Everyone that drinks beer remembers the first time they tried a sour beer. If they tell you that it was a wonderful first sip, they are most likely lying. Sour beers are distinct, direct, and may leave unaware drinkers wondering if they are drinking a bad beer with that first sip.
It’s the second sip that lures you in…from the tart, to the funky, to beers that leave your face puckered, sour beers create a lasting impression. In Colorado, we are particularly lucky when it comes to this style as one of the places where the style first launched in the country. We have several breweries dedicated to all things sour. Here are a few options to consider.
La Folie from New Belgium Brewing Company is the sour beer that started it all in Colorado. This is a sour beer that is wood aged. You get cherry, green apple, and even caramel. It’s pucker-inducing but finishes smooth.
On the other side of the spectrum and a sour that isn’t barrel-aged is Sour Apricot from Dry Dock Brewing Company. This kettle sour is tart, a little bit sweet, and nicely carbonated. It’s a crushable sour which is a hard combination to find. Another unique and approachable sour beer is Dyad from New Image Brewing Company. This Kombucha Brett Saison is a combination of farmhouse style beer and kombucha. It’s less truly sour, funkier, and tart for those who are looking for a great entry beer to the style.
Avery Brewing Company offers a lot of sour options. A large portion of its brewery only releases are sour beers that have been aged in various types of barrels, and tequila barrels is one example. These special sours are great beers, but there is one sour beer that Avery has on the regular that truly stands out. The Raspberry Sour is delectably tart, luscious, layered, and incredibly silky on the mouthfeel. This beer is a great example of what sour beer can be when paired with the right fruit and the right barrel.
In Denver, one of the first breweries to dedicate themselves to the sour beer style is Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project. If you are looking for something utterly Colorado, roll with the Colorado Wild Sage Brett Saison, but if you are looking for what best represents the brewery on this list, go with anything from the Nightmare of Brett series. Each fruit variant version gushes with an expression of the fruit, such as cherry, and will pucker your face. You will want to go right back for that next sip.
Outside of Denver, there is also a lot of great sour beer to be found. In Fort Collins, Funkwerks has been bringing heat to the sour game for quite a while. The beers are consistently well done and the intimate taproom should be on your must-visit list. The top beer found year-round is the Raspberry Provincial. This award-winning beer is sour with the main flavor of raspberry shining through with notes of citrus and lemon.
Black Project Spontaneous and Wild Ales in Denver is dedicated to the craft and method of traditional sour beer. On tap, you will find beers such as Dreamland and Magic Lantern, but that is only the beginning of what you can expect from this brewery. The best beer Black Project has is its Roswell Series, which are fruited Lambic-inspired beers. The guava captures the essence of that fruit.
Down south in Divide, Colorado, you will find Paradox Beer Company. The Skully series is how Paradox explores its barrel-aged sour side. The combination of flavors is quite lengthy. Out of all the beers in the Skully series, the one that stands out is Salty Lemons, which has been brewed twice. This beer is a sour golden ale brewed with fermented Meyers Lemons that have been packed in salt. The flavor is crisp, sour, and something you don’t think of with sour beers…savory.
Casey Brewing and Blending in Glenwood Springs focuses on sour beer and local Colorado ingredients. No time, cost or effort is spared in the process and the end result is phenomenal beers. Two of the main staples are the Fruit Stand Series and the Casey Family Preserves Series. Both are littered with robust fruited beer. Casey takes it one level further with the special release of Leaner and Jammy. Both beers are in collaboration with Side Project Brewing, which is a 100 percent barrel-aged, mostly barrel fermented brewery focused on rustic saisons and wild ales located in Missouri. The beers are fruited farmhouse ales. Leaner is with peaches and Jammy is with blackberries. These beers are only released once a year, and it’s a tour-only beer for consumption and purchase, and they sell out very quickly.S