Sour beers are a controversial style. Some beer fans loathe them, some tolerate them, some understand how great they are with food and how refreshing they are in hot weather.
The methods used in making sours are extremely varied, from kettle sours, to barrel-aged, to accidental infections during brewing that turn out not too bad after all.
Each method results in different acids and different levels of acidity. Lactic is generally the preferred resulting acid, as it’s quite soft and smooth, but simply adding pure lactic acid to a base beer won’t result in a great, complex sour flavour profile.
If you’ve never tried a sour, there are some really gentle introductory versions, which certainly differ from your run-of-the-mill lagers, and are well worth exploring.
For the adventurous, the Belgian-style barrel-aged versions can be big and bold, but may be challenging for inexperienced beer fans.
Below is a selection of new, fresh South Australian sour beers ready for your summer enjoyment.
Little Bang ‘The Passion of the Schwang’
The crew at Little Bang have been releasing a range of fruited sours in their ‘Schwang’ range for a while now, and to be honest, each one has been a ripper. Their latest Passionfruit incantation pours cloudy and pale. There’s an enticing passionfruit aroma with a hint of fresh grainy malt. Little Bang makes sours that are very approachable, with very soft acid and not finishing overly dry. It’s refreshing and delicious. If you like passionfruit and haven’t tried a sour beer, this is a great one to start with. And the new cans sport another Schwang design that’s difficult to miss.
Food Match: Cut through the richness of Pork Belly at Jack and Jill’s on Pirie Street with this new Schwang.
Ministry of Beer ‘Peach Sour’
375ml punt bottle with cork and cage
Ministry of Beer in the Barossa Valley make small-batch beers using traditional methods, such as barrel-ageing and blending, to produce outstanding yet unique brews. Their Peach Sour is quite tart, cloudy with a light orange hue. A hint of oak and woody sourness. Reminiscent of a classic Belgian sour with stronger alcohol and acid than the softer modern day interpretations. This is a sipper, not a swiller. Backyard peach flavours fill the mouth. A few people have mentioned that they could almost taste the furry peach skins.
Food Match: Try this delicious sour with some sweet South Australian Spencer Gulf prawns.
Ministry of Beer ‘Galaxy of Sour’
375ml punt bottle with cork and cage
Pours with only a slight haze. Blonde in colour with light, oaky vanilla aromas.
Sharp acid but not offensive. Quite drinkable, in fact. A hint of red apple at the start, finishing with dry oak. The barrel-ageing is prominent but it doesn’t overpower the beer. This will be more of a challenge for less adventurous lager drinkers, but for a food and beer experience, both of these Ministry of Beer sours are a great find. The Champagne-style cork and cage packaging also looks amazing.
Food Match: This powerful beer needs a quality cheese platter. Try an oven-baked Barossa Valley Cheese Company Babybert topped with fresh thyme and drizzled with honey, sliced Adelaide Hills pink lady apples and Barossa Bark crackers.
Big Shed Brewing Concern ‘Passionfruit Sour’
Pours bright and lively. Plenty of carbonation and a bright foamy head. Hazy and yellow with pronounced passionfruit aromas. In the mouth it’s a delicious passionfruit bomb – like eating them right out of the skins. The base beer is light and refreshing, not getting in the way of the fruit flavours, which are so bright and fresh, your mouth expects the little passionfruit seeds. If you love passionfruit, this very approachable sour has beautiful balance and enhances the fruit qualities rather than just accompanying them. The acidity level isn’t overwhelming, so an icy-cold schooner or two would be amazingly refreshing.
Food Match: Try this beer with pan-fried red snapper fillets with a chargrilled watermelon and mint salad.
Big Shed Brewing Concern ‘Mango Sour’
Another new sour release from Big Shed and another fantastic example of an approachable sour. Pours with a tinge of orange hue in the head. The beer is dense with colour and haze, looking like a glass of fizzy orange juice once the head subsides. The mango aromas increase if the beer has a chance to warm a little. Not too high in acidity, and a fresh mango flavour that slowly builds with each sip. Highly effervescent and still finishing refreshingly dry, with a lovely mango aftertaste. This beer is perfect for summer afternoons in the Big Shed beer garden.
Food Match: Chef Jess Hite from Big Shed recommends beer-battered flathead tacos with mango salsa and spicy chipotle mayo.
Pikes Beer Co. ‘Raspberry Berliner Weisse’
Pours a hazy bright pink with high raspberry aromas and a hint of sweet malt. On the tongue there’s bright carbonation and tart fresh berry fruit. Crisp and juicy. The raspberry is up front but the beer finishes dry and carbonation prickly. The raspberry flavour builds with each sip, but it’s never overwhelming or sweet. Acid-wise, this is quite sharp but definitely not offensive. It’s such a good brew, it picked up Champion Specialty Beer at the recent Royal Adelaide Beer and Cider Awards.
Food Match: Brewer Alister Pike reckons this style of beer goes well with salt and oil, so his pairing suggestion is a serve of pommes frites (hot chips), served Belgian-style with mayonnaise and ideally consumed on a warm evening in The Garden of Unearthly Delights.
John Krüger is an Adelaide-based photographer and home brewer with a passion for good beer. He’s on the Royal Adelaide Beer and Cider Awards committee, as well as being a beer judge with the awards.
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