Sour beers, made for centuries in Belgium and only recently gaining popularity stateside, are just what they sound like: brews that have been given a funky flavor during fermentation by the introduction of bacteria and wild yeasts. The beers aren't always sour, however, and are often called American Wild Ales in recognition of the fact that the flavor range of these beers are expansive — from dry and hay-like to tart and fruity.
By any name wild beers are now one of the most creative corners of the world's beer scene and among the most complex beers to drink in the world — able to replace a great bottle of wine at the center of any meal. Here is a list to get you started.
Transmitter Brewing's F4
Brewer: Transmitter Brewing
Rob Kolb and Anthony Acardi made the jump from homebrewing to commercial operation in the spring of 2014 focusing their efforts on farmhouse ales and wild yeast fermentation. The modest two-barrel operation is located in an industrial corner of Queens, New York's Long Island City neighborhood. The tiny brewhouse doesn't allow them to produce enough beer to quit their day jobs quite yet, but what the duo lack in finance and sheer output they make up for in flavor.
We're enthusiastic members of Transmitter's CSB or Consumer Supported Brewery program which works a bit like a futures program at a winery — you get a great deal on the beer and the brewery gets your money upfront. It works out to $175 for a T-shirt and two 750 mL bottles of beer every month for a half a year with discounts on future purchases. The deal only makes sense if the brewery is consistently turning out great beers, but that's exactly what Transmitter has done from the start.
One of the best so far is F4, which indicates that it's their fourth farmhouse ale fermented with brettanomyes. They're actually using three different strains of the wild yeast in this deeply golden beer and the collective effect of the culture is a nose rich with pineapple, deeply earthy notes and hints of leather. There's a crisp, grainy malt backbone as well and the vigorous fermentation emphasizes a crisp dry finish
Other standouts from Transmitter: G2, a hoppy golden ale; BdG2, a malty biere de garde aged in French oak barrels; anything in the F series of farmhouse ales fermented with wild yeasts