PUCKER UP BUTTERCUP
by Jason Shrum
Sour beers are started to spring up from local Seattle Breweries more and more. Some locations are starting to brew large batches, and some facilities are even looking into opening up separate “sour beer only” locations. The sour profiles of these beverages may not be everyones cup of tea, or snifter of beer, in this case, but we are seeing a larger volume than ever being produced.
If you are not familiar with sour beer, let me break it down for you. Before refrigeration and the advances in the science of fermentation, almost all beer was, to some degree, sour. The culprits were pre-modern sanitation and poorly understood, often naturally occurring bacteria including Lactobacillus and Pediococcus, as well as Brettanomyces yeasts, which can contribute a hint of tartness and characteristic “funky” flavors and aromas. In a development that would make Louis Pasteur, the father of biogenesis, roll in his grave, brewers, especially in the United States, have embraced the time-honored Belgian art of deliberately infecting beer with the same “wild” micro-organisms that generations of their predecessors so painstakingly tried to eliminate. Sours can sit in wooden barrels from 10 months to 2 years on average, and are generally fermented with a fruit additive as well, to pull back a little of the tart. The result:pleasingly sour, food-friendly beer, that is mysteriously complex and wonderfully engaging. One of the best places to sample a sour in Seattle is at Schooner Exact Brewing. Matthew and Heather McClung, owners, have a healthy dose of sours currently in the barrel, but you have to get there fast as these delicious treats have a tendency to sell out quickly. Follow them on social media if you want to hear when the next batch will be released. The latest release sold out in just 4 hours!