March definitely came storming in like a proverbial lion, and coasted gently out on spring-like temperatures and sunshine. April brought us the expected showers (plus some), but this May, along with your blossoming daffodils and crocuses (crocii??), brew lovers can look forward to a different flavor budding up. Making a surge in popularity in recent years after all the IPA hype wore down, sour ales have emerged as an interesting alternative to the traditional bitter hoppiness of microbrews.
Historically speaking, sour beers are nothing new. Before the advent of refrigeration and sanitation, many beer developed a tart flavor due to the creeping in of misunderstood “wild” bugs like Lactobacillus and Pediococcus, as well as Brettanomyces yeasts that resulted in a sour flavor.
Belgian brewers have been adding these cultures to their beers for generations.The first imported Belgian Sours hit American markets in the 1970s but it was nearly two decades before brewers in the U.S. started to experiment with the long-shunned bacteria, giving poor old Louis Pasteur a roll in his grave.
European brews like the Belgian lambic, a spontaneously fermented sour made with wild yeasts and native bacteria, and gose, an ancient German spin on spontaneously fermented wheat beer, have become trendy sidekicks on taster flights riddled with IPAs and other ales.
Local brewers have only recently ventured into the world of spontaneous fermentation, using active live cultures and usually a fruit or herb, per European custom, to create fascinating flavors for their sours. Quartzite Brewing in Chewelah just polished off a run of delectable Pomegranate Sour - but not to fear, a batch of Power Peak Peach Sour was released on April 25th. Northern Ales is rocking a Tart Rosehip beer right now, and the Colville Pour House and Fired Up frequently host sours on tap.
In the most exciting local sour beer news of all, Quartzite and Northern Ales are working together, along with Republic Brewing, to create a brand new Golden Sour for Craft Beer Week in Spokane later this month.
Craft Beer Week takes place from May 13th-19th, and features microbrew collaborations from brewers all over the Inland Northwest, culminating in a tasting event hosted by one of the local breweries. 2019 marks the first year that Northern Ales, Republic Brewing and Quartzite have all thrown in together, and needless to say, we’re excited about it. You can find more information at www.spokanecraftbeerweek.com or check with one of our breweries for updates on the new sour beer!