The Session #54: Sour Beer

The SessionIt’s the first Friday of the month so that means it’s time (in the beer blogging world) for The Session: a collaborative beer blogging experience where bloggers around the web write with a common theme in mind, with all of these posts compiled into an inclusive roundup for your reading enjoyment.

This month I had the honor hosting The Session (again; my first time hosting was back in February of 2008) and I selected a topic that surprisingly hadn’t been covered yet: Sour Beer.

I’ve been seeing lots of good posts come through today on the topic (a favorite of beer geeks everywhere), and for my part I went with the traditional format: a beer review. I’ve got a few bottles of Deschutes Brewery‘s The Dissident laying around and I knew I wanted to open one up for The Session.

The Dissident is Deschutes’ take on an Oud Bruin, a Flanders-style Brown Ale brewed with cherries and spiked with Brettanomyces to give it that wild, sour character characteristic of the style. It was (back in 2008, when it was first released) the first wild ale Deschutes had ever brewed; in fact they were so nervous about it they had isolated a part of the brewery just for the barrels of this ale, and brought in a separate bottling line for the sole purpose of packaging the beer up when it was ready.

The beer itself is 10.5% alcohol by volume and described by the brewery thusly:

The Dissident is an Oud Bruin, a distinctive Flanders-style sour brown ale, with a fruity aroma and flavor. Our first and only wild yeast beer, we use Brettanomyces to give The Dissident its characteristic sour taste. Our stiffest brewing challenge, it must be fermented in isolation from our other beers for a full 18 months, partly in pinot and cabernet barrels. The words coddled, costly and “worth it” come to mind.

Ironically today while I was thinking about opening the bottle of 2010 Dissident I had put in the fridge, Deschutes was Twittering about the next batch of The Dissident:

500 pounds of these Oregon cherries are on their way into The Dissident as we tweet. #sourbeer

This is where the magic happens, aka The Dissident bug cellar.

Of course as with all wild ales this next batch won’t be ready for some time yet—on the order of 12-18 months most likely. But I liked the timing, prepping fruit for the next Dissident on “Sour Beer Session” day.

Deschutes Brewery The Dissident 2010 ReserveIt’s an amber brown color and very clear, with a tan head that falls to a steady beading of tiny bubbles at the edges of the glass. It’s fragrant, full of sour cherry and I’m thinking bubblegum and some funk; the tart nose is refreshing and inviting.

It has a terrifically funky sour punch on the tongue, with a long bit of dry woody character. A bit of alcohol washes across the palate and up the nose. The tartness is tempered nicely by the dry body which has a bit of creaminess to it. There’s a really nice woody Brett funk in the aftertaste, with a touch of pucker.

Overall this is really a superb beer, hefty but refreshing and makes for a nice sipper on the patio on a summer evening.

Also, while I was sitting on the patio enjoying the beer, I observed that apparently sour beers are small fly attractants: they would not leave my glass alone. I even had to fish one out of the beer! Even so, I did observe than even for a hefty ale such as this one, a good sour beer is a great beer to drink on a summer evening.


  1. Great session. Great beer. Great review. This was fun. I can’t wait for the next session, but I really can’t wait to see The Dissident on shelves in Missouri.

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