Last month, The News & Observer published a puerile but somewhat informative article describing sour beers as a disgusting trend. I beg to differ, as I think a lot of people do - the range of sour beers available means that, with some experimenting, you can find a sour beer style that you enjoy. Below, I use GIFs to rank five of my favorite sour beers from mellow to face melting.
New Glarus Raspberry Tart is described as a Wisconsin framboise. A framboise is a fruit lambic and should be sharp, acidic, and fruity, akin to yogurt or vinegar.
A fruit lambic will be more fruity than acidic, but should have enough of a tart bite to send a little shiver down your spine.
Rodenbach 2011 Vintage Oak Aged Ale is a Flanders Red Ale, a style which is similar to red wine. A Flanders Red Ale is fruity, usually with dark fruit flavors like cherry or plum.
A Flanders Red is a great beer to give to your wine-drinking friend who thinks he or she doesn't like beer. It's mellow like wine with a nice tart bite and very drinkable.
Transient Artisan Ales Betise is a Flanders Oud Bruin, which is similar to a Flanders Red Ale. It is malty and sour, with a bit more acidic bite than a Flanders Red Ale.
We're starting to get into the more "sour" sour beers. This one has a pronounced, but not overwhelming, sour bite to it.
Destihl Brewery Wild Sour Series: Flanders Red is, as the name would suggest, a Flanders Red Ale. However, Destihl's Flanders Red is more a hybrid between a modern Flanders and a German-style sour.
This beer is one of my favorites, but it is NOT for the faint of heart and probably not the best choice for your first experience with sour beer. This is an intermediate-level sour beer.
3 Floyds Skull'Ole is an American Wild Ale, which is a newer and rather broad beer category. Some American Wild Ales can be funky, while others are more sour. Skull'Ole is definitely a sour beer.
This beer is advanced-level sour. If you enjoy drinking vinegar (which I do, actually) then give this beer a shot. It is face-meltingly sour, which is my favorite kind.
One general rule of thumb I follow when tasting beer, especially sours, is to take three sips. Your first sip is going to shock your palate. You'll start to get over the initial shock with your second sip. You'll be able to get a better feel for the beer by the third sip. If you don't like the first or second or even third sour beer you drink, I encourage you to keep exploring different sour styles because there is such a variety out there.