Over the next couple of chapters we thought we would showcase some contrasting beer styles and some of our favourites in those styles.
When one thinks beer, sour is not usually a word that springs to mind; that is, unless sanitising is not a strong point when cleaning brewing gear. However, sour beers, when done right, are some of the most exciting and complex brews to experience. Intentionally acidic and tartness that makes Miley Cyrus seem like an upstanding citizen, these beers are challenging at first but hang in there; let the sourness dance around your mouth and by the time you have had a few sips, you’ll be hooked.
Unlike the majority of modern brewing, which is done in a sterile environment to ensure no wild yeast infections, sours are made by intentionally allowing wild yeast strains or bacteria into the brew. They are often then left in barrels for years to mature, then blended with younger beers to balance.
Making sours can be risky business; only time will tell whether the liquid that was put to bed in oak barrels years earlier has transformed into a golden tangy masterpiece, or an undrinkable slop, ravaged by aggressive yeast. Thankfully though, there are breweries out there that have the art down pat. Probably the most famous is Belgian’s Rodenbach Brewery.
Founded in 1836 by Pedro Rodenbach, this brewery is as old as it is impressive, with an annual output of 180,000 HL (around 360,000 kegs). One of their most famous beers is the Rodenbach Grand Cru, considered the best gateway beer into the world of sours and with a finish worthy of a great wine.
By way of contrast to a sour, the beer style stout is often characterised by a dark and thick texture and dates back to the 1700s in England. Stout is made using a roasted malt (barley), hops, water and yeast, and there are a number of variations to a stout such as Baltic Porter, Milk Stout and Imperial Stout, to name a few.
Perhaps the best known stout is Guinness, but as with other market dominated beers, there is much more to explore in the stout style.
Keep an eye out for when we will be tapping a few specialty kegs of Barrel Aged Imperial Stout, Turkish Delight Stout and Nuts & Malts Nutella Beer, all by innovative Australian craft breweries. These are sure to be extravagant but delicious.
A personal favourite of ours is from the ever consistent Nail Brewery from Western Australia. Their oatmeal stout displays a coffee, chocolate sweetness, balanced with a good dose of bitterness and arrives at a manageable 6% ABV. No doubt there are better stouts out there, but time and time again this old favourite hits the spot.
So the next time you have beer on the brain, take a rewarding challenge and seek out something outside your comfort zone.
Until next time drink less; taste more!