How sour is sour? Measuring acidity in sour beer

Sour beers are so hot right now. Store shelves and tap towers around the state are brimming with all kinds of tart beers to pucker up to, but a lot of mystery remains about one of the biggest trends in craft brewing. This week, we’ll release our most sour beer to date, Strawberry Fields Sour Ale. We got to thinking about how we measure the amount of sourness or acidity in our beer, and thought it was a perfect time to sit down with quality manager Daniel and get the scoop on how we gauge the power of our sours.

What do we really mean when we talk about beer acidity? How does that relate to the experience of drinking a beer?

When talking about drinking beer, typically acidity refers to the sourness or tartness that is perceived when drinking.

How do we measure acidity levels in our beer? Why is this important?

There are two primary ways we measure acidity in our beer: pH and titratable acidity (TA). The pH is very important to the technical production of beer while the TA correlates better to how the beer is perceived on the palate. TA is measured in grams of lactic acid per liter.

What kind of flavors are associated with sour or higher acidity level beers?

It is no surprise that sourness is typically associated with, and blends well with fruit flavors: berry, lemon, orange. Also, and maybe more importantly, sourness cuts through any sweet flavors and leaves the palate refreshed.

So how does the fruit we add to some of our beer affect the acidity level?

Fruit is sour and adds a significant amount of acidity to our beers.

Is it important to measure acidity in beers that aren’t necessarily “sour”? Is every Indeed beer measured for its acidity level?

Yes. During the brewing and fermentation process, we measure the pH of the beer approximately 15-20 times. The pH is important to achieve the proper enzyme activity in the mash and must be within a specific range to assure yeast health and stability when packaged.

We’re releasing Strawberry Fields Sour Ale this week. What is the acidity level of Strawberry Fields and how does it compare to our other sours?

Strawberry Fields is the most sour beer we have produced at Indeed. Its TA is 11.5 g/L. This can be compared to 8.4 g/L in Lucy Session Sour.

Do different levels of acidity provide different taste experiences depending on the drinker?

Yes. Much like the spice level in food or the bitterness in beer, each drinker may have a preferred sourness. However, this preference can change and sometimes change quickly. If you like sour beers, it is likely you will continually seek out beers that are even more sour.

What’s the best way to store sour beers?

All beer should be stored cold. Our canned sour beers (Lucy and Strawberry Fields) are not designed or expected to age well, so drink them by the best by date printed on the bottom of the can.


Thanks Daniel! Still have questions about sour beer? Tweet them to us at @indeedbrewing and we’ll do our best to answer. 

If you’re ready to taste our most sour beer for yourself, you can find Strawberry Fields Sour Ale in 12 oz. cans and on draft beginning this week. Better yet, come celebrate with us during the Strawberry Fields Release Party at Lone Oak Grill this Thursday. We'll have Strawberry Fields on tap with three other berry-inspired beers.