Are Sour Beers Actually Beer? (Sour Beer Explained)

If you’re an avid beer drinker, or simply love to frequent the brewery, chances are you’ve heard of sour beer before.

Are Sour Beers Actually Beer? (Sour Beer Explained)

Though, if you love to stick to your favorite beer, you may have not heard of it. These delicious beers offer a unique brew that are intentionally sour or acidic in taste (the hint is in the name!). 

Obviously, if you’ve ever had beer this is the polar opposite to how most beers taste.

Many of the beers you’ll be used to have more of a sweet or bready taste, this begs the question if sour beers are actually beer.

In this article we’re going to be discussing what sour beer is and if it’s actually beer. 

What Is Sour Beer?

Sour beer is a variety of beer that has been specifically brewed to have a sour or acidic taste.

The brewing process gives it this sour taste by using wild bacteria and yeast, it famously takes a long time to age and make, which can discourage some brewers from attempting it.

But it’s a notoriously unique taste that you’ll either love or hate. 

Is Sour Beer Actually Beer?

You may be thinking with it being called ‘sour beer’ that of course it’s a beer. But it’s actually quite different to other types of beer.

Regular beers will use traditional brewer yeasts like saccharomyces cerevisiae but sour beer won’t use these, it’s also not brewed in a sterile environment, which might be enough to put you off.

To make matters worse, some Belgian brewers will encourage wild yeast strains and bacteria to enter the brew by cooling their unfermented beer outside.

With the sour beer being brewed in a wooden vessel, it allows many communities of organisms to thrive inside, but if it tastes nice, who are we to judge the brewing process? 

But in short, it’s a type of beer, it’s just made a lot differently than other beers to give it its unique sour flavor.

What Is The Average Alcohol Content Of Sour Beer?

The alcohol content will range from different sour beer brands, it depends on the conditions on how it was brewed and the style of sour.

But most sour beers will have an alcohol content of around 3-5% ABV, some may be as high as 8-9% and some can be as low as 2%.

Different Types Of Sour Beer

Different Types Of Sour Beer

With sour beer becoming increasingly popular, there’s a variety of different types out there with most of them originating from either Belgium or Germany.

But because of its popularity more American breweries are starting to brew sours. These are just a few of the different types of sour beer: 

  • East Flanders brown ale: This type of sour beer originates from the Flemish region of Belgium. These types of sour beer aren’t brewed in a wooden vessel, so to achieve the sour taste they’ll usually add cultured yeasts. The brewing process can take up to a year, followed by a secondary fermentation process which can take several months. 
  • Gose: This a warm fermented sour that originates in Goslar, Germany. It includes the use of salt and coriander in its brewing process which gives it a lemon-y sourness and a strong saltiness. 
  • American wild ales: This is a broad term used to describe beers that are brewed in the US using yeasts or bacteria. This gives the beer a unique flavor and funky aroma. 
  • Lambic: This sour is brewed in the Pajottenland region of Belgium. It’s brewed with spontaneous fermentation and isn’t reliant on certain yeasts and bacteria added by the brewer. Instead, they will leave the unfermented beer outside to encourage the region’s microorganisms to enter the brew. They are typically blended with other batches or secondarily fermented with fruit. 
  • Berliner Weisse: This is a cloudy sour originating from Northern Germany. The tartness in this sour usually comes from the lactic bacteria and traditional brettanomyces yeast strain. To balance this sour flavor, the Berliner Weisse is usually flavored with woodruff or raspberry syrup.
  • Gueuze: This sour is a specific type of lambic, originating in Belgium. It’s made by blending young (1 year old) lambics with old (2-3 year old) lambics and then will be bottled for a second fermentation, to balance the sourness, Gueuze will often use sweet fruits during the second fermentation. Because it’s so carbonated it’s often referred to as the “Brussels Champagne!”

How To Serve Sour Beer 

Now, with it not being a ‘regular’ type of beer, some sour beers can have a certain way that you’re supposed to serve it to enhance its taste.

It all depends on what type of sour you’re drinking, but some will require a certain temperature to be served at, for the Berliner Weisse, it should be served at 42-46℉ whilst others like lambics or Gueuze should be served at 50-55℉. 

What Glassware Should Sour Beer Be Served In?

Sour beers can be served in a variety of different glasses, the glass won’t change the taste too much, but if you’re looking for maximum taste then try a tulip glass.

The tulip glass will allow you to generate an aroma from the head of the beer whilst allowing the brew to breathe, which is especially important for varieties of sour beer. 

If you don’t have a tulip glass to hand, sours can also be served in tumblers, oversized wine glasses or snifters. 

Final Thoughts

Sour beer has a complex and unique taste, it’s not for everybody but it may be for you. The long aging process and distinctive brewing process makes sour beer a highly sought after beer.

The low alcohol content and refreshing nature of sours make it an attractive option for beer drinkers who are after an energizing taste that will go down easy and won’t be too heavy on the stomach. 

There’s so many different types of sour beers out there that there’s bound to be one for your tastes. Try it, you won’t regret it! 

Mandy Winters

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