Check out this week’s On Tap column for The Advocate that’s published here.
Sour Summer — six kettle sours you should try to beat the summer heat
Though the calendar says May, the thermometer clearly says summer has returned. With the sun beating down and mercury soaring, I’ve put down the big stouts and picked up lighter, more refreshing beers.
And there are few beers more refreshing than a kettle sour.
What is a kettle sour? Well, as opposed to a traditional sour, which can take months (sometimes years) to complete, kettle sours are brewed quickly with slight modification to the traditional brewing schedule.
Lactobacillus bacteria (commonly found in yogurt and other probiotics) is added to the unfermented beer (wort), which spurs the creation of lactic acid and drops the pH. This process takes a day or two, then the wort is boiled and fermented with traditional ale yeast. The result is a pleasant, refreshing tartness.
Two types of kettle sours I enjoy are the Berliner Weisse (brewed with a mix of traditional barley and wheat, light in color and featuring a very low alcohol content) and goses (most versions feature coriander and sea salt, which complement that tartness).
Kettle sours originated in Germany but have seen a renaissance stateside. These beers are low in bitterness and generally have less than 5 percent alcohol by volume. Some even have fruit added for a more complex beer that’s still ideal for hot summers.
Whether you’re spending your day by the pool or grilling in the backyard, grab one of these kettle sours to beat the heat.
Sierra Nevada Otra Vez
Sierra Nevada introduced its take on the gose a couple years ago with Otra Vez. At that time, it was brewed with prickly pear cactus and a dash of grapefruit. This spring, the brewery reformulated its recipe. Now, Otra Vez features lime and blue agave nectar. Pair with grilled fish, goat cheese or a watermelon salad for a tasty summer treat.
Dogfish Head SeaQuench Ale
Delaware’s Dogfish Head launched in Louisiana earlier this year, and I was excited mainly because I’d be able to get SeaQuench on the regular. Brewed with black limes, sour lime juice and sea salt, this is basically like a beer version of a margarita, without the regret (only 140 calories per can). Pair with your favorite tacos and thank me later.
Terrapin Watermelon Gose
There are two kinds of people in this world: those who put salt on their watermelon, and the rest of us. No matter which side of that issue you’re on, there’s one thing we should agree on: Terrapin’s Watermelon Gose is a delicious summer beer. I first discovered this beer a couple years ago, and I’m hard-pressed to find a beer that is a better summer refresher. The watermelon is noticeable, but not overpowering. The salinity proves to be a perfect complement to the tartness of the beer and the fruitiness of the watermelon.
Urban South Lime Cucumber Gose
Last summer, Urban South Brewing released Lime Cucumber Gose as a taproom exclusive at its New Orleans brewery. It proved to be such a hit that it’s now a seasonal release. While it may sound odd to put cucumber in a beer, it works. The additions of key lime juice and kosher salt round out the beer so that cucumber isn’t the only flavor profile. At a mere 4 percent ABV, this is a summer crusher.
Saint Arnold Raspberry AF
I’ll let you guess what the ‘AF’ stands for, but suffice it to say there are a LOT of raspberries in this Berliner Weisse from Houston’s Saint Arnold Brewing. The beer pours pink, and the raspberries shine in both the aroma and flavor with a pleasant tartness. Featuring a dry finish and only 3.6 percent ABV, you’ll easily reach for more of this tart thirst quencher.
Tin Roof Über Froot
Baton Rouge’s own Tin Roof Brewing is getting in on the kettle sour action thanks to its release of Über Froot with blackberries. This traditional-style Berliner Weisse is neither too sweet nor too tart, making it a splendid summer brew. What started out as part of Tin Roof’s taproom-only small-batch series, Über Froot will become a year-round offering later this summer. The beer will replace Turnrow coriander wheat ale. Until then, visit the brewery to try it on draft or grab a four-pack.