When it appeared that IPA's and their ilk had reached peak popularity I was excited to see what was coming next. My enthusiasm was tempered more than a little when I learned the heir apparent to craft beer trendiness would be, wait for it... Sour Beer. Sounds tasty, right? The good news for me was sour beers generally have little or no hoppiness. The bad news? They're actually sour. The first ones I sampled tasted like a tablespoon or so of vinegar had been stirred into them. Two or three more years of this sounds like a death sentence.
|Certified cicerone Celina Tio knows something about beer.|
So, What is this stuff?
To make regular beer brewers add yeast to boiled grains to ferment the sugars into alcohol. Yay Alcohol! Then it's pretty much done. With sour beers they also add the bacteria Lactobacillus and Pediococcus and sometimes Brettanomyces. That last one is a wild yeast and is notable for creating flavors best described as often fruity and sometimes leathery, or even barnyard. Red wine lovers will know this can be a very good thing.
|Ron Jeffries of Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales at Collection|
Dinner, held at Tio's restaurant Collection that adjoins The Belfry was a five-course affair and is pictured below. While I'm no sour beer evangelist I'll say that, paired with the appropriate food, sour beers certainly have a place in my wheelhouse of beverages.
These beer dinners are getting pretty popular. You'll find them periodically at Celina Tio's Collection as well as Bridger's Bottle Shop, Happy Gillis Cafe and Hangout, Providence New American Kitchen and probably elsewhere. Know of one? Leave a comment at the end of this post!
Paired with: Los Vivos y Los Muertos Saison
This sour ale is brewed with pumpkin and lime and while I'm not good enough to tease out any pumpkin flavors the beer itself was a nice match to both the fruit and the briny cheese.
Paired with: Jolly Pumpkin Baudelaire iO
This ale is brewed with rose hips, rose petals and hibiscus. No surprise to find floral notes here. A relatively simple sourish ale paired with a rather simple dish.
Paired with: Ale Absurd
This Belgian style tripel is brewed with rye. As it starts with a high amount of malt (typically triple *tripel* the normal quantity) and has a rye element there is no surprise why this was my favorite of the evening. I'm drinking one as I write as a matter of fact. At 8.3% alcohol it's not to be taken lightly. It was a nice companion to the robust curry and acidic yogurt of this dish.
Seared Ribeye with Shishito Peppers, Kumquat, Maggi
Paired with: Saison Z (no photo)
Saison Z as I understand it is no longer available. I think it was somewhat experimental. FWIW... perfect with this course. My favorite dish of the evening. Not just because it's meat. The peppers and kumquats - divine.
Chocolate Truffle (no photo. why are are all my dessert photos blurry?)
Paired with: Madrugada Obscura
A very rich chocolate truffle needs a stout. This a strange stout however. It definitely has that sourness that I've been tasting all evening but just enough coffee, cherry and maybe some smoke to make it right for this dessert.