If you’ve been around a brewery or a craft beer bar or a neckbeard-wearing hipster beer geek anytime in the past year or so, you’ve undoubtedly discovered that sour beer is now “a thing.”
I know what you’re probably thinking – and I’m likely to agree. I love pickles. I love Sour Patch Kids. I have peeled and eaten whole lemons. But I have never found much love with sour beers.
But I’m trying to change my own mind.
After all, there are a ton of great, quality brewers who are making them and, believe it or not, there’s a big segment of the beer drinking population that LOVES them.
So I’ve been studying up on them, and often passing up my favorite IPAs and stouts to try them. I’m really starting to appreciate the hard work that goes into them, and the interesting flavors that you taste with an open mind – and a mouth full of beer.
One that I recently came across was Georgia Avenue Sour from Denizens Brewing in Silver Spring, MD.
It’s actually called a Berliner Weisse, which are sour beers that originated in Germany several centuries ago (though only those made near Berlin are officially considered Berliner Weisse). Like most sour beers, it is made much like a regular beer and uses lightly malted grains. However, during fermentation, lactic acid-producing bacteria is carefully introduced into the process. While safe for consumption (it’s actually good for your mucous membranes), the result is that the lactic acid imparts a flavor that we humans perceive as being sour.
While being brewed as far back as the 16th century, Berliner Weisse (also called Weissbier) fell out of favor in Germany over the last century and I’m told that, 20 years ago, only two breweries in all of Germany still brewed it.
Given the recent resurgence of sours in the United States, the style can now be found throughout North America, frequently with the adopted Berliner Weisse name.
They’re typically very light bodied beers, and Denizens’ Georgia Avenue is exactly that. It pours as a light gold color that resembles a hazy lemonade. This style is also light in alcohol, and this one sits right in the sweet spot at a light, 3.8% ABV.
The taste is fruity up front with a slight saltiness. As you have more, you’ll start to notice a mild bready flavor right before you get a blast of sour in the aftertaste (similar to a mild vinegar). As you swallow it, you’ll find it has a very dry finish.
I know what you’re thinking – sour vinegar doesn’t quite sound that appealing, right? However, this one works.
It’s actually one of the first that I’ve had that really appealed to me. In fact, I’d compare it to a dry white wine – with very similar flavors and 1/3 the alcohol.
Seriously – if your tastes run toward Chardonnay or a properly done rose, I’d bet you’d enjoy sour beers. The flavor profiles are very similar, along with the acids produced during fermentation.
Most hardcore beer fans are either lovers or haters of sours, so their polarizing nature will probably stop you at the beer menu.
But if you come across Georgia Avenue, and are on the fence about sours, this one might be the one that could change your mind.
I know that it did for me.