Think back to when you tried your first IPA. Whether you loved or hated it, chances are you were surprised by its overwhelming bitterness. As time went on, you refined your palate—because that’s what good beer drinkers do—and now, you love them. Sounds like it’s time to conquer an even more polarizing trend: sours.
Tart as a Sour Patch Kid, these beers get their tongue-twisting flavor from an archaic brewing process that allows for yeast and bacteria (like the kind in yogurt) to enter and flourish. And it can take years to get the brew from barrel to bottle.
There is “such a wide range of styles involved with sour beers,” it can be hard to pick just one, says Rose Signor, a certified cicerone and GM at Atomic Liquors. She recommends starting with sours that are on the fruitier side, similar to lambics. Signor suggests the Petris Aged Red, a “beginner sour,” which is created by adding black cherries to the Petris Aged Pale.
“It’s a lot of education,” adds Adam Metcalf, director of operations for Aces & Ales. “I tell people to start with Berliner Weisse, which are very low ABV.” Next, graduate to an Oud Bruin (also known as Flanders Brown) or the fruitier Flanders Red—similar to red wine with dark berry notes. And if you want a challenge, Metcalf recommends My Blueberry Nightmare by Birrificio Del Ducato—“So insane your palate almost can’t even handle it,” he says—or the Oude Gueuze Tilquin à L’Ancienne, which Signor describes as having notes of “horse blanket” and “barnyard funk.” Seriously.
Still not sure? Get your sour-beer education on when Atomic hosts its third-annual Sour Saturday on October 10. The event features more than 30 breweries and 40 sour beers, complete with catering from the Goodwich and a yeast seminar from San Diego’s White Labs.
Sour Saturday October 10, 3 p.m., $40. Atomic Liquors, 702-982-3000.