I had the pleasure of learning more about Sour Beer at The Foodery in Phoenixville, a store specializing in beer and gourmet food.

In addition to some truly spectacular food offerings, The Foodery features 17 beer tap lines with Pegas Growler fillers, as well as draft wine, nitro beer line, nitro coffee line, and a draft kombucha line.

A little something for everyone here.

A new addition to the neighborhood in Phoenixville, they have been welcomed with open arms. Their free summer class was all about Sour Beer, and led by representatives from Goose Island, New Belgium, and Highway Manor Brewery.

Each brand took their turns explaining their history in sour beer, a bit about their own process, and two beers, paired with an appetizer provided graciously by The Foodery.

 

 

I know what you will say, Goose Island… not craft, but let’s put this aside for today and just take it as a learning experience. If I’m going to be forced to drink some macro beer, might as well share my experience with you.

As it is, I don’t go very far in-depth on the first two brands, because the third, Highway Manor, a relative newcomer to the world of craft beer, deserves the most attention here.

The Tasting Menu at The Foodery

Round 1: Goose Island Beer Company

We began with the Halia (a peach sour wild ale) and Lolita (a raspberry sour wild ale), each paired with peach and raspberry oatmeal jams (respectively). With these two beers, I can see why it was so hard for the craft beer industry to lose Goose Island to Anheuser-Busch InBev.

AB/InBev paid out $38.8 million to buy out 100% of Goose Island in 2011. Now I see why they wanted them so badly. Each one tasted exactly as described.

Halia, with juicy peaches, Lolita with it’s succulent raspberry – It hurt to enjoy these as much as I did, because I knew I wouldn’t ever buy them myself.

 

Round 2: New Belgium Brewing Company

New Belgium is another that grew up as a craft beer darling. They are currently a bit of a victim of their own success.

Too big now for the craft beer designation, but still too small to compete with macro beer conglomerates, they sit in a bit of a limbo.

Tartastic puckers your mouth with a strong sour start, cooling off with sweetness and finishing with a light bitterness. La Folie was like biting into a freshly picked Granny Smith apple. Mouth puckering but incredibly thirst quenching.

The New Belgium beers were featured alongside a seasoned cracker (like an everything bagel) topped with fig jam and brie.

I’ve never been a fan of soft cheese or figs, for that matter, but for some reason the combination worked just right, and made a perfect companion for the beers.

 

Round 3: Highway Manor Brewing

Highway Manor Brewing got it’s start in an 1840s-era manor house in Liverpool, Pennsylvania. Here, founder and brewer Johnnie Compton III has spent his time harvesting colonies of bacteria predating the Civil War.

It took years of trial and error before he was ready to launch in 2015 with a production facility in Camp Hill, but his labor of love is on grand display through these beers.

I had the pleasure of not only trying the two beers available for the sours class, but after speaking to the rep and gushing about their beer, he poured us a Funky Prowler (Sour Stout) and handed me a take-home bottle of the Sayjohn Saison (which I finished that night).

The Mr. Blueberry and Mr. Strawberry beers were paired with prosciutto-wrapped watermelon. Yes, you read that correctly. And no, it doesn’t taste weird.

Every one of us looked at the plate with the same look of disbelief, but as we each took our turn trying it, we were each overtaken by the combination.

Adding on top of that the fantastic sour blueberry and strawberry beers, it was a real treat.

With 50 pounds (yes, pounds) of whole fruit in each batch, you’d think the sweetness would be overwhelming, but over a 60 day barrel aging process, the fruit’s natural sugars are well fermented using their house sour yeast.

Highway Manor Brewing – Mr. Blueberry

Pouring an cranberry-orange, hazy with wispy head. You get blasted by the tartness, funky cheeses, and fresh-picked blueberries in the nose.

A bit of vinegar cuts through, chased by a sweet vanilla and peach finish. The flavor is not far off from the nose, and while the tartness is quite high, it never overwhelms your palate, ending with a crisp and clean dryness.

Highway Manor Brewing – Mr. Strawberry

Pours a hazy dark yellow-orange with moderate head. Tart, herbal notes and strawberry in the nose. Funky and wild, this medium-bodied is tart with almost a lambic-like sourness.

This one is really a swift kick to your taste buds’ nether regions. The strawberry tart stays with you in the aftertaste, with a light strawberry jam sweetness behind it all.

Highway Manor Brewing – Funky Prowler

This barrel-aged Irish stout is known for it’s sharp sourness and dry-roasted finish. The slightest hint of coffee near the end, but not your typical stout, nor your typical sour, for that matter.

Without any heavy fruit notes, this sour beer remains dry and sharp with the tart punch after each sip, but remains surprisingly clean-tasting and refreshing.

I enjoyed this, even though I’m not a fan of stouts. Or I just had about 6 beers by that point and it really didn’t matter what I was drinking. Either way, I’ll have to try it again.

Highway Manor Brewing – Sayjohn Saison

Pours a beautiful amber gold with slight white head. The aroma is acetic and tart, but under that is an unmistakable farmhouse funk. The apricot and farmhouse funk flavor of this sour brew keeps the acetic nature in check, with a dry bready finish.

At this point my taste buds were likely completely torn up by a night full of sour, and like the Funky Prowler, this will definitely need a re-do. I’ll have to revisit this rating in a future complete review.

Looking forward to it, as I definitely haven’t soured on this style of beer (see what I did there?).

The Foodery Phoenixville recently held a Sour Beer Class, featuring 3 sour beer brewers and food pairings. Dive into the world of sour beer with us. Click through for the full recap.
Andrij Harasewych
Editor at The Craft Beer Diaries. Devoted husband and father. Excessively geeky. Comic books, video games, and craft beer are my vices. Favorite beers: Ales and Lagers.
Andrij Harasewych

Latest posts by Andrij Harasewych (see all)

Andrij Harasewych
Follow my journey: Instagram - Pinterest - Blog