Quick Hits: Sour Summer

Photo by Hudson Lindenberger

PIQUANT PLEASURES: MEET OUR TOP STEAMY-SEASON PICKS FROM NEW BELGIUM, AVERY AND GRIST. 

Summer is on, and with the arrival of warmer temperatures, you’ll be searching for the perfect beer to enjoy after a big day outdoors. Forget the IPAs and Saisons your friends stock in their coolers. Try something different, something off the beaten path. Try a sour beer.

It might sound counterintuitive that a beer should be sour, but have an open mind. Until the eighteenth century, most beers had a mild sourness to them. Fast forward to several years ago and craft brewers started to barrel-age their beers to push the boundaries of the craft, creating outlandish stouts, porters, IPA’s and, yes, even sour beers. Sours are as wild and weird as you could imagine. Here are three Colorado sours that are perfect introductions to this new trend.

New Belgium helped pioneer the sour beer market in the United States with its La Folie line in 1999. The name makes sense, since the style originated in Belgium centuries ago when wild uncultivated yeasts entered beers through the barrels and created something special. This year’s version is inspired by the Flanders region of northern Belgium. It’s a brown ale that was aged one-to-three years in French oak barrels. The fruit-forward flavors are balanced nicely with a medium tartness.

When Adam Avery moved into his new brewery in Gunbarrel, just east of Boulder, earlier this year, one of his big commitments was to a healthy expansion of his barrel-aging program. That’s good news for discerning drinkers across the state because the brewers at Avery Brewing are turning out some of the most interesting sours on the market. As one of three beers offered in the newest 22-ounce bomber line “Botanicals & Barrels,” Avery’s Raspberry Sour is highly approachable and loaded with fruit flavor with a mild souring.

On those hot summer days when the thermometer is edging closer and closer to triple-digits, the last thing you want is a heavy beer. Light, approachable and still flavorful is the thing to shake the sweat from your eyes. Grist Brewing Company in Highlands Ranch can cover those refreshment needs with its Berliner Weisse. This take on a classic German summer beer serves up a strong citrus backbone with just the right about of tartness to leave your taste buds begging for more. Though not barrel-aged it is a perfect example of how far sours have come.

Got it? Good. Now just remember to pucker up and toss a couple of sour beers into your cooler before you head out on your next outdoor adventure. You’ll be a trendsetter.                

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