The 10 Best Sour Beers To Drink In 2023 And Beyond
Have you ever tasted a beer that made you pucker, squint, and then immediately reach for another sip? Welcome to the world of sour beers – the rebellious, wild child of the beer family that isn’t afraid to challenge your taste buds. As intriguing as they are tasty, sour beers have been taking the limelight, shaking up the beer landscape with their nuanced, acidic flavors that have enthusiasts coming back for more.
But what is it about these beers that makes them so delightfully tangy? How do they stand out from their more conventional cousins, and most importantly, which ones are the cream of the crop in 2023?
You’ve come to the right place if these thoughts have been brewing in your head. The “scoop on the sour,” “the lowdown on the lambic,” and “the 411 on the funky” are all available. So, folks, hold on to your pint glasses. We’re about to set out on a flavor-filled adventure through the energizing world of sour beers.
1. Cantillon Fou’ Foune Sour
You’ll get the impression that you’ve traveled to the verdant French countryside, complete with apricot orchards, after just one sip of Fou’ Foune. All you need to exclaim joyfully from the seductively sweet perfume is “Vive la France!” Of course, speaking French fluently is not a must for this trip.
The best beer overall, according to Homebrew Academy, is this one: “Authentic lambic is unrivaled, making it our BEST OVERALL choice. Craft beer has been produced by Cantillon since 1900, which is regarded as the BEST sour beer brewery in the world. The fermentation process for the Fou’ Foune lambic beer, which includes apricots, takes a few weeks. It emphasizes the apricot flavor and has a high acidity. Due to the complex flavors that are all contained in a single bottle, this classic fruit beer has become a quality benchmark for many people all over the world. Delicious!”
If you can find any Cantillon bottles, don’t hesitate. Our favorite is Fou’ Foune. Fou’ Foune is a lambic beer made with fresh apricots. The fruit and lambic are left to ferment for around 5 weeks before being bottled. Because the texture balances a powerful acidity, the fresh apricot flavor can shine out. Layers of mild malt, subtle funk, and acidity cover the palate. The sharp carbonation adds to its drinkability. According to BisonBrew, it serves as a fantastic source of inspiration for many sour brewers throughout the world.
2. Crooked Stave Sour Rosé – A Sour Beer Experience to Remember
Considering the range of beers available in this region, picking the “best” sour beer can be just as difficult as picking the finest beer overall. What one person may find to be the perfect sour beer may not be liked by someone else. However, if you’re searching for a high-quality sour, Colorado should be your final destination. Casey Brewing and Blending and Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project have contributed significantly to making Colorado the U.S. hotspot for sour beers, according to Greenleaf’s research. Both companies got their start making distinctive small-batch sours. However, by making certain of its beers more publicly accessible, Crooked Stave has increased the scope of its popularity. The Sour Rosé, a unique wild lager with a blueberry and raspberry infusion, is one of them.
3. Brooklyn Bel Air Sour
Even though it’s only the first week of April, the delicious flavor of Brooklyn Brewery’s Bel Air Sour has us longing for the summer’s balmy evenings. The appropriateness for a hot day was recognized by several of our connoisseurs, who made comments such, “Invigorating, an ideal summer beer,” and “Evokes a beachy aroma, radiates summertime allure.” Its drinkability is enhanced by its low alcohol concentration, which makes it a great option for slow, all-day pleasure. “Enjoy five at a BBQ,” one beer enthusiast bluntly advised.
This sour beer clearly has enduring appeal, and as one observant observer wisely observed, “This beer is a game-changer.” In the world of sour beers, Brooklyn Brewery’s Bel Air Sour has set a high bar, establishing itself as a classic that continually defies expectations.
4. New Belgium Sour IPA
Every year, it seems as though a brand-new IPA variety competes to surpass the dominant hazy IPA. The sour IPA, though, is still a subtle departure from the norm. But New Belgium has embraced this style, making their own take on the sour IPA a staple of their prestigious array of sour beers. This specific beer has quickly risen the ranks since its initial release in 2020, becoming known as one of the most approachable and well-regarded interpretations of the type. It embodies what Greenleaf calls the “immaculate equilibrium of hops and acidity.”
5. Burley Oak Sour – J.R.E.A.M. Series
Writing about sour beers would be challenging without discussing the famed Burley Oak J.R.E.A.M. series. In the competitive realm of sought-after sour beers, Burley Oak’s J.R.E.A.M. beers go head-to-head with beers like Other Half’s renowned IPAs and Jester King’s unusual mixed-fermentation selections. The term “J.R.E.A.M.” has come to represent exceptional sour beers with fruit infusions in the field of craft brewing.
But the creativity goes further than just using fruit. A wide range of innovative and adventurous beers are also included in the presentation. For instance, the Miami Vice J.R.E.A.M., a seductive mashup of the brewery’s Strawberry Daiquiri and Double Pina Colada J.R.E.A.M., pays homage to the popular snow cone taste by using the name Tiger’s Blood Sno-Ball. They appear to have no creative boundaries in this world of sour brews. The company’s founder, Bryan Brushmiller, and his crew aren’t hesitant to put their craziest and stupidest ideas in a can.
The J.R.E.A.M. series may have a broad audience, but Burley Oak’s dissemination is still fairly constrained. Only nine states presently offer the company’s products.
6. Threes Brewing Eternal Return Raspberry
Our palates were entranced by this rare wild brew’s delectably tart fruitiness as it was matured in oak barrels and spiked with raspberries. It pairs well with a wide range of dishes thanks to its crisp, energizing characteristics. The greatest way to put it was by one expert who said, “This would be my go-to with a classic PB&J.” The flavor of the brew was commended by a tester, who likened it to “the seductive scent of fruity pastries.” Among the praise, one fan was so captivated that they believed it stood out in its category and encapsulated their feeling in one word: “Unparalleled.”
The peculiar wheat beer known as gose is usually seasoned with coriander and salt. This beer style has long been a staple of German brewing culture, but it has only recently come to the attention of American beer drinkers because to a unique interplay between sourness and salty. Two Roads Brewery adds a wonderful twist to this time-honored classic with their Persian Lime Gose. They use Persian limes, which give each mouthful an extra layer of tartness. As Greenleaf notes, the beer has a “delicious twist on this traditional style.” The beer has a light body, a dry finish, and a finely balanced sourness that adds just the right amount of delectable tang.
7. Dogfish Head – SeaQuench Ale: A Sour Ale Masterpiece
A sour ale that continues to forge new ground is emerging from the heart of Dogfish Head, a brewery recognized for producing some of the most recognizable beers in the world. SeaQuench Ale is more than simply a beer; it’s a well-balanced blend of a gose, a kölsch, and a Berliner weisse. With the seductive zest of black limes, the tart twist of lime juice, and the delicate taste of sea salt, each sip is a thrilling voyage.
Dogfish Head took its time bringing this summer phenomenon into the world. Before introducing SeaQuench Ale to the public, they meticulously cultivated it and spent an entire year conducting careful research and development. SeaQuench Ale is a remarkable example of their creativity and ingenuity and a monument to their unrelenting dedication to excellence.
This innovative sour brew is more than simply a beverage; it’s an encounter. With a moderate 4.9% ABV, it’s the ideal beverage for people who live an active lifestyle because it provides a cooling break without sacrificing flavor.
8. Lagunitas – Aunt Sally
Lagunitas successfully earns a spot on our list of the best sour beers that are easily available. The brewery refers to Aunt Sally as a dry-hopped sweet tart sour mash ale, a unique term that mirrors its unique brewing process. This requires fermenting the wort for a period of days when it is in the heat-intensive phase with Lactobacillus. What happened? Lagunitas described their beer as tasting like chewable flavored vitamins or, more intriguingly, a multicolored fruit candy dish on Untappd. But where precisely is the distinction? Aunt Sally is a delightful blend of sweet and sour with a sassy edge that mimics the seductive charm of your favorite aunt’s homemade cherry pie.
This sour beer does really offer up a heaping dose of style in addition to its delicious flavor.
9. Best Berliner WeisseFirestone Walker Bretta Rosé Sour
The stimulating acidity and lower alcohol concentration of the Berliner Weisse set it apart. Berlin residents regularly receive this beverage with flavored syrup. But modern Berliner brewers frequently use fruit immediately into the brewing process. Allen claims that the team at Firestone Walker, under the direction of master blender Jim Crooks, consistently creates some of the best wild ales in the industry. Their philosophy emphasizes the use of locally obtained ingredients. In order to give Bretta Rosé its characteristic flavor, a sizable number of local raspberries are used in a secondary fermentation process. The beer in question has a stunning rosé tint, a light, crisp acidity, a strong raspberry flavor, with subtle hints of barrel.
10. SingleCut Kim Hibiscus Sour
The SingleCut Kim Hibiscus Sour, a fruited twist on the traditional Berliner Weisse, pours a beautiful shade of pink. The cuisine has a distinct color because of the hibiscus infusion, which also imparts a delicious flavor and a vibrant colour. Beyond mere aesthetic charm, it is a visual spectacular that piques the taste buds even before the first sip.
The beer, in the words of one beer expert, is “extremely enjoyable, with the distinctive hibiscus flavor making a significant impression.” This highlights how effectively the components combined and supports the brewer’s decision of infusion.
Contrary to popular misconception, this beer does not only contain flavors of hibiscus and blackcurrant. Despite having blackcurrants as its main component, the beer has a rich, multifaceted flavor. One interested taster observed that despite the beer’s “richly floral aroma,” “the taste unfolds with a surprisingly sharp sour twist and unmistakable grapefruit nuances.”
This exemplifies the brew’s complexity and the brewer’s skill in balancing the sweet and sour elements. The beer has a crisp edge due to the unexpected grapefruit-like sourness, and those seeking a tart, fruity beer with a floral undertone should definitely consider it. As a result, the SingleCut Kim Hibiscus Sour offers a sophisticated sensory experience that goes above and beyond expectations.
Best Sour Beer Breweries: Exploring the Creators of Sour Beers Perfection
There is nothing more enjoyable for a lover of the tart, puckering zing of a well-crafted sour beer than discovering the world of brewers who specialize in these distinctive beverages. The world of sour beer, a maze of flavor profiles and brewing methods, is where the distinction between beer and wine frequently becomes blurry and where the art of fermentation truly comes to life.
The sour serves as the historical cornerstone of beer, whereas the IPA may be in vogue. The traditional diamonds of the beer world are the Old World sours, which spontaneously ferment with wild yeast and are matured in barrels. These beverages represent the pinnacle of exact brewing techniques, boasting near-perfect fermentations with bacteria from the night air or from those living in old wooden vessels, awakening as they come into contact with the liquid that finds a resting place for months or years. However, they are frequently overlooked in the face of the American fruited kettle sour craze. These sours have a distinctive flavor profile that is acidic, almost vinegary, and a strong reminder of the origins and traditions of beer.
On the other side of the coin, we have the new school kettle sours, often found on your local grocery store shelf. These sours don’t require as much time and attention as their spontaneously fermented cousins but are no less delicate. The sourness here comes from bacteria—likely lactobacillus—that is added by the brewer, with fruit being a common addition. These beers, often referred to as ‘tart’ rather than sour, provide a counterpoint to the more traditional brews, showcasing modern innovation in sour brewing.
In this vast landscape of sour beer, certain breweries stand out. Let’s consider Colorado, the epicenter for all things sour in the U.S., and home to two breweries that have made a significant impact on the sour beer scene: Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project and Casey Brewing and Blending. Crooked Stave’s Sour Rosé, a wild ale with raspberries and blueberries, is a testament to their small-batch sour brewing prowess. New Belgium, another Colorado-based brewery, offers a delightful blend of hops and acidity in their Sour IPA, a refreshing take on a lesser-known riff on the IPA style.
The annual MobCraft Sour Fest honors this distinctive beer type with a staggering selection of Wild & Sour brews and even the introduction of a Sour Golden Ale with flavors including Shrub Cherry, Stone Fruit, and Blueberry Lemon. The festival offers unlimited samples of more than 40 sour beers from a range of craft breweries during Wild & Sour Sampling Sessions, which feature sour beers from breweries throughout Wisconsin.
These breweries and events offer a voyage into the wide world of sour beer, a monument to the innovation and tradition that defines this special type, whether you’re an experienced sour beer enthusiast or new to the scene. There is a colorful, acidic, tangy world out there that is begging to be discovered. Let’s start by taking a sip at a time. Raise your glasses in celebration of the world of sour beers, the tart, the new, and the classic!
Our deep-dive exploration into the effervescent world of sour beers has been nothing short of a sensory spectacle, a flavor-filled odyssey that marked our journey with bursts of mouthwatering surprises and enlightening discoveries. This expedition through tangy delights reminded us that the best sour beers do not merely pass through our senses, but carve their essence into our taste memory.
Our adventure started with the best brews that Europe had to offer. The apricot-imbued Cantillon Fou’ Foune invited us to a virtual journey through the lush French countryside. The unparalleled mastery displayed by this top-rated brewery and its beers reaffirmed its standing as a stalwart in the sour beer world, the Cantillon’s vivid flavors imprinting themselves on our palates.
Transatlantic travel landed us next at Threes Brewing. Their Eternal Return Raspberry sour beer, a delightful medley of tartness and sweetness, proved their brewery is one of the best when it comes to fruit-infused sours.
The heart of our expedition was marked by brewing innovation. SingleCut’s Kim Hibiscus Sour set a new benchmark, delivering a tenfold experience, their 10x sour intensity matched only by the bold creativity of the brew. Not far behind, New Belgium disrupted norms with its daring IPA reimagination, solidifying its place among the top breweries crafting the best sour beers.
An equally compelling tasting experience was provided by Dogfish Head’s SeaQuench Ale. It’s a brew that navigates through a spectrum of flavors, embodying the very definition of a 10x beer. Meanwhile, the Brooklyn Bel Air Sour was a delightful time-travel device, its refreshing taste recalling the nostalgia of warm summer days.
Of the many breweries we visited, Burley Oak stood out with its J.R.E.A.M series. It was a testament to the boundless creativity that the best breweries foster. This variety of 10x sour beers truly celebrates the endless possibilities within the realm of sour ales.
Our tour concluded with the vibrant Firestone Walker Bretta Rosé. This brewery’s finest sour beer impressed us with its vivid color and fresh, raspberry-infused flavor. Its satisfying balance of tart and sweet underlined its reputation as one of the best sour beers around.
The exploration of this diverse universe of sour beers expanded our appreciation for the audacious breweries at the helm of these intricate brews. Each sip of these best sour beers broadened our horizons, challenged our palates, and left an indelible mark on our beer journey. So, here’s to the bold brewers and their audacious 10x sour ales that consistently push the envelope, shatter conventions, and revolutionize the world of beer. Cheers to the adventurous spirits that make these breweries the best!