Tara Morgan worked in partnership with Visit Idaho to create this Travel Tip.
Spring has arrived! For some, that means sprouting tulips and chirping birds. But for others, it signifies the start of patio drinking weather. And there’s no better way to soak in the sun and free your taste buds from winter hibernation than by sipping a tart, refreshing sour beer. While the term “sour beer” is more of a flavor descriptor than an official beer style, it’s often produced by introducing Lactobacillus bacteria during the brewing process, which lends the brew a bright acidity. Here are some Boise breweries that are producing sour beers that are sure to pucker your lips and put a spring in your step.
Most folks are familiar with Lactobacillus from eating yogurt or pickles. But when it’s introduced to wort—the sweet, malty liquid that is eventually fermented into beer—Lactobacillus can acidify the concoction in a few short days. This process is referred to as Kettle Souring. And that’s what Sockeye Brewing does to produce its tart Sour Puss, a kettle-soured beer that uses Nancy’s Organic Probiotic Yogurt as the source of bacteria. Sockeye also crafts its wintry Huggy Bear—a dark sour with notes of cherry and stone fruit—using the same method.
Founded by James Long and Bre Hoveley, Barbarian Brewing is Boise’s specialty sour powerhouse. The couple craft an ever-changing array of kettle sours and more traditional barrel-aged sour beers. Barrel-aging sours helps to develop more complex flavors over time using wild yeasts, in addition to Lactobacillus and Pediococcus in the barrels. Barbarian serves a variety of sour options at their downtown Boise taphouse and their original Garden City brewery, including: the Sour Porter with Sour Cherries, aged in Rye Whiskey barrels for one year with brettanomyces and lactobacillus; the Valhalla, a strawberry, rhubarb kettle sour quadruple fermented in port wine barrels; and the Valkyrie, a sour farmhouse ale made with elderflowers, gooseberries and Sauvignon Blanc juice. If you want to sample them all, order the taster board and slowly sip your way through Barbarian’s sour selections.
Payette Brewing Company
Payette Brewing’s line of sour beers—dubbed the Aura Sour Series—are brewed using live cultures and flavored with various seasonal fruits. Past options have included guava and hibiscus, red currant and cranberry, cherry and nectarine, and blackberry and peach. Served year-round, the guava and hibiscus brew has a pink hue and tropical tartness, while the Thanksgiving-esque red currant and cranberry has a touch of tanginess and plenty of tannic dryness. The Payette Brewing Taproom usually offers one or more of its Aura beers on tap.
Woodland Empire Ale Craft
Wanna taste what happens when a local brewery and a local bakery link up? Then head to Woodland Empire Ale Craft and order a glass of the Boule, a saison made using a sourdough starter from Sable Baking. With a hazy, straw color and a funky, bready nose, this brew packs plenty of sour punch. Woodland previously teamed up with Acme Bakeshop to produce another sourdough starter brew, the Acme Boisener-weisse, which also featured Idaho hops, NW barley and local wheat. If you’re in the market for a fruitier sour option, don’t miss the Peach Party, a sour ale made with peaches and apricots. You can also find an assortment of bottled sours chilling in Woodland’s taproom cooler.
10 Barrel Brewing
With a primo people-watching patio on Ninth and Bannock streets, 10 Barrel Brewing’s Boise outpost is a great spot to hit up when the sun’s shining. And the best way to stay hydrated while you’re soaking in some rays is by sipping the brewery’s Cucumber Crush American Sour, which it calls “a nice, refreshing substitute to tap water.” Clocking in at 5% Alcohol by Volume and 4 IBUs, this cucumber-laced sour Berliner Weiss is offered year-round but is particularly thirst-quenching in the warmer months.
Lost Grove Brewing
Located in Boise’s up-and-coming Lusk District, across from Boise State University, Lost Grove Brewing is one of the new kids on Boise’s brewery block. Founded by Jacob Black, formerly with Payette Brewing, Lost Grove crafts an assortment of cleverly named brews, including the Spottie-Ottie sour, named after the OutKast song, SpottieOttieDopaliscious. The first beer in Lost Grove’s Acid Raindrops Sour Series, the Spottie-Ottie is a kettle sour with a funky, citrusy nose and light, crisp sessionability perfect for sunny afternoon sipping.