Copper Bottom’s Blueberry Sour (photo: Bryan Carver)

The taste of sour

Beer sours are a trend at Island breweries

The Brew | by Bryan Carver

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With the constant demand for unique beers, brewers are always looking to find a new spin. It’s been known for a long time that beer can become sour, in fact centuries ago this was the norm. With the rise of modern breweries using pure cultured yeast strains, sourness became perceived as a flaw in most beer. Until recently, few styles wholeheartedly embraced sourness as a positive attribute to beer.

Now sourness has come back into the mainstream of beer drinking, thanks to clever techniques used by inspired brewers. Sourness in beer is caused by bacteria, specifically Lactobacillus, the same lactic acid producing bacteria that makes yogurt. During the brewing phase, lactobacillus is added to the kettle prior to the addition of hops and allowed to rest at warm temperatures for 24 to 36 hours to reach the desired acidity. Once the wort has been acidified, the brewer heats the wort to kill off the bacteria and sterilize the wort for the addition of conventional brewers yeast. This technique has come to be known as “Kettle Souring,” and has been embraced by brewers and beer drinkers alike.

PEI Brewing Company was the first to embrace sour characteristics with the release of “Raspberry Sour” a couple of years ago. Defined by its intense cloudy red appearance and massive raspberry aroma, “Raspberry Sour” became tremendously popular in a short time growing to be a staple offering.

Not one to miss a chance to innovate, Upstreet Craft Brewing has included two sour beers in its new offerings for 2019. “Major Tom” a dry hopped sour ale plays off acidity and a hoppy aroma to bridge the gap between IPA’s and the refreshing finish offered by sour beers. “Rhuby Sour,” a twist on one of Upstreets first beers “Rhuby Social” has aroma of overripe strawberries and a unique tartness.

Montague’s Copper Bottom Brewing has begun producing its own sour ale available at PEI Liquor store and as draft. “Blueberry Sour” is built on a base of wheat and malted barley, that receives a hefty dose of wild blueberries creating a thirst quenching beer with a vivid purple hue.

Across the bridge from Copper Bottom, Bogside Brewing Company has been toying with a variety of sour beers and one could safely assume we will be seeing a regular offering in the coming months.

Be sure to ask at local breweries on different offerings they may have on tap, or ask the staff at PEI Liquor Stores for what selection of sours they carry from PEI and the rest of the Maritimes.

Bryan CarverThe Brew