American Sour/Wild Beer


American Sour Beer Style Guide

Essential Info

  • Color: Varies
  • ABV: Varies
  • Commercial Examples: Two Roads Brewing Co. Lambic Series: Gueuze, New Belgium Brewing Lips of Faith – Transatlantique Kriek, The Bruery Tart of Darkness

The world of American sours and wild beers is about as big as the craft beer movement can make them. Since wild fermentation styles really originated in Europe, what you’ll find from many American breweries are local variations and homages to wild styles. But what is a “wild” beer anyway? It’s actually just a beer that’s fermented with more than regular beer yeast, usually a combination of wild Brettanomyces yeast, lactobacillus, and maybe a bit of pediococcus (that one’s less common). Depending on the wild style they’re after, an American brewer may carefully introduce selected wild yeast and microbes into their beer, or they might (in rare cases) get the ancient route of the “coolship,” letting the beer ferment in a totally open tank, in the hopes that microbes in the ambient environment are polite to it. Because the style is so wide, flavors, including degrees of sourness, fruitiness from fermentation and oak-aging, hop levels, and discernable malt will vary. But if you like something wild, it’s a good idea to take a chance.