Hello Sour Beer Friends!
I would like to write a bit about my thoughts on reviewing beer and how beer reviews on this website will be crafted.
An influential teacher once referred to me as a renaissance man due to my many varied interests and pursuits. Over the years I have maintained many hobbies and tried to educate myself to a well-informed level in regards to each of them. As a brewer and beer enthusiast in general, I have always had interest in a variety of styles, including both non-sour and sour styles. With so many amazing beers in the world, I could never profess to have any single favorite beer.
This is not to suggest that I am not particular. There are many beers which I have had that I would never recommend to others. This would be the case with any beer that has a significant off-flavor or brewing defect. Reviews on such beers will not appear on this site. The first reason for this is because most beers, sour or otherwise, are drank from a bottle far removed from the control of the brewer or brewers who created it. Any number of unpredictable circumstances could lead to a bad beer in a bottle. Reviewing a beer as bad or defected from a single bottle would be foolish. For all I know, I could have drank the one infected bottle out of a thousand good ones. The second reason for not listing reviews for beers that I would never recommend is that no brewer intends to produce a bad beer. Every brewer wants to produce a beer that people will love, but this is not always possible. Changes in natural ingredients, a random mishap in the brewery, process problems, packaging problems, or any number of other circumstances could lead to a beer that falls short of the brewers expectations. Furthermore, vast differences in individual people’s abilities to perceive certain flavors leads to a situation where some individuals may taste a flaw in a beer that the brewer may be completely unaware of.
As a reviewer of beer and a beer writer in general, I am not only open to suggestions from the audience of this site, but I am hoping for audience participation and recommendations on beers or breweries for me to check out. I am also happy to hear from brewers or breweries who would like me to review their beer for the site. I will gladly accept beers to taste and review. If I find a situation where I evaluate a beer and find that I can’t recommend it, I will e-mail the brewer to let them know my finding and any suggestions for improvement, but I will never blast a beer on this site.
In the realm of commercially produced sour beers, it is my experience that a far greater number of beers are good or even very good. These are the beers which I will be reviewing on this site. It is my goal over time to create a large database of beer reviews to serve as an educational resource. I think that having a searchable database of sour beer reviews all in the same format and from the same general perspective on beer flavor will prove to be a valuable tool to those learning about sour beer and those looking for sour beers to try.
In addition to a descriptive review of the flavors and characteristics of sour beers I will also be using a few simple numeric scales to provide information on the overall intensity and balance of certain characteristics unique to sour and wild beers. These will include 0 to 10 scales for overall sourness (lactic, citric, malic, etc.), acetic (vinegar) presence, and Brettanomyces presence in a beer. On these three scales a zero will indicate a beer with no sourness, no vinegar, or no Brettanomyces characteristics whatsoever. A ten on these scales will indicate a beer that contains the highest level of intensity of these flavors when compared to other sour beers. I will also provide a 1 to 10 sweet to dry balance indicator. A one on this scale will indicate a beer that is extremely sweet and syrupy. A five on this scale will indicate a beer that has a fairly equal balance between either back-sweetening or natural malt presence and dryness in the finish. For example many non-sour styles, such as American Amber Ale, Milk Stout, or Belgian Trippel, would fall at approximately a five on this scale. A ten on this scale would be an extremely dry beer with no sugar-like flavors, or candy-like/caramel sweetness. Lastly, I will provide an ABV, bottling or best-by date, and any other available numeric data when possible.
There are some beers that are so excellent, that I would never pass up an opportunity to buy a bottle when they are available. Many of these are beers that I keep stocked in my personal cellar. These beers will be searchable on this site under the category “In Dr. Lambic’s Cellar”.
Hopefully this provides a bit of insight into my thought process when reviewing beers for the site. As always, I look forward to input and feedback from my readers so please comment on the site or e-mail me!