Sour Beer is Trending

Sour Beer is TrendingFrom the Big Apple to the City by the Bay, sour beer is trending. The beer that would have been deemed skunky and undrinkable a few years ago is now all the rage.

Bitter is making way for sour. While sour beer is one of the oldest styles of brewing in the world, it has only recently started to gain ground in the U.S. Additionally, since it uses few or no hops in the fermentation process, it appeals to those who shy away from IPAs and hoppier beers.

Brewing Sour Beer

If the idea of sour beer isn’t tapping your taste buds, NPR’s The Salt sums it up with this analogy: “Sour beers are to the adult beverage world what yogurt is to dairy.” (“Pucker Up, America: Beers Are Going Sour.”)

Quoted in the same article, Alex Wallash, co-founder of The Rare Barrel, said: “Sour beers are tart like a raspberry or strawberry, but a lot of them are dry, like Champagne. So their taste sits somewhere between an ale, wine and cider. It will definitely change your expectation about what a beer tastes like. It’s a new flavor experience all together.” The Rare Barrel solely focuses on brewing sour beer.

Sour Beer Across the Country

When Blind Tiger Ale House in the West Village in New York tried to serve Cantillon Lambic about fifteen years ago, customers rejected it. Owner Dave Brodrick said, “Our customers said, ‘This is bad beer! We’re not going to drink it.’ We couldn’t give it away.” (Quoted in the New York Post’s The sour brews that beer geeks are buzzing over.”) That same beer now sells for $80 for a 750ml bottle.

In Wisconsin, the sour beer trend is the same: growing and might even be gaining more ground if brewers used the word ‘tart’ rather than ‘sour’ that may be a turn-off to otherwise would-be tasters. According to JSOnline’s Tap Milwaukee, New Glarus brewmaster, Dan Carey has been brewing sour beers for almost 20 years, describing the flavor as fun and comparable to the extra flavor hot sauce adds to food.

Certainly The Rare Barrel is leading the way on the West Coast, dedicated to brewing all sour beer. In describing the process of brewing sour beer, the brewer contends that the flavors of raspberries, lemonade or fine wine are unique to sour beer and are a product of time and the right microorganisms that take a long time to develop.

Are they worth the wait? The way sour beer is trending, it seems consumers are answering with a resounding “yes”!