Friday, August 5, 2011

The Session #54- Sours

This month's The Session is hosted by Jon at The Brew Site.  The topic: Sours.  Something I find close to my heart.

I’ve been gradually exploring Sour Beer and finding myself seeking out and trying various beers which fit into the “sour” realm (yes, I’m purposefully avoiding the word “style” here as it is entirely too loaded): beers inoculated with wild yeasts, soured with fruit (often in conjunction with those wild yeasts and barrel-aging), lactic acid beers like Berliner Weisse-influenced beers and the rare Gose, and so on. It’s a challenging area, both in acquiring a taste for soured beer and in brewing them—fortunately many brewers are being adventurous and branching out these days, giving us many more options.

So that’s our topic for August: Sour Beer. I’ll leave the implementation up to you, but here are some suggestions: seek out and review a sour beer of some kind; write about your experiences with brewing a sour beer; talk about your first sour beer experience; who’s brewing the better sours—Belgians or Americans (or somebody else)?; perhaps a contrary approach—what you don’t like about sour beers. Or if you have the perfect sour beer idea you want to write about, I can’t wait to read it!

For me, a non-drinker for the first 21 years 18 days of my life, crashing into the world of craft beer was fun.  I did not become used to the BMC light lagers, and could not stand them when I started drinking.  One piece of advice my brother gave me, a couple years before I started drinking, went something like this: "No matter what you are doing, do it because you like it.  There are people here (we were at a party) drinking Bud Light to get drunk, even though they hate it.  They would enjoy this so much more if they were drinking something they liked."  Now, college parties are going to be full of whatever is the cheapest thing available, but the "drink what you like" idea is what I base my beers off of.  My wife and I don't drink a lot of red wine, why? We don't like it (I will enjoy a Malbec with a good steak, but that is about it).

Fast forward 5-6 years from that party, and I was sitting in Max's Taphouse trying many different beers.  By this time, I had become a hophead, trying all beers of all styles trying to find what I liked and didn't like.  I saw a style on the list that I didn't ever have before; I asked for a Rodenbach Grand Cru.  BOOM!  I don't think I understood the flavors in my mouth, but still to this day my mouth waters thinking about Grand Cru.

Since that first sip, anything that says sour or wild on it, has gone in my glass.  From Gueuze to Orval to Flemish Red to Gose, the list goes on and on. Now I will go to bar, see one and order it.  Sometimes I will get a "warning" from the bartender that it might be too sour for me. I nod my head and take a sip.  Other times I will get a great surprise when walking into a brewpub and see Gose on tap (happened at a friend's rehearsal dinner at River House- delicious, refreshing Gose, soft on the sour and salt, but great on a hot day).

So finally, I think I found what I like. In it, I get a mouth puckering delight.

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