Beer Maverick

American-Style Sour Ale

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Location: North American
Category: Ale
BJCP Comparable Category: 28B - Mixed Fermentation Sour Beer

Style Description

This is the description of how the American-Style Sour Ale style of beer should taste, feel and look. However, there may be perfectly fine beers in this style that fall outside of these ranges and descriptions. This information is just to show the most commonly accepted ranges for the American-Style Sour Ale beer style.

Beers exhibiting wood-derived characters or characters of liquids previously aged in wood are categorized as Wood-Aged Sour Beer. Competition organizers may create subcategories which reflect groups of entries based on color, hop varieties, microflora, spices or other ingredients, etc. When using these guidelines as the basis for evaluating entries at competitions, brewers may be asked to provide supplemental information about entries in this category to allow for accurate evaluation of diverse entries. Such information might include the underlying beer style upon which the entry is based, or other information unique to the entry such as ingredients or processing which influence perceived sensory outcomes.

  • Color: Pale to black
  • Body: Low to high
  • Malt Flavors & Aromas: Low. In darker versions, roasted malt, caramel and chocolate aromas and flavors should be present at low levels.
  • Hop Flavors & Aromas: Low to high
  • IBUs/Bitterness: Low to high
  • Fermentation Characteristics: Moderate to intense, yet balanced, fruity esters are present. Diacetyl, DMS and Brettanomyces should not be present. The evolution of natural acidity develops a balanced complexity. The acidity present is usually in the form of lactic, acetic and other organic acids naturally developed with acidified malt in the mash or in kettle or post wort fermentation and is produced by various microorganisms including certain bacteria and yeasts. Acidic character can be a complex balance of several types of acid and attributes of age. There should be no residual flavors from liquids previously aged in a barrel such as bourbon or sherry. Wood vessels may be used during the fermentation and aging process, but wood-derived flavors such as vanillin should not be present.
  • Common Ingredients: Virtually any style of beer. Usually fermented by Lactobacillus and/or Pediococcus, often in conjunction with Saccharomyces and/or Brettanomyces. Can also be a blend of styles. Wood or barrel aging is very common, but not required.
  • Commercial Examples: Boulevard Love Child, Cascade Vlad the Imp Aler, Jester King Le Petit Prince, Jolly Pumpkin Calabaza Blanca, Russian River Temptation, The Bruery Rueuze, The Bruery Tart of Darkness

Brewing Properties of American-Style Sour Ale

These are the functional brewing properties of American-Style Sour Ale beers, as descided by the Brewers Association. These guidelines reflect, as accurately as possible, the historical significance, authenticity or a common profile in the current commercial beer market.

ABV
The alcohol by volume is shows the amount of alcohol this style of beer should have.
Bitterness
The International Bittering Units (IBU) scale is used to approximately quantify the actual (not perceived) bitterness of beer.
SRM
SRM is a scale for measuring the color intensity of a beer. Low SRM grains impart a pale straw color while higher values mean it will add a darker color to the wort. Learn more »

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