Why Variety Is Helping Sours Find a Niche

Sours have gained traction over the years to help provide some variety to hop-focused IPAs along with a diversity from other traditional styles that have made craft comebacks like Pilsners, Helles and other Lager products.

For some breweries though, it’s not a trend they have adopted, it was a thought process from the start.

Creating sour beers has been a part of Jack’s Abby wheelhouse since its beginnings in Framingham, Massachusetts said Arley Donovan, the brewery’s marketing coordinator.

“Jack’s Abby has consistently experimented with sours through our Sour Barrel Project, a series of experimental sour beers that we made for a number of years,” she said. “Some of that experimentation led to Cranberry Berliner becoming part of our main lineup, as one of our rotating four-pack series.”

After opening the brewery in 2011, brothers Jack, Eric, and Sam Hendler made the decision last spring to open another brewery. They, along with Joe Connolly, the General Manager of Springdale, decided to work on creating a really strong sour program and making that and other forms of barrel-aging the focus of the Springdale Barrel Room. All of the Springdale sours are aged six to 18 months and Donovan said the facility is already one of the largest in the area after only being open for six months. They recently released Suspended Animations, Springdale’s first sour that was aged in the brewery’s new Oak Foudres, which is a Saison aged with a combination of Brett, Lacto and Pedio.

“I also find that sour beers can be incredibly refreshing which makes them good summer beers,” Donovan pointed out. “In some ways I see them as the other side of the coin from the heavier barrel-aged porters and stouts that are often released in the colder seasons.

Springdale Barrel Room and Night Shift Brewing just put on the We’re Funk’d event, a weekend-long celebration of Sour and Wild beer in Massachusetts. The festival spanned two days and  brought together over 30 breweries that create sour and wild beer, which helped showcase the styles.

For the first day of the festival, they had a bar crawl throughout Cambridge and Somerville where different bars had beers from the participating breweries on tap. On Sunday, they hosted a more traditional beer fest at the Boylston Schul-Verein, a German-American Club in Walpole, Massachusetts with food trucks, live music, and lots of sour beer.

The event was a huge success, Donovan noted, saying that more than 850 people attended the Sunday festival.

“Even we were a little bit surprised about how many people showed up for a full day of only sour beers,” she said. “It really shows you how much this field has grown from a niche to a pretty respectable part of the craft beer scene.

Donovan added that from her viewpoint as a marketing manager, she’s found that since the process to create sours is almost similar to making wine in a lot of ways, there is just so much variation in the product,

“It makes it really exciting to the drinker,” she said

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  1. Pingback: Important Tips in Starting a Sour Program

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