The art of making sour beer is a complex and fascinating world that has much to yet be discovered. The fact that you can take almost any type of beer and add the right combination of yeast and bacteria to create a wonderfully complex sour beer is an endless bounty of exploration.
Home and commercial brewers alike have been pushing the boundaries of how to make a sour beer for the past few years with amazing results. Take Tart of Darkness for example; The Bruery took a roasty dark stout and created a great sour beer with only hints of the original base beer. Cascade Brewing has done similar work with beers such as Vlad the Imp Aler by taking a Belgian-style quad and turning it into a remarkably complex sour beer.
New Braunfels Brewing Co. in Texas is following suit in the line of sour exploration with their recent third release of Sangre De Shiva. A beer that started out as a traditionally brewed weizenbock1 but was then used to fill just emptied Texas red wine barrels. With the addition of souring bacteria and several months of waiting this weizenbock was transformed into something completely different.
The beer pours a dark brown with deep red hues and looks strikingly similar to a red wine in the glass. There is absolutely zero signs of carbonation and the beer is still as can be. The nose on the beer is straight up red wine with a hint of tartness. I get notes of cherry and malt but the red wine is the star of the show.
My first taste of the beer brings more of the red wine character. Sweet berries, cheries and a low level of lactic acid. The tartness is far from sour but just enough to lend balance to the wine character. The flavors are clean and I get no signs of any off flavors but there is no sign of the weizenbock what so ever. I get some tannins that could be coming from the oak or the wine but either way they are light and not overpowering in any way. The alcohol is very well hidden and other than the big red wine flavors this beer could pass for a much lower ABV.