Sour hits sweet spot

Clearly, Brewdog has seen plenty here to bite into and it has shipped in former Wicked Weed brewer Richard Kilcullen to head up its sour project, which has been given the name Overworks. Kilcullen’s approach to the concept is meticulous, based on precise science and good practice rather than, as he puts it, “letting the sticks fall where they may”, which some people might assume to be the case with such an offbeat style of brewing.

He’s also pragmatic and measured about how sour a beer needs to be. “I’m not a shock doctor,” he says. “I’m here to create balanced, sessionable beer that’s complex and enjoyable but I’m not going to make something sour for sour’s sake.” He offers a glass of a beer he calls Pyraster. This is a pear sour, partly fermented with wild yeast harvested from local blackberries. It has the definitive wild yeast dryness and a pleasantly tart, fruity flavour but it’s not mouth-puckeringly sour or acidic.

There will always be beers out there that really curl the tongue and recede the gums, but sour beer, as Kilcullen rightly points out, can also be delicate, the acidity and tartness providing just a refreshing alternative to the mainstream.

Surprisingly to many drinkers, it is often far more accessible than its name suggests and perhaps explains why James Watt seems rather sanguine about the large financial commitment Brewdog is making. This is one investment that may leave a sour taste in the mouth for all the right reasons.