Remember when we said sour beers were the next big thing in brewing? Well, guess what? They are. They have been growing in popularity at unsurprising rates. Sour beer sales at the LCBO have been on the rise � a staggering 89%, year after year. We�ll happily jump on that bandwagon.
To refresh your memory, sour beers are not beers that have gone bad. They’ve been around for generations, in fact, they’re one of the oldest types of beer in the world.
Back in the olden days, all beers had a slightly sour taste. Pure yeast cultures were not readily available so the starter used from one batch to another likely contained bacteria and wild yeast. Lack of proper sanitation also played a role. Brewers would allow wild yeasts to enter naturally through barrels or by open cooling of the wort in the great outdoors.
Today, brewers are intentionally re-creating this style using wild fermentation techniques. The yeasts typically used to sour beer are lactobacillus, brettanomyces and pediococcus… and styles to look for are American Wild Ale, Gose, Lambic, Berliner Weisse, Flanders Red Ale and Oud Bruin.
As you can imagine, using wild yeasts and letting your beer cool outdoors isn�t the most controlled or predictable way of doing things. To make a quality sour beer, most brewers create complex flavours by taking months to ferment and years(!) to age. But according to brewers (and us), the risk and time is worth the wait.
Another way to add this lovely tart, sour flavour is by adding fruit to the mix during the aging process which causes a secondary fermentation to occur. If you�re pining for flavours of summer, sour beers are a great way to get that fruity fix!
We�ve created a list so you can enjoy a #summerthrowback. Most of these beers are seasonal � just like the fruits they use in their infusions. Some are available for your pleasure now, others�well, you have something to look forward to!
Walk� no, run outside your comfort zone and try some of these Ontario sour brews.
Maverick & Gose Ale
Amsterdam Brewing Company + Great Lakes Brewing Co. Collaboration
Slightly tart, this Gose-style ale has a refreshing acidity with notes of white peach and coriander.
Dead Parrot, Olde English Ale
Forked River Brewing
Dead Parrot is an Olde English Ale that has been “resting” in red wine barrels for nearly a year, half of that with Ontario-grown Red Tart Cherries. Tastes like a combination of sour cherry and raisin pies.
Citra Grove, Dry Hopped Sour
Bench Brewing Co.
Citra Grove is a bright and hazy dry hopped sour. Dry, tart and lightly funky, this ale is fermented with our house culture of yeasts, lactobacillus and brettanomyces, and is liberally dry hopped with Citra. With notes of orange, pineapple and melon, Citra Grove has a tangy acidity and subtle earthiness.
Raspberry Uber, Berliner Weiss
Nickel Brook Brewing Co.
Berliner Weisse is a refreshing, crisp, light and sour style of wheat beer. The distinct sour flavour is a result of using lactobacillus during the sour mash process and a traditional German Weizen yeast during fermentation. This sour style of wheat beer is then aged on local Ontario raspberries.
Dead Spadina Monkey, Sour Ale
Tart, complex, and an amazing base for fruit, barrel character, and other weird things we like to add from time to time. Several experimental versions exist, including bourbon barrel aged, Pineapple Spadina Monkey (amongst other fruits), and just “Au Naturel” super sour. They also make a killer Down by the Bay, Watermelon Sour with a serious amount of Watermelon Pulp.
Plum Jelly King, Dry Hopped Sour with Plums
This mixed fermentation ale is soured with a house blend of lactobacillus cultures prior to secondary fermentation and a heavy Citra-Simcoe-Cascade dry-hop. The result is juicy, sour, and thirst-quenching. Lots of fuzzy peach, tangerine, and cedar hop aroma and flavours with very low bitterness. This limited edition version includes a large dose of purple plum, adding additional fruit flavours and a lovely purple colour. Don’t dig plums? Try the Dark Sour on Cherry, Sour Dark Ale made using the same technique as Jelly King, but incorporates a small amount of darker specialty malts for subtle cocoa/coffee flavours and of course, cherries!
Lodestar, Dry-hopped Sour
Elora Brewing Company
Dry hopped with Citra and Cascade, the aroma is reminiscent of stone fruit and soft evergreen. Smooth on the palate with notes of fresh pear and citrus giving way to a balanced sour tang and an effervescent finish.
Paradise Lost Pear
Paradise Lost is an ever-changing series of Kettle Sours. We cultivate a house culture of lactobacillus using Canadian 2-Row Barley to produce juicy puckering sour flavour. The sour culture is then introduced to a base beer that is finished in a variety of different manners. Currently pouring Paradise Lost Pear made with Bartlett pears!
Clementines Rules Everything Around Me C.R.E.A.M., Clementine Sour
Stone City Ales
This refreshing, tart, funky, citrusy ale has bright clementine zest notes and a balanced approachable acidity. If you’re a super sour fan, keep an eye out for their KOOKS, Barrel-aged Sour Stout with raspberries and lavender drops March 2017!
Old Skal, Oud Bruin
Beau�s All Natural + Kissmeyer Collaboration
Dates, maple syrup and a residency in pinot noir barrels have added complexity to this collaborative creation. The aroma is an enticing medley of red wine, sour cherry and a faint nuttiness. The flavour is tart with tannic cherry notes and a hint of hazelnut. The finish is dry with residual oaky wine notes.
Sour Cherry Berliner Weiss
Niagara Oast House Brewers
Unfiltered, deep pink hue. Hints of orange flesh and a faint aroma of pie crust from the malt. Very tart sour hit on the palate. The cherry flavour is fairly soft and delicate beyond the initial sour taste. Lingering tartness that is wonderfully refreshing.
An Ale of Two Cities, Sour IPA
Sawdust City + Stone City Ales Collaboration
The remarkably juicy qualities derived from the ample hops used in this flavourful IPA are taken to a new level by mouth-watering sourness, leaving the drinker with the impression of fresh, tart berries and succulent, tropical fruits.
For more local beer news, check out The Ontario Craft Brewers!