A few weeks ago my local favorite beer bar Library Ale House has had a sour beer fest. The line-up of sour beers was quite spectacular. For many beer lovers sour beers can be a challenge. The tart and sour flavors is something that you normally don’t expect in a beer. It can be “to much” for many beer drinkers. A sour beer is probably close to the way many beers used to taste before brewers know about yeast. Sour beers are almost mainly brewed in Belgium with the Senne Valley south of Brussels as the sour beer capitol. I’m happy to see that the knowledge of sour beer brewing is expanding and that breweries here in America are starting to pick up this intriguing beer style. I think it’s bold of Liberty Ale House to have a sour beer fest in a still very young beer town like Los Angeles. I hold this beer style very high so for me this was Christmas. Here are a few samples of the many beers that Library Ale house had on tap.
The local brewery The Bruery brewed a good selection for the beers at sour fest. The 5.7% Pharaoh have a subtle sugar acid flavor. The body has a balanced sourness with a refreshing after taste. From what I understand this is supposed to be something like the Belgium style Faro. Faro is a very unusual beer style even in Belgium. It’s a long time ago since I had a Faro. I think it was 1995 at Mort Subite in Brussels. I staid at a hotel just a block from Mort Subite. It seemed like I for some reason ended up there every night with a Faro in my hand after a long day of beer executions in Brussels. But this is not really what I remember a Faro taste like. A Faro is to me very sweet, light with low alcohol and only a slight sourness. Molasses or brown sugar is often added after brewing at the pub that makes it very sweet. But the Pharaoh is still a good beer. The Bruery also had their Marron Acidifie which is an Imperial Oud Bruin. The beer reminds me about Rodenbach Grand Cru with that lactic vanilla flavor but a little dryer in the finish. Another The Buery beer was the Hottenroth that is a Berliner Weisse. It’s great to see this beer style being brewed here in America. This is a style that I really enjoy and that I think there are to few breweries brewing even in Germany. It has a balanced wheat flavor with a subtle lactic sourness. Smooth and refreshing. It’s only 3.1 % ABV but still full of flavors without being watery or thin. This is a great session beer for a hot summer day.
The only Los Angeles brewery as of yet is Eagle Rock Brewery. They are celebrating their first anniversary this year with their Yearling. The beer has plenty of sourness with tart berry flavors and a malty body. Another local brewery is Lost Abbey. They had a sour brown ale aged in red wine barrels with tart cherries and red poppy and thus the name Red poppy. This beer also reminds me of Rodenbach Grand Cru with its sourness and the vanilla from the wine barrels. Actually this beer is more like Rodenbach Alexander. Many years ago Rodenbach brewed a Rodenbach Grand Cru with cherries. This was a fantastic beer!
Just up the coast from Santa Monica is Santa Barbara and Telegraph Brewery. They had two beers at the sour beer fest, the Obscura Amber 7 % ABV and Obscura Fortis 9% ABV. The Amber is slightly sour with tart and fruity body. The Fortis is an oak barreled aged Belgian Strong Ale kind a sweet and sour fruit flavors.
One of my favorites at the fest was Russian River Consecration. It’s has 10% ABV which you probably won’t feel until they day after if you have to many. It’s brewed with currant and aged in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels. The saddle and leather smell spread around the bar already when pouring. The beer has a tart body, long flavor and balanced sourness.
I have been referring to Rodenbach Grand Cru for some of the beers. This is one of my favorite beers and I was really happy to see that The Library actually had a Rodenbach Grand Cru at the sour fest. On top of it all it was a vintage 2008. A vintage Grand Cru is more complex, balanced and with a more mellow sourness than a fresh Grand Cru.
The Library had beers from many other breweries like Allagash, Ommegang, Drake, Jolly Pumpkin and imports like De Proef (in collaboration with Allagash), Brouwerij Bavik and Van Honsebrouch.