Winding Path Brewing

A Beginner’s Guide to Sour Beers

Sour Patch Kids, grapefruits, kombucha, yogurt — sour foods hit almost all of the food groups. That lip-puckering flavor even extends into craft beers, and they’re all the rage right now.

Sour beers have become a go-to option for many craft breweries across the country. And while the flavor profile might be new(ish) to American tastebuds, sour beers date way back to the early days of brewing. This was because beers used to come in an unpasteurized form — but also full of bacteria.

Now, craft brewers have managed to safely produce that same refreshing flavor. And craft beer lovers everywhere are on board.

Martin House Brewing

What Makes a Sour Beer…Sour?

First off, it’s important to note that sour beers are fairly difficult to categorize. They have a wide range of tastes, but they mostly fit in the broad category of slightly sour to a downright acid-like taste.

To make a sour beer, craft brewers inoculate it. All this means is that they ferment the beer by adding at least one fermenting agent, like an acid-producing bacteria or any type of conventional or non-conventional yeast.

Though the sour beer category is still evolving, some types of sour beers include:

  • Lambic
  • Fruit lambic
  • Gose
  • Berliner Weisse
  • Mixed-fermentation sour
  • Wild specialty beer

Where Should I Start With Sour Beers?

Now for the fun part — how to get started with exploring sour beers. While keeping in mind that sour beers are an acquired taste, they’re also a funky and fun beer that you’ll almost certainly learn to love.

To get started, think about what kind of beers you typically like. For instance, if you like wheat beers, try a gose. If you like German beers, give a Berliner Weisse a shot. Goses and Berliner Weisses are also the most popular sour beers because of their tart and refreshing taste (hello, summer!).

Wherever you decide to start, make sure you’re open to a new beer experience. Sour beers might be a little different, but they are varied enough that you’ll find one that your palate loves.

Foods to Pair with Sour Beers

An important part of the beer tasting experience is, of course, food. When you’ve chosen a sour beer, pair it with one of these flavorful options:

  • Strongly-flavored grilled meats
  • Fish
  • Shellfish (like crabs and mussels)
  • Light salads
  • Plums

Whatever you choose, opt for a food that has enough flavor to remain noticed against the strong flavor profile of a sour beer. One fan favorite is a Berliner Weisse with a chicken curry and rice dish. The acidity of the beer pairs well with the spice of the curry, and the combo is tasty and satisfying.

Spotlight on an Independent Craft Brewery’s Sour Beer

Fountainhead Brewing Company — located in Sacramento, California — has a wide variety of beers. But their Berry Sour, which is a sour fruit beer, is one for the books.

The Berry Sour has a slight berry fruit nose (mostly blueberry) with just a hint of sour, making it accessible to many. Some have even described it as tasting similar to a rosé beer.

Fountainhead Brewing Company is an independent craft brewery owned by Mark Bojescu and co-owned by Head Brewer Daniel Moffat.

Fountainhead Brewing

Whether you opt for a far-out sour or a tamer one, pucker up and give sour beers a try. You might be pleasantly surprised!

About the author

Keith Adams is the founder of BeerSelfie.com and can be found on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram as @grubulub.