American-Style Sour Ale – North American Origin Ale Styles

American-Style Sour Ale Style

  • Color: Pale to black
  • Clarity: Chill haze, bacteria and yeast-induced haze is acceptable at any temperature.
  • Perceived Malt Aroma & Flavor: Low. In darker versions, roasted malt, caramel and chocolate aromas and flavors should be present at low levels.
  • Perceived Hop Aroma & Flavor: Low to high
  • Perceived Bitterness: Low to high
  • Fermentation Characteristics: Moderate to intense, yet balanced, fruity esters are present. Diacetyl, DMS and Brettanomyces should not be present. The evolution of natural acidity develops a balanced complexity. The acidity present is usually in the form of lactic, acetic and other organic acids naturally developed with acidified malt in the mash or in kettle or post wort fermentation and is produced by various microorganisms including certain bacteria and yeasts. Acidic character can be a complex balance of several types of acid and attributes of age. There should be no residual flavors from liquids previously aged in a barrel such as bourbon or sherry. Wood vessels may be used during the fermentation and aging process, but wood-derived flavors such as vanillin should not be present.
  • Body: Low to high
  • Additional notes: Beers exhibiting wood-derived characters or characters of liquids previously aged in wood are categorized as Wood-Aged Sour Beer.
    Competition organizers may create subcategories which reflect groups of entries based on color, hop varieties, microflora, spices or other ingredients, etc. When using these guidelines as the basis for evaluating entries at competitions, brewers may be asked to provide supplemental information about entries in this category to allow for accurate evaluation of diverse entries. Such information might include the underlying beer style upon which the entry is based, or other information unique to the entry such as ingredients or processing which influence perceived sensory outcomes.

American-Style Sour Ale Vital Statistics

  • Original Gravity (°Plato) May vary widely 
  • Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (°Plato) May vary widely 
  • Alcohol by Weight (Volume) May vary widely 
  • Bitterness (IBU) May vary widely
  • Color SRM (EBC) May vary widely(May vary widely EBC)

2020 Brewers Association Beer Style Guidelines used with permission of Brewers Association.

Credit: 2020 Brewers Association Beer Style Guidelines – Ale Styles – North American Origin Ale Styles – American-Style Sour Ale