- Terelle Jerricks
By Michael Koger
Every year, Stone Brewing in Escondido puts together a festival showcasing some of the best sour beers from around the world. “Sour” is a term that encompasses several different styles ranging from Berliner Weisse to Gueuze. However, these different styles are all united under the umbrella term that best describes their taste. As their name implies, sour beers are generally dry, acidic, mouth puckering and, in some cases, enamel peeling. They are certainly an acquired taste. They are also one of my favorite styles.
This year was the sixth Sourfest held at Stone, and it did not disappoint compare to previous years’ events. Makers of some of the finest and most well respected beers in the world, such as Cantillon and Drie Fonteinen, brought several offerings from their home in Belgium. Cantillon’s Lou Pepe Kriek and Classic Gueuze, pictured above (left and right respectively) are considered outstanding examples of their styles.
American breweries were well represented at the event too. Cascade Brewing and Barrel House from Portland, Oregon had the largest presence at Sourfest. They had almost a dozen beers in keg, bottle and “live barrel” form. Their Elderberry was one of my favorites from the whole festival. Their Blueberry ale was also very good.
As the name implies, the beer has a strong taste of blueberries but has a nice bit of sourness to it. Firestone Walker, from Paso Robles, brought their SLO-ambic to the festival, and it was by far one of the highlights (SLO for San Luis Obispo. A lambic is simply a wheat beer that has been fermented by wild yeast–yeast that is present within the air). Clocking in at 11.50%abv, which is far higher than most sour style ales, SLO-ambic beautifully weaves together notes of cherries, apricots and raspberries while being complemented by a lovely oak barrel aging and acidity from the yeast that was used during fermentation.
This is not to say everything was sweet (or sour). There were a few beers that simply didn’t taste as good to me as the others. The highly anticipated presence of Brux, a collaboration between Sierra Nevada Brewing Company and Russian River Brewing Company, ultimately turned out to be a dud compared to many other beers. And while offering many amazing beers, Cascade Brewing’s L’Agent Orange tasted way too syrupy and flat.
What’s nice about these events is that for $45, you get to try 15 three-ounce samples of some of the finest beers around the world. Plus, Stone Brewing is a beautiful location. It’s only an hour and a half drive from San Pedro, and it is certainly worth the trip. The brewery offers a tour around the facilities, which culminates in a small tasting of four Stone beers. There is also a restaurant which serves fantastic food and a beautiful garden area for drinking beer and relaxing. Stone Brewing Company and World Bistro and Gardens is located at 1999 Citracado Parkway in Escondido.