BecauseWeCAN Vol.6: Sour Power

Let’s be honest with ourselves, shall we? If there’s one thing the beer community isn’t lacking, it’s opinions.

You’ve got the hazy bois crew on one side, the Make Beer Clear Again stand on another. You’ve got those for whom anything over 10 percent ABV is an instant 4.5 stars (or higher) on Untappd, and those for whom nothing is more important than the delicate balance of a classic pilsner.

Arguably, however, there’s little as divisive as sours. And we’re not even getting into the debate over the merits of quick ’n’ easy kettle sours versus the years-in-oak, blended “cuddle sours” either. When it comes to such beers, the divide is often far starker: people love ‘em or can’t bloody stand ‘em in any way, shape or form.

For all that, as sour beers of all denominations continue to proliferate – from Berliner weisse and gose to Flanders reds and Australian wild ales – it’s clear they’re here to stay. And it’s clear that brewers in the local beer scene are approaching them with exceeding eccentricity and an emphasis on refreshment.

Welcome to BecauseWeCAN volume VI, where we’re looking at three of the kookier sours to hit stores this summer: how they were brewed, how they taste, and where they fit in the world – all featuring our patented rating system for novelty (out of 5 Totos) and nailing the brief (out of 5 Ronseals). Let’s go!


Beer 1: Wicked Elf Mischief Sadies Strawberry Daiquiri Sour

 

Brewer's notes:

The idea for Sadies was a combination of myself and our sales manager, Lauren Tait. She was keen on making something with strawberries as she loved the strawberry Frulli and we have great local strawberry growers in Port Macquarie. That aligned with an idea I had for a tribute beer and so we thought, "Let's give it a crack."

My wife's granny, Sadie, passed away in 2021 at 96 and was well known for sipping on a Strawberry Daiquiri whenever given the opportunity, including the afternoon before she passed away. She was an amazing woman who inspired many, laughed a lot, had a wicked sense of humour, and was the ultimate matriarch of a pretty large Irish Catholic family.  She epitomises the Mischief way of life and is a fitting namesake for a beer that is meant to evoke a bit of fun.

We wanted to recreate some of the flavours of the Strawberry Daiquiri while still remaining true to the style of beer. I am a firm believer that a single flavour on its own rarely can lift to great heights until you can find the right carrier of flavour, so the strawberry and lime characters of the daiquiri really spoke to me; it is rare to find a strawberry beer where it actually brings out the flavour of the fruit and I really wanted to try and create that for Lauren.

With the Mischief range, particularly the sours, the idea is to push the envelope a little in the use of fruits and to challenge my traditional brewing brain! We brewed with 75 percent pilsner malt and 25 percent wheat malt with the water designed to make a nice fluffy body to help carry the fruit characters. I've been playing with Philly Sour yeast for the last few months and have figured out all the different timing and temperatures to help it sing. This soured itself down to 3.29pH nice and quickly and then got ferment underway. I add the fruit in at around the halfway point using ten percent strawberry purée from Queensland and one percent lime juice from the Central Coast. Finished nice and dry, and after a little rest gave it a filter, carbed it up to a spritzy 2.8, and away we went.

The great thing about sours is they appeal to everyone except the hardcore lager drinker. The nicely fruited beers appeal to the wine and spirit drinker or the hardcore craft enthusiast. It’s a great little palate cleanser after getting all hazed and infused as well. It's also a great drink in this hot and humid climate here in the Mid North Coast.

Sadies can be drunk absolutely anywhere and at anytime, but for me these beers are perfect to quench the thirst on a hot day. Pairs beautifully with desserts or fresh chilli dishes as well. Ryan Nilsson-Linne


Good to see you donned your Sunday best for this one, Benny!

 

We’re not in Kansas anymore...or are we?

After all that joshing around I did about craft beer drinkers at the beginning of this article, it came back to bite me in the bum when I realised I didn’t even know what a daiquiri was. Yes, I am so stuck in the beer world I was even pronouncing it the same way you say the surname of footy player Lote Tuqiri.

Sometimes served icy cool, a strawberry daiquiri features the titular ingredient alongside white rum, lime and some sort of sweetener (usually sugar syrup). In my house, strawberry is never out of place in a sour so before tasting I can say this cocktail-inspired number doesn’t seem too outrageous to me, even if I had no clue what it was based upon.

2 TOTOS


Does exactly what it says on the tin.

Pouring copper with a hazy swirl that borders on murky, the first fizzy sip hits you with flavours of a rich strawberry yoghurt that’s more of a weekend brunch treat than an everyday lunchbox snack. There’s complexity to explore (possibly due to the Philly Sour yeast) but mostly this is a knee-jerkingly sweet number with a suggestion of sour tang coming from the subtle lime that hits you more as you continue to sip.

The tin suggests you will enjoy this beer as much as Sadie enjoyed every last minute, as the Strawberry Daiquiri Sour is an easily sessionable summer sour that will leave you burping the tastiest burps for hours. It should be illegal for any brewery in Australia to not brew beers like this every summer.

4 RONSEALS

GABS TASTER - SHARED CAN - TALLBOY - FOUR PACK - BBQ’S SORTED

Final Thoughts

If they made Happy Meals for adults, this would be the drink. 


Beer 2: Loophole Sourloops Plum & Vanilla

 

Brewer's notes:

Tom: For the Sourloops series our aim was to create an evolving range of vegan lassi-style fruited sours. We dig the interplay between hazy wort, lactic acid and fruit additions. For me, I became interested in fermentation at uni and drinking fermented mare’s milk in Mongolia with herders whilst on a study trip first got me thinking about the combination of alcohol and lactic acid. Thankfully I didn’t end up milking horses and got a brewing job when I finished.

We put the fruit selection for each Sourloops version to the team, including the Cape Jaffa Wines winery and vineyard crews, and this one is Carla’s.

Carla: The Sourloops range is all Tom. Luckily Tom and I share a similar palate and enjoy a lot of the same styles. We'd be lying if we said we don't like to brew beers we want to drink and this range is one of my favourites (the Astrals still win).

Personally, I enjoy sours that are a little more complex. Some sours on the market only sing one note for me. Short of putting this fruited sour into barrels – keep eyes peeled on Loopholes upcoming releases! – I wanted to find a way to add some complexity and roundness to my iteration of the Sourloops range. Dark fruit and vanilla seemed like an obvious match for me. Think stewed plums and vanilla ice cream. 

Tom: We get the "lassi" affect from making a hazy blonde wort using a lot of oats and fermenting it with a lactic-acid producing yeast. We then add fruit purée and juice during ferment, particularly to help with stable "juicy" haze formation. Turn around time is rather quick in the brewery as timing of additions in key but we have also been playing in the barrel-ageing space with Sourloops.

Carla: We like to follow the same base recipe for the Loops range, to give continuity, so the punter knows what to expect from can to can. The fruit additions were straightforward enough, but the vanilla addition on this one proved time-consuming. We like to do things naturally, so went for whole vanilla beans. I would have spent the best part of a day slicing and scraping to make a tincture to impart this natural flavour safely into tank. The brewery smelt lovely that day but a note to future self: a Leatherman blade is not the best tool for this job, use a sharper knife next time.

Tom: Initially, we brewed these beers for ourselves. It was surprising to see the demand when we first started making them a couple of years ago. Now we have multiple versions in production at any one time. I’m relieved that punters have asked brewers to keep making more sours – it’s a nice balance to strike with the flurry of hop-focused and sweetened styles.

Carla: This beer definitely talks to my personal preferences. I think this beer is for everyone, though. The Sourloops range is a great gateway for those folks who think they "don’t drink beer". There is a beer for everyone. But it’s also for the seasoned veterans who like something with acid drive and plenty of fruit presence and perceived sweetness from the vanilla.

As for the ideal setting... Beach beer. Dessert beer. Knock-off beer. Breakfast beer. I can’t think of a time when this beer wouldn’t be well received. But for the sake of imagery, let’s say this is an autumnal camping trip beer. The sun is dropping, sunset is on the horizon. It's cooling off a little, you pull on your beanie, get the campfire started and crack this tin before moving on to some of those darker styles you’ve got hiding in the esky. Tom O'Reilly and Carla Naismith


 

We’re not in Kansas anymore...or are we?

Moving up to an ABV of 6.2 percent is the latest contribution to Loophole’s lactic acid-based Sourloops series which, like all in the series, features a fruity combo of adjuncts, in this case blood plums and vanilla. 

Plum sour? Why not! Chuck in some vanilla? More the merrier! Lactic acid, anyone? Hang on a minute, isn't lactic acid the sort of thing you’d talk to a doctor about rather than happily sip on...?

Either way, it pours a little like a muddy Bloody Mary. The plum on the tin is sweating and so am I.

3 TOTOS


Does exactly what it says on the tin.

This tin makes some serious promises in its 137 word explanation (I counted). Let’s see how they went:

"Plum and vanilla was always meant to be." Yep! They work great together with plum providing the sweet & sour notes while the vanilla adds depth and a bit of wonder.

"A smooth sour with the right amount of pucker." Sure! There is definitely a good balance of that “sour fear” I sometimes feel while midship, thinking to myself, “Please don’t hurt me”. Fear not, though, because the vanilla soothes the sour pangs, meaning this one is more tart than sour.

"You can drink these during spring and autumn as well." Agreed! The extra alcohol is putting the work in here to increase the window of enjoyment, although potentially at the expense of having more than one.

4 RONSEALS


GABS TASTER - SHARED CAN - TALLBOY - FOUR PACK - BBQ’S SORTED

Final Thoughts

Lactic acid – if only ultra-marathon runners knew it could taste so good, they'd be eating each other! Speaking of which....


Beer 3: Hop Nation Zombie Pop 2

 

Brewer's notes:

Zombie Pop 2 is the middle child of its series. Rebellious? Perhaps, but most certainly not ignored. Sitting in between our ZP1 Imperial Raspberry and ZP3 Imperial Pink Guava, it has a smooth sweetness and biting line of acidity.

We used lactobacillus culture in our kettle souring process and topped things off with tart blueberries and boysenberries.

[Co-founder] Duncan tasked the team with creating three different imperial sours after he sourced Oregon Fruit from the USA. We decided on a higher ABV of 8 percent, with high amounts of lactose to balance sweetness, a large percentage of rolled oats and malted wheat to enhance body and mouthfeel. 

The process entailed kettle souring, which is to inoculate the beer with lactobacillus over a 24 hour period to ensure a pH drop to our desired acidity, before moving to the fermenter for its regular primary ferment. The fruit was added during fermentation to ensure any fermentable sugars are eaten by the yeast – no can bombs allowed!

We believe the beer should be for everyone: craft beer nerds and newbies alike – big on flavour, balance in sweetness and acidity, with a vibrant colour.

It's best enjoyed on a hot summer's day – and can be served over ice or even used as a mixer for cocktails.


We’re not in Kansas anymore...or are we?

You can’t tell me this beer isn’t deliberately trying to scare us. It’s in a big tin (alpha move), features allusions to the undead, and packs a whole 8 percent ABV. Plus it’s a “Part 2”, which is scary in another way if you try to keep up to date with all the new releases but somehow missed part 1... FOMO alert!

Set free from the tin, it pours an erotic red that turns to Ribena upon filling the glass. Guess I’m about to find out how long I’d survive in a zombie apocalypse.

5 TOTOS


Does exactly what it says on the tin.

The tin promises “smooth sweetness” and “a biting line of acidity”. Oh boy, these rolling berry flavours advance across your tongue with that promised sweetness before a Fruity Tingle-esque acidity delivers the biting sourness that makes you salivate.

Ever had a Ring Pop? What about a melted Zooper Dooper with really smooth vodka? There is a lot of room in this beer for the extra alcohol to hide behind but it ends up coming out in a sour expression that makes this beer worthy of its imperial title.

This is a stealthy number, rather unlike the hordes in Zombieland, and even though I’m not sure what the occasion is, I'd suggest approaching it with the caution with which you’d approach a decomposing member of the undead army.

5 RONSEALS

GABS TASTER - SHARED CAN - TALLBOY - FOUR PACK - BBQ’S SORTED

Final Thoughts

Pour this over ice cream or just admit you hate fun!

 


Final Final Thoughts

It is with a heavy heart that I have to announce I don’t think any of these extravagant sours will be the one that finally wins over the hardened sour naysayer (although the Sourloops entry might come close). But, really, who cares? If you already like sours you are living in the best timeline.

All of these beers demonstrate not only that there is a market for these almost alco-poppy beverages but that brewers will keep conjuring up new ways to flavour them in ways the earliest sour beer brewers could never – or, maybe, would never – have dreamed.

Whether it's your first or your 1000th, if you want to sip on something striving to be weirder than the world we live in today, there will be a sour waiting to grant you that wish.


You can find other entries in the BecauseWeCAN series here.

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