old brews dominate when things heat up, and although IPA’s remain in high-demand, Sours might be giving them a run for their money. Public houses are turning their taps to Sour Beer this sunny season, ushering in fresh and crisp summer vibes. Fun fact: Did you know that sour beer’s signature pucker comes from a unique brewing process, commercial or wild yeast and three specific microbes; Lactobacillus, Brettanomyces and Pediococcus? These microbes monopolize the sour fermentation process. For the thirsty and inquisitive, here are four places to soak up some sours, as well as some hot leads on where to start to enjoy this refreshing beverage at home.
22741 Lambert St, Lake Forest, CA 92630 (949) 583-7777
Boasting independent kegerators for their four sours on draft, Heroes & Legends also has 75 other brews on tap. Peanut shells on the floor and locals give this spot a classic laid-back bar vibe, and the sign out front promoting sour beers will let you know you’re in good hands to kick back some cold ones. “Sour beer hits a wide variety of people; it’s adult juice. Everyone wants a fancy version of beer. Everyone likes craft, and sour beer is the fancy version of beer,” Bartender JR Grubert said. The sour beers in their kegerators hit the variety of sours with a Lambic, Weisse and two Wild Ales.
What to Order:
- Rosetta Cherry, Brewery Ommegang, New York. This conventional fruit lambic is smooth and thick with amber nuances. 5.6% ABV.
- Tart of Darkness, Bruery Terreux, Anaheim. Tart of Darkness is a snappy American wild ale which sits on the lips after tasting. The creamy, smooth texture packs a sharp punch making it just a little less sour than its successor, Frederick H. 5% ABV.
- Frederick H., Bruery Terreux, Anaheim. Bruery Terreux, French for “Earthy Brewery,” is an Orange County powerhouse for sours. The Bruery opened its tasting room in Anaheim specifically for the processing and fermentation of sour beers, and Frederick H. does not disappoint. By far the sourest of the sours, Frederick H. has a dry champagne kick, aired with green apple orchard. 4.4% ABV.
- Lolita, Goose Island Beer Company, Chicago. This brew has a true Goose savor reminiscent of all their beers. Citrus notes set aside this American wild ale, softening its wild yeast bang allowing the flavor profile to reach the sides of the tongue. 9% ABV.
4143 Campus Dr, Irvine, CA 92612 (949) 596-8881
Eureka! in Irvine has consistently served sour beers on tap since its opening in 2014 and the funky flavors suit the rustic-modern brewery. Eureka! currently has three sour beers on draft. Jordan Perez, Bartender of Eureka! pours three sours ranging from sweet to super sour, “People are starting to become more aware of sour beers, and once people open their horizons and learn to like them, there are so many out there,” Perez said.
What to Order:
- Strawberry Fields by Acoustic Ales Brewing Experiment, San Diego. This American wild ale is dark and has a bubbly, sour candy aftertaste hinting on fresh strawberries. 5.4% ABV.
- Frederick H. by the Bruery Terreux, Anaheim. Tart and super sour with a wheat base keeps this beer true to Berliner Weisse trademarks but runs errant with its wild grain aftertaste. 4.4% ABV.
- Swizzle Stick by Libertine Brewing Company, San Luis Obispo. Cognac thickness and body power this American wild ale depositing heavy black licorice notes and a surprising zing of grapefruit and hops at the end. 6.4% ABV.
16272 Beach Blvd, Huntington Beach, CA 92647 (714) 861-4047
The holy grail of sour beer take home selection, most Total Wine locations carry well over 20 sour beers from top name brewers. A walk down the craft aisle can display every type of sour, and the seasonal release on display is Hibiscus Gose by Boulevard Brewing Company, Missouri. Previously available to employees only, Hibiscus Gose has a pinkish tint from dried hibiscus flowers.
Standing in front of a cold display of sours, aficionado Derek Cobb reaches for a bottle. “IPA’s will never go away because of how much breweries make on it. Sour beer takes a lot more to make, time to ferment and different levels. A lot goes into making a sour. It feels all-around more classy. If you understand how it’s made and brewed it’s not just a lick-and-stick beer,” said Cobb. And the bottle he was reaching for in the freezer? The consistent sour on the taps above, perhaps Frederick H. is the secret of summer.
Sour beers can be successfully brewed at home, despite their unequaled brewing process. To experience the satisfaction of a sour casa craft, you can try home brewing kits. Windsor Home Brew Supply offers beer, wine, and kegging equipment on their website windsorhomebrewsupply.com. And if you’re switching between different styles of beer at home, take into account this note from Jacque Fields, Executive Director of Orange County Brewers Guild, “Keeping beer lines clean is a key part to being a great craft beer retailer. Breweries look to accounts carrying their beer to ensure that their product is getting to the consumer in its best form. The standard recommendation for cleaning a beer line is every 2 weeks but some choose to clean their systems even more often; the reason being beers with very bold flavors, such as coffee beers and chili beers, and ingredients can permeate the draft lines which are made of vinyl. These strong flavors can be hard to clear out of the line, but is possible as long as it is cleaned properly with caustic and acid solutions. Many retailers choose to designate tap lines to specific styles to ensure there is less possibility of imparting unintended flavors into the beer. Off flavors can come from ‘dirty draft lines’ such as burnt popcorn and could be an indicator that the beer has been sitting in the line for a long period of time or the tap could use a good cleaning.”
OC Sour & Funky Beer Breweries Honorable Mentions
The Good Beer Co.