“Funk and sour is the new hops,” or so I’ve heard. Lots of local breweries are working on a funk or sour program, and both Coppertail and Green Bench have foeders of their own for oak-aging their beers. Hype or not, most of the worlds great breweries maintain these programs and some of them for hundreds of years. Tangent Brewing, one of Tampa’s up-and-coming breweries, intends to lead the bay area in the production of sour and Brettanomyces beers. I asked Rodney to write up an introduction to some funky and sour beers in an easily accessible manner – and what better way to do that than with cheese and dessert pairings? Enjoy the pairing suggestions, and if you have a chance, look for Tangent at an upcoming beer fest. They’re pouring at the best of them, including during Tampa Bay Beer Week.
At Tangent Brewing we are probably a bit biased in our opinion that the best beers to chill down and serve with dinner are sours and Brettanomyces beers. From apéritif to digestif, sour and Brettanomyces beers offer endless opportunities to pair because of their diverse palate of flavors. If you have not paired the bright and acidic, often fruity, and sometimes earthy funk of these beers with food, we believe you are missing out. We offer up a few ideas for aperitif/appetizer and a digestive to sooth you after a big meal.
For appetizer pairings, we offer up two great choices. The first pairing is an aromatic and ‘funky’ cheese with funky Brettanomyces beers. Select a beer such as Orval or Evil Twin’s Femme Fatal. The funky character of these beers pairs wonderfully with the complementary flavors of the cheeses. The second pairing is a classic German sour beer recently revived in the U.S. and to a greater extent in Florida, the Berliner Weisse. The Berliner is a light, pleasantly tart, wheat beer that is often matured on every conceivable fruit you might imagine. These fruited versions, aptly named Florida Weisse for the abundant tropical fruits grown in the state, are typically more acidic and offer much fruitier aromas and flavors than the classic Berliner. Serve the Berliner with hard sharp cheeses that aren’t quite so funky or with light salads served with fruit and vinegar based dressing. Most area breweries offer up their version but our favorites include 7venth Sun in Dunedin and Green Bench and Cycle in St. Pete. If you can’t find one brewed locally, the Bruery’s Hottenroth or Professer Fritz Breim’s 1809 Berliner Weisse are excellent choices. Since both of these styles are typically very dry, well attenuated beers they also make for excellent aperitifs on their own.
As for dessert pairings, we find that a sharply sour beer such as a Gueuze or Flanders Red works well with most fruity desserts. These beers make for a great digestif all on their own, too. The sour characteristics of these beers are the result of long maturing times with souring bacteria Lactobacillus and Pediococcus. The Flanders style red is often quite fruity reminiscent of cherries, plums, and red currants with sufficient malt character and some residual sweetness to balance. Rodenbach is an easy choice, however search out Cuvée des Jacobins or the Bruery’s Oude Tart. The Gueuze is the ultimate sour beer, often being aged for 3 years or more, it provides complex sour, fruity, and funky characteristics that for true fans of sour beers, simply cannot be beat. No local breweries currently offer these beer styles but we certainly aspire to in the future. Search the dusty shelves of your local liquor store for these treasures.
I urge you to search out sour beer food pairings and create your own. It is our opinion that the range of sour and wild beers alone exceeds the pairing potential of wines. Share these pairings with your wine drinking friends and see if they don’t agree that sour and wild Brettanomyces beers provide unique and adventurous flavor combinations that will have them looking for more.
Tangent Brewing is an upstart brewery focusing on 100% Brettanomyces and sour ales. Rodney Sedillo and his wife Jennifer are in the final planning stages and are looking for a home to house their all wood-aged brewery. Tangent is as intent on the science behind the beers as they are in the art of creating unique flavors. Their beers can readily be found at beer festivals and events in the Tampa Bay area. Follow Tangent on Facebook to find out where they are pouring next and for their announcements on brewery location and opening date.