A couple weeks ago, Josh and I took a look at some fairly chocolate-heavy beers. While chocolate can range from cloyingly sweet to incredibly bitter, this week we’ll be tasting at a different end of the spectrum–sours.
Sour beer is a very particular art and can certainly be classified as an acquired taste. Prior to the advent of modern-day brewing technology and the concept of brewing in a sterile environment, all beer was sour to some extent. The concept is fairly simple–the sour characteristic is derived by allowing wild yeast strains or bacteria to enter the brew.
If done naturally, this process can be nearly impossible to predict, so most modern brewers prefer the level of control provided by purposefully adding bacteria or, sometimes, fruit.
In a way, sours can be like wine with their long fermentation and aging process. This contributes to a varied and wonderfully discordant drinking experience and something much more unique than the average brew. They’re a bit like a blue note in a great jazz piece.
You don’t have to take my word for it. Wait, yes actually you do, unless you check out this week’s beers for yourself.
Mine will be up first, followed by Josh’s.
Beverage: Here Gose Nothin’ – Gose
Crafted by: DESTIHL Brewery – Bloomington, IL
DESTIHL’s Wild Sour series has been an interesting journey, running the gamut from awful to awe inspiring.
I would not recommend Counter ClockWeisse–even going so far as having to tell a friend of mine not to try it, ever in his life. Lucky for you all, I’m not writing about Counter ClockWeisse today but its sexy, thrilling sister: Here Gose Nothin’.
She poured a beautiful orange-gold with a fizzy head, which quickly dissipated; in the glass, the combination of the sour scent and the sea salt reminded me of a dirty martini. Lemon and lime warred on my palate–lime coming through strong in the first sip and then lemon in the finish, slightly bitter and dry. The bold, sour flavors definitely took me by surprise. This is not a beer for the weak of heart–it’s definitely more bondage than burlesque–and what it lacks in subtlety and tease it makes up for in overall experience. The sea salt gave her a very singular mouth feel, not grainy but something akin to it.
The one thing missing from my experience with this beer was the coriander. That could be solely down to my taste buds–but I’m willing to give this one three, or four, or five more chances to see if I can pick it out from the rest of the flavors.
In all, a fantastic and refreshing drinking experience which I hope to enjoy again before it disappears into brewing history.
Beverage: Crooked Stave Origins
Crafted By: Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project – Denver, Colorado
Availability: Occasional release
While the States haven’t quite perfected the sour style to the degree that the Belgians have, there are a few breweries here that have really taken off. Crooked Stave, a small project in Denver, is one of the best.
Origins, a sour burgundy ale aged in oak barrels for 12-18 months, is less a beer and more of an example of the sheer complexity one can find in a glass of alcohol.
Pouring a dark reddish-brown, the beer had a solid white head that dissolved quickly. The tartness of the beer was immediately evident in the smell, a refreshing crispness with hints of fruit. While tart, the beer was nicely balanced, with hints of cherry and grape, almost like a wine. The dry finish reinforced the wine-like feel of the beer, cementing it as one of the most interesting, complex things I’ve had the fortune of trying.