Sour Beers Descend Upon Southern California: A First Night at SourFest
Every other year, a special beer festival comes to Southern California, allowing beer fans (and other people) to enjoy a specific genre of beer. SourFest, which is put on by Beachwood BBQ, allows for customers to try over 100 different sour beers over the course of six days. Taking place at both of their locations in Long Beach and Seal Beach, it is also taking place at the newly-opened Beachwood Blendery in Long Beach. Having begun to enjoy sour beers at a beer festival last year, I knew I had to go to SourFest. So, with SourFest kicking off yesterday, I visited the Seal Beach location of Beachwood BBQ to experience the sour beers.
When I went in to the smaller location of Beachwood BBQ in Seal Beach, it was unsurprisingly busy. However,despite the bar being packed, as well as the area behind it, there were a couple of tables open. So, I was fortunate to grab one. For the first day of SourFest at Beachwood in Seal Beach, there were 33 sours available (along with a couple of non-sour beers), mostly from breweries in California, although there were sour beers from the east coast and Europe. Breweries with beer from California were Russian River, Phantom Carriage, Monkish Brewing, Noble Ale Works, Karl Strauss, Kinetic, Craftsman Brewing, Bruery Terreux, Smog City, Bear Republic, Tahoe Mountain, Almanac, and Highland Park Brewery.
However, with such a special occasion as SourFest, there were special rules in place. One such rule was that there was a two-hour time limit on customers, in order to allow for other customers to cycle in to experience the tart deliciousness of the sours. Also, there were no tasters (nor flights of tasters) available for purchase, only 5oz pours and 10oz pours. Finally, there was a maximum of two beers per person at any one time.
With these limits and the dozens of options, I was somewhat limited in how many beers I would drink. So, I decided to only order the 5oz pours and only beers from California.
I started off with 2013 Rose Canyon Peach, a sour ale with peaches, aged in oak barrels from Karl Strauss (6.3% ABV), the peachiness of which was light, pleasant and not overly peachy. It had a bready body, a light tartness that was evocative of wet horseblanket, and a quick, dry finish. My second beer of the night was the 2013 Cuvee de Bubba, a wild ale blend (with secondary fermentation in Oak barrels) from Bear Republic (6.0% ABV), which was more awesome than the previous beer. Tasting like light tropical fruits, it was more tart, more effervescent, and a longer, lingering finish.
For my next round, I started off with 2015 Pushin’ Carts, a barrel-aged rustic saison from Highland Park Brewery with Monkish Brewing (5.0% ABV), was a strange, yet curious beer. Sour tree fruitiness (perhaps some passionfruit(?)) and not as sweet on the palate as one would expect from the nose. I was unable to pin down what was going on with this beer, but it was quirky enjoyable. Some dryness to go along with the tartness. For the latter beer of the round, I enjoyed the 2015 Raised Eyebrows, a sour ale with guava and passionfruit from Highland Park Brewery (4.0% ABV). This beer is appropriately named, with a deliciously sweet and sour, with a solid effervescence which definitely had the featured fruits front and center.
For my third round, I kicked it off with 2015 Cart Fetish, a barrel-fermented, mix-culture saison from Monkish Brewing with Highland Park Brewery (5.6% ABV), which tasted like delicious awesomeness. The nose was a pretty boring breadyness, which gave way to a totally solid sour beer. Everything about it seemed even-keeled, from its effervescence to its sourness to its sweetness. The wet horseblanket tartness was solid – neither light nor heavy – and its light treefruity sweetness was also on-point. For my final beer, I went with the 2010 Flan-diddly-anders, a barrel-aged Flanders red ale from Karl Strauss (5.5% ABV), seemed like a syrupy cherry-raisiny sweetness mixed with a pleasant different type of tartness (not wet horseblanket) than the previous five beers. It’s effervescence was calmed down by its seemingly more malty body.
While I left wanting more sour beers to drink, the pricing on the beers made me stop after these six, since the beers were around $1 per ounce, so I stuck with just these. While stopping there was unfortunate – especially since I had delectable tartness on my tongue for the remainder of the night – I know that there are still five more days of the beer festival and I am excited to return!