Jun 7, 2016


But when it comes to the hop’s role in beer, bitterness isn’t the end of the story… Enter the realm of hop flavor and aroma. Essential hop oils, the component of hops that add flavor and aroma but not bitterness, are highly volatile substances. When hops are added to boiling wort, these flavor and aroma components are extracted, but then evaporate out of the mixture rather quickly. Brewers combat this effect by adding these “character” hops late in the boil, thus extracting oils but not boiling long enough to drive them away. Another method brewers use to add hop aroma to a beer without contributing bitterness is called “dry hopping”. Dry hopping involves the addition of hops into a beer after it has finished fermenting and it is this practice which has huge potential in the realm of sour beer production.



While still fairly uncommon, dry-hopped sour beers are awesome! They combine delicious sour beer flavors with the floral, herbal, piney, and/or citrus aromas and flavors of hops. These hop additions often enhance certain characteristics produced by Brettanomyces fermentations, like earthy aromas, wet hay and grass, or flavors of mango, pineapple, and other tropical fruits.

WLP644 Saccharomyces “Bruxellensis” Trois(Formerly named Brettanomyces bruxellensis Trois)

Recently, I drank two vintages of Cantillon’s Cuvée Saint-Gilloise (2012 & 2014) with a group of friends including two authors for this site, Cale Baker and Carlo Palumbo. Cuvée Saint-Gilloise (CSG) is a specialty gueuze produced from a blend of two-year-old lambic which is then dry hopped for 3 weeks in casks with Hallertau hops and bottle conditioned using Belgian candi sugar. I first tried CSG several years ago and it was my first introduction to dry-hopped sours. It is an excellent example of the style and well worth seeking out.


CSG pours slightly hazy with a golden straw color typical of Cantillon gueuzes. The 2012 vintage had less hop aroma overall and smelled lemony with a slightly cheesy / waxy character. The 2014 vintage was much brighter in hop aroma, with lots of noble hop character being apparent. Notes of tropical fruit, cantaloupe, honey, and floral fabric softener were all present.

When tasting these two vintages, the 2014 bottle stood out to the group as distinctly better. Some of the flavor complexity and fresh hop notes are lost to more aggressiveBrettanomyces funk as the beer ages. I would definitely recommend drinking this beer relatively fresh. The 2014 CSG tasted lemony, with flavors of white peaches, green tea, and herbal notes from the Hallertau hops. The souring of both vintages was fairly equivalent and moderate, about the tartness of unsweetened lemonade. The 2012 vintage was more astringent and assertively funkier, with sharper grass-like notes. There was still hop character present in the older version, but it had begun to take on a somewhat cheesy / papery note. I will point out that in these comparisons, the 2012 CSG was still a delicious beer, however the 2014 version was world-class. Amazingly, for spontaneously fermented products, the flavor intensity of souring, overallBrettanomyces character, vinegar content, and dryness were all identical between the two vintages. This is a testament to Jean Van Roy’s palate and blending skills.
年代違いを2種試した時、2014年が明らかに良かった。ビールが熟成するにしたがってフレーバーの複雑さとフレッシュなホップの風味は失われ、ブレタノマイセス由来のファンキーな風味がぐんぐん出てきます。このビールは早めに飲むことをお勧めします。2014年のCSGの味わいはハラタウに由来する白桃、緑茶、ハーブの風味がしつつ、レモンのようでもありました。両方とも酸味はだいたい同じで中程度、甘みをつけていないストレートのレモネードのような鋭い酸味がある。2012年の方が青草の風味も鋭く、キュッとする収斂味が強くてファンキーでした。古いものにもホップのキャラクターは残ってはいましたが、チーズ風味もしくはボール紙風味を伴うようになっていました。この比較をして思うに、2012年もとても美味しいけれど、2014年は正にワールドクラス。自然発酵ビールにとっての酸味の強さ、ブレタノマイセスの完全なるキャラクター、お酢っぽさ、ドライさはどちらのビンテージでも理想的でした。Jean Van Roy氏の類稀なる感覚とブレンド技術の賜物です。

※Jean Van Roy氏とはカンティヨン醸造所の方のこと。2014年のフレッシュさを評価しつつ、2012年は時間とともにホップの風味が落ちた分、他の要素が持ち上がっていて良いということですね。方向性に違いは見られますが、どちらも相当評価が高いわけです。マット師匠は2014年、つまりフレッシュなものがお好みのようですが。

There has never been a more exciting time in the world of sour beer. Brewers are not only beginning to experiment with these beers, but many are consistently producing excellent or even world-class examples. Hops have been a key flavor component in so many of the greatest examples of American and European craft beers that it only makes sense to see creative brewers and blenders utilizing hops in their sour-beer projects as well.

If you get a chance to try Cantillon Cuvée Saint-Gilloise, definitely take  opportunity to do so. Additionally, check out our list of other excellent dry-hopped sour beers! And if you know of a hoppy sour that I didn’t list, please comment on the article and recommend it to our readers.





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