Why Is Everyone Puckering up to Sour Beer?

With the craft beer industry still booming, interesting new beer trends keep bubbling up. For many craft beer aficionados, super-dank IPAs sparked their interest in modern beer culture. While the hoppy style is still going strong, sour beers have enjoyed a meteoric rise in popularity over the past few years. A large percentage of beer drinkers across the country have gone wild for this seemingly new style, but the shift has also left a lot of beer-lovers scratching their heads over what’s drawing them to the lip-puckering libations.

Really, the sour craze is the logical next step in trendy beer consumption. Two pillars of the American craft beer community put in play: IPAs and America’s penchant for putting a modern twist on heritage food.

Drinking extra-hoppy, bold-flavored and often bitter IPAs, IIPAs and even IIIPAs primed our palates for the sours screwing up our faces today.

While they’re a new sensation for craft beer lovers, sours have a long history. Germans have brewed salty goses since the 16th century. But sour Belgian lambics are the real inspiration for our modern sours. They’re fermented the same way: by intentionally exposing the brew to wild yeasts and bacteria strains that make it turn and, in many cases, punched up with bright, fruity flavors that either temper or highlight a sour’s intricate flavor profile, depending on the brew maker’s preference and skill.

It’s a delicate balance and a challenge many American brewers are relishing. Just ask Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø, founder of Evil Twin Brewing New York City. Jarnit-Bjergsø has partnered with the food recovery non profit Rethink Food NYC for a limited-edition citrus sour pale ale made from spent grains and unused cocktail ingredients.

“Sour beers are definitely a trend that will last,” Jarnit-Bjergsø said. “It’s a style with so many different opportunities in terms of adding fruits, hops, adjuncts and more.”

It’s tailor-made for American brewers, who jump at every chance to showcase their ingenuity and push the boundaries of long-standing styles.