Sour beer is hands down my favorite style of beer when done right. The problem is that more times than not, it is not done well. A very large number of breweries that attempt the various styles of sour beers tend to stop with kettle sours and don’t invest the time and space into making a proper wild ale. I am not going to go down the hate for kettle sours road but I will say that so many of them have a sharp overpowering acidity and lack any depth or character.
To fix this issue brewers throw a ton of fruit into the mix which masks the problem but does not fix it. Some will go as far as making brusicles which personally are more fruit juice than beer. They can be enjoyable from time to time but they are generally not very high on my list when I want a beer.
The other road many American brewers will go down is the bottle share hero sour which is super flavorful but usually with a level of acidity that is better saved for degreasing an engine rather than enjoying a pint of it. This is why when I find a brewery that makes actual barrel-aged sour beers that are free of glaring off-flavors and with a palatable level of acidity I tend to stock up. One local brewery here in Santa Ana, Calif. that hits that sweet spot for me is The Good Beer Company. It is not a cliché name and anytime I see its label on a bottle or can I feel pretty comfortable that the beer will be well worth the picking up a couple.
In a recent trip to the brewery, there was a selection of beers to go in my favorite format, -four-packs of 16-ounce cans. I picked up a four-pack of Nectarine Oro which is a beer I have enjoyed a few times with previous releases. Oro is one of the breweries base beers that receives different fruit and hop treatments and is generally available year-round at the tasting room/brewery.
The beer is a pretty simple recipe of 2 rows or pilsner along with some oats and wheat to give it a little body. An addition of aged hops is the final ingredient in the base beer which goes through a lactobacillus and Brettanomyces fermentation, i.e. no pediococcus which allows for a much shorter aging time. This batch of Oro was aged on nectarines for a few months before packaging.
The ale debuted in bottles in 2015 and was most recently released in four-packs of 16-ounce cans on July 24.
The beer pours a crystal clear straw yellow with a finger of white head that dissipates quickly. The nose is primarily made up of classic barnyard funk from the brett and fleshy stone fruit, two things I happen to love in beer. I do not get that overwhelming this beer is going to be sour aroma I get from many sour beers and overall it smells very inviting.
The beer has a bright crisp acidity that is enough to get your attention but not to the point where it is taxing to drink. The mild sourness is right where I want it to be for a lower ABV refreshing sour beer. The nectarines come though quite a bit in the flavor as well and work well with the base beer as most stone fruit beers do with sour beer. The fruit character lingers into the finish along with a bit of a sweet candy-like note reminiscent of a sweet tart. There are no noticeable off flavors and the beer is well made.