Sour Beer Bugs
Move over Winos....There is a new beer in town! I need to state that I am not a fan of hoppy, bitter beers. Wine has always been my drink of choice, until recently. Last fall, I visited The Jolly Pumpkin Brewery in MI, known for their sour beers. I took my first sip of the sour deliciousness and am forever converted to a beer drinker! I am such a lover of sour beers, I want the world to all learn about it! I organized the first of many, sour beer tasting last week. We sampled a "Brett" and a "Lacto" with a brewer who walked us through the difference. We had a mixed group of wine enthusiasts, non-drinkers, and beer lovers who sampled.
Here are the cliff notes...
Yeast vs. Bacteria:the microbes that make the flavor difference
Brettanomyces, "Brett" is the most common yeast to sour a beer. It is unique because it can ferment any type of sugar. Wine makers and beer brewers are often afraid of this yeast because it is so invasive it can take over a brew house or winery with unintended results. When properly contained the beer results with aromas and flavors of: barn-yard, sour, earth, & leather. Very light and refreshing,good for the beginner sour beer drinker.
Lactobacillus, "Lacto" is a bacteria, and yes, it is the same stuff that is in your yogurt! Like yeast, bacteria can also convert sugar into alcohol. The sour flavors come from the lactic acid that are also a product of the fermentation. Beer brewed with Lacto has tartness, oak-i-ness, and some funk. It is much more sour than Brett beers.
Pouring a Brett. Light in color, refreshing flavor.
Pouring the Lacto, see the color difference? It doesn't matter actually. The color comes from your ingredients...hops, barley and malt.
Do your own tasting at home! GO SOUR!
Then Brew your own, the world needs more of it. We have a brett and a lacto brewing and I can't wait until it's ready!
My Recommendations for Readers: La Folie Sour Brown Ale and anything from the Jolly Pumpkin.
Next tasting topic: Other Souring Bacteria
Pediococcus used in lambics
Acetobacter used in Flanders Red and Brown Ales