What is a sour beer

What is a sour beer



Lambic is the ‘basic’ beer and is brewed with barley malt and unmalted wheat, hops that are two to three years old, poor in aroma and with bittering characteristics. Ageing takes place in barrels for a period ranging from one year (young) to three years (old). Lambic aged one year has an acidity that is not too aggressive, the aroma has a hint of wood and a slight softness that is replaced with time by greater acidity and complexity of aromas. The three-year-old lambic, on the other hand, has no carbonation and presents hints of horse saddle, sweaty leather, animal and stable on the nose. Nonostante le birre a fermentazione spontanea siano una tradizione del Belgio, negli ultimi anni si sono sviluppate in tutto il mondo produzioni di birre simili con profumi e sensazioni che richiamano differenti terroir. These beers have different scents depending on the place of production and cannot be classified. However, a more or less pronounced acidity with more or less pronounced animal hints is always present. The lambic group also includes beers in which different fruits such as elderberries, mulberries, cherries, raspberries, peaches and other fruits or even flowers are used.


La Gueuze è una miscela di diversi lambic rifermentati in bottiglia di diverse annate. This beer is very different from brewer to brewer since, being a blend of lambics, the hand of the assembler greatly affects the aroma of the finished product. This type of beer, unlike lambic, is also offered by brewers who do not brew lambics themselves, but purchase them and continue their refinement. The scents range from notes of wood, hay, ripe fruit to earthy, citric, wild notes.


The kriek comes from the addition of whole sour cherries to lambic. Traditionally, about 20-30 kg of griotte cherries (a variety found north-east of Brussels) are used for every 100 litres. The cherries placed in barrels then filled with lambic are left to macerate for several weeks. In these beers, we generally find hints of red fruit: raspberries, morello cherry and black cherry; floral notes of rose, stone vanilla and, of course, lambic are also present.


Framboise are made using the same process as Kriek but the cherries are replaced with raspberries, usually frozen to improve extraction. The taste of framboise is drier than that of a kriek, characterised by a more aggressive acidity due to the cherries. Raspberry is the real protagonist of the olfactory scents of this beer, always accompanied by animal and barn scents typical of lambics. In addition to these two fruit beers, beers with apricots, grapes, grape must and many other fruits are now brewed in Pajotteland using the same method.


The Faro is made by adding a mixture of sugar (usually candied) and water to lambic. Traditionally, it was ‘created’ directly on the premises. At one time, the starting Lambic was March beer, a Lambic with a degree Plato of no more than 6°, which was cut from the oldest Lambic component aged for at least three years in barrels. Today, many producers offer it directly to their customers, while it is increasingly rare to find it freshly made on the premises. In this beer the scents are contrasting: sweet and sour at the same time. We find a sugar component perceptible even to the nose, followed by an acidic counterpoint from the lambic that gives the beer a unique flavour.


Unlike Lambics, goses are not strictly bound to the production territory; they can be produced all over the world, resulting in a product similar to the tradition. This style originated in Germany and more precisely in the city of Goslar, in Lower Saxony, where the river to which the Gose owes its name flows. Questo stile è nato in Germania e più precisamente nella città di Goslar, in Bassa Sassonia, dove scorre il fiume a cui la Gose deve il suo nome. Goses are made from barley malt, wheat, salt, coriander, yeast and lactic acid bacteria. Goses are beers with a more or less citric acidity accompanied by a more or less intense savoury note. Notes of coriander, historically used in production, are often present.

Berliner Weisse

Originating in Berlin, these beers are characterised by a low alcohol content and a pronounced citric acidity resulting from the lactic acid bacteria used. They are often served with raspberry or woodruff syrups to mitigate the sour taste. In the current panorama, smoked versions can also be found or produced with added fruits (such as raspberries).

Oud Bruin e Flemish Red

These are two relatively similar styles, typical of Flanders, both derived from blends of young and aged beers. Si differenziano principalmente per il tipo di maturazione: l’Oud Bruin in vasche d’acciaio, mentre il Flemish Red in tini di legno. This style is characterised by an acetic-sweetness in taste and nose, given, especially in Flemish, by the non-fermentable sugars left during production.

Farmhouse Saison

Beers born at the turn of the century in France and Belgium, historically brewed with Coolship like Lambics, have mixed fermentation traits, operated both by yeasts in the air and by the inoculation of fermenting yeasts, which in some cases can take place in casks. Most breweries today do not produce this style with Coolship, but isolate the yeasts in the brewery and inoculate them directly into the beer. They are all different beers, with different flavours from each other. The farmhouse style, however, does not only refer to saisons, but can affect all high-fermentations in general.