​What Terms Best Fit Sour Beers to a Consumer?​

Sours are by no means a new style, points out Bozeman Brewing‘s Kristen Hilleren, but with the market share increasing year after year, she said it’s important that the industry feels comfortable talking about and selling these styles of beer to consumers.

“After all, we are the teachers, the influencers, the facilitators for expanding knowledge and flavor profiles, one pallet at a time,” said Hilleren, the Lead Bartender and Merchandise Manager for Bozeman noted.

So creating a “sour language” can be important for your brewery in both explaining what is in the glass to both novices and beer aficionados alike.

“We should be borrowing words from the food world, the wine world, the cigar world, any discourse we can that will help make a connection with our customers is going to be best,” said Twin Oast Brewing‘s Cory Smith.

The Ohio brewery tries to train its service staff to understand the lingo of beer, but they also always try to make beer relatable to the consumer.

“With our Berliner Weisse that clocks in at a pH of 3.6, we put the words tart, lively, and vivacious on our can,” said Smith, the Port Clinton, Ohio brewery co-founder. “I think those help convey how this beer is bright, effervescent, and refreshing.”

Courtney Glasser​ of Charlotte’s Legion ​Brewing said they ​use terms such as “funky, tart, and effervescent” to describe ​Sours.

“We commonly compare the flavors to that of sourdough bread and fruit pie,” she said.

Whatever terms or keywords best convey your product in explaining it accurately as well as most relevant to the consumer is ​MadTree‘s approach​ said Marketing Manager Trevor Self​.

​”​Start broad and inclusive, then as the consumer becomes more knowledgeable or digs deeper, then have those deeper discussions with them​,” he said.​

READ MORE: Important Tips in Starting a Sour Program

Beer has borrowed plenty of terminology from the wine world and is very suitable in describing flavor profiles, added Lone Tree‘s Dennis Stack.

“Using terms like, bright, soft, and tart are great to describe sours,” he told Brewer. “Utilizing other well-known sour products as a gauge, like Skittles candy for example, that the public is familiar with is helpful.”

Smith added that he is a fan of keeping terms positive in connotation, so instead of what in the wine world they would use ‘thin,’ Smith said they might say crushable.

Borrowing existing language from the wine world is key to describing beers, be they sour or not​, Hilleren pointed out.

​”​Why create a whole new vocabulary when many of the words used in the wine world transition perfectly when used to describe beer​,” she pondered. “Granted, there are instances specifically surrounding sour beers, where wine vocab may not have the words we need.

​”​I am no wine expert, but I have yet to encounter a wine with the same tartness that a sour beer has. This means that words typically used to describe food like sour, tart, zing, bite, funky, and —​ ​my current favorite​ —​ funktification​,​ offer descriptive phrases of what to expect in a tasting experience.

​”​Language is alive​ ​— ​ever-changing as humans evolve to better describe our current experiences and situations. Even if the language used is untraditional, if it conveys meaning and visceral response, ​go for it.”

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