Light and refreshing, sour ales are the ideal match for a hot summer afternoon. Originating in Germany and Belgium, these sour beers have a citrus-like taste and are easy to sip.
Typically low in alcohol, sour ales are reminiscent of a beer cocktail or a shandy (a mix of beer and carbonated lemonade). Bright in flavor and high in acid, sour ales pair well with many types of food, especially backyard summer favorites like grilled vegetables, seafood, and steaks.
Brewing methods for these beers date back to the 1400s, however they’re enjoying a modern resurgence thanks to the craft beer movement – and their ultimate drinkability.
Sour Beer 101
Learn the basics of traditional sour beers. Berliner Weisse, gose and lambic – here are the three types of sour ales that you need to try this summer. Pucker up and try them all to find your favorite seasonal treat.
1. Berliner Weisse
One of the lightest sour ales in alcohol content and color, Berliner Weisse has an average ABV (alcohol by volume) of 3-4%. Originally from Berlin, this bright yellow brew is an effervescent beer that tastes crisp and looks clear.
Usually brewed by traditional methods, Berliner Weisse gets its sharp, tangy taste from the bacterium Lactobacillus, which turns sugar into lactic acid during the fermentation process. Some brewers also add lactic acid later in the process for enhanced acidity.
Berliner Weisse pairs best with grilled meats and rich, hearty dishes: charcuterie, grilled chicken and fish, Korean short ribs, steaks, and burgers.
Featuring a maltier flavor profile that is less tart than a Berliner Weisse, gose hails from Goslar, Germany. Slightly cloudy and rich gold in color, the beer has an ABV of 4-6%.
Gose is unique when compared to other sour beer as it is brewed with salted water and coriander. The result is a complex beer with many nuances of flavor: salty, sour, and spicy – perfect for forward-thinking beer enthusiasts looking for an adventure in a glass.
Pair gose with bold dishes and spicy ethnic cuisines, which feature multiple levels of flavor to match the complexity of the brew: Indian curries, Thai soups, fish and chips, and bitter greens.
Often brewed with summer fruits like cherries or raspberries, Lambic is a heady, amber-colored beer with an ABV of 4-5%. Born in Brussels, Belgium, Lambic is a highly acidic brew, and one of the few beers of the world that is made with spontaneous fermentation. Instead of adding yeast, brewers expose the wort to the open air before it is placed in barrels to mature for one to three years.
Taste can vary greatly, even within the same batch, so multiple season’s batches are blended to create an appealing blend that balances the brew’s natural complexity.
Lambic compliments seafood dishes and desserts. Pair it with: steamed mussels, oysters, sushi, ceviche, strawberry shortcake, Black Forest cake, and berry cobbler.
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