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We Asked 13 Brewers: What’s the Best Fruited Sour?

As the fourth most consumed style on the beer app Untappd in 2021, fruited sours comprise a playful and exciting class that embodies the endless possibilities (including the potential for wider appeal) of the beverage. Simply put, the beers in this enthralling style are sour — either by intentional methods or spontaneously — and feature an addition of fruit, from purees to whole pieces.

Much like the larger sour beer category, the specification for fruited sours is somewhat nebulous after that. Unsurprisingly, this looseness has led to many creative interpretations, especially from American brewers. As a result, the term “fruited sour,” at least in the United States, has come to represent the popular but polarizing pastry lane: extravagantly thick, excessively sweet smoothie-mimics in pounder cans. That said, one should not overlook the more harmonious, subtly complex, acidity-kissed renditions typically presented in large-format bottles. If you’re interested in learning more about the fascinating world of sour beers, check out our complete guide here.

To find the best fruited sours, we asked 13 brewers around the country to share their favorite tart refreshers. These expert’s entries, though just a small set of recommendations, convey the wide range of flavors within the category.

The Best Fruited Sours, According to Brewers:

Revolution Freedom of Press
Yeast of Eden Oodelallie
Dogfish Head SeaQuench Ale
Evil Twin Even More Daily Servings
Phantom Carriage The Midnight Hour
Jester King Atrial Rubicite
Wico Street Roll It, Tap It, Pop It, Smash It
Breakside Passion Fruit Sour
Cantillon Rosé de Gambrinus
Hudson Valley Peach Silhouette
Allagash Farm to Face
Hof ten Dormaal Frambuesa y Chocolate

“My pick would have to be what comes to mind first, and that is Freedom of Press from Revolution. The Freedom line of session fruited sours are all pretty good, but nothing hits the spot for me more so than Press does. The blackcurrants give off a great tartness with just enough sweetness to keep it veering [off] too much for a refreshing sipper. Wonderfully balanced while maintaining complexity.” —Ryan Absolon, brewer, More Brewing Company, Villa Park, Ill.

“Back when I worked in San Francisco and had access to Yeast of Eden, the sour spinoff of Alvarado Street Brewery, I had the pleasure of enjoying a bright, floral, and jammy beer called Oodelallie. It’s made with olallieberries — essentially a blackberry with a complicated family tree — that expertly rounds out and complements the tart, wine-like character of this mixed-fermentation beer. Yeast of Eden has released at least four batches over the years, and I look forward to the next time it’s made.” —Daniel Gadala-Maria, head brewer, Finback Brewery, Glendale, N.Y.

“One fruited sour I always enjoy is SeaQuench Ale by Dogfish Head. It has black limes and sour lime juice with a nice tartness that is super refreshing for warm weather. It’s approachable, crisp, and a nice cooling drink with bright citrus for summertime sipping.” —Julie Smith, lab manager, Lawson’s Finest Liquids, Waitsfield, Vt.

“The one fruited sour that stands out in our memories is The Midnight Hour from Phantom Carriage in Carson, Calif. Back in our engineering days, Zach [Sowada, co-owner and head brewer] and I used to take frequent work trips to the port at Long Beach and Phantom Carriage was always a must-visit. The Midnight Hour is a masterful blend of mixed-culture saison and young lambic aged in Merlot barrels and re-fermented on black currant that lends to a final product that is both well balanced and restrained. It drinks super easy with a crisp minerality, wonderful fruit and oak notes from the Merlot barrels and black currants, and a delicate refreshing acidity. Zach and I love this beer so much we shared a bottle to celebrate the grand opening of our brewery, and still have that bottle on display in our taproom.” —Parker Loudermilk, co-founder, Fait la Force Brewing, Nashville, Tenn.

“I’m typically more of a hophead when it comes to beers, so a fruited sour beer needs to really hit the right notes if I’m going to genuinely say I enjoyed it. Evil Twin, out of New York, did a collaboration with Trillium called Even More Daily Servings, which was a play off of Evil Twin’s Twice the Daily Serving. I only had the pleasure of trying the collaboration brew, and the remarkable balance between sweet and tart made it a beautiful example of the fruited sour style. Although balanced, it still packs a punch of tart from the raspberry and a smack of mellow sweetness from the marshmallow. It’s a sipper of a beer, in my opinion; a nice, decadent dessert.” —Terence Sullivan, product manager, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Chico, Calif.

“Jester King’s Atrial Rubicite will always have a special place in my heart. It was the first American fruited sour that I felt really held up to the great Belgian sours from Cantillon and Tilquin. It has an amazing amount of raspberry character without completely drowning out all the subtle nuances of the base beer. It also has a great acidity level. Nice and puckering tartness, but not so sour you feel like it’s stripping the enamel off your teeth. Just thinking about the beer makes me want one right now.” —Kyle Bozicevic, owner and head brewer, Alpha Acid Brewing Co., Belmont, Calif.

“Our brewery mainly sticks to classic styles, so when we tried our closest brewery neighbor Wico Street Beer Co.’s fruited sour double IPA — Roll It, Tap It, Pop It, Smash It — we were straight blown away. Not only did it turn us on to the style, but with notes of strawberry, citrus, and vanilla along with a well-balanced tartness, it helped us realize the artistry that Wico Street owner and brewer Jordan McGraw was bringing to the neighborhood with his lineup. It was so good that we put it on at our brewery for a couple months while they were finalizing their buildout.” —Jason Howard, owner, Pickett Brewing Company, Baltimore

“Breakside’s Passion Fruit Sour is one of my all-time favorites. This fruited kettle sour is the perfect summer beer. Passion fruit is already quite tart, and it blends in perfectly with the gentle malt character. It’s been consistently winning awards for the last decade for a reason.” —Will Jaquiss, founder and brewmaster, Meanwhile Brewing Co., Austin, Texas

“While it may not be the type of fruited sour that we’re used to seeing in today’s market, Rosé de Gambrinus from Cantillon holds a special place in my heart. I first had it at the Classic City Brewfest in Athens, Ga., in 2005, and tasting that lambic completely opened my mind to how insanely diverse beer styles can be. It’s a true classic that I feel lucky to get a hold of anytime I see it. Whether that be in a bottle shop in the states or on draft in Belgium, I always buy it.” —Charlie Meers, co-founder, Magnanimous Brewing, Tampa, Fla.

“Hudson Valley’s Silhouette series contains no lactose, which is rare in these fruited sour styles. It also stands at a nice 5 percent ABV; most beers in this style are usually at least 7 percent. It’s dry and drinkable as hell. In my research some fruited sours can have synthetic flavor to them, but that’s nowhere to be found in my favorite of the series, Peach Silhouette. Tastes like you bit into the best peach you’ve ever had.” —Andrew Turnbull, brewer, The Drowned Lands, Warwick, N.Y.

“It’s really hard to beat Allagash’s Farm to Face. Ultra-tart and refreshing immediately after opening, but as it warms, you get a big smack of peach nectar with plenty of acid and bubbles remaining to keep it all balanced. Honestly, any of Allagash’s sours aged on fruit could make this list, but the Farm to Face just has a dynamic flavor to it that you don’t see in many other beers. No oak, no lactose, no marshmallow, no vanilla. Just a good ol’ aged sour ale and its fruit.” —Jeff Rogers, brewer, Silver Branch Brewing Co., Silver Spring, Md.

“Not many breweries make beer as unique and innovative as Hof ten Dormaal. Produced on a family-owned farm brewery in Belgium, Hof ten’s small team grows and processes most of the ingredients they brew with — including their own hops that they harvest year-round in conjunction with a local university. Their beers are as compelling as their story, and they are producing a complex and dynamic range of mixed-culture beers that honor tradition. I remember drinking Frambuesa y Chocolate for the first time and realizing fruit in a sour ale could truly work in harmony with the other elements of the beer. There is a bright, tart kick that is backed by rich nuances and tannins from the chocolate. Each flavor component is highlighted while drinking, rather than one note dominating the entire palate. This beverage showcases the wonderful results that come from patience and passion for the craft.” —Rachael Morris, brewer and blender, Burial Beer Co., Asheville, N.C.

The article We Asked 13 Brewers: What’s the Best Fruited Sour? appeared first on VinePair.

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