Sour Beer Is Not New #BrewedAwakening

By / Wine + Drinks / February 23rd, 2018 / 4

For those of you who have been interested in good beer for a few decades, you may remember the late 80s and early 90s, when we started to get a few interesting imported beers into Canada, and the first time you tried a Belgian Lambic. Or perhaps you tried it while visiting Belgium. Either way, you were no doubt shocked by the sourness.

Sour beers are super trendy now, but there have been sour beers around for centuries. It is quite possible that, before humans understood the role of yeast and bacteria in brewing, all beer was sour. That’s what happens when you just let your wort ferment “wild.” Wild yeasts and bacteria take over and the beer is inevitably sour. It can be extremely sour – unpleasantly so – or it might have a refreshing tartness. Belgian Lambic beers are great examples of sour beers that are “in control.” The brewers have been making these beers for so long that they know what their local flora will contribute. They also use blending, including old wood aged beers, or with fruit, to make consistent, balanced beers. This said, some producers (like the famous Cantillon and several others) go for extremely sour, “horsey” brews, while others make more commercially friendly beers.

A good example of a commercial Lambic that still has refreshing sourness is Lindemans Framboise. It has a delicious, natural raspberry aroma and flavour, surprisingly low alcohol (2.5%) and balancing sourness. It’s a perfect breakfast beer, and a good example of what nature can provide if you just let things happen.


Craig Pinhey discovered good drink circa 1985 at Ginger’s Tavern/Granite Brewery in Halifax and has been writing about beer, wine and spirits for 25 years. A Certified Sommelier and BJCP judge, Craig lives in New Brunswick where he runs his own writing and consulting business and is the beverage columnist for Brunswick News. He is the only person to have judged all of the national wine, spirits and beer awards of Canada.

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