I had the opportunity to attend Stone's Sour Fest, one of their events featuring sour beers from around the world. Sour beer is a beer style characterized by an acidic, tart, and of course a sour taste. The style has increased in popularity but remains somewhat of a niche style. Souring is achieved through certain yeast strains like brettanomyces or bacteria like lactobacillus or pediococcus. Sour beers can be difficult to brew however, and breweries must be willing to commit the space and expenses and then patiently wait for an unpredictable aging process. I'd like to state that the final product is well worth it.
Maybe even less than 10 years ago, domestic sours were nonexistent. But now there is a vast lineup of American brewers who have stepped into this territory. Stone helped bring them along with many international breweries all together yesterday. They featured most of the sours from New Belgium's Lips of Faith series; La Folie being the first to fill my sour-beer void some years ago. Always a favorite, the Russian River wild ales were on draft as well. The Bruery has been put in the spot-light for their sours lately. I appreciate that they have been making them accessible as well as delicious (and close to us Orange Countians). From these breweries, I wouldn't expect less. I already know they make good stuff. They have all presented me with some of the best beers I've had and therefore will have a special place in my little heart. But like all Stone events I've attended, Stone brings beers I'd never get to try otherwise.
The beer I kept coming back to was by Craftsmen. I had both the 2010 and 2011 Sour Lavender. Oh-my-gosh. The aroma was of course - lavender - along with some spiciness. The taste was sweet, sour, and herbal. Both batches had the same undertone of flavors, but the older one more rounded and mellow in sourness. It was one of the more unique beers I've had the chance to taste and I REALLY recommend it.
Another great taster came from one of the breweries in our lineup, Grand Teton. Their Sourgrass was one to remember. I think it'd be safe to say my significant other was in love with this one, whom had maybe three rounds of it. Behind the citric-sourness was an earthy feel that contrasted itself from most of the sours having fruity profiles. Recommended as well.
For those who have yet to try a sour, I'd say give it a try. For me, it was love at first sip but it does take some getting used to for it does not taste like your "average" beer. But isn't that the point of craft beer, going above and beyond what one may expect? So taste outside the box and explore the off-beaten-path brews that are gaining popularity or deserving of an initiation.