The recent years have been considered by experts to be a sour beer renaissance in America. Nielsen has reported a rise in sour beer sales of 43 percent in 2018. Informational Resources Inc. has reported a 40 percent increase in sales in 2019.
So just what is it that makes a sour beer so infinitely drinkable? We’re about to lay that knowledge on you below…
How a Brewer Creates a Sour IPA, Ale, Beer, Etc.
In the case of traditional souring, brewers leave their brewed beer (wort) out in the open air. This allows the wild microbes to invade the beer and create a distinct sour taste. Sour beer styles such as Lambic and Gueze (a mixture of young and old Lambic beer) are still brewed in this way today.
However, they are the exceptions. In the modern day, while they brew craft beers, brewers will intentionally keep wild yeast and bacteria from invading their product. Also, with both kettle souring and barrel souring, the necessary bacteria (usually Lactobacillus, Brettanomyces, or Pediococcus) are added into the beer by hand.
How Kettle Souring and Wild Souring Differ
The major difference between the two processes is the aging time. In the process of kettle souring, brewers add bacteria to a lautered beer and keep it between 112 to 120 degrees for 1 to 2 days. Once the beer reaches a 3.3 pH, they raise the temperature to 162 and kill the bacteria.
To make a barrel or wild sour, a brewer will add a light body or low alcohol beer to a barrel (a higher alcohol content can kill the bacteria). After the brewer adds the bacteria, the brew will then sit for 6 to 9 months at room temperature. In this case, too, the brewer knows the beer is ready when it reaches a pH of 3.3.
Further Distinctions Between Kettle and Barrel Soured Styles
Beyond the barrel and kettle styles, brewers use other ingredients to distinguish the flavors of their sour beers from each other. For example, brewers of the traditional Gose style of beer add coriander and salt to their mixtures. This distinguishes the beer from its close cousin, the Berliner Weiss, though both styles are made with Lactobacillus.
Over-aging is another method to create a unique sour ale or beer. Flanders Red Ale and Oud Bruin, for instance, are aged for over a year. This gives them both very strong lactic acid flavors.
Many brewers will also create a type of sour known as a fruited sour. This is a sour beer that has fruit added to it during the fermenting process. This creates a different flavor addition than when brewers add flavors to the sour beers after the fermentation process is completed.
Where to buy Sour Beers, Visit BeerSauce
To Summarize, a kettle sour is typically brewed faster than a barrel sour. Which style is better than the other, however, will ultimately be up to your own taste buds. The journey and experience awaits!
When you’re ready to try buy sour beers or any other craft styles, stop by Beer Sauce Shop. We have more than 500 branded beers to explore and a rotating selection of craft beers on draught (+ howlers).
View Missouri and Florida locations here.