If you spend a few minutes perusing through any of the craft beer forums you will most likely come across a thread about having to pick your favorite brewery or pick your desert island brewery. For me it has always been a fairly easy question. Over the years I have become quite the fanboy for Firestone Walker and once they opened Barrelworks in 2013 it sealed the deal for me. With beers like Sucaba, Parabola and its anniversary series, Firestone Walker has set the bar pretty high so the idea of them producing sour beers really got me irrationally excited.
When it comes to sour beers, Belgian lambics are widely-regarded as king.Lambic brewing is a Belgian tradition dating back hundreds or even thousands of years and is considered the oldest surviving commercial brewing style in the world. The beer is made by taking the hot wort and allowing it to cool over night exposed to the open air. There is a roughly 500-square-mile area that includes Brussles, Belgium and Payottenland that has the right mixture of airborne spores that are needed to create the flavors a true lambic consistently.
The Bruery, of Orange County, Calif., is one of the leading breweries when it comes to crazy, experimental barrel-aged beers.It’s very well known for its days of the week beers, Grey Monday, Black Tuesday and Mocha Wednesday. A quick look around its website though and you get a good feel for the crazy amount of barrel-aged beers it pulls off. Nearly half of all the beers The Bruery produces spend time in either a wine barrel, a spirit barrel or a fresh oak barrel. I’ll let them explain it in their own words"
Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales are notorious for its spontaneously fermented ales. Founded in 2004 by Ron Jeffries in Dexter, Mich., it has now grown to include two brewpubs – one in Ann Arbor and one in Traverse City. They pride themselves on only brewing beers using ingredients grown from the earth, they will not use any preservatives or chemicals. Every one of their beers are oak-aged and bottle conditioned and many are brewed with open air fermentation or spontaneous fermentation.
Over the past few years I have come across bottles of New Belgium's Le Terroir on shelves and for some reason never picked one up. I have had so many other offerings from New Belgium’s Lips of Faith series that it really surprises me how this one just slipped through the cracks. That all changed a few weeks back when it was on tap at one of my local watering holes.
Russian River Brewing Co. is well known as brewing some of the best sours in the United States, most notably their barrel aged series including; Beatification, Consecration, Supplication and Temptation. Since 2010, it has brewed Framboise For A Cure, a charity beer released in October.
Beer brewed with wild yeast strains are exploding in popularity with American craft beer lovers with more and more breweries are adventuring into this subset of beers every day.
One of the foremost experts in the field of wild yeast fermentation is Chad Jacobson of Crooked Stave. Jacobson spent his formative years studying wine until he came to the realization that beer is better than wine. Jacobson went on to open a brewery that brews only brettanomyces beers but not before writing his masters dissertation on brettanomyces fermentation. He has spent his entire professional career studying brett and how to unlock the true potential of this once feared yeast.
Let me start out by saying I have a long running obsession with Crooked Stave. Now that I have got that off my chest I can get started. Chad Jacobson is the head brewer for Crooked Stave in Denver, Colo. He is known in the industry as being one of the leaders in the world of brettanomyces (brett) fermentation. Many brewers use brett, but not many have the true understanding of the curious little organism like Chad Jacobson. He has spent his entire career researching brettanomyces and what it can accomplish and it shows in his beers. As a home brewer obsessed with brettanomyces I owe almost everything I have learned to Jacobson and his research.
The Lost Abbey is the highly-regarded premium beer brand of Port Brewing Company operating out of the old Stone Brewing brewhouse in San Marcos, Calif. since its inception in 2006. The brewery is widely recognized for its excellent Belgian-style sours and American wild ales and makes substantial use of Brettanomyces and Lactobacillus in several of its flagship beers.Of its esteemed lineup, perhaps no offering carries with it as much notoriety and desirability as Duck Duck Gooze.
As a self-proclaimed beer nerd, sour beers are one of my true passions.
I have spent the past several years (and way too much of my income) searching far and wide looking for the next great acidic brew and my journey always seems to come back to one of my favorite places on earth. Portland, Ore., Home of Cascade Brewing. Ron Gansberg is the mad scientist behind the magical place aptly nick-named, “the house of sour.” Gansberg's hard work has pulled in three medals from the Great American Beer Festival, countless die hard fans and the reputation of one of the countries foremost sour beer breweries.