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Meta: Looking for the perfect sour beer? With some many craft beers to choose from, it can be difficult to decide. That’s why we compiled this list of the ten best sour beers on the market. No matter your budget or tastes, we’ve found the perfect sour beer for every occasion.
As the craft beer industry continues to grow, consumers find themselves faced with a seemingly endless amount of specialty beer. From the pine flavor of a hearty IPA to the light floral notes of a Belgian Pale Ale, beer connoisseurs have many options from which to choose. But perhaps the tartest, refreshing style of beer is the sour beer. Perfect for perking up bored taste buds, an excellent quality sour beer can change the way you see craft beer.
But with over a hundred different brands of sour beer to choose from, picking the right one can be a lengthy and tedious challenge. Ordering beer blindly can end in a dissatisfactory experience and wasted money. Walk into the world of sour beer with your head held high, using this handy list of the top ten best sour beers.
Sour Beer FAQs
We want to answer any questions you may have. You may be wondering:
- What is sour beer?
- What flavors of sour beer are available?
- Where can you buy sour beer?
- How much does sour beer cost?
What is Sour Beer?
Tart, tangy, and often fruity, sour beer makes your mouth tingle, and your lips pucker. People have been brewing it for more than two thousand years, and it’s no surprise why. Sour beers tend to be more complicated than traditional brews, and they come in a slew of different styles.
Chemically speaking, sour beer is sour due to the evolution of organic acids during its fermentation process. A typical lager is brewed in sterilized conditions with distinct strains of yeast, but a sour beer uses wild yeast and two types of bacteria to become the multilayered, refreshing beverage we all know and admire.
Lactobacillus, the bacteria which gives yogurt it’s slightly sour taste, is one of the main properties of sour beer. It couples with Pediococcus, another strain of bacteria, to intensify the souring process. Both types of bacteria produce lactic acid, which is what creates that tongue-tingling tanginess in sour beers.
What Are the Different Styles of Sour Beer?
Sour beer comes in many various styles, depending on the method of fermentation. Here are a few examples:
- Gose. A pale, sour beer that originates from Germany. Accented with salt.
- Lambic. A Belgian beer often mixed with cherries. Light and tart.
- Flanders. Brownish coloration, rich fruity tastes like wine.
- American Wild Ale. Strong and funky, typically a high ABV.
- Berliner Weisse. A lemony wheat beer with low ABV.
Though there are many styles, all of the best sour beers are tangy and bright. Because there’s such a variety, there are more flavors catered to your tastes.
What Flavors of Sour Beer Are Available?
Most sour beers are predominantly fruity, but they also offer multiple layers of flavor that may include notes of chocolate, coffee, or cream. Cherry, lemon, grapefruit, and blackberry, you can choose from the gamut of fruit flavors when deciding on a sour beer.
The most important thing to consider is your palette. After all, if you’re not a fan of coconut, you’re unlikely to enjoy a coconut-flavored ale, no matter the quality of the beer or overwhelming positivity of the reviews.
Sour beer is available for purchase nearly everywhere. You can order it online, or you can find it in your local liquor store or supermarket. The near absolute availability of sour beer truly speaks to its quality and continued popularity.
How Much Does Sour Beer Cost?
The cost of sour beer is approximately $2 – $6 per 12oz, averaging out to $4 per 12oz. This statistic is on-par with the average cost of all beer in most major US cities, which is also about $4 per 12oz. This means that sour beer isn’t likely to break your bank account. It’s as affordable as any other quality beer, so you can explore the sour beer style without wondering if you’ve made a wise investment.
How We Created This List
We put our readers first when researching beer for this list. Not only did we discover what makes sour beer so sour, but we also compared dozens of brands to find the highest quality, best tasting, most affordable, and beautifully crafted and the sour beers available on the market today.
To accurately rate and rank the beers we researched, we gave them a cumulative rating based on price, quality, and availability. The beers with the best overall scores made it onto the list, and many fine-quality candidates fell just short of qualifying. It would be nice to play favorites, but it is also entirely unethical, so judging was done blindly, with brand names removed during the ranking process to ensure absolute fairness.
Sour Beer Price Range
The price of sour beer depends on the quantity and quality of beer that you’re purchasing. A typical 12oz sour beer costs about $4, but higher quality beers cost about $6 per 12oz. Prices do not tend to get higher than that, making sour beer a budget-friendly choice.
The Top Ten Sour Beers
1.) Sierra Nevada Otra Vez Cactus and Grapefruit
Sierra Nevada has breweries in California and North Carolina. Founded in 1980, they are most known for their Pale Ale and Torpedo Extra IPA.
The Otra Vez Cactus and Grapefruit is a light gold Gose-style beer with a lemony scent that makes your nose tingle. The first sip is slightly salty then immediately tart with lime. There’s a sharp but exhilarating bite with every sip, and a clean, minty aftertaste. The Otra Vez is an excellent choice for a hot summer’s day, as it is wholly refreshing. Should you decided to enjoy this beer with a meal, the best meal pairing would be a Thai noodle dish or a snack of goat cheese and bread.
$8.99 per six-pack, averaging at about $1.50 per 12oz beer.
Where to Buy
This beer is available nationwide.
2.) Uinta Ready Set Gose
Uinta was founded in 1993, in Salt Lake City, Utah. It was the first business in Utah to transition to 100% wind power.
The can opens with a crisp pop, and the dark yellow beer pours nicely to form a thick head. The second Gose-style sour beer on our list, the first sip is malty with a strong hint of citrus. Then comes a rush of lemon and wheat, before the final bite of a salty aftertaste. Light and foamy, this sour beer will leave your tongue tingling with lemony bliss.
About $2.50 per 12oz can.
Where to Buy
Total Wine & More distributes Uinta beer.
3.) Cascade Brewing Kriek Ale
Cascade Brewing has been creating high-quality beverages since 1998. Founded in Portland, Oregon, Cascade specializes in sour brews. They have won dozens of awards, with the New York Times voting their Kriek Ale the “Best Sour Beer in America” in 2011.
Pouring out leathery reddish-brown, Kriek forms a quickly vanishing pinkish head. A Flanders Red Ale, Kriek is far more like a wine than a yeasty beer. The scent of oak, cherries, pomegranate, and earth is unstoppable. Light yet creamy, it is well-aged, funky, and layered. There is nothing one-note about Cascade Brewing’s Kriek, and it only gets better with age. Unfortunately, it is one of the most expensive beers on our list.
Approximately $15 per 12oz. Sold in in 750ml glass bottles.
Where to Buy
Cascade distributes to most states, except Alaska, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Carolina, and Wyoming.
4.) Goose Island Lolita
Goose Island has been a Chicago institution since its opening in 1988. They became so popular that Anheuser-Busch bought them in 2011. While some craft beer enthusiasts shake their heads in disappointment at this buy-out, many other rejoice in the fact that Goose Island is now available across the nation.
Reddish-amber with a weak, quickly dissipating head. Lolita is a soft, sweet mistress, subduing you with heavy notes of raspberry. It contains a wine-like earthiness and a lightly carbonated and smooth taste. Gently tart and refreshingly delicious, Lolita is well-balanced and elegant in addition to being less expensive than the similarly built Cascade Brewery Kriek Ale.
Approximately $9 per 12oz. Sold in in 765ml glass bottles.
Where to Buy
Goose Island is available nationwide.
5.) Brouwerij Lindemans Gueuze Cuvée René
This Lambic sour beer originates from the Lindemans Brewery in Belgium. The oldest brewery mentioned on this list, the Lindemans have been brewing excellent Belgian beer since 1822. Their popular beverages are the result of several generations of continued tradition and skill.
The first Lambic beer on our list, Lindemans Gueuze Cuvée René is clear gold, with a small yellowish head. It releases an aroma of crisp citrus, sour apples with a hint of vinegar. Actively carbonated, this beer would be an excellent substitute for champagne, and with a light, bitter-sweet aftertaste, it’s sure to have you coming back for another glass. Also, the price is decent when you consider the importation costs and quality of the beer.
Approximately $6.50 per 12oz. Sold in in 750ml glass bottles.
Where to Buy
Available for purchase online and sold worldwide.
6.) Lagunitas Aunt Sally
Founded in 1993, in Northern California, Lagunitas Brewing Company seems like it never lost its sense of self or style during its rise to international distribution. The staff is active within the local social and music communities, to a fault. There is rarely a more pleasant or fun group brewing beer.
Initially, cloudy amber, settling to a bright gold with a quick white head. An initially sweet scent, akin to citrus or apricot. Unlike every other Gose-style sour beer on this list, the next flavor note is not salt. Instead, you get a mouthful of lightly carbonated lemon, grass, and pineapple notes. Refreshing, fizzy sweetness. It’s not a quality you would immediately expect from a beer with an ABV of almost 6%. And yet somehow, Lagunitas achieves this, and at a very affordable price. Aunt Sally is a sweet, light, beer perfect for a warm spring afternoon spent out in the yard.
Approximately $1.60 per 12oz bottle.
Where to Buy
Lagunita distributes nationwide.
7.) Anderson Valley Briney Melon Gose
Back in 1987, Anderson Valley Brewing Company was one of only twenty craft breweries in the country. From that point onward, the small Californian brewery has succeeded in creating some unique and flavorful beers on the West Coast while also being one of the most environmentally conscious companies in the nation.
Another Gose on our list! It pours out in a beautiful golden shimmer, with a swift smack of melon. And it produces a thick white head. It feels like creamy and salty on your tongue, with a tangy burst of lemon and watermelon. If you take a sip and close your eyes, you could imagine you were standing on the beach of a tropical island, taking in the sand and the surf. It also has the highest ABV for the lowest price of any of the beers on this list.
Approximately $1.8 per 12oz can.
Where to Buy
Distributed nationwide from most major liquor vendors.
8.) Evil Twin Nomader Weisse
Evil Twin Brewing has locations in New York and Denmark. Part of their branding is their anonymity.
The apt name is the first pleasant point to make about the Nomader Weisse. It is also the first and only Berliner Weisse sour beer on our list. Light gold with a creamy white head, the Nomader Weisse has a very wheat-like, yeasty smell and taste to it. And yet it still has lemony tones and a clean finish. For those who prefer sour beer with a strong hoppy flavor, Evil Twin has you covered no matter what.
Approximately $1.75 per 12oz can.
Where to Buy
Available in the state New York as well as online.
9.) The Lost Abbey Red Poppy Ale
Port Brewing has been producing Belgian-inspired beers since 2006. They’ve won multiple awards and have stood their ground in the increasingly crowded California craft beer industry.
The Lost Abbey Red Poppy Ale is a Flanders-style beer, like Cascade Brewing’s Kriek Ale. A dark red, nearly brown beer, the prominent aroma is cherries. The sweetness and tartness of cherries will enthrall you. There is also a hint of wood. The Red Poppy Ale is aged in wooden caskets. The aftertaste is clean, slightly lemony, and the experience is perfectly tart.
Approximately $15 per 12oz. Sold in in 375ml glass bottles.
Where to Buy
Currently available in Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Michigan, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Washington. It is also available for purchase from online retailers.
10.) New Holland Blue Sunday Sour
Founded in 1997 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, New Holland Brewing Company produces both beer and spirits. Featuring bright and unique flavors, they have a long road of success ahead of them.
The groovy label is well-designed, and the blue coloring is enticing. The beer is dark brown, with a light head. It has a fruity scent, with a tinge of wood. The taste is an onslaught of flavors: cherry, plum, caramel, vanilla, bourbon, blueberries. It somehow maintains these various flavors while also remaining crisp and light. You can hardly taste the alcohol.
Approximately $7 per 12oz. Sold in 750ml glass bottles.
Where to Buy
Available nationwide at all major alcoholic beverage retailers.
Sierra Nevada Otra Vez Cactus and Grapefruit
Price: $1.50 per 12oz, $8.99 per six-pack.
Availability: Nationwide at major retailers (ABCFWS, Total Wine & More)
Flavor Notes: Grapefruit and prickly pear.
Best Food Pairing: Thai noodles, goat cheese, grapefruit sorbet.
Uinta Ready Set Gose
Price: About $2.50 per 12oz can.
Availability: Available online and from most major retailers.
Flavor Notes: Lemon and salt.
Best Food Pairing: Grilled tuna or chicken, chocolate.
Cascade Brewing Kriek Ale
Price: Approximately $15 per 12oz.
Availability: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin.
Style: Flanders Red Ale.
Notes: Cherry, oak, malt.
Best Food Pairing: Lamb, carrot, and potato.
Goose Island Lolita
Price: Approximately $9 per 12oz.
Availability: Goose Island is available nationwide at major retailers.
Style: American Wild Ale.
Flavor Notes: Raspberry and wild yeast.
Best Food Pairing: Cheesecake.
Brouwerij Lindemans Gueuze Cuvée René
Price: Approximately $6.50 per 12oz.
Availability: Available for purchase online and sold worldwide.
Flavor Notes: Citrus and hay.
Best Food Pairing: Sausage or pork chops.
Lagunitas Aunt Sally
Price: Approximately $1.60 per 12oz bottle.
Availability: Lagunita distributes nationwide and at most major retailers.
Flavor Notes: Peach and pear candy.
Best Food Pairing: Shellfish.
Anderson Valley Briney Melon Gose
Price: Approximately $1.8 per 12oz can.
Availability: Distributed nationwide from most major liquor vendors.
Flavor Notes: Watermelon and sea salt.
Best Food Pairing: Grilled chicken or fish.
Evil Twin Nomader Weisse
Price: Approximately $1.75 per 12oz can.
Availability: Available in the state of New York as well as online.
Style: Berliner Weissbier.
Flavor Notes: White grape, lemon, and mango.
Best Food Pairing: Risotto.
The Lost Abbey Red Poppy Ale
Price: Approximately $15 per 12oz. Sold in in 375ml glass bottles.
Availability: Currently available in Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Michigan, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Washington. It is also available for purchase from online retailers.
Style: Flanders Red Ale.
Flavor Notes: Cherry, chocolate, fig, and oak.
Best Food Pairing: Beef short-rib, milk chocolate.
New Holland Blue Sunday Sour
Price: Approximately $7 per 12oz. Sold in in 750ml glass bottles.
Availability: Available nationwide at all major alcoholic beverage retailers.
Style: American Wild Ale.
Flavor Notes: Malt and tart red wine.
Best Food Pairing: Pork shoulder.
The Final Verdict
After intense and in-depth research and quite a lot of consideration, one of these sour beers stands out among the rest. With an impressive ABV, a smooth and sweet taste, and an affordable price tag, the best sour beer on our best sour beers list is Goose Island Lolita.
At an ABV level of 7%, its stronger than half of the beers on this list, and at only about $9 per 12oz, it’s also less expensive than the other higher ABV beers presented here. With a lovely, light flavor profile of tart raspberry and wild wheat, Lolita is a Wild American Ale that “can’t be beat.” After diving into its rosy depth, we’ve decided we don’t ever want to leave.