The Brass Tap’s Approach to Sour Beers

Sour beers can be a tough sell, but The Brass Tap has a way around that.

Sour beers aren’t for everyone. I’ll fully admit that, while I consider myself open to a lot of beer styles, sours can be a tough one. I can deal with moderate tart, but that mouth puckering can easily be too much.

Nick Marking, owner of The Brass Tap (7808 W. Layton Ave.), knows that sours can be a tough a sell.

“We don’t do a ton of sours here. Bay View is 10 minutes away from here and they crush sours,” said Marking. “We usually have two or three sours. It can be a struggle moving them. Our crowd is a little bit older and they don’t dabble too much in the sour realm.”

“There are some that really do well. Most of the New Glarus lineup, like Serendipity and Strawberry Rhubarb, is popular here because it’s relatable and people know it. A lot of these will sell because of the name. New Belgium does well, MobCraft is getting more renowned for their sour program. The Bruery out of California does well too.”

So, how does Marking provide incentive to pour through more of his more tart brews? By suggesting a few menu items that pair perfectly with them. And the solid bar food offering at The Brass Tap provides plenty of options. Here’s what Marking has to offer.

  • 5-Cheese Mac and Cheese served with a Berliner Weisse. The intense richness of the mélange of cheeses can only be tamed with the tart and crisp character of a classically-styled Berliner Weisse.
  • Caprese Flatbread served with a Flanders Red Ale. The notes of red wine vinegar, pepper and reduced balsamic are a natural pairing with the classic flavors of mozzarella and tomatoes.
  • Tempura Beer Battered Fish and Chips served with a Gueuze. The complexity of a well-blended Gueuze, and its characteristically dry body accent the perfectly crispy batter on the fish, as well as providing added acidity that compliments the malt vinegar aioli.

Sours can pair well with a wide range of food and can be a better complement than a harsh IPA. (Side note: I was at a decent restaurant last year and ordered an IPA with my dinner. The waiter promptly suggested that I choose something with a less aggressive flavor.) So give a similar pairing a try if you want to start appreciating the sour thing.



Dan Murphy has been reviewing bars for Milwaukee Magazine for roughly 15 years. He’s been doing his own independent research in them for close to 25.