By Chris Morris
Valentine's Day may be generally associated with sweetness, but if you want to win the heart of a craft beer lover, sour is the way to go this year.Tangy, sour tasting beers are the hottest trend in the craft world these days - and they're resulting in some really interesting (and really tasty) concoctions.
Despite the name, not every sour is a lip-puckering experience. Some are aggressively tart, but others are more earthy - and it's one of the few beer styles where "funky" is a compliment. And because of their distinct taste, they've become an increasingly popular choice for food pairings, going especially well with seafood and select cured meats and cheeses. Creating a sour beer is often more challenging than putting together an IPA or other common style. Instead of keeping wild yeast out of the brewing process, it's encouraged - and it's easy for things to go wrong. As a result, some craft brewers are approaching the trend cautiously. Some, though, like California's Russian River Brewing Company and Colorado's New Belgium, are rushing in.
This is an extension of the brewer's creativity." Sour beers can be an acquired taste, but the good news is they come with varying layers of tartness. Here are some of the best we've found. Once virtually extinct, Charleston, SC's Westbrook single-handedly brought this German-style sour wheat beer back to the U.S. It has a salty, sour-y taste that's surprisingly refreshing. You'll smell the coriander it's made with, but the mouth experience is more citrus-like, with hints of grapefruit and green apple. The salt brings about a slight pucker at the finish, but it's not overwhelming. Widely considered one of the best sours on the market,
Consecration is a well-balanced ale that's aged for 4-8 months in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels. It has a tangy tartness that mellows into a beer with black currant/sour cherry notes that linger a bit on the finish. If you're unable to get your hands on this, Russian River's Supplication (a sour brown ale) is just as good - and maybe better, depending on your tastes. (ABV: 10%)
New Belgium La Folie Credit New Belgium with being up-front about this Flanders Oud Bruin. The company labels the bottles as part of its "Lips of Faith" series. The sour cherry flavor that goes with this style of beer is present, but La Folie is unquestionably a heavy pucker sour. It has a nice yeasty funk and good acidity and it's a beer that would seemingly pair wonderfully with Chinese take-out. Worthy of note: It's only available in a bomber bottle, so find someone to share it with - as 24 oz. may be too much for a single person. (ABV: 7%).
|Slabtown base pseudo Lambic|
This one will be ready in 2020?
Evil Twin Sour Bikini - You don't find a lot of sour ales around, so Evil Twin wins points for originality. Sour Bikini is tart and refreshing, but not overpowering. The ale and sour tastes get a bit muddled, but that's not a bad thing, actually. There's none of the hoppy bitterness you might expect from an ale, with citrus instead proving to be the lingering flavor. It may be a bit light for colder climates right now, but it's another example of a sour that's
well suited for warm afternoons. (ABV 3%) Petrus Aged Red Very heavy on the sour cherry flavor, it's easy to get just a so-so first impression from this one. Let it warm up a bit, though, and it's a flavor explosion in your mouth. The tartness is fairly muted. In fact, it's an incredibly sweet beer, leaning more towards the Lambic family with its fruity tastes. It's a great way to finish off a good meal. (ABV: 8.5%)
And of course you should taste the "Slabtown" sour beers : Kriek, Gueuze, Faro and Peche...