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Old 10-28-2008, 05:58 PM   #1
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Default Sour Brews

In reading the HBT forums, I've occasionally seen reference to "sour" beers. This may be a dumb n00b question, but what exactly is a sour beer?

Is it similar to the difference between sour dough bread and regular bread?

Is it sour in a way that lemonade is sour? Are there commercial versions of sour beers I might try?

Thanks!

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Old 10-28-2008, 06:07 PM   #2
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It is a lambic beer. Essentially you brew a beer and throw in some 'bugs' (a wild yeast strain - whitelabs/wyeast sells them). Over time these wild bugs convert your beer into a 'sour beer'. In every example I've seen, fruit is used to give it a fruity sour taste (like sour candy).

Frambiose is the most available here in Atlanta (as far as I know) -- just keep an eye out for "Lambic". They are usually pricey though, FYI.

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Old 10-28-2008, 06:08 PM   #3
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Ok, interesting. I've had a Framboise lambic before, and I would have just considered it a fruit beer rather than a "sour" beer, but that apparently was before I knew the proper name for things hehe.

I guess I was imagining something more like a heavy lemon flavor or something to make the mouth pucker.

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Old 10-28-2008, 06:11 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pfgonzo View Post
Ok, interesting. I've had a Framboise lambic before, and I would have just considered it a fruit beer rather than a "sour" beer, but that apparently was before I knew the proper name for things hehe.

I guess I was imagining something more like a heavy lemon flavor or something to make the mouth pucker.
Oh, I've had some sour beers that tasted like so sour my jaw hurt. Sause was trying to introduce me to quality sour beers, but I'm not a fan.

There are lots of sour beer fans around here, though, so I'm sure you'll find some more information in a little while!
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Old 10-28-2008, 06:12 PM   #5
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Lactic acid producing bacteria take part in the fermentation process. Some produce just lactic acid, some produce lactic acid and alcohol. No, its not lemonade sour. Lemonade is sour because of citric acid, sour beer is sour because of lactic acid. It's sour in the way sour milk is sour, or the way fresh yogurt has a bit of a bite. There are commercial versions, but I'd stay away from that Lindemann's lambic with the yellow label. Way too sugary, and not a very good example. One of those might turn you off to the style. Try Lindeman's Gueze, Rodenbach Grand Cru, but it might be easiest to get something like Ommegang's Three Philosophers, which is a blended.

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Old 10-28-2008, 06:31 PM   #6
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In my limited opinion, Lindeman's Gueuze is a far cry from what a real lambic should taste like. Even though Lindeman's still produces lambic in the traditional way, all of the stuff sent here is pasteurized and sweetened with an artificial sweetener like aspartmine.

A "sour" beer refers to any beer produced with spontaneous fermentation rather than cultured strains of brewers yeast. I am about half way through Jeff Sparrow's book titled "Wild Brews". Like him, I'm starting to prefer the term "wild beer" instead of "sour".

There are about as many styles of wild beer as there are regular beer. Some include Flanders Red, Flanders Brown, Lambic, Gueuze (blended 1,2 and 3 year old lambic), fruited lambic, and many different types of blends.

Wild beer gets its flavor from the other organisms we collectively call "bugs". Some of these bugs may include Acetobacter, Brettanomyces, Enterobacter, Lactobacillus, Pediococcus, and of course our good friend Saccharomyces cervasie (as well as other members of the species).

Flanders Red gets a lot of its flavor from Brettanomyces while Lambics derive most sourness from Lactobacillus.

I have found a very limited source for wild/sour beer here. There just doesn't seem to be a market. One of my favorites I can get my hands on is La Roja from Jolly Pumpkin Brewery. It is a Flanders Red style beer. Somewhat sweet, slightly sour.

I highly recommend reading "Wild Brews"

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Old 10-28-2008, 06:36 PM   #7
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If you can find a bar with Brooklyn Brewmaster's Reserve on tap, it is currently a Flemish Golden Ale, sour and hoppy and the best beer I've had in months!

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