Author Topic: the quality of American sours  (Read 907 times)

Offline homoeccentricus

  • Brewmaster General
  • *******
  • Posts: 2008
  • A twerp from Antwerp
    • View Profile
the quality of American sours
« on: January 10, 2015, 10:56:08 AM »
As a Belgian I am obviously interested in sours. I was in California in June/July, mainly tasting West Coast IPAs, but also had a couple of American sours: from Russian River and from Prairie. The Russian River ones were, no doubt, world-class.  I took a picture of the Prairie Ale, a "Belgian saison", and immortalized in on my Facebook account with as comment "a composition of brett, saaz, and the sink".

https://fbcdn-sphotos-d-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xap1/v/t1.0-9/10462569_10152487031268680_5098388368695810503_n.jpg?oh=d671027ef7ce528ba7aed117a4ea199e&oe=552FABFC&__gda__=1429711273_f48e982f12df9c3ba29eca102c8b00b6

I didn't take any notes as I was on vacation, so I can't really describe the taste anymore.

Now, this beer has 98 on ratebeer. So what I have been wondering is: is that 98 indicative of how the American market perceives sour beers, and therefore of the real quality of those beers, or is this simply a freak accident - me not liking this particular beer? Anyone here who knows both American and Belgian sours and cares to comment?
Frank P.

Staggering on the shoulders of giant dwarfs.

Offline klickitat jim

  • I must live here
  • **********
  • Posts: 8477
    • View Profile
Re: the quality of American sours
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2015, 01:03:08 PM »
I've never tried it so I would have to say no, rate beer does not reflect my opinion of that beer.

Offline udubdawg

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1080
    • View Profile
Re: the quality of American sours
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2015, 02:32:55 PM »
The 98 just means about 3.75 overall score.  The per style score means more to me, but only a little.  Now, that is 97, so your point stands.  But, is the beer a 37 or so on a 5-50 point scale?  I think that's about right, but I don't know how much the brett has been working on that particular bottle you had.


Offline homoeccentricus

  • Brewmaster General
  • *******
  • Posts: 2008
  • A twerp from Antwerp
    • View Profile
Re: the quality of American sours
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2015, 02:34:52 PM »
I've never tried it so I would have to say no, rate beer does not reflect my opinion of that beer.

Plus, Americans are so lame. You seem to be the only one on this forum trying to be smart at 6AM.
Frank P.

Staggering on the shoulders of giant dwarfs.

Offline Thirsty_Monk

  • Brewmaster General
  • *******
  • Posts: 2343
  • Eau Claire WI
    • View Profile
Re: the quality of American sours
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2015, 02:46:02 PM »
Pretty bottle I can say.
Na Zdravie

On Tap At The TapRoom:
Bohemian Pilsner
Bohemian Dark Lager
Smoked Bock
MaiBock
American Brown Ale
Marzen
Root beer

Offline majorvices

  • Global Moderator
  • I must live here
  • *****
  • Posts: 9642
  • Polka. If its too loud you're too young.
    • View Profile
    • Yellowhammer Brewing Company
Re: the quality of American sours
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2015, 02:51:11 PM »
I'm not a sour beer fan very much but IME Belgian sour beer brewers (and other European sour beer brewers) have mastered the art of BLENDING which makes sour beers much more appealing to me. American sour beers are just a little too "in your face" sour, they have not mastered nuance the way the Europeans have, But there are some who have gotten really close. Russian River is one. Jolly Pumpkin is another.

Offline homoeccentricus

  • Brewmaster General
  • *******
  • Posts: 2008
  • A twerp from Antwerp
    • View Profile
Re: the quality of American sours
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2015, 02:56:49 PM »
Frank P.

Staggering on the shoulders of giant dwarfs.

Offline dannyjed

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1011
  • Toledo, OH
    • View Profile
Re: the quality of American sours
« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2015, 03:45:56 PM »
I'm a sour fan and I've gotten into making my own over a year now. I agree with Major's comments that some American sours can really be too much " in the face" sour. That is the case for a lot of American brewers who like push the boundaries for different styles and sometimes I believe that some great beers can be the result of this approach. Of course, some can downright awful as well. Sometimes pushing the boundaries are necessary in order to find out how far you can go and maybe come out with the next great beer.
Dan Chisholm

Offline mchrispen

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 647
    • View Profile
    • Accidentalis Brewing Blog
Re: the quality of American sours
« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2015, 06:01:06 PM »
I have one of those in my cellar. Will have to try it today.


I have found some of the Prairie Artisan beers to be a bit spotty, but absolutely love their 'Merica. Their 'clean' saison is really nice. Seems like both saison and sour have become too much of a thing recently tho.


As mentioned, it feels like maybe we push toward much more intense flavors.

Offline homoeccentricus

  • Brewmaster General
  • *******
  • Posts: 2008
  • A twerp from Antwerp
    • View Profile
Re: the quality of American sours
« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2015, 06:02:51 PM »
In this case you are pushing toward the sink. But please let me know what you think!
Frank P.

Staggering on the shoulders of giant dwarfs.

Offline ranchovillabrew

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 320
    • View Profile
Re: the quality of American sours
« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2015, 06:32:56 PM »
I have tried quite a few American and Belgian sours. As well as Brett beers. I keep trying to figure out what the appeal is. I think as a former winery worker, I have a very strong aversion to Brett and sour beers just seem weird to me.
- Charles

Offline reverseapachemaster

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 3144
    • View Profile
    • Brain Sparging on Brewing
Re: the quality of American sours
« Reply #11 on: January 11, 2015, 05:56:25 PM »
Many American sours are young and unblended, or if they are blended they are blended across vessels of the same age. It is rare to find American sours that have 2-4 year old components that are less sour or have a softer acidity. (Some exceptions would include NB La Folie and Cascade's sours.) So that is a big part of the profile of those beers. Lots of people here have a preference for the higher level of acidity so our brewers steer towards that preference.

I'm not particularly impressed by Prairie. I've tried a number of the beers and just don't get the fascination. They've had some QC issues over the past couple years with infections, rusty bottle caps, etc.
Heck yeah I blog about homebrewing: Brain Sparging on Brewing

Offline bboy9000

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 703
  • KCMO
    • View Profile
the quality of American sours
« Reply #12 on: January 11, 2015, 07:37:35 PM »
I haven't been impressed with any beer distributed by Shelton Brothers, especially Prairie.  I had Prairie Birra and it was so bad I likely won't buy one of their beers again.  Nasty sharp metallic flavor.  Everything I've tried that is distributed by Shelton Brothers is over hyped and/or overpriced.  I believe Prairie is both.   I know Cantillon is a Shelton Bros beer but I haven't been able to try it.  Mikkleller is good but overpriced. There is a large "beer geek" culture in this country that causes the hype around beer like Prairie and I think that helps drive up the ratings on beer review sites.

As far as American sour beer is concerned Side Project in St. Louis is amazing.  It is well balanced and very easy to drink.  I also enjoy the sour ales from New Belgium and the Saison-Brett and Love Child from Boulevard.
Brian
mobrewer

Offline erockrph

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 6195
  • Chepachet, RI
    • View Profile
    • The Hop WHisperer
Re: the quality of American sours
« Reply #13 on: January 13, 2015, 03:55:18 AM »


Many American sours are young and unblended, or if they are blended they are blended across vessels of the same age. It is rare to find American sours that have 2-4 year old components that are less sour or have a softer acidity. (Some exceptions would include NB La Folie and Cascade's sours.) So that is a big part of the profile of those beers. Lots of people here have a preference for the higher level of acidity so our brewers steer towards that preference.

Did you just say that La Folie has a softer acidity than most American sours? I didn't realize Warheads made beer. La Folie is one of the most tart sours I've ever had.
Eric B.

Finally got around to starting a homebrewing blog: The Hop Whisperer

Offline homoeccentricus

  • Brewmaster General
  • *******
  • Posts: 2008
  • A twerp from Antwerp
    • View Profile
Re: the quality of American sours
« Reply #14 on: January 13, 2015, 09:51:58 AM »
Everything I've tried that is distributed by Shelton Brothers is over hyped and/or overpriced.  I believe Prairie is both.   I know Cantillon is a Shelton Bros beer but I haven't been able to try it.

Ouch Charlie, that really hurts.
Frank P.

Staggering on the shoulders of giant dwarfs.