The Insider’s Scoop on The Emerging Sour Beer Trend

The question I bet you’re asking if you don’t already know: what is sour beer? Well, I’ll get there, but you will have to wait.

Brainstorming the topic of sour beer was something that took more than a little thought for our group. Once we all came to the conclusion that going downtown San Luis Obispo was an itch we all needed to scratch, there came the idea of sour beers. This was based off of The Libertine, a new brewery in downtown SLO. We were all pretty excited, “Put any beer in front of me and I’ll drink it,” said group member Marie Leleu.

Can you blame her? Any college student would feel that way. At this point, we were all eager to get started.

So, lets get into the nitty and gritty of finding out facts about sour beers and creating our story.

Alright Alright, you twisted my arm. Sour Beer is an intentionally acidic or tart beer that leaves you with a more “sour” taste. There are a wide variety of sour beer ranging from flavor to fermentation. When our group got an official definition, we dove right in to wanting to know about the behind the scenes of making sour beer.

We started to chat with people in the Cal Poly Community and those who had experience with breweries to see what people wanted to know about sour beers– if anything. A lot of what we found was that people either didn’t know what it was or they didn’t have a clue where to find it.

Don’t you worry, we were on it. We set up a meeting with one of the brewers at The Libertine, Dan Miller. When we first walked up to him, he was standing in between something that looked like this:

Image Courtesy:
Image Courtesy:

You could say the interview was under-whelmingly casual. What we did come to find was that Dan knew so much about the history and production of the beer.

What is the difference of “regular beer” from “sour beer” you ask? Well Dan had the answer, “The thing that separates us [Libertine] from clean beer breweries, is that we cool it down quickly and then put it in an open top fermentation vessel for about 2-3 days.” So, it’s all about the fermentation.

Now you would think that the two types of beers are very similar from what he said, however sours are also closely related to wine production. How? Sour beers are aged in oak barrels for a varied amount of time before they are brought back into retail spaces which is similar to wine. Below is a look into how The Libertine ages its beers.

Image Courtesy: Beer and Brewing
Image Courtesy: Beer and Brewing

You can imagine our group as starry-eyed journalists when we found out there was so much more that goes into the production of this beer. Group member Rachel Mesaros said, “It’s definitely a major commitment and clearly takes time to master.”

We wanted to tell people why it is the way it is because, well, our first impression of this story was just:

Image Courtesy: TripAdvisor
Image Courtesy: TripAdvisor

But, we wanted to give you guys the best insight to the sour beer trend. So, our group talked to people from BarrelHouse Brewery and MadeWest Brewery which are both located on the Central Coast. We were lucky that everyone was very easy to talk to and ready with a wealth of knowledge.

We uncovered that there are 6 main types of sours and about three main types of bacteria found in sour beers. Not only did we get to talk to interesting people, but we got to know more about something our whole group was curious about.

Also– Can you believe I did not even have one sour beer while covering this story? I can’t. Don’t worry, that’s next on my list.

Until next time folks~