By Robert Salas
There’s a unique type of ale being brewed in many New Mexico breweries and it’s bound to make your lips pucker. Sour ales are becoming more and more popular among the public and provide a new, refreshing take on summertime brews.
Some may be asking themselves: “Sour beer?! . . . What? . . . How?”
Lets break it down.
What is a sour beer?
According to Vine Pair, a verified online magazine specializing in beer and wine, a sour beer is brewed with certain bacteria that give the beer its tart profile. The more common strain of bacteria used is lactobacillus, a bacteria that converts sugars into lactic acid (the same bacteria is used to make yogurt). Pediococcus is another strain of bacteria used in brewing sour beers.These guys are in the same family as lactobacillus and are often used to add acidity to Belgium beers.
It’s not always just bacteria that make sour beers unique. In some cases brewers will add a wild-yeast known as brettanomyces or “brett” to their brew. This notoriously-precarious yeast gives sour ales an earthy, “farmhouse” taste.
From the qualitative research conducted by Grey Wolf about sour beers, we found that there is no clear-cut version of sour beer. There are many types, including: Gose, Berliner Weisse, Flanders, Farm House and Lambic. Ranging from three percent to six percent ABV (Alcohol by Volume), sours are not typically strong. Do not let that deter you. Sours are a refreshing, sometimes fruity concoction and pair well with rich, decadent foods.
Two out of the three sour beers sampled below are goses. According to Dave Jensen, Beer Expert for Menuism Beer Blog, a gose is a German-style sour beer brewed primarily with wheat, barley, coriander, and salt. Jensen said that there are many variations of gose beer but in general share a few common qualities.
“The aroma usually has a light sourness and fruitiness, like smelling a fresh-cut lemon, accompanied with a very light grain or fresh bread quality. The salt sometimes gives it a hint of a clean sea breeze. It is typically not a hoppy smelling beer. The flavor has very little bitterness and a light to moderate sourness, which should be noticeable,” Jensen wrote, in an article featured in the Huffington Post.
Now, lets take a quick sampling of New Mexico’s sour beers.
Marble’s Cape Cod Gose
Above: Cape Cod Gose by Marble Brewery, 4.3 ABV, 8 IBUs.
Marble Brewery is one of New Mexico’s most well-known breweries and hangout spots. If you live in New Mexico and appreciate craft beer, you’ve tasted the Double White. But Marble has so much more to offer. Last year, they released a series of fruit goses which eventually lead them to can their Passionate Gose. This year, it seems as though they are going for a different theme for their gose line.
The Cape Cod Gose is a play on the classic cocktail, infusing cranberry and key lime into a delectable sour brew. The pucker factor for the Cape Cod Gose, is a solid 8/10. The natural flavors of the cranberries add a deeper level of sourness with a tiny bitter bite at the back of the palate. Add the key lime and this sour beer goes above and beyond the notions of a standard sour.
Side note: Word on the street is that Marble may release an entire line of cocktail-themed goses.
Boxing Bear’s Guava Gose
Above: Guava Gose by Boxing Bear Brewing Co., 4.7 ABV, 10 IBUs.
Keeping with the theme of goses, Boxing Bear Brewing Company recently released its Guava Gose. This high-caliber brewery is well-known for another sour beer, the Black and Blue Tart , which is unforgivably tart and fruity (a 9/10 on the pucker factor scale). However, the Guava Gose gives us a more funky fruitiness. The guava flavor comes through just right and is accompanied by a mild sourness and slight flavor of salt. Boxing Bear is one of those breweries that, if they release a new seasonal beer, one better get it while they can. This tropical gose wont last long. We give the Guava Gose a 7/10 on the pucker factor scale.
Bow and Arrow’s Savage Times Sour IPA
Above: Savage Times Sour IPA by Bow and Arrow Brewing Co., 5.8 ABV, 30 IBUs.
Unlike the former sour beers, the Savage Times is proclaimed not only as a sour but as an India Pale Ale. It’s in the pudding. This tasty IPA is complex to say the least. Bow and Arrow Brewing Company is known for mixing up the brewery scene with floral and earthy hop flavors. The Savage Times offers a nuance to their methods, mixing citrus sours notes with a nice bitter-hopped bite. A solid 6/10 on the pucker factor scale.
And so, this is just a taste of what New Mexico has to offer when it comes to sour beers. Many breweries carry their own versions of these tart delights. Some, like Dialog Brewing, even specialize in sour beers. Pucker up folks! Get out there and expose those taste buds to a new type of summertime beer!
Know of a new tasty brew? Tell me about it in the comments section below!
All photos featured in this article taken by Grey Wolf Publications.