These days, sour beers are made by design rather than accident.
31 Jan 2022
by The Blackhearts Crew
You’ve heard of them, you’ve seen them in stores, and you’ve most likely drank at least one (in which case, you may already love them) - but what ARE sour beers?
The term ‘sour beer’ is an overarching term, encompassing an incredibly diverse gamut of beers. Back in the day before the science behind pasteurisation and sterilisation was mainstream, most beer would end up with some level of sourness - due to the presence of wild yeasts and bacteria.
These days, sour beers are more often made by design rather than accident - whether it’s through inoculation with things like lactobacillus, pediococcus, brettanomyces yeast, naturally soured by the wild microorganisms in the environment, or a mix of the whole lot.
Typically what these bacterias & yeasts do is create different types of acidity in the beer: lactobacillus & pediococcus will form lactic acid, others will create acetic acid, and brettanomyces can create any number of wild effects, positive and also potentially negative (just ask winemakers!).
Thus, the term ’sour beer’ encompasses a wide range of beer styles, flavours, acid levels, and funk - from the lightly tart & fresh-fruited berliner weisse & gose, all the way to complex lambics and wild ales with years of barrel age on them.
Sour beers can be uniquely difficult to categorise, so one of the best ways to get your head around them is just to drink ‘em, read a bit about the brewery and beer style, then go from there! Some of the barrel-aged brews can get a bit pricey (and rightfully so, they can take years to mature), but that makes them the perfect thing to bring along to your next dinner party, or that beer club you’ve been dreaming of setting up! (just us?)
Want to start somewhere? Try out our sour beer pack or check out some of the below...
Named after brewer Chris & his wife Emily's first daughter, Saint Phoebe was also apparently a first century deaconess in modern day Greece - so a regal title either way! Brewed using golden mixed fermentation, barre-aged beer which was put over 722kg of fresh Ebony Sun plums from Thorbrook Orchard in NSW. Perfumed rosewater aromatics lead into ripe plum, dark spices, and a gentle acid line.
Look, 2020 is definitely a year in need of more good news, and we're here to bring you that goodness, with a second collab from Bodriggy! #2 in our Block Party lineup, this Applemelon Fruited Hazy Sour is just the thing for the warmer months. Using watermelon & apple, this is juicy, citrusy, tangy, and a treat to drink.
A collab between Australia's Dollar Bill and Weathered Souls Brewing in the USA, this sour imperial stout was created to support the Black Lives Matter Movement. Indigenous and wild yeasts are combined to create a rich, balanced stout with a long, sour finish. All proceeds are donated to The Bail Project, a US charity providing bail for those who can’t afford it and have been incarcerated.
This pale sour beer is fermented with wild, mixed cultures and peaches, barrel aged for up to two years. Soft, fruity and delicious - for those feeling a little fruity
Yet another delicious barrel-aged ale from the Reservoir-based Future Mountain brewery. Freshly picked ripe Yarra Valley Feijoas were combined with golden sour beer and left for three months. This is incredibly complex, with notes of pineapple, guava, and perfumed scents of ripe feijoa skin.
Another wine/beer hybrid from the good people at 3 Ravens! For this, they collected Pinot Noir skins from Jamsheed and then covered them with a dry amber farmhouse ale (lovingly referred to at the brewery as the ‘French Biscuit’). The end result is delicious and complex, with a strong Brett character, restrained acidity, mixed berry, fruit salad notes, and a herbal, minty character.
Our latest collab is here! Chris and Gab at Sailors Grave are some of the biggest legends going around in the beer industry, so teaming up with them to make a beer together is as much a joy as it is to drink the end result! Hot Dram is a kettle-soured Berliner Weisse, with a portion steeped in caramelised oranges and the other portion aged in freshly emptied Starward Whisky barrels. The result is a bright and lemony sour, with notes of maraschino cherry, candied orange, and good ol' whisky.
An institution in the Australian sour beer world, The Punch is mouthwatering sour that's bursting full of juicy, tangy mango with a salty edge that keeps you coming back for another sip. It's the sort of beer that you crave when it's stinking hot outside - it's kind of like a paddling pool for your tastebuds.