Seasonal change can catch you by surprise. Some years it creeps in slowly and quietly until the day you happen to turn around and notice that Hey, Summer is here. Other times it arrives suddenly and unexpectedly, like a guest who shows up early to a party: Oh hello, Autumn. Sour beers can also catch you unawares. Some of them immediately shock you with their pungency, while others have a sneaky sharpness that hides behind fruit, funk and other flavors. Either way, after months of winter’s low temperatures and the darker, heavier beer styles that often go with the season, a little zing is a welcome thing. Here are seven of our favorite spring sours.
The Dissident (Boysenberry) | Deschutes Brewing – Bend, Ore,
Jammy berries, tart red plum, black cherry and a tickle of leathery tannins jump from the glass of this barrel-aged specialty release inspired by the sour brown ales of Belgium. Fruity yet not too sweet, with bright acidity and a medium body, The Dissident finishes semi-dry with notes of cherry pits, toasted almond and a trace of vanilla. If complexity is what you want, this is the sour beer for you. (10.5% ABV)
High Lift Cherry Sour | Hopworks – Portland, Ore.
Garnet in color with attractive clarity for a fruited beer, High Lift introduces itself with both sweet and tart cherry aromas as well as a touch of tanginess contributed by lactic acid. Five different malts provide some structure, marrying nicely with the depth of flavor added by the fruit. The finish leaves you with a bit of a pucker, but overall, this is an easy-drinking sour. (5.8% ABV)
Pear Therapy | Cascade Brewing – Portland, Ore.
Pouring the color of polished gold with a delicate, frothy white head, Pear Therapy smells like baked pears dusted with ginger, coriander and mace. On the tongue, sweet pear and sour lemon mingle with oaky white wine notes and the bright pop of ginger. Semi-dry in the finish with a lingering tangy note, this elegant, barrel-aged blend may well improve your mood, if nothing else. (6.7% ABV)
Raspberry Tartlandia | Rogue Ales & Spirits – Newport, Ore.
Rogue has made a sour for those who don’t think they like sours. From its brilliant, inviting red color, to its fragrant nose combining fresh raspberries with a whisper of salinity, this is a light, refreshing beer with a tart, fruit-forward taste and a clean finish that is very approachable. All aboard the train to Tartlandia. (4.9% ABV)
Sun Made Cucumber Sour | Oakshire Brewing – Eugene, Ore.
More tangy than truly sour with a palate-pleasing melon-like sweetness and a deep golden hue, Sun Made Cucumber Sour sings with garden-fresh flavor. The sessionable alcohol level also makes it a beer well suited for second rounds and lunchtime pairings – preferably outdoors. Try it with a hot chicken sandwich or a falafel platter. (4.1% ABV)
Tropic Heart | Urban Family – Seattle
This bright orange beer tastes like the tropical vacation we all need right about now. Overflowing with the flavors and aromas of ripe mango and passionfruit, it’s medium-bodied, packed with fun, and just tart enough to balance all of that fruity sweetness. Careful, Tropic Heart just might end up your spring crush. (7.0% ABV)
What Peaches and What Penumbras! | Breakside Brewery – Portland, Ore.
As hazy as the countless New England IPAs crowding your Instagram feed, What Peaches and What Penumbras! impresses with its nuance. Juicy stone-fruit aromas combine with musty oak, sharp acidity, and some soft minerality in the nose before things really get interesting on your palate. Lively, light-bodied and quenching, this blended sour tiptoes from ripe peach and nectarine to subtle spice and then nutty, sweet malt. It’s like liquid poetry. (6.65% ABV)