I've become a big fan of sour beers. My local bottle shop recently held a sour tasting and I jumped at the chance to try some new brews. Sour beers must be aged for a long time to develop sour and funky flavor characteristics. The added TLC needed to make a sour beer unfortunately translates into a higher price. But if you ask me, it's worth it...
Anyway, here's what I tasted:
- Ichtegem's Grand Cru (Flemish Red Ale), Brouwerij Strubbe, Belgium (6.5% ABV): Garnet in color. Aroma and flavors of green apples, sour cherries, and balsamic vinegar. Sour, but not over the top. It's aged in oak barrels and a mild oakiness comes through in flavor.
- Lindemans Gueuze Cuvée René, Brouwerij Lindemans, Belgium (5.0% ABV): Gueuze is a form of lambic made by blending young (1 year old) and old ( > 2 year old) lambics into a new beer which is then re-fermented. Thanks, but what's a lambic? A lambic is a type of Belgian beer produced through spontaneous fermentation via exposure to bacteria and wild yeasts. Now that we have that behind us.... Golden in color, flavor of citrus with some slight barnyard funk. Light bodied with prickly carbonation.
- Echt Kriekenbier (Flemish Red Brown Ale), Brouwerij Verhaeghe, Belgium (6.8% ABV): Kriek is a another form of lambic, but with cherries. Flavor starts with cherries, moves into a nice malty backbone, and ends with some oak and funky flavors. It's not overly sweet and reminds me of a cider.
- Maracaibo Especial (Brown Ale), Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, Dexter, MI (7.5% ABV). My first Jolly Pumpkin taste! Brewed with real cacao, and spiced with cinnamon and sweet orange peel. Slightly sour, this beer is all about the marriage of the flavors of the speciality ingredients. I'd like to try this again sometime, but my palate was tuned for sour.
- Supplication (Brown Ale), Russian River Brewing Co., Santa Rosa, CA (7.0% ABV). Aged with sour cherries in French oak pinot noir barrels, this brew is inoculated with Brettanomyces, Lactobacillus, and Pediococcus. That's a log of bugs! Amber in color, the sour cherry flavor is front and center, with plenty of tartness and some mild sweetness. It has slight barnyard funkiness, oak notes, and finishes dry. Amazing!
I enjoyed each of these, but my favorites were Supplication, Ichtegem's Grand Cru, and Echt Kriekenbier. Do you have any favorite sour beers?