouth-puckering. If you like oranges, grapefruits, or sour candy, you'll love sour beer.
Depending on what kind of beer you're drinking, you will typically taste the hoppy or malty elements that went into the brewing process. However, that's not the case with sour beer. Unlike most modern brews that are made in sterile environments, sours are brewed with wild yeasts and bacterias. The three most common bacterias used are Lactobacillus, Brettanomyces, and Pediococcus. Don't let the use of bacteria deter you from diving into the world of sour beer; these types are totally safe to consume.
Unlike your typical ales that take about a month to make, the brewing process of a sour beer can take months - sometimes years - to complete. However, the payoff is having a delicious beverage that is much more complex than your standard ale.
Here's the thing: because sours have a more intricate brewing process, they require more resources, like specialized brewing equipment, staff, storage, ingredients, and more. All these things cost money, which affect the cost of the final product.
However, most sour enthusiasts would argue that paying the few extra dollars is worth it, especially because the complexity of the flavor your experience when drinking a sour is unmatched by any other style of beer. Plus they often come in a 750 ml bottle (versus the standard 330 ml) when bought at the store, so at least your bottle goes a longer way.
Sours come in all types of styles and flavor profiles. It can be a little intimidating at first, but here's an overview of the most common styles you'll come across. We also threw in some recommendations of our favorites!
Now that you're a scholar on sour beer, head to your local beer emporium and start your journey into the wonderful world of sours.