Sours. Such an interesting category of beer. So hot right now. Sours are all the rage, there are lots of folks doing them, and it such a broad range of styles that have had the label ‘sour’ slapped on them. The common thread in this broad category of beers is an acidity that’s not present in ‘non-sour’ beers, typically imparted by a byproduct of fermentation produced by a few various strains of bacteria. That being said, this acidity can range from subtle to tongue melting depending on the beer and style.
The next saison in the series definitely falls a little more in the ‘subtle’ end of the spectrum. It uses the process that we utilized this past winter in the “Bahnhof Gose”. This process called a ‘sour mash’ (or a ‘kettle sour’) allows us to put exactly how much sourness we want into the beer, and then halting that souring process when it hits our target tartness.
This beer is called “Ostro” after the south wind. It has a nice tartness from the souring process, but is certainly not overwhelming. We add some complexity to the beer with a subtle addition of coriander and sweet orange peel in the boil. I’m a firm believer that spices in beer should be used to add complexity instead of being used as a sledgehammer to drive the point home and I feel as though we achieved that with this beer. The orange peel comes out primarily in the aroma with a really nice tart citrus nose, and the coriander helps to add a bit of earthiness to the tart flavor, giving it depth and complexity. The saison yeast in this beer seems to fall into the background a bit adding depth rather than a pronounced spice, and the healthy dose of wheat that we use in the base of this beer really comes through, especially in the grainy aftertaste.
I view acidity as just another flavor that can be used in beer, just like a hop-derived or yeast-derived flavor (I guess this would be a bacteria-derived flavor). When used in smaller amounts, like in the Ostro, it gives a crispness reminiscent of lemonade, and can make a beer much more drinkable. The Ostro clocks in at 4.9% ABV and is perfect for a nice hot summer day.
If you were lucky enough to taste some at the Flagstaff Blues and Brews, you got a preview of it. The rest of the batch is headed out around Flagstaff and a few select accounts in Phoenix, and we’ll have it at the taproom as well (of course!).