The term “Gateway Beer” is used a lot in the beer drinking circles. Some people call it their “epiphany beer”, for others it’s the “beer”, but for all it means the same thing. It is that beer that gives you that lightbulb moment where it all starts to make sense. That beer that opens the floodgate, and next thing you know your driving halfway across the state because you heard a rumour of a particular keg about to be tapped.
There is nothing worse than going out with a bunch of non-beer drinkers or even being in a relationship with one. I’ve seen it time and time again at bars and breweries across the country. A beer nerd trying to find that one beer that their partner will enjoy so they can stay and have a few more beers before being dragged off to some god forsaken place where they don’t serve any decent beer.
Everyone’s gateway beer is different and it’s a somewhat personal matter, and that is where sours come in! More and more we are seeing sour beer styles becoming introductory beers to the world of craft. Beers like Feral’s Watermelon Warhead or Nomad’s Freshie Salt and Pepper Gose have become perfect beers to convert your mates into beer drinkers. And there is a reason for it….
For many established beer drinkers sour beers seem to be an extreme style. For most, beer progression starts of with some mass produced lagers and then on to some more entry level craft beers like James Squires and Matilda Bay before delving deeper into some local and imported craft breweries so we have an understanding of malt and hop character as the main focus of our beers. But for many non-beer drinkers the focus on malt and hop character is the exact reason why they are turned off beer to begin with.
If you’re a white wine drinker – a Berliner Weiss or even a Belgian Lambic has a palette that is much more in line with a really dry riesling. For these beers the focus is on acid structure and mouthfeel more than hop aroma and malt character. The Brett characters in many sour beers can have a textural mouthfeel that has parallels with an oaked Chardonnay.
For cider drinkers there are other sour styles that can work well. Many mainstream ciders available are on the sweeter side. So a really dry Lambic might not be the correct approach. Fruit sours are a great start – the added fruit also adds residual sugar and helps tame the sometimes harsh acidity. Local fruit kettle sours from the likes of Batch Brewing are fairly easy to get a hold of and not expensive. Good Belgian fruit sours on the other hand can get a little tricky to find and are more expensive.
So next time your trying to turn another one of your mates onto drinking better beer or even beer at all, don’t always assume that a easy drinking lager is the way to do it. These day there are a tonne of great Aussie sour beers that we can get our hands on that just might to the trick.