Tart, refreshing and moderate in alcohol, a well made sour beer can be the perfect summer quencher.
Sydney's Wayward Brewing Company has declared 2019-20 the 'Summer of Sour' with a raft of events championing its flagship Raspberry Berliner Weisse, a fruited version of the spritzy, tart wheat beer originating in Berlin.
"It's about presenting our Raspberry Berliner Weisse not so much as a beer, but as a refreshing, pink summer drink that's really attractive and naturally low in sugar," says founder Peter Philip.
Wayward has also just released its annual seasonal, Passionista, a Passionfruit and Yuzu Berliner Weisse that Philip says has developed a strong fanbase.
"It's one of those beers that people really anticipate coming out. The thing is, we're now hitting a new market maturity with sours," he says.
"I think we're really getting out of the 'early adopter' phase and they are starting to find a more mainstream audience."
In Melbourne, Spotswood's Two Birds Brewing this year debuted Fruit Tang Clan, a refreshing sour with additions of mango, guava and passionfruit.
"The first day we poured Fruit Tang fresh off the tap it happened to be one of the hottest days in Melbourne since last summer," says co-founder Danielle Allen.
"Our customers confirmed what we had hoped, that it's the perfect beer for a hot day. People really enjoyed how fruity and refreshing it is – you can taste the tropical fruit sweetness, but then you get a nice tart kick."
Not-so garden varieties
Next door in Footscray, Hop Nation Brewing has launched a rhubarb sour blonde ale called Turn The Page, the latest beer in its Site Fermentation Project (Site FP) series.
The Site FP beers differ from other sours featured in this article in that they are produced using slower, traditional methods similar to those employed by Belgian brewers over many centuries.
"We brew our base sour blonde ale in a foeder (large oak barrel), where a range of different yeast and bacteria convert sugars to alcohol," says co-founder Sam Hambour.
"We then took 100kg of rhubarb from the Footscray Market and cooked it up with some whole vanilla beans, before re-fermenting with the base beer."
This compares with the more common and approachable beers that Hambour terms "fast sours", such as The Punch Mango Gose in Hop Nation's core range, which are soured using lactic acid bacteria before the beer undergoes its main fermentation.
"Mixed culture fermentation gives you more complexity and depth of flavour," he says.
If you're new to sour beers, best start with the easy drinking styles before moving onto something like Turn The Page.
Take a look at the gallery above to see five new brews to relish.
James Atkinson is creator of the Drinks Adventures podcast and a previous editor of Australian Brews News and drinks industry publication TheShout. A Certified Cicerone® and 2017 winner of the Australian International Beer Awards media prize, James regularly contributes to other publications including Halliday, Good Food, QantasLink Spirit and more.