Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Duchesse de Bourgogne

Duchesse de Bourgogne

“Duchesse de Bourgogne” is a sweet-fruity ale with a pleasant fresh aftertaste.

The name of course refers to Maria, Duchess of Burgundy (Brussels 1457 - Bruges 1482), spouse of Maximilian of Austria, who was just one of the many rulers of Belgium before the country’s independence.
This short history lesson aside, I simply love this beer.
Duchesse de Bourgogne is a top fermented, ruby red Flemish ale at 6.2% ABV (for purists: old brown or West Flemish red-brown ale), brewed using traditional methods from the southern West Flanders region. This ale is brewed with roasted malts and with hops with a low bitterness. After the main fermentation and the lagering , the “Duchesse de Bourgogne” matures further for 18 months in oak casks.
The beer is complex and tart, reminiscent of wine, with hints of balsamic vinegar and sweet and sour cherries. It would be a perfect complement to grilled meats or a well-balanced cheese board.
The Duchesse de Bourgogne is best served in a chalice-shaped glass between 8 and 12°C.


Duchesse de Bourgogne is brewed by the Verhaeghe brewery in Vichte West Flanders, Belgium. http://www.brouwerijverhaeghe.be
The brewery itself has a history which go back to the 19th century. The makers of this excellent beer are by no means new arrivals to the extensive Belgian beer landscape. The family business, known for brews such as Cambrinus, Vichtenaar and Echte Kriek, was founded as a brewery-malt house in 1892 by Paul and Adolf Verhaeghe.

The brewery is to be commended for its choice to focus on quality rather than quantity and its Vichtenaar and Echte Kriek beers have already won awards.

You can find Duchesse de Bourgogne on draft at Franklin in Traverse City, and in bottle at Café Anvers!







Friday, November 7, 2014

Belgian brewers stand up to American brewers !

200 Belgian beers and 525 foreign beers conquer to claim the supreme title at the 3rd Brussels Beer Challenge!

Belgian brewers have rallied this year to present their best beers in the competition. With a participation of nearly 80 Belgian breweries of all sizes and 200 national beers in the competition, they reached a new record!



The local beer industry still faces a major challenge though from the best beers produced in the United States, Italy, Germany, Denmark, Spain and England as well as far-flung countries such as Australia and ... Cambodia.
These 725 beers will be separated and judged by an international and professional jury of high level.

The Brussels Beer Challenge is:
An international competition launched at the initiative of Brusselicious as part of gourmet food year in Brussels in 2012.
A professional competition which will be held in Leuven (De Hoorn) and enjoying the support this year of the city of Leuven , one of the historical cradles of beer in Belgium. The contest will run indeed in the former facilities of the Stella Artois brewery which was converted into cultural spaces.
A selection of 60 international professional tasters (journalists, writers...) who will convene at “De Hoorn”, for the tasting from October31 until November 2.
25 competing countries: Germany, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, Denmark, the United States, Portugal, France, Italy, Spain, Japan, Austria, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic , Bosnia-Herzegovina, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Poland, Malta and Monaco
A total 725 entries (compared with 592 in 2013) tasted over two mornings and divided into eight styles (Pale Ale, Dark Ale, Red Ale, Lager, Stout/Porter, Wheat, Flavoured Beer, Speciality Beer), sub- divided into 50 categories: Lambic, abbey beers, chocolate-flavoured beers...


Participating countries with the greatest number of entries:
Belgium: 200 beers from79 breweries (188 beers from 68 breweries in 2013)
USA: 177 beers
Spain: 20 beers (newcomer!)

Italy: 110 beers

Netherlands: 38 beers

Germany: 35beers (26 beers in 2013)
United Kingdom: 26 beers

Liefmans Goudenband, oud Vlaams bruin, obtains the title of best Belgian Beer.

Three major trends :
1) The US craft brewers win 53 awards. A great achievement.
2) Belgium obtains 43 awards, 11 gold, 12 silver and 9 bronze
3) UK wins the Comac award for best beer in the competition.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

There's a flood of new beers - and some of it sucks!

Will a bunch of terrible craft beer ruin the booming craft beer industry?
By Jon Terbush | October 6, 2014

In April, Brewers Association Director Paul Gatza issued a warning to the thousands of industry folks gathered at the annual Brewers Conference in Denver. Recalling a recent beer festival where he'd sampled offerings from about 10 new breweries, Gatza said seven or eight clearly needed improvement.



"We hate to see this segment being brought down with people having bad experiences in their glass when they're trying craft beer," he said.
Or to put it more bluntly, as he then did: "Don't f--k it up."

With the craft beer industry booming, quality control has emerged as a primary concern among brewers. Roughly 1,250 new breweries opened in the last five years, bringing the total to 2,822 nationwide. Yet not everyone who wants to make good beer knows how to make good beer, so the slew of fledgling ventures — all with varying levels of experience, knowledge, and skill — has led to some really bad brews hitting the market.
The industry prides itself on innovation and creativity, but those traits can be problematic when inexperienced brewers try to make difficult or unusual brews right from the start. And this mentality has led to some brewers rebelling against pale light lagers and racing to market with bold, though untested — and potentially gross — recipes.
"Remember how Picasso had to learn how to paint properly before he could do all those seemingly random paint splashes and make them work?" respected beer writer Pete Brown wrote last December. "You need to know how to brew boring brown ale well before you're qualified to mess around with more diverse stuff."
Hence, there are beers brewed with seaweed, Sriracha and beard yeast, among other odd ingredients. And though those beers may be perfectly fine — I've never tried them — many bad brewers have no idea their beer stinks.
"They just didn't know better," Gatza told The Week of the subpar breweries he'd sampled. Still, people are so eager to catch the craft wave that some are "jumping into the industry without a firm knowledge on beer quality."

This is not a new phenomenon. The industry contracted in the late 1990s and early 2000s, in part because too many entrepreneurs entered the field assuming they could strike it rich without knowing — or worse, caring — enough about the product.


Craft brewers worry about quality from new operations
By RICK ARMON Published: April 9, 2014

The Brewers Association is worried that some of the small craft breweries opening around the country today aren’t producing quality beer.
Those stinkers can give the growing industry a black eye, association Director Paul Gatza said during a news conference from the Craft Brewers Conference in Denver.
“It’s a big issue,” he said. “We hate to see this segment being brought down with people having bad experiences in their glass when they’re trying craft beer. They're maybe less likely to try something new in the future if they are having a bad experience from the last brewery they tried.”
With the craft beer industry continuing to explode in the U.S., it’s expected that there will be a few duds. But some established craft brewers are becoming irritated at new players that don’t take quality serious enough.
“A lot of people start in this industry as homebrewers who are told by their friends that they’re making good beer and you should go pro,” Gatza said. “A lot of them do and they try to do it on a shoestring. Try to do it on a small level and get bigger. They get their licenses. They make their first commercial beer and their friends say this is so great. But in truth what people who really know about beer are finding [is] that a lot of these newer brewers are not putting out quality that reflects well on the whole craft community. There are some off flavors at times.”
He said the Boulder, Colo.-based association is encouraging the new brewers to invest in their beer and the science behind it, including sending their beer out to be tested.
Nationwide, there are at least 1,898 breweries in the planning stage today, said Bart Watson, the association economist. By the end of last month, there also were 2,866 breweries in operation — up about 100 from just the end of last year.
Of course, there are great breweries adding to the cultural scene, as well, Gatza said.
“There’s a recognition that to remain vibrant and new and good and to challenge the rest of us, this should be an open community,” he said when asked about whether the association doesn’t want the growth to occur so fast.
Craft beer now controls 7.8 percent of the overall beer market. The association has put forth an aggressive goal of claiming 20 percent by 2020.
The country can support more breweries, said Julia Herz, craft beer program director for the association.
“Ultimately the marketplace will decide,” she said. “New brewers bring innovation, excitement, competition and up the game constantly and raise the bar constantly as we see more getting online.”


Friday, September 19, 2014

Café Anvers is open


It’s been a while since my last post! My brewing season is coming to an end. For the next few weeks I’ll be doing general cleanup in the brewery.
This season I brewed the WIT beer which was gone in record time. The lager was excellent and is also all gone, I’m planning on doubling my production for these 2 beers. My pseudo Lambic is 2 years old and has been sitting on Traverse City cherries since April (almost 6 months). A taste revealed an excellent Kriek beer. The “Speciale Belge” turned out to be very good also this year. I improved the clarity of the beer. The Golden is also good and a little bit on the sweet side (I personally like it this way).


For next year I’ll have, besides my 4 usual beers (lager, wit, speciale and golden), a Kriek and Geuze Lambic.

The 20th anniversary celebration of the Schooner Union was such a success that we’re going to have an annual Schooner Union event each August.

In the brewery I have a new filtering system and am still working of the bottling line and the mash tun agitator.  My experiment with the yeast harvesting and storage is a success. The “house yeast” is very healthy.


Big work was done in the bar area, Café Anvers is open now and 3 kegs were emptied in a very short period. I hope to see you in the bar for a beer or two!




Monday, March 31, 2014

Antwerp

About (by Beertourism.com)
Antwerp sits astride the Scheldt river in the far north of Belgium – reaching for stratospheric heights of culture and imagination (as home-town both to romantic 17th-century painter Rubens and cutting-edge new millennium fashion houses), all the while being firmly grounded in the down-to-earth business of turning a coin.
In fact, Antwerp was once considered the very centre of world commerce, albeit some centuries back. And it remains a trading centre of repute today, home to the second largest port in Europe.
But despite the long sweep of its history, the vast expanse of its docklands, and the high reach of its cultural achievements, it's the little things that can make Antwerp such an attractive experience for visitors.
Narrow lanes crowded with boutiques, tiny eateries boasting menus to shame larger restaurants, and of course plenty of bijou bars, fit-to-bursting with the considerabl beer heritage of this small nation. More on that later, but lets start with the big things that make Antwerp a city of repute – not just in Belgium and Europe, but in the wider world too.
Antwerp is the capital of Flanders, the Dutch-speaking northern half of the country, and is home to around 500,000 people.
The River Scheldt – and the access it provides to the world's oceans through the Scheldt estuary – has shaped Antwerp's geography, as well as its history.
The Old Town is clustered protectively around a broad sweep of the Scheldt's right bank. Some parts of town were wrecked in the World Wars of the last century.
But as an ancient city Antwerp boasts many surviving architectural gems, in its churches, castle and civic buildings. It also boasts the real thing by the safe-load, with the city being the world's pre-eminent diamond-trading hub.
Nearly half of the world's polished diamonds, and over 80% of its rough diamonds, pass through the hands Antwerp's diamond merchants.
Of course that other national treasure, beer, has its place in the Antwerp story too. But it all started with a hand – a giant severed hand, to be specific.

History
The best cities in the world are founded with a myth, and Antwerp is no exception. The legend has it that, to cross the river Scheldt, you first had to pay a toll to a fearsome giant Antigoon by name – or risk invoking his wrath and losing your hand.
Of course a hero was needed, and he arrived in the form of a Roman soldier named Silvius Brabo. Brabo slayed the giant, cut off its hand, and tossed it into the River Scheldt.
And given that the Dutch for 'hand thrown' is 'hand werpen', a city's name was born. The story has led to white hand becoming a symbol to be found on many a crest in the city.
Once we move from fables to facts, the history of the city can be seen to be no less dramatic.
After being settled by the Franks, and developed as an outpost of the Holy Roman Empire, the city grew rich on the trade of its port, and the wealth of wool passing through it.
The late Middle Ages saw the city boom, as the river at the Belgian rival port of Bruges silted up. But what really made – and later broke – Antwerp was the passing on of Flanders to the Spanish Hapsburg's. Spain was very much in the lead in the age of Exploration (and exploitation), and much of the riches from the New World (in terms of sugar, spices, gold and silver) passed through Antwerp's gilded warehouses.
Some reckon that Antwerp was earning seven times more revenue for Spain than the Americas themselves were.
The Spanish influence on this Dutch-speaking city has been long-lasting – full-blooded citizens of Antwerp still call themselves 'Sinjoren', a corruption of the Spanish señor.
That strange mix of Spanish overlord-ship and Dutch commerce became a volatile one at the end of the 16th century. With the religious ferment of Reformation bubbling over, and influential Flemish locals converting to the new faith, a conflict between Catholic Spain and Dutch Protestants blew up – mainly in the face of Antwerp and its inhabitants.
The city was ransacked in 1576 during the so-called 'Spanish Fury', when Spanish troops went looting, and slaughtered 9,000 of Antwerp's citizens. A siege in 1585 eventually led to the Spanish exiling the best part of the city's Protestant community. They went to the free Dutch provinces, taking much of their wealth and trade with them. Antwerp went downhill.
The slide-down was prolonged because the wily new Dutch nation to the north forbade ships from plying the Scheldt's waters, in the subsequent peace treaty.
They wanted to protect and promote their new port at Rotterdam. It wasn't until the time of Napoleon, who saw Antwerp as "a pistol pointed at the heart of England", that the port, and the city, began to regain some of its former glory.
Since then, Antwerp has successfully shrugged off the ravages of two World Wars, and re-invented itself as a city of culture. But commerce remains the lifeblood of Antwerp. That and, of course, its many fine, outstanding examples of Belgian beer-craft.

 For The Love Of Beer
Antwerp may not be as laden with local micro-breweries and authentic Trappist tasting-rooms as some of the more provincial parts of Flanders (although Westmalle is in the province of Antwerp). But as the capital of the Flanders region, it serves as a showcase for all that's best – and most eclectic – from Belgium's wonderfully diverse beer universe. And the Sinjoren do love their beer.
Maybe it's something to do with the region being such a melting pot of diverse beer-tastes, lying at the cross-roads of Holland, France, and Germany.
Maybe it's something to do with this port city's hard-working dockers having such a need for thirst-quenching beverages. More likely it's because Antwerpers just know when they've hit onto a good thing.
The iconic beer of Antwerp is of course De Koninck, or more particularly the bulbous bolleke glasses that it's served in.
This light-red malty ale is pretty much the house beer of Antwerp, and the distinctive chalice-shaped glass is so ubiquitous that all self-respecting Sinjoren will be heard to 'holler for a bolleke', when its time for their round.
The De Koninck bolleke is not only the favourite around the town's beer-cafés – it's the mainstay of (nearly) the only brewery in town. The De Koninck brewery (since 2010 part of the Duvel-Moortgat Group), a modest building half-way along Mechelsesteenweg, in the centre of town, is conveniently open for tours too. There you'll see how the flagship De Koninck (5.2% ABV) is crafted, together with its stable-mates, the seasonally malted De Koninck Winter (6.5% ABV) and the wicked full-bodied Triple d'Anvers (weighing in at 8% ABV).
But Brouwerij De Koninck isn't quite the only game in town – Antwerp has a few other brewery aces up its sleeve, so to speak. One discovery in the best tradition of micro-breweries is 't Waagstuk, a pub tucked into the leafy square of the Stadswaag.
A recent mark-up for Antwerp's flourishing beer culture is the resurrection of the Seefbier, an old dockland favourite that disappeared in the 1930's. It has been bought back from the dead by Antwerpse Brouw Compagnie, a company set up by ex-Duvel/Moortgat man Johan Van Dyck.
It was popular in the Seefhoek part of town (which apparently is named after the beer, not the other way around!) and was known as a working-man's beer. Its yeasty cloudy-yet-frothy appearance led to a commenter, in 1863, to call it the 'poor-man's champagne' because it “foamed like champagne, and went to the head like port."
For the moment Seefbier is being brewed in Oudenaarde, by the Roman Brewery. But it is planned that an Antwerp-based brewery will be producing it soon.
But while Antwerp-brewed marques are thin on the ground, the city's beer-cafés and pubs most certainly aren't. They are strung out along every straat, peppering every street corner and square with their open invitation to mark respect for Belgium's commitment to the art of beer.
There are, of course, plenty of top-name pubs clustered around the tourist traps. These have up to a dozen beers on tap, and many hundreds of bottled beers to hand, but they can be expensive, and are certainly crowded to the point where seating is an after-thought.
Quieter, less showy alternatives aren't hard to find, however. And while some may lack the vast (and sometimes bewildering) ranges on offer at the more select beer-cafés, they make up for it in honest Antwerp charm.

Of course you need to try our version of the Antwerp Ale : Slabtown Speciale Belge.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Beer Temperature

Each beer has a preferred serving temperature determined by its style. A beer's flavour, aroma, texture, carbonation, head retention and even colour are affected by the temperature at which it is served. Understanding serving temperature maximizes your beer experience. Here are some suggested serving temperatures that can guide you:

Very cold, slightly colder than your fridge (0-4°C, 32-39°F): While certain beer styles, such as Canadian or American style lagers may be served in this temperature range, the serving temperature is cold enough to mute much of the beer's taste.
Cold, around fridge temperature (4-7°C, 39-45°F): This range is more appropriate for beer designed to quench and refresh. Typically, light bodied beer with high carbonation will serve well at this temperature. Hefeweizen, weissebier, wit and other wheat beers, Kölsch, premium lager, Pilsner, European strong lager, American dark lager, sweetened fruit lambics and some Belgian pale ales will suite this temperature range perfectly.
Cool, out of your fridge for fifteen minutes (8-12°C, 45-54°F): This temperature range is best suited for beer with perhaps a richer body and aromatic properties and more complex and layered flavours. The types of beer that should be served in this temperature range can quench and refresh, but are also an excellent choice to compliment your dinner table. American pale ale, sweet stout, dry stout, porter, English golden ale, unsweetened Lambic, Belgian ale, Bohemian Pilsner, dunkel, helles, Vienna lager, schwarzbier, smoked beer, altbier, Belgian tripel, Irish ale and fresh cider are all perfect served within this temperature range.
Cellar cool, out of your fridge for thirty minutes (12-14°C, 54-57°F): Beer styles served in this temperature range are often filled to the brim with flavour. This temperature range is suitable for beer styles that, if served colder, their flavours would be muted or lost. English bitters, brown ale, India pale ale, English strong ale, Saison, old ales, unblended Lambic, sour ale, Baltic porter, spiced beer, abbey dubbel, Belgian strong ale, bock, kellerbier, Scotch Ale, American strong ales, English cider and many stouts will be perfect served within this temperature range.
Warm, out of your fridge for one hour (14-16°C, 57-61°F): This temperature range is not quite room temperature, which is around 21°C, but is significantly warmer than right out of the fridge. It should be reserved for big beer with massive flavours and often higher alcohol percentages. Barley wine, Belgian quadrupel, imperial stout, double IPA, imperial IPA, doppelbock, winter beer, eisbock and mead should all be served within this temperature range.
Hot, heated close to the temperature of tea (70°C, 158°F): Yes, you read correctly, hot. Not many types of beer fit into this temperature range, but some beer is intended to be served piping hot. Heat is not something most people are accustomed to when drinking beer, but heat will bring out the beer's flavour and aromatics.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

America is getting its first Trappist brewery


News from Belgium (via my brother)

An American Trappist Ale could be born with the Cistercian abbey Saint Joseph of Spencer Massachusetts (http://www.spencerabbey.org) The monks of Chimay would be already giving them a hand to work out this invaluable nectar! First, let’s reacquaint ourselves with who the Trappist are. The Cistercian order, parent group of the Trappists, was founded in 1098 in France.
In the 16th century, the order split into two parts. the Cistercian Order, or common observance, and the Cistercians of the Strict Observance, or Trappists. Today, there are nearly 180 strict observing or “Trappist” monasteries active around the world. Now, of those 180 – only 8 are also breweries. (6 in Belgium, 1 in the Netherlands and 1 in Austria) all making “Belgian style Trappist” Those 8 – Chimay (belgium) -Rochefort (belgium) - Orval (belgium) - Achel(Cistercians)(belgium) - Westmalle (belgium) - Westvleteren (belgium) - Koningshoeven (Netherlands) - Stift Engelzell (Austria). The International Trappist Organization recognizes these breweries as Trappist. None are in the United States. Until now. The Saint Joseph Abbey in Spencer Massachusetts is adding a brewery, under the advisement of Chimay.The starting date is unknown. I’ll keep you posted.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Beer vs wine - discriminating tastes or discrimination?

BRUSSELS - Tensions once again are rising (in fact you might say they're frothing over) because of French proposals for another new tax on beer. The government is considering extending an existing 'premix' tax on sugary alcopops to cover the malted sugars in beer. The move comes in the wake of last year's decision to raise the excise duty on beer by up to 160%. That hit Belgian breweries particularly hard, as French beer consumption fell fast once the rise came into effect in last January.


They have taken much of the pain of the tax rise because France remains their largest export market by far. 
“In France, beer excise duty is now the highest in Europe”, explains Sven Gatz, the Director of Belgische Brouwers, the national federation of brewers.
“The increase in excise duty means that a glass of pils-type beer (5% ABV) is now taxed ten times more than before; for a glass of speciality beer, the tax is as much as sixteen times higher.”.

Taking it to Brussels
The Belgian brewer's aren't taking this lying down, with the dispute now echoing round the halls of Brussels, over what is seen as an infringement of EU competition rules. Beer is being subject to these increased taxes, while wine has been left exempt by the French.
As Sven Gatz, told us “The Belgische Brouwers and the umbrella organisation Brewers Of Europe that promotes the interest of the brewing industry have now submitted a complaint to the European Commission about this rise in excise duty”.
But now a new front is being opened up, in what is threatening to become a full-blown confrontation between the two nations. The increase in excise duty was, it seems, just a first step. The French authorities now also want to introduce a sugar tax on white beers with added sugar, an approach typical of bottle-fermented Belgian beers.

Sugar tax not so sweet
The French law makers have calculated that a new income stream of 450mil Euros will flow from the increase. That's certainly needed now, as the projected revenues from the first rise in excise duty has failed to materialise. As beer sales in France have fallen, the income raised is a third lower than expected.
These revenues were to be part of President Hollande's attempt to raise money for social services. It seems that France is seeing the same phenomenon that happened in Scandinavia and the UK, after they raised excise duties in previous years. Sales dropped partly because of duty increases.
The new rule would apply to beers that, after primary fermentation, have a minimum of 35g of sugar per liter added. In practice these measures would only affect Belgian brewers, as they are the only producers of this type of beer.
The sugar tax could increase the price of around thirty of the nation's beers by 2 Euros per glass.
Beer vs wine - discriminating tastes or discrimination?
Many are wondering whether it is more than revenue generation that lies behind these repeated tax rises. Already, beer is taxed far more highly than wine in France.
The new rule will only exacerbate the difference.
Some see the power of the French wine industry as being behind the different treatment. Certainly the Belgische Brouwers are continuing to lobby against what seems an obvious discrimination, though the French argue there is no comparison. They class wine as an agricultural product, while beer is seen as 'industrial'.
Others still look to the wider political backdrop to relations between Belgium and France. Much has been made over the last few years over high profile 'tax exiles', such as Gerard Depardieu.
They have allegedly shifted to the Belgian side of the border to avoid Hollande's 75% tax on the super-rich. Personal taxes are much lower in Belgium.

And when pressed by the Belgian prime minister, Elio Di Rupo, over last year's French tax rise, Hollande is reported to have riposted "we are just as attentive to all the fiscal rules which may apply in Belgium."

Friday, January 3, 2014

And now there is sour beer

Hottest Food and Beverage Trends for 2014.
Hoteliers - Hotel,Travel & Hospitality News

Sour Beer: Innoculating beers with wild yeasts and aging them in wood, craft brewers are turning out fragrant but sour … really sour … beers. Not for everyone, but catching on among sophisticates……
A new breed of brewers is coming up, where they take a huge risk simply to bring in beer which people may not even like. These are the brewers of sour beer.
 Sour beer is brewed in barrels, and then they are left to sit for up to 3 years before the brew is then tested to see if the wait was worth it. This is a risky and expensive affair and the brewers of sour beer must be out of their minds.
Sour beer started being brewed in Belgium but lately some of the brewers in the U.S. have taken a liking to the practice. The first sour beers were introduced in the USA in 2002.

Here are some comments I have read about sour beer:

--“The rise of craft brewing in the United States and the emergence of upstart small breweries in other parts of the world has produced a new generation of brewers who aspire to create increasingly unique and flavourful beers.  Many of these brewers have taken inspiration from classically sour Belgian beer styles. Not content with mimicking Belgian sour beers, they have started to develop what might be termed ‘new world’ sour beers. Many of these new sour beers have no agreed-upon guidelines and are yet to be classified in any particular category.”--

--“This, of course, is part of the fun for the brewers who are making them. Some are aged in wine barrels, while others are aged in bourbon or whiskey barrels, successfully blending flavours that typically might not work well together… The wild yeast strain Brettanomyces is considered a scourge in most of the world’s vineyards [but] cultured Brettanomyces is often used in the making of new world sour beers. Desirable flavours with sour beer using Brettanomyces are earthy, barnyard, mushroom, musty and a general ‘funkiness’.” --

--“What is certain, if improbable, is that sour beers are taking hold, especially in the United States. Just as ‘natural winemaking’ is slowly emerging from cult status, so is the production and enjoyment of sour beers.” --

--“I came to realize that sour beers are primarily about funk, and funk, when it comes to beer, means complexity. Sour beers are fascinating, often strange, and generally food-friendly because of their acidity, but one thing they're not is easy-drinking. Well, most of them aren’t.”--

--“this is a trend that is not necessarily new, but there are now more beer drinkers who are accepting these styles of beer.  Beer does not always have to be sweet; it can be induced with fruit to provide a
sourness on the palate. The variety originated in Belgium and is now catching on in the US.  Many brewers are creating sour styles as an alternative to their regular line-up of beers.”--

--“As sour styles gain greater acceptance by a wider audience, new drinkers are trying these beers, which are often balanced like fine wines.  Pairing these styles of beer with cheese can help create a perfect balance… The original traditions of sour beer-making come from Belgium and parts of Germany, and some of these beers are gaining cult status [9] among American beer geeks who until recently weren't familiar with this funkiest end of the beer spectrum.”

Comment by Andy Sparhawk, the American Brewers Association's craft beer program coordinator, is a Certified Cicerone® and BJCP Beer Judge.
If I had to choose one category of beer that might challenge the current IPA craze in the U.S., I would have to go with barrel-aged sour beers. Like the bitterness of IPAs, sour/wild beers pack a punch with, well, their sourness, but it may be the complementary flavors—from wooden barrels or additions of fruit—that keep beer fans wanting more of these exciting beers. That said, truly complex sours take care and patience throughout the entire production process to ensure that the final product is an experience for the consumer, rather than just an experiment for the brewer.

At the end of 2014 Slabtown Brewery
will release it's first sour beer!