The Revival of the Sour Beer

A few years ago the big talk in the craft beer industry was about how hoppy a beer could be. Every craft brewer was making IPAs, session IPAs, and imperial double IPAs. It quickly got to the point where there was an over-saturation of hoppy beers. Soon, brewers started to look to other types of beers to set themselves apart. This is when the latest beer trend started to gain footing.  Brewers started to make sour tasting beers. Sour beers have actually been around for hundreds of years but had waned in popularity toward the end of the 19th century. So, for many beer drinkers, this was like tasting a beer they had never had before.

In the late 19th century, Louis Pasteur made discoveries regarding yeast and how it helps ferment alcohol. Before this, almost all beers had some sort of sour taste to them because they used “wild yeasts” that lived in the wood and air that the beer was being fermented in. Once Pasteur made his discoveries, it led to brewers picking and choosing the yeast for their beer, which then led to consistent flavors that could be produced over and over again After a while, this led to a decline in sour beers as wild yeasts were no longer needed to ferment beer. So recently, when brewers wanted something different from the hoppy beers, they turned to this old style.

There are a few different types of sour beers that will be highlighted throughout this story. These types include American Wild Ale, Berliner Weisse, Flanders Red Ale, Gose, Lambic, and Oud Bruin.

American Wild Ales are beers that are introduced to “wild” yeast or bacteria, such as Brettanomyces, Pediococcus, or Lactobacillus. This introduction may occur from oak barrels that have been previously inoculated, pitched into the beer, or gained from various “sour mash” techniques. A great example of an American Wild Ale is Riserva from Weyerbacher. Riserva is fermented with a blend of Saccharomyces yeast, Brettanomyces yeast, and lactic acid bacteria that produces funky, sour, and fruity flavors and aromas.

Berliner Weisse is a top-fermented, bottle conditioned wheat beer, made with both traditional warm-fermenting yeasts and lactobacillus culture. They have a rapidly vanishing head and a clear, pale golden straw-colored appearance. The taste is refreshing, tart, sour, and acidic, with a lemony-citric fruit sharpness and almost no hop bitterness.

Flanders Reds are commonly referred to as the “red” beers of West Flanders. Belgian Red beers are typically light-bodied brews with reddish-brown colors. They are infamous for their distinct sharp, fruity, sour, and tart flavors that are produced by special yeast strains. Very complex beers, they are produced under the age-old tradition of long-term cask aging in oak and the blending of young and old beers.

Gose is an unfiltered wheat beer made with 50-60% malted wheat, which creates a cloudy yellow color and provides a refreshing crispness and twang. A Gose will have a low hop bitterness, a complementary dryness and spiciness from the use of ground coriander seeds, and a sharpness from the addition of salt.

Lambic beer is a spontaneous fermented unblended ale that is indigenous to the Senne Valley of Belgium. Large portions of wheat bring out the crispness though the flavor is dominated by a unique tartness from the wild yeast and bacteria that inoculate the brew from both airborne and tainted barrels that they ferment in. An example of a lambic beer would be Up Ship Kriek from Revival in Rhode Island.  This Lambic-style sour was created from wild fermentation in locally sourced wine barrels with tart cherries. Azacca hops make this pale and aromatic brew the perfect sipper for rebellious behavior.

Oud Bruins, not restricted to but concentrated in Flanders, are light to medium-bodied and deep copper to brown in color. They are extremely varied, characterized by a slight vinegar or lactic sourness and spiciness to smooth and sweet. A fruity-estery character is apparent with no hop flavor or aroma. Monomoy Kriek from Cisco is a great example of this style. This is a sour Flemish-style Red from Cisco’s “The Woods” series. It’s aged on whole sour cherries and in oak barrels.

Sour, wild, wood-aged beers are anything but boring. Their unpredictability can be unnerving. So many more of nature’s variables are at play during fermentation and maturation; the brewer is dealing with complex ecosystems, not a straightforward industrial process. But beer lovers who embrace these new interpretations are finding flavors that stretch our modern definition of “beer”—and remind us of its origins.

Stay Responsible While Drinking Craft Beer

Everyone talks about drinking responsibly but it can be hard to know exactly what that means. Responsible drinking means that you never have to feel sorry for what has happened while you were drinking. Let’s be real everyone needs a night out on the town to let loose and have a good time, with a beer in their hand but we must look out for ourselves and stay SAFE! Learning about ways to keep your alcohol intake in check can be the first step in learning to drink responsibly, but there are a number of things to consider including taking personal responsibility and seeking outside help.

What Does It Mean to Drink Responsibly?
– Making sure you’re safe
– Making sure others around you are safe
– Actively avoiding dangerous situations
– Minimizing the risks for yourself and others
– Having a positive drinking experience

It is so important to stay aware of what you are drinking. Did you know Craft Beer tends to be significantly higher in alcohol? One IPA is equal to 1.5 standard beer. The market is beginning to move toward more sessional (5% or less ABV, or more traditional levels of alcohol) but, that is not the norm in most beer bars or for most craft consumers. Every person tolerates alcohol differently. Reasons for this are based on gender, weight, physical condition, and family history. It is important to KNOW YOUR LIMITS.
Always pace yourself while drinking. Try to stick to a general rule of one drink per hour. There is a general rule: for every two alcoholic beverages drink a full glass of water. If you choose to drive anywhere, don’t drink more alcohol than recommended. It’s recommended: around 1 standard drink for women, 2 drinks for men. Because alcohol is a depressant it can affect our reaction times, our vision and coordination, there is a legal drink-drive limit, which is based on BLOOD ALCOHOL CONCENTRATION (BAC). What is BAC? BAC is the amount of alcohol in your bloodstream. Your BAC depends on how much you drink. The more you drink, the higher your BAC. But there are also many other factors that affect your BAC such as your size, your weight, your gender, whether you’ve eaten and even how tired you are. BAC is measured with a breathalyzer or by analyzing a sample of blood. It is measured by the number of grams of alcohol in 100ml of blood. For example, a BAC of .08, the US legal limit for driving for those over 21, means you have .08 grams of alcohol in every 100ml of blood.
Another thing you should be aware of is mixing alcohol and other drugs (whether medication or recreational) is serious! Not only can you not anticipate the effect, it will have a huge effect on your behavior. Mixing alcohol with drugs can make you sick. There are no safe combos when it comes to mixing alcohol with drugs, so it’s better to just not mix them at all. The basic thing to remember to drink responsibly is using common sense. If it doesn’t sound like a good idea, it probably isn’t one. If you’re not comfortable with the environment you’re in or are worried about bad things happening, you should probably rethink your plans. If you don’t feel able to drink responsibly, for whatever reason, it might mean you need to seek some outside advice. Have a chat with someone you think is responsible about how they keep themselves in check.
Remember, just because you’re controlling how much you’re drinking, spending the evening being a sensible, responsible grownup, doesn’t mean the party will be boring!

The Rise of Cask Beer in Rhode Island

Did you know that cask beers have been around for centuries? If you aren’t familiar with a cask ale, it is much different than the beer you may be used to sampling.
This particular brew is unfiltered and only goes through a slight fermentation in the cask itself. There is no long storage process and it typically needs to be consumed within a few days. To put it simply, it’s fresh, bold and has local craft beer enthusiasts buzzing.
So, if you are looking to impress your local Rhode Island bar crowd, we have a few reasons why you should consider adding a cask to your beer line up.

Cask Beer is Unique

The local beer industry offers a wide range of brews with unique flavors and ingredients, but none of them compare to the truly original cask flavors. One of the most interesting aspects of this style is that every cask is different. Even if the brewers are using the same ingredients and recipe, the product is unfiltered and matures within the cask offering an original taste that cannot be recreated.
As a Rhode Island bar or restaurant owner, you may have noticed that the more rare the beer product, the more attention it gets. Luckily, cask beers are always rare and will give bar goers a unique pour.

The Freshest Brews You Can Find

Some may shy away from the short shelf life of the cask ale, but to a true beer lover, it simply means you are getting the freshest beer on the market. These particular brews do not go through a pasteurization process and are not stored. They are taken right from the breweries to their final destination, your bar. If that isn’t a fresh brewed beer, we don’t know what is.

Cask Ales are Full of Flavor

Over the years cask beer has seen a few changes. The British-style caters more towards the traditional palate, while the US has shifted towards more colorful flavors. Whether your bar goers are fans of floral, citrus or bitter tastes, a cask ale will be able to offer them an intensity & depth unlike standard draft beers.

Cask Beer Popularity