We have a new beer in our fridge, and it is our first proper sour beer. This is one of the big trends in brewing lately, as modern brewers look back to the past for inspiration and to test their skills as a brewer (sours are damn hard to do well as they are so unpredictable).
Unlike in modern brewing, which is done in a sterile environment to guard against the intrusion of wild yeast, sour beers are made by intentionally allowing wild yeast strains or bacteria into the brew. The most common agents used to intentionally sour beer are Lactobacillus, Brettanomyces, and Pediococcus, which all give their own unique taste and character to the beer. Traditionally, Belgian brewers allow this to happen by cooling the wort in vessels a bit like large bathtubs (called a coolship, or koelschip), left open to the outside air to allow these wild yeasts and bacterias into the beer. Of course, this is an extremely unpredictable way of brewing, so modern brewers tend to avoid it. This uncertainty can mean the beer may take months to ferment and can take years to mature.
Our first sour to be stocked is the brilliantly named Big Boy Pants, from newly established Oxford brewer with a conscience Tap Social Movement. They are an interesting and exciting business borne out of a passion for good beer and social justice. With founders with a background a range of positions across the criminal justice system, they are a craft brewery which provides training courses for people serving prison sentences, offering courses in brewing and business start-up, and providing one-on-one support in securing permanent employment to assist in effective rehabilitation. The beers are knockout too!
Big Boy Pants is a Belgian farmhouse sour ale with tart grapefruit flavour and aroma and low bitterness. The acidity in the beer is derived from lactic, acetic and other organic acids naturally developed with acidulated malt in the mash. It’s a great sour beer for those who haven’t tried one before – the low ABV and high carbonation make this a very refreshing session sour ale. We love it and wear our Big Boy Pants with pride!