A Sour Beer Story

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you may have noticed that sour beers are quite the rage in the craft beer community. It seems that every brewery worth its salt is taking a crack at it. Essentially, a sour beer is a beer that is fermented with bacteria like Lactobacillus or Pediococcus in addition to or in place of brewer’s yeast or a non traditional yeast like brettanomyces. For the truly adventurous brewers, they let the beers wildly ferment, leaving their fermentors open and allowing any environmental microorganisms to settle into the batch. I have read many blog reviews on various sour beers. Up until a couple weeks ago I hadn’t tried any yet. Let’s just say that the written tasting notes for a sour beer left me a bit puzzled. Words like funk, hay and barnyard are commonly used. And those words don’t seem the most appetizing, at least to me. But for those that like sours, they seem like a passionate bunch. So I wondered if, much like pictures of the Grand Canyon, the written word just couldn’t do them justice. You just had to have the first hand experience to fully appreciate it. Rewind to about a month ago. A much revered and young craft brewery in St. Petersburg, FL called Green Bench Brewing Co was doing their first ever bottle release, and they were releasing two new brews. The first, called Your Silent Captain, is a tart cherry imperial stout acidified with Lactobacillus and aged in apple brandy barrels. The second, called For the Mad Ones, is a sour rye brown ale aged in cabernet sauvignon barrels. They were doing a presale to make sure you can reserve your bottles. I love browns and I love imperial stouts. Combine that with my curiosity about sours and the cache of this brewery’s bottle release (bottles individually numbered and signed by the head brewer, fancy barrel aging), I plunked down $40 to reserve one 750mL bottle of each. At the time of purchase, I had no idea if I was even going to like them. But something told me I wanted to take a chance. Fast forward to 2 weeks ago. It was my girlfriend’s birthday and she elected to go to Dunedin Brewery for their Oktoberfest. Excellent beers, brats, sauerkraut and german potato salad. Plus it was a beautiful day. At some point in the afternoon, we decided to walk a half mile down the road to another brewery called 7venth Sun. They are a very small brewery that doesn’t distribute, but just serves in their small tasting room. But because they are so small, they are very experimental and churn out a wide variety of styles. It’s like a homebrewer with a storefront. But they also specialize in sours and they have gained great local acclaim. So it was there that I tasted my first sour. Actually two. One I liked and the other was drinkable but I didn’t care much for it. But in tasting them, I understood what people mean when they say funk. It’s not as bad as it sounds. My interpretation of a sour is that it is a hybrid of a beer and cider. It kind of reminds me of when a homebrewer gets a contaminated batch and it tastes cidery. It reminds me of that but better. So because I didn’t yack at tasting a sour, I’m very excited about picking up my Green Bench bottles, which will happen tomorrow. But I don’t think I’ll pop them open just yet. I think I’ll wait for a special occasion and with a group of friends. Because I think it will be an experience that needs to be shared. I don’t believe sours will become my favorite style, but I’d like to learn to appreciate them.

Green bench

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One comment on “A Sour Beer Story

  1. […] had posted previously about purchasing two of Green Bench Brewing’s bottle releases here back in October. The first was called For the Mad Ones (a Jack Kerouac reference). It was a sour […]

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