I didn't like sour beer... and then I got to like most of it. It took a bit of work, a bit of a study. I have not made my peace with some but there's about 17 litres of the stuff at the core of my stash now. It waits for the right combination of enough time, enough friends and enough anti-acid pills. The venerable beer blog The Brew Site has asked us to consider sour beers for this month's edition of The Session and I thought I would review the results of my studies. Highlights?
⇒ When Ontario's government store brought in Goudenband from Liefmans in 2006, it was one of the great beer summers for me: "...somewhere between granny smith apple and pineapple juice just in terms of tartness. But, with all that, there is also cherry and oak and vanilla and maybe the best Pepsi you have ever had as well as even dried fruit like prune and fig and molasses." Remember when I wrote tasting notes like that? You'd be lucky to get "some friggin' good" out of me now.
⇒ I am sure I would profit from re-trying Bruocsella 1900 Grand Cru by Cantillon but it is still one of my most shocking beer experiences. I still think this is the best over wrought cry baby comment ever at this blog.
⇒ There are many sorts of sour including funky tang and one of my favorites was my first Oro De Calabaza by Jolly Pumpkin bought at the brewery after Ron Jeffries gave us an hour of his Friday.
⇒ Sometimes sour is not so sour but can be amongst the best things you will ever have in your mouth: "...pie in a glass." I want more. A beer I can't imagine having food with - what could possibly improve this moment?
⇒ Finally, the lessons from sour beer studies go beyond what is in the bottle to what can go with it, like oysters. Seafood is a great way to get to know gueuze.
So, what did I learn from all my explorations of sour beer? I think I like gueuze but am not quite there with still lambics. I also think there is a room for slightly sweetened sour beers, too, but not to the full extent of the total sugary cover-ups. I have also learned that there can be great value in a beer pushing 20 bucks for a 750 ml but also that a $6.50 375 ml may be just as good.