Trends come and go. If you don’t believe me, take a look at some pictures of you from high school. Okay, we get it, New Kids On The Block and WRV were a thing. But those have been replaced with One Direction and Salt Life. In 6 years, those will be trumped with The Aesop Boys and Surf’N’Turf. That’s just the way it is. Somethings will never change.
Trends also happen in the American Craft Beer industry. One that has moved from a cult following to mainstream are sours. Sure, Europeans have been kicking them out since before the war (the one in 1812), but it has always been the secret society of beers in the states until a few years ago. Places like Wicked Weed’s Funkatorium in Asheville, NC, Crooked Stave in Denver, CO, and The Bruery near Los Angles, CA have been the meccas for this particular sect of craft beer drinkers. In Virginia though, the list of sour producers can be counted on one hand if you were missing some digits. Thankfully, one company in Virginia Beach is starting to make their mark in this realm and have been kicking out some pretty funky suds.
Bring Out Your Dead, Reaver Beach Brewing Co. (Virginia Beach, VA)
Sour Ale, ABV: 7.4%, IBU: 8
Presentation: Bomber pour into tulep glass.
Appearance: Deep orange in color, mild to medium carbonation with white head that leaves quickly and rims the glass.
Aroma: Very sour with fruit and gourd up front. Mustiness present.
Taste: Very tart and sour up front, moving into Brett musty flavors, with a very distinct ripe squash ending. Decent fall/winter spice but not overpowering, just enough to bring out the gourd.
ABV/IBU Mouthfeel: Very astringent and tart. Medium puckering as sours go. Gourd cuts into the acidity enough that it doesn’t feel sharp long into the end. ABV fairly well hidden, and IBU there for balance.
Overall: If you have not gotten into the sour world, or rather rabbit hole, it is an interesting place. While the craft beer enthusiast can get lost down there very quickly as it is logical step from Flanders and Gose, purists usually look down on the practice, which is why it has been packed away brew land for a while. It also can have a much broader appeal that traditional beers, as I have found several of my wine-drinking friends asking for rounds of this libation. Try doing that with a DIPA. To this beer in particular, it hits the all right notes as far as sours are concerned. Tart but not overbearing, good musty Brett strain, and the use of gourds is a first for me. Now this was a late fall 2015 release, but there are some bottle still floating around as soon as last week. The more overlying story is the Reaver Beach seems to have a great early hold on their sour series, so it is not a stretch for you to go out and any sours by them and find nothing less than quality. I try not to get overhyped, as this is a particular style that I enjoy, but I kept looking for major flaws and couldn’t really find much. I would love to get some of this next to some of the other established sour companies’ brews, but on first reaction, would hold up nicely.