“Excuse me? I thought you said sour?”
I may have once mentioned that sour beers are for people more interested in following trends then a good pint of beer. Not pointing fingers but it tends to be those wearing skin tight jeans and a mass of facial hair. The whole idea of a beer that tastes like a bag of Haribo tangfastics is not something I want to put my taste buds through and furthermore I refuse to follow trends like a lost sheep. There is absolutely no way i would try it! No way! Well… it’s time for me to eat my words.
Every Thursday since the Beer Harvest (annual trip around England for great beer) my good friend and all round fountain of beer knowledge has invited me to a few bottles after work. In these events Chris, in the spirit of his day job, teaches me in the ways of beer. Karate kid meets Ale style.
As you can imagine a few beers after a long day at work is a cherished occasion, so when Chris told me he had a few sour beers lined up I must admit to being slightly disappointed. A refreshing IPA or a delicious Best Bitter is what I was looking forward to.
It was only a few minutes into the tasting however that my disappointment disappeared as Chris told me of the interesting and wonderful brewing process of sour beer. My favourite of the three, A bottle of Rodenbach (technically a Flemish Red), has an amazing creation.
In the beginning there was malt, pale and coloured, and the brewer saw that it was good. He then boiled old hops with the wort not for flavor but for the preservative quality and he saw that it was good. After the fermentation and conditioning for a month in a tank he moved the beer into foeders,to sit in these massive wooden tuns undisturbed for 2 years at 15 degrees. After 2 years the acidity of the beer was off the charts with a PH level off 33 Opposed to a normal beer with an average PH level of 4. To bring this monster Acid level down he blended it with an un-aged version of the same beer which also gave it a sweeter taste. The results; fine deep tones, outstanding tart flavors, and a precious sweet finish. He saw that it was good. And now so have I.
After a few swigs to allow my pallet to adjust to the pounding sour flavor my taste buds tingled with fruity satisfaction and, reminiscent of a religious conversion, I saw the light. Everything started to make sense and I could see what all the fuss was about. Delightfully refreshing and stacked with aroma. The men with beards were right.
So there we have it, a beer that’s shook the very core of my sour hating beliefs. Would I rather an IPA or Best Bitter still? I would have to say yes. However, I can see that sour tasting beer has earned its place in the world and the gullets of its wonderful consumers. I would say to anyone who is under the same opinion I was, to give it a try, especially the Rodenbach. Afterall the brewing process has been waiting hundreds of years for its efforts to start trending and that commitment alone must stand for something.