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Five Amazing Sour Beer Breweries in Washington & Oregon USA

Osman Dadi
The United States Pacific Northwest region has some of the best sour brewery options in North America. Here's our top five favorites in the region.

Sour beers are considered to be where wine meets beer. The core beer components remain the same (malt, hops, water), but the yeast and barrel aging borrow from wine.

Surprisingly, this was the way beer used to be brewed! In this much more rapid and advanced age, we now have stainless steel tanks and brewer’s (dead) yeast – producing beer in the 4-5 weeks’ timeframe. In the days of old, our European forefathers had barrels, live yeast and well, time – producing beer in 1-5 years’ timeframe.

What Is A Sour Beer?

Sour, Wild, and Farmhouse style beers are beers that also contain a small amount of live bacteria and yeast inside, so the beer is constantly fermenting while in the bottle or barrel, and the flavor changes as the beer ages over time. This gives the beer a very tart and acidic taste.

Some breweries also age the beer in barrels (like whiskey barrels or wine barrels) to give the beer an even more complex taste; and others also add various fruits during this process which gives the beer a very fruity taste. Most barrel-aged beers end up becoming saisons, wild ales and other acidic beer styles.

Overall sour beer is a bit more like wine than what we think of as beer.

This style began in Belgium – and in fact one of the oldest Lambic sour breweries is still in operation in central Brussels: Cantillon.

They are the oldest, still family owned masters of Geuze – a particularly famous Belgian style along with Lambic and Faro. Notice how these are not Trappist (abbey style ales: Dubbels, Tripels, Quads) nor Biere de Flanders (classic French Blonde, Brune, Rouge).

I have a detailed review of this brewery from our visit in January 2024!

Here’s a few relevant articles about Sour Beer:

Where to Find Sour Beer in Seattle, Washington

My favorite beer sampling location in Seattle is…

Chucks Hop Shop (Capitol Hill)

Probably singlehandedly the best bottle shop in all of Seattle is Chuck’s Hop Shop. Chuck Shin’s family-friendly beer hub offers 50 brews on tap and hosts a rotating cast of Seattle food trucks.

The best part are the thousands of bottles available for sale! It’s a place to find the widest variety of beer – this shop seems to carry everything both in the region and much throughout the USA. Their bottle selection is Extensive, to say the least!

Even better, they have an extensive draft bar here as well, and the menu is digital and constantly changing. The descriptions are quite detailed on screen. This is a fun place to sample sours to try different flavors. You should be able to find everything below, over here.

Chuck’s Hop Shop has the Seattle neighborhood bar vibe, with the selection and expertise second to none. There’s two additional locations in the Seattle area – in Greenwood (north), and also in Seward Park (south).

Excellent Sour Breweries in Washington State

Propolis, Port Townsend, Washington

Propolis Brewing is a craft brewery located in Port Townsend, Washington. They are known for their unique and experimental approach to brewing, often incorporating locally sourced ingredients, including propolis itself, into their beers.

This is run by a husband and wife combo brewing mixed ingredients that they forage – from herbs to berries in the bountiful Pacific Northwest.

The name “Propolis” likely comes from the same substance that bees use to seal their hives. Incorporating this natural ingredient into brewing can lead to distinctive flavors and aromas in the beer, adding an interesting twist to the craft beer scene.

Garden Path Fermentation, Burlington, Washington

Garden Path Fermentation is another notable brewery located in Washington State, specifically in Burlington. They specialize in producing farmhouse-style ales using traditional brewing methods and locally sourced ingredients, often incorporating wild fermentation and barrel aging techniques.

This brewery has unique beers with a local emphasis, the terroir of the Pacific Northwest region.. The head brewer used to be at Jester King, in Austin Texas. Garden Path Fermentation’s offerings typically include a variety of unique and complex sour ales, saisons, and mostly farmhouse saisons.

The brewery is in Burlington, amidst the scenic beauty of the Skagit Valley.

Dwinnell Country Ales, Goldendale, Washington

Dwinnell Country Ales is a craft brewery located in Goldendale, Washington near the Columbia River Gorge. This brewery is known for its dedication to crafting small-batch, artisanal beers using locally sourced ingredients whenever possible.

One unique aspect of Dwinnell Country Ales is their focus on utilizing wild yeast strains and mixed fermentation techniques. This approach often results in complex and flavorful beers. The owner is young and the operation is small, but delicious.

The newer start up, now just five years old, specializes in Wild Ales and now also Ciders.

Excellent Sour Breweries in Oregon

Cascade Brewing, Portland, Oregon

A long standing operation that’s gone pretty mainstream for sour beer lovers, this is a good stop on the east side of Portland if you’re ever in town.  Cascade Brewing is a renowned brewery based in Portland, Oregon, known for its exceptional sour and barrel-aged beers – Founded in 1998.

One of Cascade Brewing’s specialties is its extensive use of barrel aging and blending techniques. They often age their beers in oak barrels with various fruits, spices, or other adjuncts to create complex and flavorful brews. The brewery’s sour ales are particularly celebrated for their tartness and depth of flavor.

Cascade Brewing’s commitment to quality and innovation has earned them numerous awards and accolades over the years, solidifying their status as a leading player in the world of sour beer production.

de Garde Brewing, Tillamook, Oregon

Probably the best sour brewery in the Pacific Northwest Region is de Garde – if you like the style, this is a must visit place. This highly esteemed brewery located in Tillamook, Oregon was established in 2013. It has gained widespread recognition for its exceptional sour and wild ales.

De Garde is known for its dedication to traditional brewing methods, including spontaneous fermentation and the use of oak barrels for aging.

The owner has an extensive operation and a strong relationship with Cantillon in Brussels. We also celebrated de Garde’s 10th Anniversary in 2023. Read our tour and visit of the brewery.

De Garde Brewing are widely regarded as one of the top producers of sour beer in the United States, earning them a loyal and committed following.

Final Thoughts

I’ve noticed sour beer is a love or hate thing – you’ll either think this is the best thing in the world, or it’s absolutely disgusting. It really depends on if you like “tart” and acidic flavors or not – if you like tart stuff, you’ll probably like sour beer. The acidic taste is something people love or hate.

I would also advise not to drink *too* much of this at once, as too much will give you a mild upset stomach. Small 3oz samplings are enough to enjoy and appreciate the taste, in my opinion.

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