I was trawling the internets this morning looking to see what the beer news o' the day looked like, and saw announcements for three new beers at Beernews. Two are sour ales, and at least one was soured with brettanomyces. Personally, I think the trend is fantastic; if some cataclysm reduced the world's beer supplies to sour ales, I'd live a happy life. But I wonder--is anyone actually drinking this stuff?
There's clearly a niche market for sour ales. When New Glarus released their soured fruit ales 15 years ago (ish), they were received with joy. As more breweries joined the party--though not until probably a decade after New Glarus, at least in any numbers--the sour-fans were yet more joyful. There are just enough of us to keep these small runs going.
Yet when I try to propagate the wild yeasted beers, I hit a brick wall. More than any other type of flavor, it seems that if a person doesn't like sour from the outset, he's never going to like it. (They may grow to admire well-made wild ales, but they'd never buy one for the pleasure.) Based on my very unscientific observation, maybe one in twenty people take to sour ales. And this is among beer fans.
One hopeful sign is that women seem to like sour ales more than men--and there's lots of growth potential there. Many of these beers are cuisine-friendly, and may curry some favor with the foodie set. So maybe there's hope.
BeerAdvocate currently lists 184 beers in the "American wild ale" style, which is a phenomenal number. I just wonder--a building trend, or a flash in the pan?