What is Sour Beer?

The next big thing or just a fad?

And lets be honest, does it even taste good?

I have been on a personal journey to answer these questions. Two weeks ago I was offered a taste in a bar but really wasn’t impressed. I thought it tasted more like cider than beer. But, the concept and ethos of sour beer is something I do really like. All beers have a touch of sour (certain types of microbes) but for the last 100 years or so brewers have fought to keep it out!

The Electric Bear Brewing company are a new brewery brewing amazing craft beers in Bath.


I asked their head brewer Ian Morris to tell me more about sour beer

“A sour beer is a beer that has a sour or tart taste due to the way it is fermented. Wild yeast rather than cultivated yeast plays a big part in many sour beers. To an extent all beer used to be fermented this way and results could be very unpredictable.”

So, I set out Bristol with a couple of fellow beer lovers to see what the big fuss was about. Following some social media inquires I found that both the beer emporium & the small bar on kings street in the city had some on tap. Which is great because they are opposite each other!

Here we started on a rich 6.2% Belgian sour beer .Duchesse de bourgogne is a lambic beer and has a rich aged flavour.

The worst possible first drink but a real test of the pallet. Phil Underwood is a publican and kindly offered to help me with the tasting. His exact comments, to quote were;

“it tastes a bit like salt and vineger crisps”,

thanks mate, except that I could see his point! I found it grew on me and it started to give me hope, but I wouldn’t order it again.

I wanted to try one more, something lighter so across the road to the small bar we went.

What a menu…

Here they had a takeover from the heretic brewing company


They do a Berliner Weisse-style ale which is a crisper style of sour beer. It has blackberry in. I really liked this, paired with shellfish on a summers day I would really really like it.

Both these bars fascinated me, there is clearly a demand for such a wide range of different beers. I asked Ian about the growing trend of sour beer and whether he felt it would continue to grow.

“Sour beers are becoming more and more popular in the craft beer market and I believe they will stick around as there is definitely a market for them. Saying that though they’ll probably never be as popular as other beer styles such as pale ales or IPA’s.

The ever growing craft beer market is something that has been going on for years and probably will continue to grow for many years to come. It’s great that there are so many small breweries nowadays producing so many great beers. Some may say it means there more competition for brewers but at the same time all these small breweries means there’s more interest in great beer from the general public.”

From here I needed a conclusion.

I think it taught me to be open-minded and to be curious about what is happening. It’s also got me thinking about some nice recipes to pair with some sour beers, watch this space…