Drink: Gahanna's Kindred Artisan Ales goes all out on sour beer

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

Don't let the nameturn you off. A sour beer is not spoiled.

Many Columbus breweries have dabbled in sours, like Lineage Brewing and Smokehouse Brewing. Now Kindred Artisan Ales, which opened its Gahanna tasting room in April, is investing big time in the growing popularity of the style.

"That nomenclature of sour, it usually signifies something that has gone bad," says Patrick Gangwer, the head of Kindred's sour and barrel program. "We like to use the term 'tart.' It's quenching, it's prickly on the tongue, you might feel it on the back of the throat, but there's also a complexity to it."

Sour beers are fermented, typically in barrels, with strains of wild yeast called Brettanomyces, rather than the more traditional brewer's yeast. Brettanomyces-affectionately called "Brett"-is frequently used to ferment beers in conjunction with Lactobacillis, a bacteria producing lactic acid. These agents produce those tart and funky flavors in the beer.

Crafting a sour takes what Gangwer calls "that magical combination of time, wood, beer and bacteria." Because the wild fermentation can produce varying results, Gangwer regularly pulls samples from the barrels, then blends them together to develop the final product. "One sample might taste like funky barnyard hay," Gangwer says. "One is fruit forward with pineapple and mango, one might be neutral and one acetic. You blend them to make palatable and beautiful and soft beers."

Gangwer connects first-time drinkers to other positive experiences with sour flavors, asking if customers are familiar with whiskey or amaretto sours. Or he helps them recall days of puckering up to sour candy as a kid. "There are a lot of wonderful sour beers that remind me of childhood," he says. "They're like drinking sweet tarts."

Kindred's sour program started with 20 spent wine barrels, but Gangwer and his Kindred co-owner Max Lachowyn have hundreds more on the way. The barrels will soon be filled with a golden Belgian ale, then they'll let the Brett do its work. The key is listening to the beer. "The beer will tell us when it's done," Gangwer says. "It will tell us if it's a great beer or 'Hey, I'd be great with some cherries.'"

Kindred Artisan Ales Tasting Room and Barrel House

505 Morrison Rd., Gahanna,