Sour beer has risen in popularity over the years, captivating the taste buds and imaginations of beer enthusiasts worldwide. With its distinct tangy and acidic flavors, the best sour beer offers a refreshing departure from traditional beer styles, enticing both the adventurous and the seasoned palates. The appeal of these brews lies in its complexity and versatility, as it can exhibit a wide range of flavors, from fruity and funky to tart and earthy. Its unique brewing process involving wild yeasts and bacteria sets it apart, resulting in a vibrant and intriguing beverage that continually surprises and delights those who appreciate the artistry of brewing. Whether sipped slowly to savor its nuanced layers or used as a base for creative cocktails, sour beer has earned its place as a beloved and sought-after libation in the ever-evolving world of craft beer.
There are some things you should know about sour beer if you’re not really familiar with them. While the taste of sour beer may seem exotic to American beer drinkers, the style actually dates back to the early days of brewing when all beer was unpasteurized and loaded with bacteria. It’s the presence of bacteria like Lactobacillus and Pediococcus that give sour beer its distinctive tartness. Unlike conventional beers, which use a single strain of yeast to produce a consistent taste, sour beers utilize a range of wild yeasts and bacteria that can result in a unique flavor profile in each batch. From spicy and leathery to fruity and floral, the possibilities are endless!
Turns out, having a beer with dinner each night may actually do your gut some good! Researchers from NOVA University in Lisbon have found that beer can boost healthy bacteria in the gut, helping to fend off diseases and infections. The secret is in the polyphenols — plant compounds found in hops, barley and yeast — that give beer its distinct flavor. Even non-alcoholic beer was found to have the same benefits, so no need to miss out if you don’t drink alcohol. Though the study was conducted with a relatively small sample size, the results are still intriguing. So, crack open a cold one and say cheers to a happier gut!
Just make sure to drink wisely like the more than half of Americans that consider themselves “smart drinkers.” What does that mean? According to a survey of 2,000 individuals over the age of 21, 65 percent of alcohol drinkers believe they’ve got a handle on knowing what and how much to drink. From the survey, the qualities of a “smart drinker” include pacing yourself by only consuming about two drinks per hour, opting for drinks with a lower alcohol percentage, eating a meal before drinking and avoiding mixing different types of alcohol. So, if you want to join the ranks of the “smart drinkers” out there, now you know what to do!
With its unique profile and countless flavors, sour beer is set apart from other varieties. Below, you’ll find five of the best sour beer options available today, according to experts. But of course, there are so many more to choose from, and brewers are constantly coming up with new creations, so don’t feel limited. Whether you’re new to the land of the sour or not, there’s sure to be a flavor out there that will delight your taste buds. And these are also great to share! Serve up the ones below when you want to impress your friends with your impeccable taste in beer. Have a favorite already? Let us know in the comments!
The List: Best Sour Beer, According to Experts
Hop Culture raves, “Technically considered a mash-up of a kölsch, a Berliner weisse, and a gose, SeaQuench Ale includes black limes, sour lime juice, and sea salt. Dogfish Head took its time creating this summer standout. Dogfish released SeaQuench into the world after one year of dedicated research and development. The approachable, refreshing sour from this pioneering brewery clocks in at only 4.9% ABV for a beer perfect for any active lifestyle.”
Restaurant Clicks says it’s an ideal choice for a hot day: “SeaQuench Ale takes a more-is-more approach to this sour beer. Typically sour beers choose between the styles of a Gose, Berliner Weisse, or Kölsch. However, this Dogfish Head brew combines all three, along with black limes, sea salt, and lime juice. This citrusy sour beer provides the flavor profile of a margarita with significantly less sugar. Choose this refreshing drink as one of the best sour beers during a scorching day.”
“There are few sour beers as complex as Dogfish Head SeaQuench and that’s definitely a good thing. A crisp, easy-drinking Kölsch-style beer gets combined with a salty gose and a tangy, tart Berliner weisse. Add in sea salt, black limes, and coriander, and you have the makings of a truly unique, thirst-quenching beer,” adds Men’s Journal.
One sip of Fou’ Foune and you’ll be transported to the French countryside with fields of apricot trees. The aroma is so sweet, it’ll make you want to shout “Vive la France!” French accent not included.
According to Homebrew Academy, this brew can’t be beat: “Nothing can beat AUTHENTIC lambic, which makes it our BEST OVERALL pick. Cantillon has been brewing craft beer since 1900 and is considered the BEST sour beer brewery in the world. Fou’ Foune is a lambic beer blended with apricots to ferment for a few weeks. It offers assertive acidity while it showcases the apricot flavor. The complex flavors of this classic fruit beer, all contained in one bottle, make it a quality standard for many worldwide. Delicious!”
“If you can get your hands on any bottles of Cantillon, don’t hesitate. Our favorite is Fou’ Foune. Fou’ Foune is a lambic beer blended with fresh apricots. The fruit and lambic are left to ferment for about 5 weeks before bottling. The smooth mouthfeel balances an assertive acidity allowing the fresh apricot flavor to shine through. Layers of complex funk, acidity, and subtle malt coat the mouth. The snappy carbonation helps wash it down. It serves as an incredible inspiration for many sour brewers worldwide,” points out BisonBrew.
This wild ale is made using a brewing method that involves cooling the beer in an open-air tank called a coolship, which basically looks like a giant kiddie pool for grown-ups. Fun fact: “Resurgam” means “I shall rise again” in Latin.
Renegade Brewing thinks this beer is worth waiting for: “The Coolship Resurgam is a Belgian-style gueuze that goes through an elaborate brewing process to create a something that’s truly worth waiting for. It undergoes overnight cooling in a coolship, a kind of large pan, allowing natural yeasts to enter the beer, and it is then transferred to French oak barrels for fermentation and aging. The finished product is then created by blending beer that is one, two and three years into its aging, giving birth to something complex and sophisticated yet bright and refreshing.”
And Liquor.com says it’s a go-to choice: “Allagash has become a go-to for those seeking US-made lambics using traditional fermentation techniques. Seek out beers from Allagash Brewing … Anything in its Resurgam line, which offers one brewery’s unique perspective on using a coolship to cool its beer and introduce it to microflora from the cool Maine air.”
This sour ale is like rosé’s edgier, cooler cousin. It’s got all the sophistication, but with a little bit of a wild (ale) side. The Spruce Eats describes what makes it special: “Over the last decade, Denver’s Crooked Stave has become one of America’s deftest makers of ales inoculated with souring bacteria and equally unique and offbeat Brettanomyces yeast. Sour Rosé [is] fermented with the brewery’s custom-mixed culture in oak foeders alongside raspberries and blueberries. The result is an elegantly funky sipper with fine fizz and fruity verve, versatile enough for the dinner table and just sipping on a hot summer day.”
“Everyone who enjoys rosé, listen up — we have something for you! The Sour Rosé is a wild ale that is unfiltered and fizzy with fruity sourness. The brew’s vibrant rose hue results from the blueberries and raspberries. For wine drinkers, this cross-genre beer is a style recognition! Its higher price point is a result of this niche market,” writes Winning Beers.
With its funky aroma and sharp acidity, La Folie is like a rollercoaster for your taste buds. It’ll take you on a wild ride of flavors as it swirls around your mouth like a tornado. Make sure to fasten your metaphorical harness!
Advanced Mixology talks up the flavors: “This best sour brown is matured for one to three years in large oak barrels called Foeders. La Folie is sharp and acidic, with green apple, cherry, and plum peel notes. The mouthfeel is silky, the body is medium, and the bitterness is mild.”
“New Belgium Brewing Company’s La Folie is a sour brown ale that is aged in oak barrels. This gives it a complex flavor with notes of cherries, chocolate, and vanilla. At 7 carbs per 12 oz serving, this is a higher carb option but still relatively low for a sour beer,” Brew Publik claims.
Be prepared for the unexpected when you drink the best sour beer, or one of your favorites! What’s on your sour beer menu at home? Let us know in the comments.
You might also be interested in:
- Hop Culture
- Restaurant Clicks
- Men’s Journal
- Homebrew Academy
- Renegade Brewing
- The Spruce Eats
- Winning Beers
- Advanced Mixology
- Brew Publik
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