There are beers make wonderful husbands, beers that are only good for one-night-stands, and then… Then there are sours.
A sour is the absolute worst kind of lover. They’re the ones that live in mysterious and far-flung places, that never email or remember your birthday, that eventually show up unannounced on your doorstep with stories about how they’ve been held hostage in North Korea for the past six months and that’s why they never answered your Skype calls.
And even though you swore you wouldn’t, you’ll be charmed by his fancy European accents and exotic musky perfume, and once again you’ll let a sour into your home and heart. You’ll fall head-over-heels, just like every other time, and when you wake up in the morning he’ll be gone.
Goddamn those beautiful bastards.
What I’m getting at (with this analogy that seems oddly revealing/specific but actually isn’t, no really), is that sours to me are the most elusive beers of all. Every time I have a really good one it blows my mind, and then I spend the next three months wondering where my next sip’s coming from.
As far as I know no NZ brewery has ever made a sour (see comments section for inevitable correction), or at least none are making them right now. They’re tricky bastards to brew, apparently, because the wild yeast and bacteria that’s needed can infect all the other beer in the brewery.
Barely anyone stocks them either, so when I start getting a hankering for that mouth-puckering thrill that only a sour can deliver, sucking a lemon is generally my only option.
Imagine my delight then, when I heard that one of those good-looking rogues was not only in town, but hanging out at my favorite bar.
It was everything I’d been longing for. The aroma was intensely vinegary, with oak and a light waft of fresh cherries. In the mouth there was some sweetness, which I need in a sour, less vinegar than on the nose and more fruit. Despite the sweetness it was still thrillingly tart, to the extent that the memory alone is causing a saliva flood in my mouth.
I would have loved to try this beer in a year or more’s time to see what age had done to the young fruit notes, but do you think the bastard stuck around?
He arrived at Galbraith’s on the Saturday and by Monday night he was gone – leaving me with nothing but his photograph and a lemon to suck.