According to David Roberts, a member of the beer team at Bittercreek Alehouse, "Sour beer was beer before there was beer. ...Originally all beer was sour, and we were all just grateful for the beer, you know?" he said.
Roberts explained how brewers learned to isolate strains of yeast to create "clean beer," an innovation that left sour beer—the result of a mixed fermentation of wild yeast, traditional yeast and bacteria—in obscurity for decades. Now, Bittercreek brings it back every summer during Funk Fest, an eight-day exaltation of wild and sour brews that, this year, features Executive Chef Michael Ridder's funk-friendly food and an introduction to sour beer history.
The textbook for the history lesson will be Bittercreek's Field Guide to Wild and Sour Beers, co-written by some of the most passionate beer advocates in the country. Split into three sections, the guide enlightens readers on where sour and wild beers began, the history of sour beer regions and styles, and the 22 sour beers on offer at Funk Fest. Bittercreek staffers hope customers will take time between sips to read about what they're drinking.
"It's a big ask of our clientele, but hopefully the kind of thing that they also love about us," Roberts said.
The field guide also comes with perks: For every sour beer you try, you get to stamp your "beer passport." Ten stamps gets you a commemorative Funk Fest beer glass, and 20 nets a second glass, plus an invitation to a private tasting at The Cellar later this summer. It's an offer no beer lover can refuse.