pFriem Family Brewers’ Sour IPA

Beer Reviews by | Oct 2017 | Issue #129

It’s no secret that so-called “sour” beers and IPAs are two of today’s hottest styles. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find a brewery that doesn’t brew at least one of each. And while every twist has already seemingly been applied to both, I don’t think that I’ve ever had a kettle soured IPA.

Some beer traditionalists view the technique as a form of cheating. Co-founder and brewmaster Josh Pfriem disagrees. “Kettle souring is a quick way to lower the acidity in a beer without having to introduce souring organisms into ‘clean’ areas of the brewery,” he explains. The process begins similarly to standard brewing, except once the brew kettle reaches a boil no hops are added. Instead the temperature is lowered to 110°F, Lactobacillus is added, and over the next day or two an acid fermentation begins that lowers the wort’s pH. Once the target titratable acidity is hit, the brew kettle is brought back to a boil to kill the microbes before safely continuing to brew in the usual method.

“We find this process fun, but it creates a one dimensional sour flavor compared to the multidimensional sour and wild flavors that we get from our slow process of barrel aging with microorganisms,” adds Pfriem.

Sour IPA was inspired by pFriem’s lab and quality manager, Max Kravitz, who was fascinated with the idea of creating a hoppy, fruity, and sour beer. The first batch almost went down the drain, however, due to an unnoticed layer of heat in the kettle that killed off the pitched microbes. But it was saved by some quick thinking from Kravitz in the form of a grocery store run and a fresh “yogurt pitch,” which introduced Lactobacillus. “We now have a sound and sophisticated process that we go about when kettle souring,” Pfriem says, proudly. “Making beer can be hard and humbling, but it’s always good to look back and smile at the challenges along the way.”

The beer pours a clear, pale yellow with a white lace. Its nose is ripe with mandarin orange and lemongrass, while the mouth is full of citrusy, rindy, zesty flavors with a sharp lemony bite, and suggestions of kiwi, green apple, passionfruit, and berries. There’s a Chardonnay-like quality, too, along with a slight cheesiness and plenty of hoppiness. And while the flavors get intense, everything is well balanced and complementary.

pFriem’s Sour IPA is a delicious IPA, without any intense bitterness (it’s only 15 IBU). Plus, the controlled acid profile allows the desired hoppy, fruity, and sour elements to be distinctly noticeable yet still play well together. Find it at select locations in Oregon, Washington, and Vancouver, Canada.

Sour IPA
pFriem Family Brewers | Hood River, OR
STYLE: American Wild Ale
ABV: 5.0%
AVAILABILITY: Summer
Look 3.75 | Smell 4 | Taste 4.25 | Feel 3.75 | Overall 3.75
Todd’s Rating: 4.01/5 

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