Tuesday, June 09, 2009
Tuesday Tasting: A Six Pack of Sour Ales
Tuesday Tasting is a regular feature of Lyke2Drink that explores some of the best beers, wines and spirits on the market. This week we try some beers that will make you pucker up.
After writing a column called "Beyond Beer" for a number of years for All About Beer magazine, I've launched a new column that is, well, all about beer. Your "Next Beer" to be precise. The idea is to look forward and talk about emerging trends; beer styles that are hot; and what beers you should look for on your next visit to a pub.
The first installment of "Next Beer" in the current issue of All About Beer covers sour beers. Most beer drinkers fall into two broad categories: hop heads or malt mavens. We have all been taught from our earliest brewpub visit, order an IPA if you crave hop bitterness or go for a doppelbock if you want some sweet malt. There is now a growing subculture of beer fans that want to pucker up: call them the sour patch kids.
Oud bruin, Fladers red ale, lambic, gueuze, gose, saison and Berliner weisse are styles that fit into the sour beer category. These ales have an acidic sourness that comes from a spontaneous source of fermentation that in most beers would be considered a major defect. Under normal circumstances the presence of Lactobacillus, Brettanomyces or Pediococcus in a brewhouse is a cause for concern. But for makers sour ales, these organisms are welcome guests.
Here are six of the beers tasted for the column:
Cascade Kriek Ale: This 2008 bottling from Oregon was a rich reddish brown color. Thick, healthy head and a vibrant sourness dominate in this 8.1 percent alcohol by volume beer. After six months of lactic fermentation in oak barrels this beer is fermented a second time with fresh whole northwest cherries.
Duchesse De Bourgogne: From Brouwerij Verhaeghe in Vichte, Belgium, this 6 percent alcohol by volume reddish-brown ale is a blend of 8- and 18-month-old ales. You can taste the wood character in this brew that has a touch of bakers chocolate, but the overall impression is a vinegar leaning tartness that grows on you after the first few sips.
Liefman’s Goudenband: This Belgian beer was sampled on draught at the Hopleaf in Chicago from a keg that had been aging since 2006. Hazy, amber color. Tart almost s our cherry soda-like flavor base. Mellow oak in the background. Smooth and refreshing for an 8 percent by alcohol by volume brew.
Oud Beersel Oud Geuze Vieille: Golden color, pours with a nice lacing head. No sugar or yeast are added in the making of this beer, which comes in at 6 percent alcohol by volume. Citrus and herbal nose, with a crisp bitter apple flavor.
Southampton Berliner Weisse: This Long Island beer is a cloudy, light lemon juice like color. A thin head stays throughout. Sour tartness that is cleansing and refreshing. Hint of green apple in the finish that lingers.
Upstream Brewing Gueuze Lambic: This Nebraska beer transports you to Flanders. Cloudy amber gold with a very thin head. Nice tart citrus notes that give way to a fresh cut oak flavor bed.