Pucker Up! The Sour Side of Craft Beer

By Kay Witkiewicz

While Belgians have been crafting and quaffing sour beers for ages, American palates are just now discovering the puckering yet complex flavor profiles of these time-intensive beers. Many craft breweries across the country are experimenting with Brettanomyces (yeast), Pediococcus, and Lactobacillus (both bacteria) to create unique acidic blends in traditional and non-traditional sour beer styles.

Depending on the level of sourness, these beers range from abrasive to amiable and may take more than a few sips to get used to, but once your taste buds have sorted out these flavor avalanches, they may not be able to get enough of them.

Sour beers are fascinating interplays of yeast and bacteria that are difficult to craft and change character over time. One person who seems to have figured them out is The Bruery’s Wood Cellarman Matt Strickland. His take on this style, found on The Bruery’s blog in “Our Wood Cellarman’s take on Sour Ales,” is a must read primer for anyone ready to venture over to the mouth-puckering side of craft beer.

For a more detailed look at how these craft beers get their sour power, check out “Immaculate Fermentation: Science, not Sorcery” by Julia Herz.