Tag Archives: sour

Pucker Up: 12 Sour Beers that’ll Have You Hooked in No Time

Russian River Supplication Sour Ale

Sour beers aren’t for everyone. They’re definitely an acquired taste, and not everyone will acquire the taste for tart ales. Those who are daring enough to push their beer boundaries a bit, however, will very likely be rewarded. (Check out this post for details on the difference between “sour beer” and “wild beer.”)

I started drinking sour beers about a year ago, and I’m absolutely hooked today. It took a bartender at the Sunset Grill and Tap in Allston, Mass., to convince me to give sours a try beyond that first challenging sip. Now the first thing I do when I visit a beer bar is scan the draft/bottle list for sours.

It pays to start off slowly when wading into the waters of sour ales, though. The following list spotlights a dozen of my favorite sour beers, starting with some less-challenging sours and finishing up with some seriously sour brews. Most of these beers, with a few exceptions, can be found in quality craft beer shops throughout the United States. (Note: The Russian River beers at the bottom of the list are very hard to find outside of California, but they’re so damn good, I had to include them.)

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The Bruery Oude Tart (2012) Review

The Bruery Oude Tart

Orange County, Calif.-based The Bruery‘s Oude Tart won the 2010 World Beer Cup gold medal for best Belgian-style Flanders oud brun or oud red; it won the 2011 GABF gold medal for best Belgian-style Flanders; and it also took the 2012 World Beer Cup gold medal in the same category.

There’s a reason this brew won all these medals. Oude Tart is a damn fine Flemish-style ale.

I poured my 1-pint, 9.4-FL. OZ. bottle into a large tulip glass very slowly and it quickly formed a thin cream-colored head, which dissipated just as quickly. It has a beautiful tangy and slightly vinegary aroma. The brew is aged in red-wine barrels for 18 months, according to the Bruery’s website, and the result is a fruity, toasted-oak sour flavor. The Bruery’s Oude Tart tastes a lot like Rodenbach’s Grand Cru, which is one of my all-time favorite Flemish ales, but it’s even more tart. And it also has a stronger vinegar taste, similar to Brouwerij Verhaeghe’s Duchesse de Bourgogne but not quite as vinegary.

Oude Tart is probably the best American-made Flemish-style ale I’ve ever had.

The Bruery says Oude Tart will age well for as long as five years. It has an ABV of 7.5%; 15 IBU; it’s a seasonal from the Bruery’s Special Collection; and it’s released in the late summer. My bottle cost me $23, but pricing will vary based on retailer. If you’re interested in picking up a bottle of your own, you better act fast; this one is sure to fly off of store shelves.

The Bruery’s Oude Tart gets an 8/10 on the Urban Beer Nerd scale. (It has a BeerAdvocate.com rating of 94/100 based on 197 user reviews at this time.) Check out the video clip below for more details or visit TheBruery.com.

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Fantôme Extra Sour Special Original Creation (2012) Review

Fantome Extra Sour Belgian Saison in Tulip Glass

I must admit, I’m excited about this review. I’m excited because I’ve had Brasserie Fantôme’s Extra Sour Special Original Creation once before, and it’s a one of a kind saison. In fact, I’d say it’s one of the top five brews I’ve had this year—and the Urban Beer Nerd drinks a lot of different kinds of great beer. (I drink so much good beer that I can refer to myself in the third person when describing my craft beer consumption.)

Here’s why I love it so much. I love quality saisons, and I love sour beers. And Fantôme Extra Sour is one of best saisons and one of the best sours I’ve ever tasted.

Fantôme Brewery is a small specialty brewer located in the small town of Soy, Wallonia, Belgium, that produces only saisons. The Fantôme brewing facility is so small that it can only produce tiny batches of beer, and as such, its saisons, especially it’s “Special Creations,” or limited production can be difficult to find and very expensive.

The packaging is simple yet elegant with just two small labels at the bottle’s base and a thin-paper ribbon over the bottle cap. To open the dark-green bottle you first must remove the paper, pop a bottle cap and then pull the cork using a tradition wine corkscrew, which is the case with all Fantôme’s “bomber” bottles. I poured the golden-honey potion into a large tulip glass and it settled nicely with a frothy cuttlebone-colored head. You can smell the sweet-sour tang as soon as you put your nose close to the brew, along with the funky Belgian yeast.

Fantôme Extra Sour taste like a smooth, fresh saison at first but it finishes with a mouth-puckering-but not-too-acidic sour bang. It’s a big beer with a 10% ABV, and the sour funkiness mostly kills the alcohol taste. But it does leave a mild burn and you feel it after a few large sips.

Of my favorite sour styles is the barrel-aged Flanders red ale, and though Fantôme Extra Sour is very different than the popular Flanders ales such as Rodenbach, it has a similar barrel-tang that really combines nicely with the saison style.

Fantome Extra Sour labels

Fantôme’s Extra Sour “Speciale” is the second is limited series of Special Creations from the brewery, and as mentioned above, it’s extremely rare and expensive. My “bomber” bottle (1 pint, 9.4 fluid ounces) cost $32. As much as I love saison, that’s a lot of money for beer. If you see a Fantôme Extra Sour for sale, I recommend purchasing it and saving it for a special occasion.  Good luck finding it, though.

This sour saison gets a 9/10 on the Urban Beer Nerd scale. (BeerAdvocate.com readers rated Fantôme Extra Sour at 4.85/5, though only four readers submitted ratings at the time of this post.)

Check out Brasserie Fantôme’s website for more details on the Belgian brewery. (Website is in French.)

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Timmerman’s Framboise Lambicus (2012) Review

One of my favorite craft beer styles right now is the lambic. I really like sour beers, and many lambics are quite sour or at least very tart. And many are brewed with fruit.

My latest sour lambic: Timmerman’s Framboise Lambicus (2012). It came in a large “bomber” bottle (1 pint, 9.36 fl. oz.), and it was bottled on May 31, 2012. The price was $12.25, though pricing will vary based on retailer.

Timmerman's Framboise Lambicus in a Goblet

First thing you notice after removing the cork is a very strong raspberry scent that immediately wafts out of the bottle. (Framboise is the French word for raspberry.) I poured the brew very slowly into a small-stemmed goblet, and it settled with medium carbonation and very little head. The color of the beer is a beautiful and vivid deep pinkish-red, and it seems to glow if you hold it up to a light.

The raspberry flavor tastes natural, unlike many framboise lambics or other raspberry flavored beers that taste fake or too sugary.  Some lambics are noticeably acidic. This one isn’t. And that’s a good thing. The brew is also aged in oak, though the associated flavor is rather mild.

Timmerman’s Framboise Lambicus has a low, 4.0ABV, and you really can’t taste any alcohol. In fact, it tastes a lot like a carbonated raspberry juice.

I’m still working a better rating system for the Urban Beer Nerd blog, but right now, I’m using a 10-point system, with 10 points being the best possible rating. I give Timmerman’s Framboise Lambicus a 7/10 rating. (BeerAdvocate.com user rating is 74/100 based on 63 reviews at the time of this post.)

Deep pinkish-red color of Timmerman's Framboise Lambicus

Timmerman’s claims to be the “World’s oldest lambic brewery,” and the Belgian brewery is part of the Anthony Martin “Finest Beer Selection” family of brewers.

Learn more about Timmerman’s Framboise Lambicus or order the beer online from the Anthony Martin website.

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