Tart, funky and anything but bland, sours can be as polarizing as they are frequently delicious. These refreshing ales are the ideal antidote to a sweaty summer day and their bracing acidity gives them a special affinity for food pairings. A sour will cleanse the palate between rich, fatty courses just as effectively as a fine wine. However, the more mouth-puckering offerings can be borderline abrasive. Sours aren’t for everyone and that’s fine.
These beers are unlikely to blow up in the way that hazy IPAs have, but they’re closer to the mainstream than ever before. In 2018, they continued cropping up on restaurant menus and in taprooms as breweries experimented with new spins on the style. These are the best ones we had the pleasure of discovering this year.
A touch of sea salt in this “complex creation” is the “subtle addition winds up being the secret weapon” and “discourages rapid drinking, instead pointing the drinker in the direction of a well-paced session of savoring this ale’s flavors over time,” says Tobias Carroll.
Matt Osgood says that this beer boasts “a super refreshing, fruity finish” and is “sour enough to straddle the line of satisfying the sour aficionado, but is also a good introductory course for the beer drinker getting into the style.”
“Troublesome is extremely refreshing despite the bubbliness,” writes Tucker Anders, who says its aroma “smells sweeter and deeper than most goses” and that it relies “much more on balance and subtlety than huge demonstrations of tart lemon, peppery coriander or brininess.”
This “delightful fruited variation” on a style that makes an ideal “gateway to sour beers” and features “scents of sweet and tart raspberry preserves and rosé wine.” Although that “first sip, like most sours, is a blast of brine and lactobacillus” the “ tart flavors of raspberry and lemon” shine through.
“This is a great gose for those hesitant to try the style,” says Mike Wilpiszeski. This bombed-out “deep, beet-juice-red-purple” beer has so much fruit puree it that it literally “has the potential to explode if not stored correctly.”
This white wine barrel-aged sour variant on a Berliner weisse “pours a gleaming red-purple, looking like crushed velvet in a glass” and “juggles a very precise balance between pH and fruit,” according to Jerard Fagerberg.
“Frankly, it’s just a delight to drink,” raves Jared Paventi, who praises this unfiltered beer’s “very light and inviting” aroma and flavor profile in which “lime juice and lime zest dominate the palate, with the tanginess of Lactobacillus and citric acid adding a lemony undertone.”