By Joe Opaleski, tbt* correspondent
Sour Beer has been around since the early days of brewing, but it has only recently been coveted as a delicacy. Before modern fermentation, most beer had a slightly sour taste due to a buildup of bacteria in poorly kept conditions. It was not until the 1990’s that brewers began to experiment with these bacteria to produce carefully calculated tastes and textures. Even then, sours did not fully catch on. Today, however, these beers can be found all over, and have sparked new trends enthusing brewers and connoisseurs alike.
Webb’s City Cellar
1133 Baum Ave N. St. Petersburg, FL 33705
An offshoot of Green Bench Brewing, Webb’s City Cellar was brought into the world with ambitions of becoming St. Pete’s go-to spot for ciders, mead, and sour beer.
Webb’s production process uses a mix of bacteria and wild yeast to ferment their beer, which is responsible for the influx of sours as well as the distinct flavors. This process is done underground in custom built Foeders, which take inspiration from Belgian style wooden casks traditionally used in the brewing process. From here, the beer is pumped back upstairs into ageing barrels; half of which are already filled in the facility’s huge ageing room.
All of these spaces are open for public viewing which is one reason that Webb’s is so popular. Another is that the sour heavy venture works so hard catering to the crowd obsessed with them.
Walk into Webb’s and you are greeted by a modest bar and a spacious balcony. Chill-wave music may occupy the airwaves, but it doesn’t overcrowd them, so beer fanatics have plenty of air to discuss their favorite variations of the latest trends Webb’s is working on.
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Grindhaus Brew Lab
1650 N Hercules Ave., Unit I, Clearwater, FL 33765
Grindhaus Brew Lab offers innovative takes on sour beer in their off-the-beaten path zombie bunker influenced location.
Near the up and coming town of Dunedin, the owners cite the operation as ‘your friendly local brew lab,’ but the horror film aficionados will have your face twisted from more than their newest sours.
Every weekend there are screenings of multiple thriller and horror films, which become less and less kid friendly as the night goes on and the drinks flow faster. Beverages are not served in glasses, but science beakers that match the apocalyptic vibe and the mad scientist approach that the owners take to small batch brewing.
The menu is always changing, but this is because the owners are always brewing. A typical list will usually include a range of sours with vastly different flavors- such as a Jalapeño & Tomatillo Berliner on the same menu as a tropical citrus IPA and a smoky cream ale.
Hidden Springs Ale Works
1631 N Franklin St., Tampa, FL 33602
Another brewery equally hip to the sour trend, is Hidden Springs Ale Works in Tampa. The spot brews everything on site and enjoys making provocative, innovative, and straight up weird beer.
Clouding IPA’s with sour inducing cultures, the brewers have found any and every way to mix, blend, and distort classic beers. Drinks like the Lil Sebastian include hints of pineapple in a sour IPA, and “Bears on a Rampage” mixes sour Berliner with strawberries, blueberries, honey, vanilla, milk and sugar.
The Tampa venue also hosts weekly events like Yappy Hour Mondays, where dogs are welcomed inside, and BYOF where you are encouraged to bring your own fries, or any outside food you have been craving.