Jennie Bach is the director of operations at Discover Kalamazoo, the Kalamazoo County Convention and Visitors’ Bureau.
According to Jennie: What does a sour beer taste like? It’s a sour that makes your mouth water and dries your tongue out at the same time. I think I love it for the same reason I eat salt and vinegar potato chips until the roof of my mouth hurts. I love sour!
Let me start by saying: I’m not a beer snob. I enjoy a cold PBR as much as the next guy. But, when I first started dating my husband one year ago, I was introduced to the world of craft beer.
This past summer, we went to Right Brain Brewery in Traverse City. Many times, when choosing a beer at a brewery I am unfamiliar with, I will choose by the name of the beer. I chose “Sour Owl.” I figured that owls are awesome, so the beer probably would be, too. I was right! I had never had a sour beer before this, but now it’s my favorite.
So, imagine how excited I am when the Kalamazoo Beer Week calendar comes out, and there is an event on Sunday at Central City Tap House entitled “Sour Sunday!”
The Tap House was PACKED, but we managed to get a table by patiently staring at some people, who I’m pretty sure were getting ready to leave anyway. Arbor Brewing Co. was hosting the event, and I ordered a flight (a small tasting of several beers) of their sour beers.
The brew Sodibo 2012 was by far my favorite. It was like biting into a lemon. I was in heaven. A somewhat close second was Demetrius 2011 – it wasn’t as sour as Sodibo, but it was good.
While we were drinking, one of the brewers, Logan from Arbor Brewing Co., introduced himself and started explaining how sour beer is made: Usually by using oak barrels, but it can also be created by using lactic acid.
Logan told us that he would be at Shakespeare’s Pub for the “Espresso Love” event Monday night, and he would be accompanied by a guy on the east side of the state who brews exceptional espresso and will put a shot of espresso in any beer you want.
Our next stop was Shakespeare’s Pub so we could try the two Right Brain Brewery offerings that they tapped: “Black Eye PA” and “Will Power.” There were also a ton of people at Shakespeare’s, but it seemed many of them were there to watch football (which made me feel less self-conscious about yelling at the TV while the Packers continued to lose). I ordered the Will Power, and my husband ordered the Black Eye PA. The Will Power had a buttery taste and was pretty good; then I took a sip of my husband’s Black Eye PA. Normally I don’t like IPAs, but this was different, it tasted more coffee than hoppy, and I had to order my own.
While at Shakespeare’s, we got to meet Russ, the owner of Right Brain Brewery. I told him about my love affair with Sour Owl and was heartbroken to learn that Sour Owl was a one-time deal … typical. However, the T-shirt and bumper sticker he gave us made me feel a little better about never tasting my most favorite beer in the world ever again. Then the Packers lost.
To avoid any misunderstandings with the guy who had been rooting for the Giants, we headed to Bell’s, because my husband heard they had a Sweet Potato Stout. Bell’s was the perfect place to end the evening; there were several people, but the atmosphere was more relaxed. I ordered the Cherry Stout, which was fantastic! I love when a cherry beer has the tart cherry flavor (sweet cherries remind me of wine coolers). My husband ordered the Sweet Potato Stout, which I tried, even though I loathe sweet potatoes. Surprisingly, it was really good! After that, we gathered my daughter and her boyfriend (read: designated drivers) and went home. I can’t wait for my second day of Kalamazoo Beer Week!