Called pungent, wild and funky, with tastes ranging from sour cherry to horse blanket, sour beers have become as ubiquitous to the New York City beer scene as keggers. Made with bacteria and wild strains of yeast, sour beer has been around for decades in Europe, but didn’t start gathering steam in earnest on this side of the pond until recently. Drawn to their crisp, earthy flavors, sour brew denizens appreciate how well these palate-cleansing brews go with food, and enjoy stretching their taste bud experiences to the limit. Ready to join the suds revolution and take a walk on wild side of beer? Check out these five sour beers at the New York City breweries that put them on the map.
F7 Sour Farm House
53-02 11th St.
Long Island City, NY 11101
“Not every beer touted as sour is truly a sour beer. It can be a misnomer. People brew certain forms of beer as sour that aren’t legitimately so,” says Anthony Accardi, co-owner of this “not-a-bar.” Transmitter Brewing, known for its specialized Belgian and French-inspired country ales, fills up a casual, small tasting room from Friday to Sunday. “We don’t have a tap system, so people come here for pints to enjoy at home,” Accardi added. People also flock to Transmitter to enjoy a true sour beer: F7 Sour Farm House. Fermented with a strain of wild yeast for added earthy funkiness, F7 (which stands for Farmhouse recipe seven) has a tart, limey-lemony flavor and low acidity.
79 N. 11th St.
Brooklyn, NY 11249
It’s hard to believe this well established Williamsburg brewery was once little more than a renegade concept put into action by a tiny group of talented futurists. Today, Brooklyn Brewery stands for originality, good-neighborliness and great local beer. Their unending parade of blow-you-out-of-the-water quarterly experiments includes Wild Streak, a Belgian-style golden ale aged in bourbon barrels with several yeasts. Aged for at least one year and naturally carbonated, Wild Streak has a complex earthy taste. You can enjoy this and other sours like Wild Horse and K is for Kriek on small batch tours of the Brewery. Check the schedule for dates.
Hops N’ Roses
Captain Lawrence Brewing
444 Saw Mill River Road
Elmsford, NY 10523
Just 43 minutes north of the city are some of the best sour beers you’ll find anywhere in the world. Touting a floral aroma and full-bodied, tangy taste, Hops N’ Roses is a great dinner sour which goes particularly well with fish. Captain Lawrence Brewing serves Hops N’ Roses and their other sours, including Cuvee de Castleton, on rotation. So be sure to check the schedule for tour details and ask what’s being served in the tasting room before you go.
Stupid Wild IPA
Other Half Brewing
195 Centre St.
Brooklyn, NY 11231
This intimate Carroll Gardens brewery with an unmarked door sells most of its beer the day they are kegged. “Right now, we have a couple of barrels of yet to be released brett beers (short for Brettanomyces bruxellensis). We see a trend of people drinking and enjoying sour beer, which should have a great tart flavor when done well,” said Andrew Burman, a partner at the Brewery. Other Half Brewing has a tasting room with 12 taps and is open from 5-10 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, 12-10 p.m. on Saturday and from 12-6 p.m. on Sunday. A crowd favorite is brett beer Stupid Wild IPA, a highly-memorable, gossamer- light wild ale which is tart, clean and practically gone the second it’s made available.
Flemish Red Ale
529 Waverly Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11238
Named for the brewer and his wife, KelSo Brewery hosts calendared company events and also invites people in for a cold one at their Taproom from Thursday through Sunday. Wherever you decide to drink it down, run, don’t walk for your first (or next) Kelso sour brew. There’s always something new to try. Favorites are the fruit forward and well-balanced Brandy Barrel Aged Saison with brett, and the mildly cherry-tinged sweet and sour Flemish Red Ale. Kelso rotates their sour beers, which run out just about as quickly as they produce them.
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Corey Whelan is a freelance writer in New York. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.