When it comes to craft beer there are plenty of styles that suddenly get embraced by the collective consciousness and become the subject everybody talks about. In fact you could argue that craft beer itself was born of such a moment, when the American public began to discover hoppy pale ales from the likes of Anchor and New Albion in the late 70’s and then Sierra Nevada in the early 80’s. Since then Trappist beer, Double IPA, black IPA, session IPA and now a myriad of saisons have appeared as a result of this beery supply and demand.
But there is one type of beer that remains well and truly of the moment. Sours.
We love sours – and it seems like you share that opinion as well, as every twelve months when #MashTag rolls around, sours leap from the comments thread of our style council. As Garrett Oliver of Brooklyn Brewery says - "Sour beers are less than one half of one percent of craft beer. But they are 95% of what craft beer fans talk about now." This is because they are fascinating, delicious, have captured the moment and possibly above all – they have prestige due to how hard they are to brew.
But we aren’t letting that stop us – we are building our own sour facility.
We have secured a site in Ellon across the road from our original 100HL brewery for construction of a stand-alone sour facility, as to fully unleash the unpredictable joys of sours, you really need a separate location. This is because the bacteria and wild yeasts involved are truly voracious; they can become a real problem if they find their way into any part of a regular brewery. So we are going to brew the base beer and then transport it over the road ready for the bacteria, the wood and (above all) time to work their magic.
These three factors are the holy trinity of souring – you obviously need the presence of bacteria or wild yeasts to begin their puckering, souring work – and having a large selection of barrels (such as classic oak foudres) gives them a regular place to hang out, and do their work in peace. And finally, these things simply can’t be rushed. Brettanomyces, Lactobacillus and Pediococcus all take time for their flavours to appear and then round out – and we don’t plan on rushing them at all.
We don’t do anything unless we are 100% happy with it, and the decision to embrace sours is one we have taken knowing that we can build a facility that is fully devoted to the wonders of the tart and funky. If you want to do justice to something people are asking for time and again, then you need to give it your all or it’ll peak and trough back into the annals of the forgotten. Sours are here to stay – and we intend to ensure they do with this new project.
Once constructed, we will hopefully have part of the sour facility that is open to the public, so our legion of beer fans can visit and get a better understanding of the sheer joy and unpredictable nature that producing sours can being. Plus we will be serving a range of the resulting beers in DogTap and across our network of BrewDog bars. Wouldn’t it be cool to have a dedicated sours tap in your local BrewDog bar?
So who’s excited about BrewDog sours? And when the building is ready, what should we call our new sour facility?