Alien Week: Beer Review: Sours-Part I

Hello and welcome to Alien Week at the Spew! In order to honor the opening of Independence Day 2, possibly the silliest, stupidest, guiltiest pleasure franchise in movie history, The Spew will have a week long dedication to all things alien.

So how in the world am I going to integrate Alien Week with the beer review? I mean there is nothing that aliens and beer have in common. Or do they…………

In the world of beer, there is a type of brew that is so vastly different than the rest. In fact it really tastes less like a beer and more of a barley wine-ish thing. Do I dare say these beers are somewhat…..alien?

These beers have the same ingredients as the regular lagers, reds, etc, but the main difference is sour beers allow wild yeast strains or bacteria into the beer. The country that has popularized this style in America is Belgium, so whenever you see a ‘Belgian-styled beer’, that is essentially a sour.

This sour style has become more en vogue throughout the years; as craft breweries are increasingly pushing the envelope, they need to find more ways of scratching that avant-garde itch they have. Hence the rise of sour beer.

And that’s a good thing. Variety is the spice of life (besides pesto) and these beers challenge the palette.

So without further ado, here are five sour beers I have logged in my big book-o-beer:

1. Stoup - Sour No. 4 American Pale Sour

6.0% ABV 4 IBU

Ahh, our friends at Stoup make another visit on the Spew. This is a solid sour and is a good starter for those who are ‘alien’ to the stylings of a sour. In other words, it represents what pale sours are; light, citrusy, somewhat refreshing, and of course sour in taste. It is a clean brew, but it is far from exotic, as far as sours go.

Rating: 3.5/5

2. New Belgium - la Folie

7.0% ABV 18 IBU

First off, you would think a place named ‘New Belgium’ would be able to produce a quality sour. I mean they are even newer than the original Belgium, so you would think they would have learned from all the mistakes old Belgium made (like speaking French). Well, luckily for us they do know how to craft a good sour. This is a deeper sour than the previous one, and therefore has more of a robust and complex taste to it. Hints of cherry, green apple, and plum dance around your taste buds as you swill this libation. ‘The Folly’? More like the Non-Folly!!! And they don’t speak French at New Belgium (based out of Colorado).

Rating: 4/5

3. Lagunitas - Aunt Sally Sour Mash

5.7% ABV 33 IBU

This is a light fare from the good people from Lagunitas that is very sweet for a sour; I bet they used Sour Patch Kids in the brewing process. There are tons of citrus overtones in this thing, so much so it really doesn’t taste too much like a beer. That in itself is not that beer, beer can be trying to drink at times. The issue is with this beer is the sweetness can be trying as well. Interesting? Yes. Worth a taste? Yes. But this is a 12 oz drink, and then you move on.

Rating: 3/5

4. Rodenbach - Grand Cru Red/Brown Sour

6.0% ABV 35 IBU

This is a bit more of an authentic Belgian Sour. I say this because the brewery is located in Belgium. I know this because I just looked it up on the Google. Anyway, you may be asking ‘how in the world did you find this beer?’. Or not. I really don’t care. I’ll just say this is NOT a hard beer to find, especially the Grand Cru because this is their flagship beer (also Rodenbach has a fairly wide distribution in the states). You would think due to the fact the level of authenticity of this beer is high, it would be the best sour. It is not. It is solid, deep red with dark fruity overtones, but nothing too special. It is quite simple for a dark sour. In other words, the Americans out-‘Belgianed’ the Belgians!! USA!!! USA!!!!

Rating: 3/5

5. Deschutes - Stoic Barrel-Aged Quad Belgian

10.9% ABV 21 IBU

OK, if you are a regular reader of the Spew (and you should be, you could be reading way worse), you know how much I love Deschutes. I once took a free tour there with a good friend of mine and it was like touring Willy Wonka’s Factory (sans the child death traps and slave labor). And thanks to Deschutes, we finally have a kick-in-the-ass sour with a 11% ABV. Already that is a plus. And notice it is ‘barrel-aged’: I call these ‘cheater beers’, because they are specialized and really can’t find them in the normal market place. This beer is smooth (probably due to he barrel-ageing process) but this beer is not for the feint of tongue. It is complex. Very complex. Like Real Analysis complex. In fact I really didn’t take in all the flavors. It is advertised to have apples, pears, honey, hay, caramel, pomegranate, grape, vanilla, etc. It just tasted sour and strong to me. That’s not a bad thing.

Rating: 4/5