Sour beers and wild ales barely existed on the local brewery landscape just a year or two ago. Now, the funky and tart flavored brews are becoming more prevalent, which is good news for craft beer fans who prefer the wild side.
On Saturday, June 29, Third Space Brewing (1505 W. St. Paul Ave.) provides a few barrel-aged entries into the style category with the release of Red, White and Blue — three barrel-aged fruited kettle sours. Red is aged in Pinot Noir, Sherry and Tawny Port barrels, with cherries and raspberries. White aged in California Chardonnay and French Sauternes barrels, with apricots and peaches. And Blue has been aged in Brandy, Pinot Noir and Port/Bourbon barrels with blueberries and blackberries. The limited bottles are set to be released at 11 a.m.
“I do really enjoy sour beers, however, traditional aged sour beers come with a certain level of risk for other beers in the brewery,” said Third Space head brewer Kevin Wright. “This beer is a kettle sour which mitigates some of that risk. The wort is soured in the kettle using similar lactic acid bacteria as in traditional souring. Once the preferred level of sour is reached, we boil the wort and kill the bacteria. After that, it is fermented with our house ale yeast and is essentially no different from other beers. All the lactic acid produced in the kettle stays and brings a really nice, clean, sour flavor to the beer.”
Third Space is hardly alone when it comes to sour production, and a few local breweries are all in. MobCraft (505 S. 5th St.) created a dedicated space at its brewery that is complete with a negative pressure system to limit the risk of cross-contamination.
“What really pushed me into brewing beer was Lindemann’s Framboise,” said MobCraft head brewer Andrew Gierczak. “That’s what turned me on to lambics and sours. Ever since then I’ve been excited to try and replicate those sorts of flavors and styles of beers.”
The Fermentorium (7481 Highway 60, Cedarburg) is housing its sour program at its second location at 6933 W. North Ave., and Good City Brewing (2108 N. Farwell Ave.) plans to brew sours at its new taproom adjacent the new Milwaukee Bucks arena. Kyle Vetter, the owner and brewer at 1840 Brewing Company (342 E. Ward St.), has won fans with his well-crafted Plumpy fruited kettle sour series. Local breweries like Eagle Park (823 E. Hamilton St.) and Gathering Place (811 E. Vienna Ave.) have a tart beer or two currently flowing from their taps.
“Sours and wild ales have grown in popularity nationwide for the past several years,” said Good City co-owner David Dupee. “The fact that it is beginning to catch on locally makes sense given that sours have a longer production runway and our craft beer renaissance has really occurred just within the past couple years.”