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Why are sours uncommon?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by gcamparone, Mar 15, 2013.

  1. Are they difficult to craft? Are the raw materials expensive/hard to come by?
     
  2. tugg407

    tugg407 Savant (260) Florida Oct 16, 2010

  3. kbuzz

    kbuzz Advocate (590) Pennsylvania Jan 22, 2011

    Probably cause they take forever to mature and although gaining popularity, they are still a relatively lesser-known/popular style and tend to be an acquired taste.
     
  4. tugg407 likes this.
  5. clegolfski

    clegolfski Savant (315) Ohio Jul 13, 2008

    Funny. At the time that was written you could regularly get Cantillon off the shelf.
     
    Brew33 and chanokokoro like this.
  6. That's so ironic. People were probably wondering what a sour was at the time too. I was 12 years old.
     
  7. kzoobrew

    kzoobrew Champion (840) Michigan May 8, 2006

    Wild yeast scares brewers. Okay, that could be taken the wrong way but many brewers do not want to risk contamination and bring bugs and brett into their brew house. Most will want to keep their clean beer separate but that is not always possible given space limitations many breweries can run up against.
     
  8. Sonofalime

    Sonofalime Savant (425) Virginia Oct 11, 2010

  9. tugg407

    tugg407 Savant (260) Florida Oct 16, 2010

  10. Sonofalime

    Sonofalime Savant (425) Virginia Oct 11, 2010


    Yea I got that...don't know the last time I was in that section.
     
  11. rocdoc1

    rocdoc1 Savant (405) New Mexico Jan 13, 2006

    I happen to be drinking a sour barrel aged saison from JesterKing in Texas as I type this. My love of sours has been rekindled, I can't get enough of this stuff. Seriously I can't get enough because it's a 500 mile drive to the closest place that sells it.
    Few breweries have the resources to devote a separate brewhouse for sours. Some of us love sours but we don't want sour ESB's Porters, IPAs etc. My understanding is that once souring bugs get established in brewing gear there will always be a risk of any beer brewed turning sour. I've homebrewed sours and have never had a problem, but if I had hundreds of thousands of dollars invested I wouldn't take the chance either.
     
  12. GRG1313

    GRG1313 Champion (890) California Jan 15, 2009

    I love that you did this. The information on this site is invaluable! I give beer tastings to wine and food groups, social clubs, charities, school board events, etc. etc. and I always go the this site for information not only about what to serve but to read about each style. The information on this site is just wonderful and I refer as many people to it as I can, as a means of "becoming an expert" by sitting on your computer, reading and then tasting!
     
    tugg407 likes this.
  13. Stugotzo

    Stugotzo Savant (495) Florida Jun 13, 2012

    Supply and Demand.
     
  14. kzoobrew

    kzoobrew Champion (840) Michigan May 8, 2006

    Supply and Demand. Beer Advocates answer for everything, regardless if it makes sense.
     
  15. Catchy_Name

    Catchy_Name Savant (445) California Dec 21, 2011

    Short answer...they're not.

    In fact I'd figure it to be quite the opposite. The number of breweries making these beers is growing at a geometric rate. Not to mention there are breweries that really only make sours for the most part.

    Judging by the responses you're getting, I'd say a better question was "Why are sours so expensive?"
     
  16. kbuzz

    kbuzz Advocate (590) Pennsylvania Jan 22, 2011

    While I agree that they are growing in availability, sours are still not to the level of what I would consider to be common. At least not in my area (SW PA). In contrast to the availability of other styles, they are definitely still uncommon. The ratio of available shelf sours to almost each and every other style is little to a lot.

    Just so happens that the same reasons also hold water when applied to the expense aspect of sour beer production.
     
  17. clegolfski

    clegolfski Savant (315) Ohio Jul 13, 2008

    They have to pay back the loans. I think about Cantillon selling Classic for 5-7 euro. I'm sure after being in the location for 100 years they own the place.
     
  18. kzoobrew

    kzoobrew Champion (840) Michigan May 8, 2006

    Says the guy from California.

    In many states it is hard to find sours on any regular basis. In Michigan I can find Jolly Pumpkin, outside of that I am really lucky to come across much of anything.
     
    HipsterBrewfus likes this.
  19. Stugotzo

    Stugotzo Savant (495) Florida Jun 13, 2012

    I would have said "Economics 101", but that would have been too subtle.
     
  20. The definition of a sour is expanding all the time. Now it is really the American Wild Ale that seems to be growing now that brewers are adding brett and barrel aging many of their beers.

    But let's be real those kinds of beers, unless brewed by great brewers, don't approach spontaneous fermented lambics. Wild yeasts just add distinctive characteristics that are hard to replicate. The rarity of these lambics drive up the hunt for other "sour" ales.
     
  21. HKUSPC40

    HKUSPC40 Savant (300) Washington Aug 28, 2012

    TW in Bellevue has like 6 regularly available sours out of 2500 or so total beers... I would say they are uncommon. The short answer I've received from most brewers is they're afraid of contaminating their brew process.
     
  22. Catchy_Name

    Catchy_Name Savant (445) California Dec 21, 2011

    Forgive my ignorance. Sometimes living in a place like this, I forgot that people in the boon sticks don't have the same access I do. I hear the Internet barely made it out to you guys, how are you liking it so far?
     
  23. GuzzLah

    GuzzLah Savant (445) Illinois Mar 2, 2013

    Five gallons of homebrewed sour ale = $40 and a wait time of 9-18 months.

    Five gallons of Red Poppy or Consecration = $800

    Cost of homebrew gear for a 5 gallon batch= $400-$800.

    Hmmmm? How many more years do you plan on drinking beer?
     
  24. Because many BA's don't care much for them.
     
  25. slander

    slander Site Editor (590) New York Nov 5, 2001 Staff Member

    Because it's not an easily approachable style for most.
    Because it's not what newbies think of as 'beer'.
    Because Lindemans happened and that's what they think a lambic is.
     
  26. A little fact that I got at a conference 10 years back. In the homeland of sours, Belgium, the lambics, Flemish Reds and Sour Browns account for <3% of the sales of beer.

    I lived in Germany. My co-workers thought that the sour beers were obviously infected and not fit for human consumption.

    It was said above that the barrels have to be scrapped after 3 uses. That is the standard for Bourbon barrel aged beers where you don't (normaly) want infected beers. The porosity of the wood is place the wild yeast and bacteria can establish a home and is hard to disinfect (every see a thead about infected BA beers). A barrel is not ideal for normal beer, but is ideal for sour beers. Some of the barrels at Cantillion are said to be 100 years old, so with a storage time of 3 years per batch, they have been used 30 times or so.
     
  27. There's absolutely nothing wrong with Lindeman's Gueuze Cuvee Renee.
     
    Nectar likes this.
  28. slander

    slander Site Editor (590) New York Nov 5, 2001 Staff Member

    Of course there isn't.
    But when i when I spoke of 'easily approachable' and 'newbies', you knew very well that I was talking about the Framobise, et al.
     
  29. Of course. I wasn't scolding you and I apologize if it came out that way. I was merely pointing that out so that any ``sour newbies'' who read your post will not assume that all Lindemans sours are poor. I actually think the Cuvee Renee is a very good place to start (since it's easy to find).
     
  30. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Advocate (595) Colorado Jan 20, 2012

    I heard that's why milk stouts are so thick.
     
  31. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Advocate (595) Colorado Jan 20, 2012

    Seriously? Maybe if you buy your gear exclusively from Blichman. I have about $200 invested in all my gear, and can brew sours all day long.
     

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