Credit: Flickr/N I C O L A
I love beer, and I love the Internet, but wherever the two intersect -- be it on reddit, BeerAdvocate, or some backwater brew message board -- you're sure to find mouthy pedants who pound keyboards, put down pilsners, and generally give a bad name to the glorious pursuit of drinking beer. Worse than his snobbery, though, is the Internet beer geek's insistent quest for "the next big thing": that new-new brew, the stuff no one's drinking yet.
For a solid few years, sour beer has been a growing fixation amongst early-adopting, post-hipster Cicerone types here in the US. Obviously, this sort of Emperor's New Clothes beer-fetishism is insufferable, and I've intentionally avoided the category like the plague. But ever since you suds-soused losers freaked out at my hatred for IPAs, my editor has been trying to get me to take down sour beers similarly, and I've finally relented.
For more on why sour beers suck, I emailed a DC consultant named Thomas Haydon, a beer geek and occasional trader (more on that in a second). He loves sour beers, so I lied and told him I was writing a piece about how terrific they were. Screw journalism ethics -- this is a diatribe, kids. (Disclosure: Thomas is a friend of a friend, and we've drunk together a dozen times before so it's cool I sorta played him. I think? Sorry Thomas.)
And now, without further ado, here are all the reasons sour beers suck:
Credit: Flickr/Matt Steele
It draws the worst fanboys
"The sour/wild/funky style is typically the last frontier for beer snobs," Haydon says. "[It's] definitely the 'buzz brewing' niche these days." With its technical, obscure-in-this-country origins, the sour category is a no-brainer for anyone who picks his beer based on perception rather than taste. A little bit of research, and a sour nerd could blather on about the beer's unique production methods, the historic due it owes to Belgian lambic brewers of centuries past, and... and... oh my god, this is so boring. But that's the point; the fewer people who commit this nonsense to memory, the more elite and validated the sour-sultans feel.
Case in point: on this very website, there's a downright passionate comment conversation about whether Brettanomyces, Lactobacillus, or Pediococcus is the souring agent responsible for the hallmark pucker-inducing taste. There's also an entire BA thread dedicated to identifying exactly what "Brett" tastes like. Brett. Sour aficionados affectionately refer to Brettanomyces as Brett. I'll move on, but I want you to think about that, you guys.
There's no way around the sour beer sticker-shock. It is downright pricey, due to factors including (but not limited to!): the imprecise, small-batch mode of brewing & blending; the fact that it's often bottled in a big ol' magnum with a Champagne cork instead of a cap; and the reality that the beer -- in the US, at least -- is weird, and therefore harder to get. Haydon explained that the prices can climb pretty damn high "since [sours are often] brewed in small batches and only released at breweries."
To research this piece, for example, I drank eight sours. They cost me a bit North of $100. That's a ridiculous price per beer. Say what you want about frats, but I was in one, and for a C-note, we could've thrown a party with ALL OF THE BEER EVER. I know this is different, but... is it, really?
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