Sour beer: Trend or Traditional

Sour beer:  Trend or Traditional

Here in the U.S. sour beers seem to be the latest hot thing! But the simple fact is the Rodenbach brothers started brewing sours back in 1821 in Belgium. 

I recently had the privilege to share a beer with Rodenbach Master Brewer, Rudi Ghequire, at a small tasting in NYC.  Prior to this event, I will admit, the thought of a “sour” beer sounded absolutely unappetizing. But low and behold, a special evening, short education and an amazing tasting and I, like so many others, was hooked.

Rodenbach has mastered the art of ripening beer in oak barrels and then mixing old and young beers. Today, Palm has purchased the brewery and created an unfiltered, unblended 100% cask bier which I was lucky enough to try.  

At one time, all beers were sour to some degree. In 1553 in Bohemia, Albrecht the 5th decreed that brewing beer from April 23rd- Sept 29th was prohibited because the beers would sour due to warmer temperatures.  This decree led to the creation of clean, crisp pilsners and eventually the Marzen “Okoberfest” bier.

Belgium brewers did not give up on the sour beer. Beginning in the early 1800’sthese innovative brewers began to let nature run its course as the wild yeast and bacteria fermentation process could take 3-6 months and was dependent on warmer temperatures.  Thus, creating sour beers such as Rodenbach.

Sour beers are tart, crisp, with vinegar like sharp sourness and a dry, green apple edge.  The first sip reminds me of the childhood experience of eating a sweet and sour candy.  After the tart, comes the dry green apple fruit finish and like a kid you are hooked.

The most common sour beer styles are: Lambics, Gueuze (Gos), Flanders Red Ale, Ode Bruin and Berliner Weiss. 

Available at the Festhalle:

Lambic:  Lindemans: Framboise, Peche, Cassis

Gueuze (Gos): Liepziger

Flanders Red Ale:  Petrus Aged Red, Rodenbach Classic

Ode Bruin: Ichtegems Grand Cru

American Sour:  B. Nektar Zombie Killer