It’s the Sour Life for Me
If you have been into the brewery lately (over the past year), you may have noticed that we (mostly) have one type of sour beer on tap at all times. Our goal is to bring sours to the Missoula community, and have on tap another variety of beer for consumers to enjoy. As one of our owners put it, “Missoula beer drinkers have a very mature palette,” and bringing them sours is our way of expanding their taste buds.
The sours we are brewing here at Draught Works are on the tame end in terms of approachability and complexity in the sour stage. Just as pale ales and IPA’s can both be bitter, where they lie on the hoppy spectrum is completely different. This is the same with sour beers; the spectrum for sours is a wide range from very simple to very complex. How they fare on their complexity is also based on the microorganisms used to acidify and ferment the certain beer.
Sours have a tart and acidic taste. There are a couple main microorganisms that are typically used in creating a sour, which are lactobacillus, brettanomyces, and pediocuccus. The main microorganism we use is lactobacillus due to the time it takes to age the beer. Any beer can be soured, but in the sense of a good sour there are certain aspects of beers to avoid or to incorporate. Hoppy or bitter beers don’t tend to mix well with being soured, but again there have been a few successful beers. Fruit is a popular ingredient because it compliments the tartness or lactic acid.
“As a brewer, we tend to lay the foundation for the beer, and the flavors we want to try to incorporate into the final outcome,” Ryan, our brewer, noted. “Though, our controls take second seat to the microorganism’s control.” Meaning that sours don’t have the exact science or control as IPA’s or pale ales might, and instead you put your faith into the live microorganisms and their byproducts and hope the groundwork you laid instills a good outcome of your beer.
In the end, sours are an old style especially popular within Belgium and Northern France. In terms of American craft beer, it is still a fairly new style with only a few states really experimenting with this type of beer. For us, it’s fun to bring different sours into Missoula, and get all people on the craft beer scale, from novice to expert, enjoying the tartness that comes along with it.
Draught Works Brewery