Sour beer food pairings turn puckers to pleasant palates

Local cicerone Paul Pyne dishes on foods and flavours that will bring out the best in six locally crafted sour beers

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      Is just the idea of drinking a sour beer enough to have you puckering up like you’ve bit into a lemon? If you’ve yet to be won over by the beer style that is taking Vancouver breweries by storm, fear not: Certified Cicerone Paul Pyne says the key to acquiring a taste for these tart beverages is pairing them with the right foods.

      He’s helped us put together a curated list of easy-drinking, local sours—and the perfect dishes to accompany them. 

      Voignier Changeling (Fruit Sour), 6.5 percent ABV

      Brassneck Brewery, 2148 Main Street

      "This is a kettle sour–base beer fermented with Viognier grapes. Vinous, and slightly sweet, it has an acidity that shines through in the nose and finishes with a tart grassiness. The only thing it might be missing is a little bit of spice. Yellow Currie mussels—freshly steamed and ripe with salinity—will add a layer of complexity to an already interesting beverage."

      Nectarous (Dry Hopped Sour), 5.5 percent ABV

      Four Winds Brewing, 7355 72 Street, Delta

      "Three words: Kung. Pao. Chicken. There isn’t anything about this pairing that doesn’t work. The big, fruity apricot aroma gets a spicy uplift from the chillies in the entree, and the strong acidity is matched by the tang of the sauce while the steamed rice softens it all. The high carbonation scrubs your palate, getting you ready for your next mouthful."

      Spectral (Wild Saison), 6 percent ABV 

      Main Street Brewing, 261 East 7th Avenue

      "Smelling this beer is like walking into a sun filled room that caresses your body: slightly doughy, with the faint fruitiness of pear and bubblegum, and a spritzy lemon finish. Think New York-style cheesecake, with a graham cracker crust and blueberry compote. The grainy sweetness of the graham cracker will tussle with the yeast characteristics, and the blueberries will join the tart finish and carry into the compote’s sweetness."

      Roxanne (Raspberry Sour), 4.5 percent ABV

      Strange Fellows Brewing, 1345 Clark Drive

      "This tart, effervescent ale is a delight. It’s refreshing, with a mild sweetness that begs for a scoop of vanilla gelato—an ice cream float for big kids. I don’t think anything else needs to be said."

      Sour No. 1 (Sour Brown Ale), 9.1 percent ABV 

      Central City Brewing + Distillers, 11411 Bridgeview Drive, Surrey

      "This beer has a rich body and oak presence with hints of dried dark fruit. Try it with an appetizer of tenderloin steak bites with fiddleheads and caramelized onions. The savoury beef will complement the winelike notes from the barrel aging, while the acidity of the beer will cut through the bitterness of the sharp greens."

      Imperial Flanders Red (Flanders Red Ale), 11 percent ABV

      Storm Brewing, 310 Commercial Drive

      "This intense sour would do well with a big mixed green salad of arugula, spinach, and butter lettuce, accompanied by strawberries and goat cheese. You wouldn’t even need a dressing; this beer offers the balsamic acid/sweet combo to wash down the leaves, and an intensity strong enough to stand up to the cheese. Or use it for cooking and marinate a pork shoulder."

      Want to know more about how sour beer is made? Check out our interview with Paul Pyne in this story