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Tart Ales and Sour Beers are Growing in the US Market

Sour beers have grown in popularity in recent years. It’s speculated that the exceptionally refreshing and fruit-forward qualities associated with sours are finally being recognized. For younger beer enjoyers, the lower alcohol content can also be appealing. With the popularity of microbrewing and craft beer increasing, it’s no surprise that this slept-on beer would eventually come into the spotlight.

In this article, we’ll go over the basics of sour beers and tart ales and the benefits of incorporating more of them into your menu. 

What Classifies a Tart Ale or Sour Beer?

Sour beer and tart ale are brewed to have a higher level of acidity than most, giving them their unique, tart flavor. These types of beers can be brewed in a variety of ways to achieve said flavors, but the most common way involves introducing bacteria that produce acid. For most beers, this type of bacteria would lead to undesirable flavors and spoiled beer, but for sours, this bacteria is utilized to bring out some unique flavors. The beer is fermented with bacteria cultures through a variety of methods and aged slowly to bring out the sourness. During this process, fruits and other ingredients can be added as well, giving the beer complexity and interesting flavor profiles. 

Types of Sour Ales

There are a few different common types of sour ales you should know about. Sour ales, in general, tend to have a more delicate and smooth mouthfeel with little to no bitterness in their flavor. 

Berliner Weisse. 

Berliner Weisse is a German beer that emerged during the middle ages. This beer was popular pre-prohibition and has recently begun to pick up again after decades of it becoming seemingly forgotten. Low in bitterness, tart, and lighter in alcohol content, this type of beer is perfect for a hot day. 


Another popular sour brought to us via the German middle ages, Gose is a fizzy, fruity, very low-alcohol beer. The acidity of a Gose can give this beer an almost brine-like flavor and these days are often made with berries and other fruits. This is another great choice for hotter summer months.


Lambic sours are beers originating from Belgium. These beers have a higher alcohol content and traditionally have been brewed in the open air, giving them high acidity and lower carbonation. Lambic beers were originally brewed with fruit to upsell their uniqueness, but now, fruit is commonly added to make the beer more appealing to a wider audience. 

American wild ales.

As a general term, American wild ales are just beers that don’t fit European standards. This is fairly new terminology that’s emerged from the popularity of craft brewing. Brewing styles like mixed fermentation and different types of wild fermentation are included here.


What to Know About Sour Beers For the American Customer

Knowing how to market the sour beers you’ve chosen to incorporate into your menu is important. Even though tart ales are increasing in popularity, the average person doesn’t know much about them. Here are some tips to help you market your sours.

Fruit forward is a selling point.

Identifying familiar flavors in a sour can help a customer’s interest level in what you have to offer. Talking about all the cool things the sours you have available have to offer is one thing, but telling customers a beer is made with watermelon is a lot more interesting. Choosing beers that have very obvious fruit notes is a great way to get beer to sell as well.

Adventurous customers seek it out.

There’s a large group of customers that love trying new things and you’ll be appealing to their interest by including sours on your menu. In recent years, especially with Americans, seeking out new and adventurous flavor profiles has become more popular. Overall, sours tend to be on-trend for a variety of reasons and it’s worth choosing some interesting ones to put on your menu.

Start your inventory with bottles and cans of tart beers.

Dedicating taps to sours takes a lot of extra money. If you’re not sure your customers would be into the idea of sours, you can test the waters with cans and bottles first. Once you’ve established that your customers want more, you can start putting taps on. This is a great way to avoid losing profits before committing time, space, and money to sours.

Don’t mix sour and conventional taps.

The high acidity and different flavor profile associated with sours can affect the taste of other beers if you mix your lines. It’s easier to have a dedicated line for your sours instead of having to deep clean the line each time you switch to a non-tart ale. This is why it’s important to see if serving sours will work for your bar or restaurant first.

Offer tastes when possible.

As with most new things, the best way to encourage people to try it is with little to no commitment on their part. Offering tastings for beer gives people the ability to try before they buy and avoid disappointment later on. The worst that can happen is they just don’t like it and end up not ordering the beer. For many, though, this is an opportunity to discover their new favorite beer.


What is the Benefit of Carrying Sour Beers?

Aside from sours becoming popular, there are a variety of ways you can get the most out of adding sours to your menu.

New inventory means new marketing. You can come up with fresh new ways to market the sours you have on your menu. This can be a great way to remind customers you exist and encourage them to come back to try the new things you’ve got. 

New customers. There’s a potential for untapped customer bases to start showing up and trying out your menu. Since sours are appealing to a wide audience of beer drinkers, you might find that younger, more adventurous customers start showing up at your bar or restaurant. 

Because it’s craft, your markup can be higher.

Craft beer means you can charge craft beer prices. The benefit of sours is they’re not as expensive as your usual craft beer. You don’t have to mark them up to outrageous prices, but if they become a hit, they make a decent profit compared to other types of craft beer.

How Provi Can Help Track Inventory For Your New Tart Ale Options!

Provi offers all-in-one inventory tracking and ordering, allowing you to easily try new sours on your menu. You can see which beers are selling out and which aren’t doing so great without having to fumble with multiple applications. Offering a variety of payment options and an extensive catalog with thousands of your favorite brands, Provi can help you make sours a successful addition to any menu. Create a free account with Provi today and complete your first order in as little as 5 minutes!

Ryan Philemon


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