Beers made by allowing wild yeast strains or bacteria into the brew. Before Pasteurization, almost all beer was sour in some way due to naturally occurring wild yeast strains.
Flanders Red Ale
Flanders Reds are commonly referred to as the “red” beers of West Flanders. Belgian Red Beers are typically light-bodied brews with reddish-brown colors. They are infamous for their distinct sharp, fruity, sour and tart flavors which are created by special yeast strains. Very complex beers, they are produced under the age old tradition of long-term cask aging in oak, and the blending of young and old beers.
Examples: Duchesse De Bourgogne, Rodenbach Grand Cru, The Bruery Oude Tart
A traditional Belgian blend of young and old Lambics, which are then bottle after blending, then aged for 2-3 years to produce a dryer, fruitier and more intense style of Lambic. There is no hop character, some are filtered and force carbonated if not pasteurized as well. Some say that this is the more harsh lambic as the sourness is pretty intense.
Examples: Timmerman’s Oude Gueuze, Lindeman’s Gueuze Cuvee Rene, Tilquin Gueuze
A spontaneous fermented unblended ale that is indigenous to the Senne Valley of Belgium, a large portion of wheat brings out the crispness though the flavor is dominated with a unique tartness from the wild yeast and bacteria that inoculate the brew from both airborne and tainted barrels that they ferment in. Light bodied with little hop flavor or bitterness. Look for hard cider, white wine or similar tartness. Lambics are aged before consumption to ensure that the tartness has mellowed. Many are turned in to Fruit Lambics where whole fruit is added after spontaneous fermentation has started.
Examples: Lindeman’s Kriek Lambic (Cherry), Boon Framboise Lambic (Raspberry), Rivertown Lambic
Saisons are sturdy farmhouse ale that was traditionally brewed in the winter, to be consumed throughout the summer months. Not so long ago it was close to being an endangered style, but over recent years there’s been a massive revival; especially in the US.
This is a very complex style; many are very fruity in the aroma and flavor. Look for earthy yeast tones, mild to moderate tartness. Lots of spice and with a medium bitterness. They tend to be semi-dry with many only having touch of sweetness.
Examples: Saison Dupont Farmhouse Ale, Goose Island Sofie, Ommegang Hennepin
Berliner Weisse is a top-fermented, bottle conditioned wheat beer made with both traditional warm-fermenting yeasts and lactobacillus culture. They have a rapidly vanishing head and a clear, pale golden straw-colored appearance. The taste is refreshing, tart, sour and acidic, with a lemony-citric fruit sharpness and almost no hop bitterness.
Examples: West Sixth Berliner Weiss, Mikkeller Halo Berliner, Dogfish Head Festina Peche
American Wild Ale
Sometimes Belgian influenced, American Wild Ales are beers that are introduced to “wild” yeast or bacteria, such as: Brettanomyces (Brettanomyces Bruxellensis, Brettanomyces Lambicus or Brettanomyces Anomolus), Pediococcus or Lactobacillus. This introduction may occur from oak barrels that have been previously inoculated, pitched into the beer, or gained from various “sour mash” techniques. Regardless of which and how, these little creatures often leave a funky calling card that can be quite strange, interesting, pleasing to many, but also often deemed as undesirable by many.
Examples: The Bruery Sour in the Rye, New Belgium Le Terroir, Crooked Stave Origins