Tag Archives: Sour Ale

2017 Advent Calendar – Day 9 – 8 Wired Palate Tour

I know I’m skipping a few days here. I figured I’d post today’s beer and then work on posting a couple a day until I caught up. I’m glad to be feeling better. Sadly, my little girl and my wife are both feeling a little unwell still. Hopefully they’ll be back to normal before long. I’m glad to be back to writing.

Today we have quite the fun sounding beer. It’s called Palate Tour, it’s a Sour IPA and it comes to us from 8 Wired Brewing out of New Zealand.

The story of 8 wired begins in Western Australia in 2005 when the head brewer, Søren Eriksen was bestowed a coopers brewing kit by his to be wife, Monique. He failed horrible at brewing it, but this started him down the path that would eventually lead to the beer we are tasting today. He began his professional brewing career at Renaissance brewing in Blenheim, NZ. While only planning to stay for 3 months, they were in over their heads in their dream of opening a brewpub. Eventually, Renaissance let them rent their equipment and thus 8-wired was born as a contract brewery.

After 5 years of contract brewing at four different locations, they finally opened their own brewery in Warkworth (North of Auckland) where they brew and package everything. While they do have many beers, they are unique for having a large barrel-aging program. They believe that they have the largest barrel-aging program in the Southern Hemisphere which allows them to focus on a wide range of unique beers, including the Sour IPA we are tasting today.

They currently have about 225 barrels of beer and have recently acquired 7 large Foeders ranging from 1500-4000 litres each. Most of their barrels come from wineries which impart a funky note to their beers.

IPAs or India Pale Ale, have a storied history. The first known use of the term comes from the Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser in 1829.  At this time, they were also referred to as a “pale ale as prepared for India”, “East India pale ale”, and “Export India Pale Ale”.  These types of IPAs were widely popular amongst the East India company and, while considered very hoppy, they were not much stronger than other beers brewed now. Hops are used as a preservative of sorts, to help keep the beer fresh. If you were preparing a beer for a long trip from England to India, you’d need to add a lot of hops. So, while the IPA if consumed in England before shipping would be quite hoppy, at the other end it likely would not. Today, the tradition of hopping beers continues, but we don’t have as far to send them, and the goal is to make a hoppy beer. If you’re curious about IPAs check out Wikipedia, the BJCP Guidelines (Page 37) or IPA Beer.

While these beers are part of the pale ale family, they are strongly hopped and often highlight the variety of flavours and complexities that can come from the simple ingredients used to brew beer.  Many will say the IPAs are an acquired taste, and they are rather unique, the bitterness brought using a large quantity of hops is not for everyone. On most IPAs you’ll see an IBU (international bitterness units) number that gives you an idea of how bitter it might be. For comparison, Torque’s American Pale Ale (Foundation) comes in at 30 IBUs, Half-Pints little Scrapper comes in at 50, and Barn Hammer’s Saturday Night Lumberjack at 75 IBUs.

What makes this beer unique is that it has a sour characteristic. They’ve twisted the story on the IPA and have almost replaced the bitterness one would expect with a fruity acidity. I’m excited to see what this ends up tasting like. I’ve had some Wild IPAs (IPAs fermented with wild yeasts) and they’ve been quite nice. So, let’s get to it.

Appearance:  Pours a hazy pale golden yellow with a good head that dissipates quickly.
Smell: Citrus and a sourness right on the nose. That acidity is noticeable. There is a bit of a funky note to it as well.
Taste:  Front is a sour bready note with some fruity acidity and sour citrus notes (lemon and grapefruit). The finish brings some of that piney and resinous bitterness to the mix.
Mouthfeel: Light body, dry bitter finish.
Super interesting. There are certainly some IPA characteristics here with the citrus notes and the resinous bitter finish. The addition of the fruity acidity brings a nice funky character to this beer. Elements of both an IPA and a sour ale are here for sure.
Do I like it: Nice tart and hoppy IPA. I’ve had a few of this style and I really enjoy them. I’m a big fan of sour beers and I think they bring a bit more depth to the IPA. I really enjoyed it.




Day 14 – Oud Beersel – Bersalis Sourblend

I can’t believe how close we are getting to the end of the calendar. It seems like just yesterday I was cracking open the first square and beginning this path. Now, more than half-way through, we are 10 days from the end and 11 from Christmas day (for those who celebrate).

Day 14 brings us a beer from Oud Beersel (another repeat brewery)called “Bersalis Sourblend”. This is a blend of a traditional Lambic and a Belgian blonde that has been aged in barrels. It sounds delicious and I’m excited to try it.

The brewery, Oud Beersel, was founded in 1882 and is located in Beersel, 10km away from Brussels city centre in the southwest of the city. This brewery is one of the last remaining authentic lambic breweries and is well known for its lambic beers and its traditional brewing methods.

The brewery almost shut down at the end of 2002 as there was a lack of succession planning on behalf of the family who ran the brewery. There was a public shock at the potential loss of a historical, cultural and traditional brewery and in 2005 the brewery was taken over and brewing began once more. The reason, to protect the time-honoured tradition of lambic beers as well as the historical and cultural heritage of the brewery. Pretty awesome to see. They have a storied history, outlined here.

Lambics are a style of beer that has traditionally been brewed in Belgium. These beers are brewed using spontaneous fermentation, using microflora from the air rather than harvested brewers yeast. Lambic matures up to three years in wooden barrels, whereupon it is blended to make Oude Geuze. Sour cherries undergo fermentation in lambic beer and after a second fermentation in the bottle Oude Kriek is born. This unique brewing process with spontaneous fermentation is possible in Belgium in the Pajottenland region, the Zenne Valley and in Brussels, because of the presence of a specific microflora.

As for a Blonde, we’ve seen on of these before. They are moderate strength golden ales with a mild fruit and spice note from the Belgian yeast with a slightly sweet malty flavour and a dry finish. These are a relatively recent beer style that was made to further appeal to European Pilsner drinkers and has become much more popular.  These beers are similar in strength as a Dubbel, similar character as a Belgian Strong Golden Ale or Tripel, although a bit sweeter and not as bitter.

Appearance – Pours a hazy pale gold with a good 2” rocky head.
Smell – Smells of pear, apples, yeast funk and bready malt.
Taste – Starts sweet with a slightly metallic tartness. This brings in hints of fruit, citrus and funk. Finishes moderately bitter with a good crisp tartness.
Mouth feel – Medium-light body with a good carbonation and a nice tart finish.
Overall – The strong ale blended with the lambic is overpowering in what it brings. The lambic notes are subdued. While the beer presents notes of the blended styles, neither is the star and so it falls a bit flat.
Do I like it?
– I did like. While there was some things I found a bit off-putting, the metallic note to be one, I enjoyed the beer overall.


Parallel 49 – Bodhisattva

Parallel 49 - Bodhisattva

That’s right another sour beer! We’ve been seeing more of these start coming our way. I’m a fan of sour beers and so I’m always excited to give them a try. We’ve also slowly been seeing more and more beers come in from Parallel 49 brewing company out of BC. We’ve recently received their Brews Brothers Vol. 2 (still a few left), 12 different beers done in collaboration with 12 different breweries from BC. (I hope to be posting about some of these in the next weeks).  We’ve also recently received their Bodhisattva Dry-Hopped Sour Ale which is the beer I’ll be talking about today. (It’s got a sweet label too.)

The Brewery

Parallel 49 is a brewery that spawned out of three friends love for good beer.  Mike, Nick and Anthony all grew up about 10 minutes away from where the brewery now stands. Having been avid home brewers and lovers of good craft beer, these three friends quit their day jobs in 2008 and opened a restaurant which quickly became known as a mecca for good craft beer in Vancouver. Wanting to put their money where their mouth was and stop talking and start brewing, they partnered with Graham with, a respected Home Brewer, and Michael Tod, a friend who had the business savvy and experience in the Vancouver craft beer industry, the Parallel 49 brewing team was born.

They have a variety of different beers and not afraid of trying some unique things either. I’ve enjoyed all of the beers I’ve tried from them, some more than others, but they are worth checking out.

The Style

What makes a sour beer? Well, that depends. There are two different ways a sour beer can be produced. The most common is controlled.

In the controlled method, the brewer does something to the beer to lower its pH. This can be done by adding other strains of yeast or bacteria (Typically Lactobacillus or Brettanomyces or Pediococcus), by using an Acidulated Malt (this meets German purity laws) or by adding Lactic Acid (an acid produced by Pedioccous or Lactobacillus) or Acetobacter, a less common bacteria.

Check out this blog from the American Home Brewers Association. It goes into detail about all these different strains.

This beer used Lactobacillus, bacteria that acts similarly to a yeast by eating up the sugars in the wort (unfermented beer). Rather than converting the sugars to alcohol like our beer yeast, it turns them into lactic acid. The lactic acid lowers the pH of the beer rather quickly and gives the beer a sour but clean taste. It is most commonly used in sour German styles of beer Berliner Weisse or Gose.

This beer has also been dry-hopped.  While the Phillips Sax in the Dark was aged on Grape Musts to provide it with a different depth of flavour, dry-hopping allows a beer to take on much of the aroma of the hops added without any of the bitterness. You are not really getting the full flavour of the hop but there is certainly a variety of aromas that come along with dry-hopping that can impact the way the beer is perceived and tastes.


ABV – 7%

Appearance – Clear pale straw colour with a nice carbonation on pour that dissipates as quickly as it came. Almost looks a bit like sparkling apple juice.

Smell – The floral hop notes come through nicely on the smell along with some pear notes, citrus fruit and some yeasty funk.

Taste – Crisp and tart, incredibly refreshing. Citrus notes, pear comes through as well.

Mouth Feel – Tart, sour, crisp. Nice carbonation that leaves the tongue a tingling.  Dry finish, light bodied.

Overall Thoughts – Solid, balanced, crisp and delicious. Alcohol content is unnoticeable making this refreshing beer easily drinkable. Overall it is a solidly balanced sour that would be delicious on a nice warm summer day.

Do I like it? – I did really like this beer. I’m a big fan of sours, but even if I wasn’t, this beer brings a lot to the table. It’s crisp, its refreshing, and the sourness is not overpowering. The aroma from the dry-hopping makes it pleasant all around.  I rather enjoyed it.


Phillips – Sax in the Dark Sour

Today I’m going to take a stab at another beer that has recently arrived here in Manitoba. Phillips Sax in the Night Dark Brown Sour Ale.

This beer has quite the lengthy name. While we’ve been getting beers from Phillips for quite some time now (Their Double IPA Amnesiac seems to be a staple at the Liquor Marts) it is only recently we’ve started to get some of their seasonal releases.  It’s also only recently we’ve started to see more and more sour beers making their way onto the shelves of the liquor marts here in Manitoba.

About the Brewery

Phillips opened in Esquimalt BC in 2001. The brewmaster Matt Phillips, formerly the brew master at Spinnakers Brewpub and Wild Horse Brewing, had always been passionate about beer and dreamed one day he would be able to make beers he wanted to drink. In 2008 they moved the brewery across the bridge to downtown Victoria. This gave them space to grow and to produce new and interesting beers.

Sadly, there isn’t much information on their website about their brewing capacity.  A friend of mine from BC told me they are his “Picaroons”. Picaroons was the craft brewery I grew up with on the East Coast. I loved the beer they made; they were my first introduction to craft beer. So, if Phillips is that for British Colombians, then I say good work.

The beer I am trying today is a new release from Phillips. Released on March 14 from the brewery, we’ve just received it here in Manitoba. Be sure to check Liquor Marts’ listing page to see where you can find it. This is the second beer in their “Sour Notes” series, but the first we’ve gotten here.

This beer is a sour beer and it’s important to understand what that means. All clean beers are brewed using a genus of yeast called Saccharomyces. While there are a variety of different strains of this yeast, the Genus is the same. It is responsible for all clean brewed beers and has a big role to play in brewing sour beers as well. It is a fast-acting high IBU resistant yeast that is responsible for most of the alcohol production in beer, even in sours.

About the Style

What makes a sour beer? Well, that depends. There are two different ways a sour beer can be produced. The most common is controlled. This is where a brewer will specifically choose what he is going to do the beer to make it sour. The second way is to leave the fermenter open to the air and allow bacteria or wild strains of yeast access to your beer. This particular beer was produced using the controlled method, so that’s the one we will focus on.

In the controlled method, the brewer does something to the beer to lower its pH. This can be done by adding other strains of yeast or bacteria (Typically Lactobacillus or Brettanomyces or Pediococcus), by using an Acidulated Malt (this meets German purity laws) or by adding Lactic Acid (an acid produced by Pedioccous or Lactobacillus) or Acetobacter, a less common bacteria. Check out this blog from the American Home Brewers Association. It goes into detail about all these different strains.

This beer used Lactobacillus, a bacteria that acts similarly to a yeast by eating up the sugars in the wort (unfermented beer). Rather than converting the sugars to alcohol like our beer yeast, it turns them into lactic acid. The lactic acid lowers the pH of the beer rather quickly and gives the beer a sour but clean taste. It is most commonly used in sour German styles of beer Berliner Weisse or Gose.

While this style of beer is not a specifically recognized BJCP style, it falls under the Mixed-Fermentation Sour style, which is a variation of any base style of beer that has been soured. This particular beer is a Dark Ale that has been soured with Lactobacillus and aged on Grape Musts.



ABV – 5.0%

Appearance – Clear dark amber colour with a quickly dissipating head.

Smell – Smells musty, some red-wine notes, as well as some caramel and dark fruit notes. Some light yeast funkiness is present on the nose as well.

Taste – Nice tartness on the tongue with a subtle malty sweetness, toffee and caramelized malt.  It tastes almost like a lightly fouled red wine, but not necessarily in a bad way. There is almost no hoppiness to this beer at all.

Mouth Feel – Really forward carbonation with the bubbles almost frothing on your tongue as you drink. Good medium body and nice off-dry finish.

Overall Thoughts – The sourness is there, but not really. It’s not hard to drink. It is a decent offering in the style, but there are certainly better ones out there.

Do I like it? – After trying other sours that we’ve had in town recently, I had hoped for a good sour offering from Phillips as well. This one was underwhelming. While it isn’t bad and I enjoyed drinking it, I think I had my expectations high and this didn’t live up to them. Like always, I recommend people give it a try, but for me this one was just ok.



Day 17 – Black Market Brewing – Tradecraft Sour Ale with Cherries

Day 17 - Black Market Brewing Co - Tradecraft Sour Ale with Cherries

So, remember a long time back when I was complaining about how the beer I took out was the wrong one. That it resulted in me having to have all the beers taken out and organized because the box was annoying.  Well, today, I finally get to try that beer!  It is day 17 and I’m looking forward to it.

The beer we have today comes to us from Black Market Brewing in Temecula California. It is there Tradecraft Cherry Sour.

Not only does Black Market Brewing have a pretty cool name, they also have a really well done website.  Starting out from humble beginnings of essentially a large garage and a 1 barrel system, Black Market Brewing has always put the emphasis on creating good beer.  Starting with what is now one of their most loved beers, a hefeweizen, they have always committed to using only the best malt, hops and yeast that are all hand selected by the brewing team.

Black Market is one of Temecula’s first craft breweries and helped to introduce locally crafted beers to the community.  Coming from wine country they had a lot of discerning wine lovers to convince, and they’ve done that.  Now sold not only all over Southern California, but also in Washington State and Arizona.

Founded by Kevin Dyer dream to start a brewery began with watching the growth of Sierra Nevada Brewing Company and how it built itself into one of the finest American craft breweries.  Having worked in corporate America for a time, he grew bored and in 2007 founded what would become Black Market Brewing in an 800sq/ft garage.   As Black Market grew, so did the team, as have the wide variety of interesting, spy inspired, beers.

The beer we have today is a Sour Cherry beer.  It is essentially a Berliner Weisse that has had syrup infused into it rather than added afterwards.  Berliner Weisse is a really interesting style of beer, one that we will have the chance to try here in Winnipeg once Peg Beer Co. opens.

Berliner Weisse literally translates to Berlin White and it is a regional variation on the white beer style from northern Germany which dates back to the 16th century.  The fermentation of this style takes place with a mixture of yeast and lactic acid bacteria (lacto-bacillus for example) which is what creates the distinguishing feature of a Berliner Weisse.

By the 19th century, it was the most popular style of beer in Germany with up to fifty breweries making it.  By the 20th century, it had gone almost extinct with only two breweries left making this style.  What is interesting about this beer is that it has been given geographic indication protection.  This means that only this style brewed inside of Berlin can legally be sold as “Berliner Weisse”.  In America and Canada they are typically labelled and sold as “Weisse” beers.

The style is traditionally served in bowl like glasses with a number of different syrups that can be added to provide additional flavourings. The beer can also be mixed with other styles, like a pale lager, to balance the sourness.  I’ve always thought that a Canadian Berliner Weisse would be served with maple syrup and perhaps a garnish of candied bacon. Who knows? In the case of the beer we are trying today, it has been already flavoured with Cherries but is described on the breweries website as using their “Berliner Weisse” as the base.


Rating:  66/100

Appearance:  Light pink in color, good head that fades quickly leaving small bubbles on surface.
Smell: There are slight cherry notes, but, predominately is a cheese smell. Like stinky cheese and not wholly appealing.
Taste:  Starts of nice on the front with sour cherry notes. The finish is that of stinky cheese that grows and continues to invade your taste buds. Unfortunately this was incredibly unappealing and I could not push through it.
Mouthfeel: Light bodied with good carbonation, sour/cheese finish.
Unfortunately this beer tasted more like stinky cheese with slight sour cherry notes than what I would expect. Overall it was unappealing and I was unable to finish it.
Do I like it: Nope. Stinky cheese flavor that grew as I drank it. Could not handle this one and made me feel nauseous.