Beer festivals are popping up everywhere. While many of them have a variety of breweries bringing a variety of styles, there are not that many that focus on one individual style. Enter Captain Lawrence Brewing. They will be hosting the east coast’s first SOUR beer festival on Saturday, September 13.
It’s a great opportunity to explore a style that is starting to become extremely popular. CLBC is bringing in lots of breweries as well, including:
Great South Bay
For a Connecticut resident, most of these unfamiliar names alone are enough to make me want to grab tickets! Luckily tickets just went onsale and are available online for $65 which includes a sampling of all 50+ beers as well as a tasting glass. You can also go VIP for $85 which gets you in earlier, a specialty glass, and a SWAG BAG. Although the brewery and its grounds are quite spacious, tickets are limited so CLBC recommends picking up your tickets ASAP.
Unfamiliar with sours? It’s simpler than you may think. A sour is made by allowing wild yeast or bacteria into the wort in the brewing process. The different bacteria and other elements, such as fruit, that are added create different flavors and aromas. Three bacteria are commonly used, often in combination with one another. Lactobacillus converts sugars into lactic acid. Pediococcus is another lactic acid bacteria, which can be characterized in beer as giving off a buttery aroma. Pediococcus is similar to lactobacillus, but it is more aggressive in generating lactic acid. Pediococcus is also used in making sauerkraut, which pairs wonderfully with Belgian beers. Brettanomyces, often shortened to Brett, is found on the skin of fruit and can give beer a sour flavor when the wort is fermented in a wood barrel that was previously infected with the bacteria. Either of the first two bacteria are often used in conjunction with Brett, to give the beer a better, more balanced finish and cleaner consistency. The tell-tale flavor of Brett is often referred to as “barnyard”, “medicinal”, or even “horse blanket” which is caused by the level of the compound 4-ethylphenol that is produced by Brettanomyces.
Some common styles include the Belgian lambic (which are often seen with fruit added to them such as kriek, framboise, and peche), the gueuze (which is a blend of young and old lambics), and Flanders red ale which gets its name from the area of Belgium it originated as well as the red malt that gives it its trademark crimson color.
As a homebrewer, sours scare the crap out of me. It sort of reminds me of a horror movie, where no matter how much you clean and sanitize your equipment, the bacteria can still lurk. And the rest of the beers you brew could end up being sour. The folks at Maltose Express actually advised me to brew a sour ale at a non-homebrewer’s house to keep the bacteria out of any non-sours I might brew at my own place in the future.
Psyched for sours? Grab your tickets for Sour’d In September at Captain Lawrence. And check out the “post your infection” thread on Homebrewtalk. I never thought I’d link to a page titled that, so there you go.