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New Belgium brings sour beer workshop to Austin

Arianna Auber
aauber@statesman.com

Sour beers are clearly on the rise. Jester King specializes in them, Blue Owl is about to as well through a particular brewing process called sour mashing and New Belgium, in Colorado, is bringing a sour beer workshop to Austin after doubling its sour beer production late last year.

New Belgium’s wood cellar duo, Lauren and Eric Salazar, are stopping by Austin on Thursday as part of a five-city tour showing beer lovers some of the tips of their trade. They’ll start by discussing New Belgium’s history as one of the country’s big producers of Belgian-style sour beers. They’ll then offer members of the audience the hands-on chance to try blending using samples of single-barrel base beer straight from New Belgium’s oak cellar.

Beer blending is exactly what it sounds like — the Salazars mix beers that have been aging in barrels together (the time in barrels makes them sour) with other ingredients to produce a tart, balanced brew. One such example is La Folie, a sour brown ale that’s created by blending two “Oscar” barrels, one of New Belgium’s two base beers, after letting the barrels age for one to three years. If you’re at the workshop on Thursday, you’ll get a pint of it.

The Salazars — she’s in charge of the blending program while he mans the cellars at New Belgium — are doing the sour beer symposium in various cities as a way of sharing their love of wood and funk. As Lauren Salazar noted in a press release, “(The workshop) is a great way to experience beer making in its purest form.”

Plus, she said, “Beer blending is a sensory art that has been relied on for centuries to create both balance and complexity.”

There are two sessions of the seminar at Stubb’s, one from 5 to 7 p.m., the other from 8 to 10 p.m. Tickets are $50 and include both beer and food pairings.