Don’t hate on kettle sours: Garrett Oliver

The increased exploration of acidity in beer made possible by kettle souring has been one of the most important brewing developments of recent decades, according to Brooklyn Brewery brewmaster Garrett Oliver.

Critics of kettle souring suggest it is a cheat’s method of making a sour beer, but The Brewmaster’s Table author says this criticism is misguided.

“Some people might hate on the kettle sour, as far as I’m concerned they can go take a flying leap,” he told Radio Brews News.

“It’s a completely honest process… is a kettle sour generally less complex than something really well made, which had a longer souring process?

“Yes, sometimes, just the same way that an unpasteurised cheese may have more potential to be brilliant than a pasteurised cheese.

“Only, a lot of my favourite cheeses in the world are pasteurised cheeses, so it doesn’t really quite hold up.

“We have made sour beers that are soured over a year and a half and we’ve made sour beers that are soured over 36 hours, and I don’t see a difference really between them.”

Oliver said that if he was to rewrite his pioneering book on beer and food in the present day, there would be a lot more time spent on acidity.

“That was one of the last areas where wine usually had some advantage [at the dining table],” he said.

“Ten years ago you couldn’t even find a real Berliner weisse… now Berliner weisse is like a brewpub favourite in brewpubs across the United States.

“When you’re really talking about a whole new wing of beers that have notable acidity, that is really a brand new area for us to explore, now that it’s greatly available.

“I think that the trend and the direction of kettle souring or hot side souring, is a big change.

“What’s interesting to me is how we’ve taken that culture from Belgium and to a smaller extent from Germany and put it through an American lens to create an American idea of a sour beer which is then travelling around the rest of the world,” Oliver said.


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