Best Sour Beer Breweries in the World

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by jibbyvonjibb, Nov 2, 2018.

  1. jibbyvonjibb

    jibbyvonjibb Disciple (303) Jan 20, 2009 California


    I'd like to get your opinions on what are the best breweries specialized in sour beer brewing, from your own experiences of course. And by this I'm speaking about mixed fermentation over months, not quick sours like Berliner Weisse. Here is my list:

    Belgium: Cantillon, Drie Fonteinen, Boon, De Cam, Tilquin, Oud Beersel, Rodenbach
    Switzerland: Brasserie des Franches-Montagnes
    USA: Cascade, Beachwood Blendery, Jester King, Russian River, Crooked Stave, Upright

    Decent but rarely great: Rare Barrel, Almanac, Boulevard, Jolly Pumpkin, Bruery

    Have yet to try: De Garde, Hill Farmstead

    What am I missing that I should seek out? I prefer balance, as opposed to the more-sour-the-better approach.
    #1 jibbyvonjibb, Nov 2, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2018
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  2. bubseymour

    bubseymour Poo-Bah (2,261) Oct 30, 2010 Maryland

    For US, Allagash sours/wilds are about as well made as anyone /anywhere.

    Belgian I think you need to add Hannsen. Their Oude Gueze and Oude Kriek are amazing and they seem to be on the upswing on the hype as well as more people are discovering how great they are (and fact they sit on store shelves in many places) .

    DISKORD Aspirant (205) Feb 28, 2017 Virginia

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  4. Leftofthedial

    Leftofthedial Disciple (366) Nov 17, 2011 California

    I'd say your list for international breweries is pretty solid. My favorites in the U.S. are De Garde, Hill Farmstead, Sante Adairius, Side Project, Jester King, Casey, Suarez, and Fonta Flora.
  5. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (838) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Premium Trader

    For the real deal US stuff other than those that you've listed, you're probably going to have to travel and/or ante up some decent coin for sour beer from Sante Adairius, Funk Factory, Yazoo, Ale Apothecary, Crooked Stave, Logsdon, Modern Times, Side Project/Perennial, etc.
    larryi86 likes this.
  6. larryi86

    larryi86 Poo-Bah (3,221) Apr 4, 2010 Delaware
    Premium Trader

    I will second Allagash being one of the must try sour brewers in America.

    Every sour I’ve tried from Side Project has been great. I will say if you are looking for balance I would recommend a lot of Tired Hands’ saisons, they tend to be aged long enough that the sour aspects of the yeast are coming through but aren’t so sour that they don’t seem to be saisons anymore.

    New Glarus also does a great job with their fruit sours.
  7. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (838) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Premium Trader

    A couple others worth checking out are Libertine, Trve, and Black Project. As are Mellow Mink and Sapwood Cellars.
    BayAreaJoe, SFACRKnight and larryi86 like this.

    DISKORD Aspirant (205) Feb 28, 2017 Virginia

    You forgot to mention Wicked Weed! :grin:
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  9. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (838) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Premium Trader

    Not that I have anything against them, but if you're going for southern flair, I'd pick Orpheus from Atlanta over them hands down.
  10. Ahonky

    Ahonky Initiate (123) Feb 13, 2018 New York

    I think you do these breweries a great disservice by referring to them as sour breweries. It reduces it all to something very infantile sounding. And some of it is (infantile tasting), but not the ones you mention.
    barrybeerdog and Nachojon like this.
  11. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (838) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Premium Trader

    Though I'd agree with you, to some extent, what would you suggest calling them? Outside of the Lambic breweries in Belgium, none of the others really have a designation, even if they do make some beer that adheres to the Methode Traditionnelle.

    Plus you knew what the OP was talking about, right?
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  12. Sabtos

    Sabtos Poo-Bah (5,056) Dec 15, 2015 Ohio

    Jester King, Hill Farmstead, and de Garde are my top 3. And yeah I realize they're all American, I'm as surprised as you may be. But after years of trying everything I could get my hands on, these really hit the spot for me in different ways.

    Jester King - remarkably unique woody funk in their funkier beers, perfectly delicate balance in their regular saisons

    Hill Farmstead - unbelievable balance, complexity and drinkability

    de Garde - barnyard and woody funk abound, with an amazingly deft hand bringing fruit expression forward, especially stonefruit
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  13. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (838) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Premium Trader

    I find that American producers are pretty good at making slightly sour/tart saisons and fruited wood-aged sour beers, but have yet to have one make anything approaching a gueuze or unblended lambic from a traditional producer. They need to remedy that.
  14. Sabtos

    Sabtos Poo-Bah (5,056) Dec 15, 2015 Ohio

    I'll give ya that. Gueuze can be a beautiful thing, but it just happens to work out for me that such a hard to find delight is not quite at the top of my personal preferences usually.
  15. Nickwierda

    Nickwierda Initiate (131) Feb 8, 2015 New Jersey

    Suarez makes the best mixed ferment beers I’ve ever had period. Pretty much every one of their country beers is incredible, and it wouldn’t be difficult for you to pull a few in a trade I don’t think. Definitely seek them out.
  16. Jacobier10

    Jacobier10 Poo-Bah (1,918) Feb 23, 2004 New Jersey

    They don't get a ton of attention, but The Referend Bier Blendery in NJ is doing some wonderful things. All spontaneous fermentation beers.
  17. jibbyvonjibb

    jibbyvonjibb Disciple (303) Jan 20, 2009 California

    I would recommend seeking out Beachwood Blendery and Jester King for their gueuze-inspired blends. Some of them might be hard to tell apart from Belgian counterparts in a blind tasting. Overall though, I agree that more producers should try to aspire to that level.
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  18. bubseymour

    bubseymour Poo-Bah (2,261) Oct 30, 2010 Maryland

    I second this. Suarez and HF are very similiar IMO (because of the brewing connections I'd assume), and by similar, I'm talking about top-level craftmenship, balance, complexity (there's that word). So easy to drink but so much going on in the flavor as well.

    deGarde/Casey - I know both get quite alot of love, and I've really enjoyed their beers but the few I've had from each are little more 1 dimensional and acidic for the couple I've tried. Maybe my sample size isn't broad enough.
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  19. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (6,172) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming
    Premium Trader

    Grand Teton has a very good but limited distro sour program.
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  20. zid

    zid Savant (900) Feb 15, 2010 New York

    Limiting my response to American breweries, I've found very little in the US that I'd consider producers of repeat purchases for my tastes. Two have already been mentioned - Hill Farmstead and Suarez (if we're including their saison-ish brews), but I'm also putting Bell's in that company (a brewery that never gets considered in these discussions... and I have no problem if doing so causes people to snicker).
  21. Scott17Taylor

    Scott17Taylor Meyvn (1,334) Oct 28, 2013 Iowa

    My favorite is de garde
    Une Anne is definitely one I’d recommend everyone check out. Their stuff is really good and easy to get.
    Locally madhouse has a handful of good ones, but their best beers are BA stouts,
  22. 67couple

    67couple Aspirant (234) Jan 31, 2006 South Carolina

    Have never had a bad sour from Casa Agria. Never had a mediocre sour. Hidden gem. Their hop game rivals anything in Cali as well. Boys definitely play in the deep end of the pool.
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  23. Nickwierda

    Nickwierda Initiate (131) Feb 8, 2015 New Jersey

    Referend is awesome. Very tart, funky, powerful beers (flavorwise, not abv).
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  24. SierraNevallagash

    SierraNevallagash Initiate (166) Sep 23, 2018 Maine

    Allagash is arguably the greatest Belgian style brewery in the country. Their wild ales are second to none, and their barrel program is top notch. Feel free to get in touch with me if you ever want to try a bottle of Coolship or something.

    Foundation Brewing really knows their way around a sour, too.
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  25. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,441) Mar 12, 2009 New York


    Will add OEC to the mix. Can't go wrong with any of their beers, amazing wilds and "sours"
  26. Nachojon

    Nachojon Disciple (374) Sep 17, 2011 Oregon

    I think to properly examine this you would need to understand and then separate sour beer, mixed fermentation, spontaneous fermentation and kettle sours.
    SFACRKnight and jheimbigner like this.
  27. HopBelT

    HopBelT Meyvn (1,111) Mar 18, 2014 Belgium
    Premium Trader

    Try some beers from Alvinne in Belgium...
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  28. Zaphog

    Zaphog Poo-Bah (2,273) Sep 23, 2011 Michigan

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  29. surfcaster

    surfcaster Crusader (739) Apr 20, 2013 North Carolina
    Premium Trader

    Not sure where you are in Ca but add Horus Aged Ales to your list.

    Super small, hard to find but had a sour aged in pinot barrels recently at Toronado and it was the best sour I have had this year hands down.
    #29 surfcaster, Nov 4, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2018
  30. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Meyvn (1,237) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado

    This x 1000
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  31. WhaleSlayer85

    WhaleSlayer85 Devotee (406) Jul 28, 2015 Illinois
    Premium Trader

    How has Side Project not been mentioned yet?
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  32. VoxRationis

    VoxRationis Meyvn (1,108) Dec 11, 2016 New York
    Premium Trader

    Hudson Valley in Beacon, NY certainly deserves at least honorable mention. Really really solid, flavor forward sours, not that funky. Also, I have been quite impressed by Captain Lawrence's American Wild Ales
    RobNewton likes this.
  33. TrojanRB

    TrojanRB Meyvn (1,188) Jul 27, 2013 California
    Premium Trader

    Surprised no one has mentioned Russian River and Firestone Walker’s Barrel Works program.

    I find them to be the best on the west coast.
  34. nw2571

    nw2571 Initiate (33) Feb 26, 2017 Indiana

    They were. Fourth post.

    How has Upland not been mentioned yet?
  35. Beersnake1

    Beersnake1 Poo-Bah (1,883) Aug 17, 2013 California
    Premium Trader

    Interesting commentary so far. I was recently sharing some sours with some friends in Europe, and I cracked a 2016 Duck Duck Gooze. It surprised everyone - one of the favorites alongside Cantillon and others. Jester King, Ale Apothecary, Hill Farmstead, and de Garde are doing amazing things.

    International: Cantillon, 3 Fonteinen, Tilquin, Alvinne, Boon, de Cam

    USA: Ale Apothecary, RR, Cascade, JK, de Garde, Hill Farmstead, Lost Abbey, Bruery Terreux
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  36. bubseymour

    bubseymour Poo-Bah (2,261) Oct 30, 2010 Maryland

    I've been finding the Bruery Terreux beers to be quite exceptional. They defintely are worth being in the discussion.
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  37. Beersnake1

    Beersnake1 Poo-Bah (1,883) Aug 17, 2013 California
    Premium Trader

    Absolutely. They are doing some fantastic stuff

    THANAT0PSIS Crusader (763) Aug 3, 2010 Wisconsin

    I can't believe no one mentioned Girardin as being missing from the Belgian side.1882 Black Label is one of the best gueuzes around, better than everything but Tilquin as far as the base gueuze goes. Also, I think Lindemans deserves a mention for Cuvee Rene Gueuze and Kriek, which stand up surprisingly well to the ones that you mentioned and are at least as good as Boon and Beersel, in my opinion.

    I'll be a dissenting voice, as I guess I often am on the topic of sours on this site. Cascade is good but nothing special and nowhere near authentic Belgian sours. Upland is below average and hilariously imbalanced. De Garde is hit or miss, though their hits are out of this world. Almanac is terrible. Side Project is above average but trends way, way too sour for my tastes (though not quite as intense as Upland). Jester King is really good generally, but their Spon series has been disappointing and nowhere near what true Belgian lambic is. Une Annee is above average at best. Firestone Walker lacks depth in their wild program and come off way too American, but they're fine. Wicked Weed is really, really sour. Bruery Terreux has a few hits, but most are nearing Upland levels of insane sourness.

    My picks would be:

    Belgium: Tilquin, Cantillon, Drie Fonteinen, Girardin, Lindemans, Boon, Oud Beersel, and Rodenbach

    USA: Hill Farmstead, Sante Adairius, Allagash, New Glarus, Funk Factory, Dovetail, Russian River, Upright, Holy Mountain, De Garde (have to include them on Broken Truck alone), pFriem, Crooked Stave, Casey, Speciation, Beachwood Blendery, Scratch, Orpheus, Zebulon, OEC, Fermentory Form, Ale Apothecary, Yazoo, Logsdon, Tired Hands

    Haven't had Suarez, Black Project, or The Referend yet, but I hear excellent, excellent things.
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  39. spicoli00

    spicoli00 Zealot (585) Jul 6, 2005 Indiana

    Since Upland opened The Wood Shop, they've dialed in their sours. head and shoulders above what they used to be and conveniently sell some of the offerings in 500mL bottles.
  40. Lucasdia

    Lucasdia Initiate (39) Jan 20, 2018 Connecticut

    OEC brewing in Oxford CT is one of my favorite go-to breweries for sours. A bunch of different blends of aged sours, different blends with grapes they grow, and a whole host of imported and interesting beers.
    THANAT0PSIS likes this.