Sour Beers: Tangy, Tart … but Shockingly Refreshing?

Learn about these pungent brews (and what to pair them with)

Light. Crisp. Refreshing. Stout. 

You don’t see many beer advertisements that stray from these four adjectives. But thanks to a wave of European-inspired brews that’s slowly (but surely) taking over bars and breweries around the world, beer drinkers are discovering a new flavor. And it’s, for lack of a better term, kind of … funky-tasting. 

Sour beers, made with yeast or bacteria, boast a taste that ranges from mildly tangy to squint-inducing. The level of sourness depends on the type of bacteria used during fermentation and how long it has aged, which can be several years. And while it’s certainly not your traditional brew, sour beer can be a home run for some of your more adventurous attendees.

Here’s how the tangy trend translates to your beverage menu in meetings. 

Pick Your Brew

Although Belgians have been brewing sour beers for centuries, the trend is also gaining steam in Germany and the U.S., which tend to have their own unique flavors and accents.

Belgian

Lambic (potent: lemon, vinegar and sharp cider aromas)
Faro (low in alcohol content, sweet) 
Flanders red (very funky but with an aftertaste like red wine)

German

Berliner weisse (only slightly tart, very thirst-quenching)
Gose (slightly salty)
German smoked sour ale (lightly smoked with a sour taste)

American

American spontaneous ale (palatable intensity balanced with fruit)
American-style gose (lime, blood orange or herb accents)
Dry-hopped sour (pungent aromas of tropical and citrus fruits) 

Pair It with the Right Food 

The acidity of sour beers makes them a great pairing for rich, pungent dishes—something you wouldn’t normally see with wine. Stinky cheeses (such as Gruyere, Ameribella and Limburger) mixed with nuts and fig jam would work perfectly, as would rich, braised meats and lemon-seasoned seafood.