All about Sour beers

Tout savoir sur les bières Sour

Today, we're going to talk about SOUR.

What is a Sour beer?
How is a Sour brewed?
The different styles of Sour beer.
What are the best Sour beers in Switzerland?
These days, we hear a lot about Sours, but we don't necessarily know what they are or how to make them. You've probably already heard of Kriek, Lambics or the famous Gueuze? So let's take a closer look at Sour.

What is a SOUR beer ?

To cut a long story short, unlike IPAs, which are more bitter but still fruity and floral, the flavors of SOURS are much more acidic. You'll find some very acidic ones, but not the only ones. Some are sweeter and subtly acidic.

So, in the end, a SOUR is simply an acidic beer.

Are sour beers always made with fruit?

Sour beers do well with the addition of fruit, but it's perfectly possible to make a sour beer without fruit.

How do you brew a Sour?

There are several main methods for creating acids.

Spontaneous fermentation

To make a beer, you need to mix water, malt and add hops. But for all this to become a beer, it has to ferment. Spontaneous fermentation means leaving the wort (a mixture of malt, water and hops) in the open air. Bacteria naturally present in the air will settle in the open tank, activating the fermentation process. This type of fermentation acidifies the beer. Be careful, though, because the air in Martigny or Sion is not the same as that in Los Angeles or Brussels. The bacteria present are not the same either. The result will be very different depending on where in the world the brewery is located. The Brussels region is home to a large number of gueuzes.

The specialists are the brewers at Brasserie Cantillon. If you're visiting Brussels, I highly recommend a visit to this incredible brewery.

Addition of acidifying yeast

The second method involves adding yeast to acidify the beer. The best-known of these is Brett yeast, which is a wild yeast.

At the WhiteFrontier brewery, we use acidifying yeasts, but especially not Brett, because we share our premises with wine producers, and this kind of yeast is really delicious in beer, but it would be a disaster in wine, and since it's alive, the little rascals could move around.

Add fruit

Adding fruit is the third method. We use it a lot for two reasons. Firstly, fruit naturally adds acidity to the beer, in addition to the fruity taste. Sounds logical, you may say, but it's not always the case. Sometimes it's just acidity. The quality of the fruit really comes into play. Is it in season? Is it grown here and harvested ripe? Is it naturally fruity, naturally sweet? These are all parameters that will have a strong impact on the final result.

Barrel aging

The 4th method involves aging the beer in a barrel to add acidity.
A certain type of beer is brewed and then aged in barrels to add acidity.
In fact, you can mix several methods.

There are several types of Sour?

Yes, acid beers also include :


Gose is a spontaneous, top-fermented German beer. The recipe also contains salt and coriander. The recipe is said to have originated in the town of Goslar, in the Harz Mountains. Its name comes from the small river of the same name, the Gose (de), which flows through Goslar.

Berliner Weiss

A pale, refreshing, low-alcohol German wheat beer with a clear lactic acidity and a very high carbonation level. A slight taste of bread dough from the malt supports the acidity.

Wild Ale

Wild ale is not a beer style in the strict sense of the word, but a trend, a movement. It stands for "natural beer", meaning beer whose fermentation is spontaneous. Spontaneous fermentation leads to acidity, which is why wild ale is a sour beer.

Imperial Pastry Sour

A Pastry Sour is a beer with a tangy dessert taste. It often tastes of cream and fruit. Imperial means that this beer is more alcoholic.

Barrel aged saison

La Saison is a farmhouse beer brewed for the late summer harvest to quench the thirst of the farming population. Originally, Saisons were likely to contain wild yeast and have a lower alcohol content (below 4% alc/vol). Saison barriquée is a saison beer that has been aged in barrels or casks to bring out all the aromas of wood soaked in other alcohol.

Fruit Sour

A fruit sour is simply a sour beer that contains fruit.

Kettle Sour

A "kettle sour" beer is one that has been made sour by adding lactobacillus, the main probiotic bacteria used to make beer sour, to the wort before boiling begins. This is a relatively modern method, which is very fast and allows the brewer to control the degree of acidity in the beer.


What are the best Sour beers in Switzerland?

I always say that, when it comes to beer, if you're in the right place and have the right advice, you can find something to your taste. In fact, my mom, who doesn't like beer, loves a hyper-acidic raspberry beer that I would never recommend to a beer novice.

So here's a list of Swiss breweries that I think make the best sour beers.

But again, that's just my opinion, because all tastes are really different.

Brasserie BFM (Saignelégier)
Brasserie à Tue-tête (Aigle)
Brasserie L'Apaisée (Carouge)
Le chien bleu (Geneva)
Saint Laurentius (Zurich)
WhiteFrontier (Martigny)
BlackPig (Dolémont)
Brasserie des Cinq 4000 (Zinal)


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