Tag Archives: Sour Beer

Denver Breweries Black Project and Bierstadt Lagerhaus

I wasn’t planning on visiting Denver during my latest trip but once I ended up in Denver I had to visit both Black Project and Bierstdt Lagerhaus because I had heard great things about both of them. Black Project is known for their sours and Biersdt Lagerhaus is known for their lagers.

Black Project

I didn’t get to try more than one barrel aged sour at Black Project the time I visited but the beers overall were quite good. They have a small tasting room with some seating and serve their tasters in full size glasses.

I started with the IPA. It was soft and mildly hazy with a mix of grass and citrus notes with hits of herbal hops. It had a good balance and minimal bitterness but I could have done with more intense hop aromas. The grapefruit gose was acidic and tart with mild puckering. It had a light salt finish and lingers in the mouth. It was fairly bitter and not really my thing.

The passion peach gose was intensely fruity with tons of passion fruit and peach with a light tart and an overall juicy flavor. This was one of the more flavorful fruited goses I have had. The wild wheat was strong lacto tart with light berry notes but overall fruit was too mellow for the base. The sour golden was quite tasty with a sweet base with notes of tart apple and flavors reminiscent of a Belgian gueuze. It seems like it would make a good base beer for the addition of fruits.

Since I couldn’t try any of their barrel aged sours other than the sour golden I won’t be particularly critical but overall it was a worthwhile stop. Like many sour breweries, the beers available will change regularly including what they may have available in the bottle.

Top 2:
Sour Golden
Gose with passion fruit and peach

Bierstadt Lagerhaus


I was drawn to Bierstadt Lagerhaus because they focus on lagers exclusively and I have heard they are quite particular about what glasses they will allow their beers to be served in when they send them to various local bars. Two things struck me when I visited. They have a large space with tons of seating. They also sell crowlers for $5 a piece for most of the beers which is surprisingly low compared to what many charge.

Slow pour pilsner in their special lager glass.
Helles

I only tried three different beers while I was there because I was there with other people. Otherwise I wouldn’t have tried as many beers because they only serve the beers in full pours. The pilsner was crisp and dry with light biscuit malt base and a tasty mild lager yeast character. They serve it in a way that makes it quite creamy.

Their massive beer hall area downstairs with games.

The helles was more fruity than the pilsner and had some light floral hops with a good crisp finish and light white cake malt base. The dunkel had notes of caramel and toast with mild fruit and a dry finish. It was a tasty dunkel. I would recommend you stop by Bierstadt Lagerhaus if you are tired of all the IPAs and sours and want to try some solid lagers in Denver.

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney focusing on serving the San Diego LGBT community.

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Olympic Penensula Breweries – Silver City, Sound, Rainy Daze, and Propolis

I visited the various breweries on the olympic penensula. You can easily visit them all in one day on your way from Tacoma to Port Angeles. Silver City has two locations but I recommend visiting the tap room where you can try some of their pilot batches and experience a more relaxed atmosphere.

Silver City


I visited the Silver City tap room and tried four beers. My typical practice is to stop after four tasters if I don’t taste anything that really stands out. So here I left after the four tasters. From what I had heard I hoped to leave with cans of their IPAs but decided not to after my flight.

I tried three of their IPAs and one of their porters. The St. Florian IPA was resinous and dank with medium bitterness and a biscuit malt base. This is a fairly standard IPA though a bit old school. The porter was solid with a nice light roast and notes of caramel.

The two hazy IPAs were not particularly impressive. The pilot batch session hazy was intensely grassy and piney and lightly acidic. The tropic haze is one that has gotten them a lot of popularity but it didn’t have much hop aroma to speak of. Instead I got notes of cashews and minerals with hints of banana bread. The strong mineral character is common with haze but this one didn’t work for me. After the four I didn’t try anything further and went on to the next stop.

Sound Brewing

Sound was recommended to me based on their Belgian style beers. I would recommend similarly that you stick to the Belgian styles. I started with their porter and Baltic porter. The porter had some light smoke, caramel, and molasses with a dry bitter finish. The Baltic porter had some strong cherry malt character with bitter chocolate and caramel on the finish. Both were drinkable though I preferred the Baltic porter out of the two.

The NEIPA was not hazy in the slightest and had some notes of grass, herbs, and pine with medium bitterness. I didn’t find the beer to be particularly fruity or juicy at all. It was an OK IPA but not remotely NE style. The double IPA was a dark brown color with sweet caramel malt notes, mild bitterness, and some apricot hop character. The beer was far too sweet and malt-forward and tasted more like a barley wine than a double IPA.

 

Things were more interesting when I got to the Belgian styles. The dubel was tasty with notes of dark fruit and caramel on a nice dry finish. My husband enjoyed this one as well even though he generally only likes stouts and porters. The Monk’s Indiscretion is a nice heavily hopped Belgian strong ale. It had intense herbal and grassy hops that balanced nicely with the esters and Belgian yeast character. For 10% the beer hid its alcohol well and had a nice dry finish. The Belgian tripel had notes of banana and clove over a biscuit malt base and a good dry finish.

Belgian style beers tend to be brewed overly sweet in the US but not so much at Sound. If you like Belgian styles I recommend trying some of their bottles if you can’t make it out for a visit to the brewery directly.

Top 2:
Monk’s Indiscretion
Belgian Dubel.

Rainy Daze

Rainy Daze was recommended to me by a fellow beer blogger. The Pourhouse IPA had notes of herbs and citrus rind on a nice soft body with a mild bitterness. The Goat Boater IPA had some notes of citrus and floral hops though the mineral taste on the finish. The Peace hazy IPA had a hazy appearance but hardly any detectable hop aroma to speak of.

The stout had some notes of root beer and caramel with light lemon hop character. The coffee porter was nutty with good strong coffee character on top of mild roast. Rainy Daze had a few decent IPAs but nothing that was exploding with hop aroma or particularly memorable. They were fairly standard.

Top 2:
Goat Boat IPA
Coffee Porter

Propolis

Propolis focuses on wild ales and sours often adding various herbs to them. They charge $3 to $4 for each taster. I had some interesting beers but nothing that was particularly memorable or that made me want to leave with a bottle that they charger more than $20 for.

Mellow had some notes of citrus and herbs on a light sweet funk base. The spruce had notes of honey and light sweetness with berry notes from the spruce. Wild Woods had some berry character from the wine with a dry finish with bitter tannin kick. The Gordin had a light fruit character with some honey flavor.

The Apricot Ostara blended apricot with chamomile nicely with a light acidic finish. The oud Bruin was thin and smoky with an acidic tart cherry finish on a mild caramel base. As far as wild ales go, I didn’t find the beers at Propolis to be particularly complex or flavorful. I finished each taster but nothing made me crave for more either on tap or in a bottle to take home.

If some of their sours sound interesting to you, you can find them as far south as San Diego in the bottles. I recommend trying a few bottles before taking the trip to the brewery directly.

Top 2:
Wild Woods
Oud Bruin

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney focusing on serving the San Diego LGBT community.

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Engine House No. 9 – Tacoma Washington

Engine House Number 9 recently started brewing sours to add to their other lineup of house beers. I visited them during a trip out to Olympic National Park because we decided to start our trip in Tacoma. I had a flight of a few of their house beers and then simply ordered a full pour of the one sour they had on tap.

Their lager was fruity and delicious with a crisp biscuit malt finish. Their two IPAs were both lovely. The house IPA was juicy and soft with notes of mango and melon. It has a light bitterness and nice creamy mouthfeel. The Donna IPA was good but a bit more acidic with notes of grass and herb hops and light caramel on the finish. The Berry Manilow sour was jammy and had tons of berry notes with a light tart finish. It was super drinkable and not particularly acidic, making it approachable to even someone who isn’t into sours.

I left with a bottle of their rhubarb sour, Flanders style red and brett saison. The rhubarb was tart and funky and quite delicious. The Flanders style is bright and fruity with a tart finish that balances nicely with biscuit malts and notes of oak. If you see Engine House Number 9 sours around they are worth picking up in bottles if you would rather not make it down to Tacoma. They are a brewpub so expect it to get quite noisy inside.

You could order food to go with your beers here as well. I got a hummus appetizer the second time I visited when I was preparing to leave the area. If you like IPAs or sours, you will find quite a bit to enjoy at Engine House No. 9 though I did not see any house brewed stouts on tap when I visited.

Top 2:
House IPA
Berry Manilow Sour

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney focusing on serving the San Diego LGBT community.

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KC MO Breweries Part 2 – Torn Label, Boulevard, and KC Bier Works

Torn Label

Torn Label is one of the smaller breweries I visited. They had an interesting lineup of beers and solid impressive hoppy offerings. The Alpha Pale was delicious with tons of hop aroma and notes of tropical fruit and citrus that balanced nicely with a light acidic finish and low bitterness. This is an excellent pale. The house brew coffee brown was thin with bitter coffee notes and mild molasses. I would have gone for more coffee character. The Monk and Honey had notes of spice, citrus, and lemon peel with a mild honey sweetness.

The Hang Em High IPA was biter and resinous with notes of grapefruit on a sticky body with hints of lychee and an herbal hop bite at the finish. The 3 Heroes Wheat IPA was soft with notes of tangerine, tropical fruits, and candy orange. The beer showcased tons of hop aroma with minimal bitterness. The Shake Hands with Danger Imperial Brown was sweet with notes of caramel and light coconut. The beer hides its alcohol very well and despite being fairly thin packed tons of flavor.

 

Torn Label had some impressive IPAs and a tasty imperial brown that suggest to me that they will continue to brew lots of great beer.

Top 2:
Alpha Pale Ale
Shake Hands with Danger Imperial Brown

Boulevard

Boulevard is owned by Duvel. They have a massive beer hall area where they have 20-24 beers on tap on the second floor and a massive shop on the first floor. They have a limited food menu as well and depending on how busy it is they may limit you to certain pre-selected flights. I tried a ton of different beers at Boulevard but I will highlight some of my favorites rather than going through all of them.

One flight came with a mystery beer that turned out to be a cranberry sour. It had notes of cherry from the malts that blended nicely with cranberry notes and a light tart finish. The latest collaboration release available was an oak aged lager and it had a light sweetness with an oaky finish. I enjoyed this quite a bit. The IPAs I tried were all fairly herbal and didn’t really stand out to me. I wouldn’t recommend you visit just for the hoppy beers.

The berliner weisse had notes of ginger with light lemon notes and a crisp tart finish. The brett saison had a nice white cake saison base with mild citrus, funky brett, and a dry finish. I left with a bottle of this to try at home. The 2015 imperial stout from bottles was delicious with notes of caramel and molasses with a nice thick sticky body and light fudge on the finish.

It is worth taking the trek to the brewery to try various tap room exclusives and to try the various barrel-aged or collaboration offerings. I wouldn’t recommend that you visit for IPAs but they had delicious berliner weisse, Belgian styles, and various stouts.

KC Bier Company

KC Bier Company focuses almost exclusively on German styles. They have a large outdoor beer hall atmosphere and serve beers in full 1 liter steins if you feel so inclined. I only tried four beers there because I had already visited two previous breweries.

The Helles was crisp and light with mild herbal hops and a clean finish. Compared to the helles the pilsner had a bit more citrus notes and slightly more hop character and bitterness with a dry finish. I ended up ordering a liter of the pilsner to enjoy after my flight. In a full pour it had a nice fruit character I enjoyed.

The gose had a nice citrus forward taste with light tart on the finish. The dopple alt had a nice mix of caramel and toast with a soft dry finish. I enjoyed this style that is not often brewed. Typically an alt bier is 4% or so and this one was a double so it was over 7%.

KC Bier Company is worth a trip to enjoy their varied offerings at the source or if you are simply into a pilsner or hefeweizen they are easily available around Kansas City in six packs.

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney focusing on serving the San Diego LGBT community.

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Chicago Area Breweries – Half Acre and Un Annee

Half Acre

Half Acre is more established than the other two breweries I visited for IPAs. Their beers have a bit more of a classic feel than the others. Daisy cutter is one of their core offerings and it is a classic pale ale with prominent citrus and a crisp finish with a light malt base. Space was slightly hazy with a caramel malt base with light notes of coffee and mild bitterness. Though a bit hazy this is fairly traditional English style.

Pony pilsner was excellent with light fruity character, biscuit malt base, and a crisp clean finish. I brought home some cans of this one. Daisy Toronado is a more modern take on daisy cutter with tons of juicy hop character at the front and light onion hop character at the base. Vallejo IPA had an interesting mix of note of grape and plum that I don’t usually get in an IPA. I didn’t really care for the hop profile of this one.

Half Acre is a bit more classic in approach than many other breweries in the area for the hoppy beers. They also have a young sour program that is getting some acclaim. I got a small taste of one of their sours and it was quite complex and delicious. I am excited to open the bottle I brought home with me.

Known for:
Half Acre is known for their pale ales and IPAs though they also have a young sour program that is worth checking out.

Un Annee

Un Annee is known for its barrel aged and fruited sours as well as their hazy IPAs and imperial stouts that they put under a different brand. They are located in a strip mall so that before you enter you may wonder if this is really a brewery. Once you step inside you get the feel of a standard tasting room. They are also a long drive out of town and best to visit only if you have a strong preference for sours. I started with their sours and then tried a few of their other beers. With so many on tap I asked the server to pick three of his favorites to start, which got me a few of their bigger barrel aged sours.

My first 3 tasters of various sours.

Le Grand Monde 7 had a nice mild oak base and a great balance of cucumber, mint, and other flavors that I rarely experience in a sour without too much acidity. I paired this with some grilled fish from a Filipino restaurant we got to bring to the brewery and it was delightful. Le Grande Monde 4 had such an intense hibiscus character that it was jammy and a highly acidic base. An enjoyable beer. Le Grande Monde 2, a flanders red style sour had good caramel notes with hints of molasses and tons of acidity.

The elderberry Le Seul VI was jammy and mildly sweet with light acidity. Overall the sours I tasted were quite impressive and I left with a few bottles to take home. Their hazy IPA, Hubbard’s Cave, was soft and creamy with light pine and herbal character with mild bitterness. It had notes of candied mango and peach as it warmed up. Though it could have been softer, it was an impressive hazy IPA and should satisfy any hop heads dragged there by sour fans.

This shows the wide variety of beers they had available to go when I visited.

Known For:
Un Annee focuses on sours but also has stouts and hazy IPAs available. The bottles range from $13-25 for a 750ml bottle, which is within the norm.

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney focusing on serving the San Diego LGBT community.

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Toronto Breweries Part 2 – Radical Road, Halo, and Burdock

Radical Road Brewery

I would have liked to visit Left Field before visiting Radical Road but Left Field closed at 9PM and I took a train just a little bit too late back from Kingston. Radical Road is a darker brewery that normally has a kitchen and feels like a bar. Though on Tuesdays when I visited they also have live music because the kitchen is closed. I tried five beers and they were overall very good.

The California Common had a light biscuit malt base with fruity apricot notes and a clean finish. This would be easy to have a few pints of. The Yugu Pale was crisp and lightly tart with lemon and tangerine notes that give it a light bite. I left with a few cans of this because I thought my host would enjoy it and she did.

The Canadian special bitter was lower malt than the standard ESB. Hops came through strong iwth notes of citrus, herbs, flowers, and peach. It had a light bitter bite at the end. The Brett IPA had subtle earthy brett funk that came on more as fruit. The hops came through with notes of resin and grapefruit with a soft light bitterness. The Cucumber Kolsch had a light sweet cucumber flavor with mild mint at the back. I ended up ordering a full pour of this one and the mint came through a little more as it warmed up but never overpowered it.

Top 2:
Cucumber Kolsch
Yuzu Pale

Radical Road had some nice modern takes on classic styles and they use adjuncts in a way that compliment the flavors of the beer instead of overpowering them. Grab the Yuzu Pale in cans for enjoyment at home.

Halo Brewery

Halo was my first stop on my last day because they opened at 3PM and others didn’t open until 5PM. They are on the Northwest side of town and the tasting room has good air conditioning. They serve their tasters in 8oz glasses giving them room for head and aromas to shine through.

The Dry Hopped Gose had notes of tart citrus on the nose. I got lots of puckering bitter grapefruit with light salt and herbal bite on the finish. A delicious beer. The brett saison had an intense funky brett nose. I tasted lots of earthy funk that blended nicely with caramel and apricots with some mild alcohol warmth. As it warmed I tasted some light banana pudding with hints of vanilla.

The New Zealand pale ale was soft and juicy with mild acid. It was bursting with hop flavors of mango, papaya and light candied apricot. This is an excellent example of the style. The apricot tart saison was also quite soft, thick, and juicy with tons of apricot puree character and light lemon on the finish. Though it smelled like it would be very tart it was mildly acidic. Though still quite the small operation Halo had a great lineup. The prices were a little higher than some other places but the beer was high enough quality to justify it.

Top 2:
NZ Pale
Apricot Tart Saison

Burdock Brewery

Burdock is a large restaurant that feels more like a bar than a brewery but the beers I had were quite good. Because they are more of a bar they don’t open until 5PM. They have a large list of archive bottles available to drink on site and occasionally will discount one to a special price.

I started with their session ale. It had a base of sweet malt with some very mild citrus and herbal hops. It needed more hops to balance out the sweet malt base but it was solidly average. The brett farmhouse was fruity and balanced with mild funk from the brett. It was soft and hazy with mild biscuit malt and toffee character. The Double IPA was very impressive and had minimal alcohol character for 7.5%. The malts came in nicely as fluffy biscuit or white cake. Hops were very subdued as well probably because of using lupulin powder.

The Farmhouse saison was dry with bright wheat and mild earthy funk and light ripe banana. A nice delicate beer. The blackcurrant saison I purchased in a 375ml bottle. It poured a light purple color and had bright berry notes on the nose. Mild lacto sour blended nicely with berries and tons of carbonation and a light body. It was a very impressive beer though I would not have paid the full price for on site consumption if it wasn’t discounted.

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney focusing on serving the San Diego LGBT community.

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Trillium Brewing – Canton Massachusetts

Trillium is located a 30 minute drive or an hour by public transit in the area of Canton south of Boston. They also have a shop downtown Boston where you can pick up cans to go but can’t taste anything. They also have a seasonal beer-garden in downtown Boston where you can order some of their beers in an outdoor setting though they have a more limited tap list than the brewery and everything is served as one size of pour in plastic cups. I’m glad I made the trip to the brewery this time because I got to try a larger number of their beers and determine my favorite to decide which cans to buy. The tap room gets quite crowded and thus quite loud from the noise of people and the music.

View of the large tap room.

I started with the Summer Street and Congress Street hazy IPAs. All the various Street beers are brewed similar but with different hop profiles. Summer Street was tasty with strong tropical fruit character including pineapple, medium hop acidity, and a sticky bitter finish The Congress Street was more mellow with less harsh acidity, a bit softer, sporting notes of papaya and mango with some pine bitterness. The Motueka Free Rise, hoppy saison, was earthy and not very hoppy with a dry finish. It was a pretty average saison and not up to the level of Tired Hands. Melchior Street was my favorite of the streets I tried. It had a fantastic mix of pineapple and pine with mild bitterness and acidity. It was the most balanced of the bunch.

Secret Stairs is their 8% alchol stout. It was smoky and roasty with notes of burnt caramel and a medium bitter finish. The Night and Day imperial stout with coffee was quite impressive with notes of mild smoke and caramel that blend nicely with strong acidic coffee. I got little noticeable hint of alcohol in the taste. Mettle is the one beer from the bunch I had before. The double IPA had tons of fruit and citrus notes from the hops with a mild acidic finish. It was soft and delicious. I compared this side by side with Uppercase, which was also quite soft with lots of tropical fruit and citrus with a mild acidic finish. Both double IPAs were quite impressive.

The Raspberry Soak was a pretty basic fruity light alcohol sour with lots of lactic acid and mild raspberry flavor but little complexity. It is pretty standard for the fruited berliner weisse that most breweries serve these days, tart but boring. The Permutation 11, barrel aged sour with peaches, was a delightful mix of soft body, sweet peaches, and mild pepper notes. It was a nice middle ground between the highly acidic style that is quite common and the pure fruit juice style I’ve had from others. I probably would have bought some bottles if they were available for a reasonable price.

Beer Garden.
Hazy beer in plastic! Only had one.

Though the price of each 5oz pour was high, ranging from $4-5, it is worth going down at least once so that you can try all the beers they have available. Plus they have air conditioning and keep the area at least cooler than outside. Once you discover your favorites, you can easily pick up cans from the shop in Downtown Boston.

Top 3:
Melchior Street Hazy IPA
Uppercase Hazy Double IPA
Pemutation 11 Peach Sour

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney focusing on serving the San Diego LGBT community.

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Creature Comforts and The Southern Brewing Company Athens GA

Creature Comforts

Athens Georgia is a small college town about an hour and a half drive East of Atlanta. I visited mainly for Creature Comforts and while I was planning the trip I read about The Southern Brewing Company and their barrel aging program. People rave about the Tropicalia IPA from Creature Comforts, though when I tasted it, it didn’t blow me away, perhaps because I assumed from the name it was going to be a hazy IPA. I had two IPAs at Creature Comforts and they were both excellent examples of the West Coast style of IPA, hop-forward, low malt bill, and crisp dry finish while not too bitter.

What really impressed me though was their berliner-weisse. I didn’t drink any of the base while I was there but when I visited they had a number of versions available. Both the Terry Swish, with three kinds of fruit, and the dry-hopped variant were fantastic. I enjoyed both of them so much that I brought back a six pack of the base to explore it further. I enjoyed the cans so much that I wished I had brought back a second six-pack. This is the new standard against which I will rate berliner-weisse beers for some time.

 

 

San Diego breweries sell a lot of fruited berliner weisse and gose but usually they go a bit too light on the fruit for my tastes. This one was bursting with fruit and so good that I got two of it out of the tour. The dry-hopped version was perfectly balanced, with tons of hop aromas and no bitterness. The fruity hops went nicely with the citrus kick of the gose.

A note on the way breweries sell beer in Georgia, or at least while I visited, they can’t sell beer directly. Instead, they sell you a tour that includes a glass and six six-ounce pours. They have tours available but you don’t have to take one. It is their way around the silly laws. Other silly laws limit your ability to take home beers, so that you can’t buy more than 72 ounces of beer to go in one day per person. The tour thing should be changing soon for smaller breweries based on a law that has already been passed, which would allow them to sell directly. It will be interestin to see if they start doing taster flights like other tasting rooms.

Creature Comforts makes some great beers and everything I tasted when I visited was well-made. I also brought home a bottle of one of their sours to try later. They have a large open tasting room with plenty of seating inside and outside and it can get quite busy on weekends. I happened to visit on a particularly busy weekend because it was graduation time for many and they celebrated by going to breweries.


Top 2:
Terry Swirl
Dry-hopped Berliner-Weisse

The Southern Brewing Company

Compared to Creature Comforts’ West Coast style IPAs, everything hoppy I had at The Southern Brewing Company was more malty in the classic style. I didn’t even bother with their IPA once I realized it was as malty as their pale ale. There is nothing wrong with the style but I don’t particularly enjoy drinking it. The pale ale was really well made and a good mix of fruity hops and biscuit notes from the malts.

What I really enjoyed was their Berliner weisse and their Cherokee Rose. The Berliner weisse was complex and balanced. The Cherokee Rose tasted like an earthy saison with some mild funk. They also had a barrel-aged saison on tap that was funky as expected and nicely done. I also enjoyed their mexican-chocolate stout that was left over from Cinco De Mayo. It was appropriately balanced and medium body with notes of spice and mild hot pepper heat on top of a nice roasty stout.

I wanted to try some of the sours they were selling bottles of but besides the saison I couldn’t try them. Thankfully I found a bottle of their peach sour at a local shop and brought one of those bottles home along with their bourbon barrel aged stout. Southern also had a nice tasting room with an even larger lawn area for people to hang out in the sun. It is a shame California has such restrictive laws that require enclosed spaces at breweries or we could have something similar. They used the space to put on live music and it was good and relaxing. The crowd was even more insane at Southern.

If the sours from both breweries turn out as good as I hope, it makes for a great visit to enjoy the laid-back town of Athens and have some great beer while you are there.

Since writing this post, I tasted the peach sour and barrel-aged stout I brought back with. The peach sour was well-made though pretty standard for the style. The barrel-aged stout was also quite tasty though a bit thin because I assume they blend it down after aging in the barrel. It is a nice change from some of the thick sludgy stouts I see a lot of. Both were nicely done but not something I would make a separate trip to buy bottles of.

Top 2:
Cherokee Rose
Mexican-Chocolate Stout

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney focusing on serving the San Diego LGBT community.

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Blue Owl and Zilker Brewing Austin Texas

Blue Owl Brewing

Blue Owl is a brewery that does all sour mash beers, which means for every style of beer they make a kettle sour even their pale ale, or their stout. Both Blue Owl and Zilker are very close to each other so they are easy to visit in one trip. The last time I was in Austin I brought back a six pack of the Blue Owl sour pale. I enjoyed it but it wasn’t particularly delicious. I decided to return to see if some of their other beers in cans grab me enough to buy some and if not save the six packs for those who like it. Blue Owl does not sell individual pours so you must buy a glass and they will fill the glass four times for the price. Thankfully they offer multiple sizes. I went for the half pint size, or 8 ounces.

I started with the sour red, which was malty, mildly tart, and easy drinking. The sour stout was an interesting mix of caramel roast, light sweetness, mild cherry notes, and a mild tart kick. I enjoyed this the most of the beers I tried and considered grabbing some cans. The raspberry Belgian strong tasted like cough syrup, sticky and notes of cherry. The sour wee heavy I couldn’t finish even though it was a bit more balanced than others. It had notes of cherry and caramel and a strong acidity that was a bit overpowering.

Blue Owl is worth a visit if you want to try some kettle sours but I would recommend going for the smaller taster option. I also think the sour mash works better with the lighter core beers.

Known For: 

Blue Owl brews exclusively kettle sours, which means this is not a brewery to visit if you crave IPAs or stouts.

Zilker Brewing

I visited Zilker the day after their second anniversary party. They serve flights without needing to buy the glass. I started with the blackberry kettle sour, which had a gorgeous dark purple color and a great mix of berry flavor and mild tart kick. I ended up ordering a full pour of this before I left. If you see a fruity kettle sour on tap, be sure to try it. The Marco IPA was a nicely done classic IPA with a malt balance and notes of pine and herbal hops. The anniversary IPA was a solid example of the classic West Coast style IPA, blending citrus and pine with a light malt backbone. The coffee stout was nicely done with a good mix of roast and coffee.

Zilker was my last stop for the day so I didn’t try their numerous lighter options, though they had many on tap. Everything I tried was well-made. If you are more into classic styles of hoppy beers, Zilker is the place to visit, otherwise those looking for the juicy hazy IPAs should visit Pinthouse Pizza. If you can schedule your visit to Zilker when they have a fruited kettle sour on tap, it is worth it.

Top 2:
Blackberry kettle sour
Anniversary IPA

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney focusing on serving the San Diego LGBT community.

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Good Beer Company and Cismontane Brewing Santa Ana California

The Good Beer Company

Despite the completely generic name, The Good Beer Company is anything but generic. I had heard great things about them prior to visiting from those who love sour and wild ales, though like many breweries experimenting with the style, having a flight of tasters can get quite expensive. I decided to stick to one full beer and ordered an apricot sour they had on tap. It was tart and dry with a strong apricot kick and a high overall acidity. I found the beer to be solidly above average.

Good Beer Company 01

I could tell that the brewery makes things in small batches and the tap list changes fairly regularly. Everything on tap was either a farmhouse ale, a wild ale, or a sour. Tasters range from $2 to $4 and so it made more sense to order a full pour of the apricot beer. They are in an old brick building and the place gets quite loud. In a future trip I hope to try some more of their varied offerings but what I tasted suggests that they are on the right track.

Good Beer Company 02

Known for:
This is a place to visit if you enjoy farmhouse ales, wild ales, or sours.

Cismontane Brewing

Cismontane Brewing 01

Located in the heart of Santa Ana it is easy to overlook Cismontane despite having been open for five years now due to its proximity to fan favorites in Anaheim. However, the short distance can take a long time to travel during peak hours making Cismontane a great stop if you are staying in Santa Ana since it is close to John Wayne airport. I had a flight of five tasters and overall it was solidly average. While beer geeks driving down from LA or up from San Diego may not always stop here, it is a good spot for locals.

Cismontane Brewing 03

The CA Lager was smooth and clean with notes of caramel and fruit, a great rendition of the style. The Rye IPA was a mix of floral and pine on the nose and sticky and dank mouthfeel. It is a well-balanced IPA and not too bitter. The Sour Brown anniversary ale was a perfect balance of caramel and citrus tartness and true to style. The porter was strong on the dark fruit notes with tons of cherry and mild molasses. It wasn’t really my thing. The imperial stout on nitro was excellent with tons of roast and caramel with mild smoke, though also a bit dry, thus not so sweet.

Cismontane Brewing 02

Top 2:
California Lager
Sour Brown

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney focusing on serving the San Diego LGBT community.

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