This November, Magic Hat Brewing Co. teamed up with fellow Burlington brewers (and Vermont craft beer pioneers) Vermont Pub & Brewery to celebrate the latter’s 25th anniversary. The result is Steven Sour, an interesting take on a sour IPA brewed with passion fruit juice.
Steven Sour pours a cloudy orange/yellow color, with a two-finger head that lingers. It has a floral aroma with hints of lemon rind and pink grapefruit, as well as a bready, yeasty component. The smell certainly gives away that this is a sour beer!
The flavors are aggressive. Apollo, Bravo, and Cascade hops provide a dominating bitterness, with grapefruit prevailing. The passion fruit juice is somewhat obscured by the hoppiness, but it’s interaction with the yeast is presumably where the sharp tartness comes from. There’s a grassy overtone to the beer, with plenty of orange and apricot as well. It’s a dry beer with moderate carbonation, not too thick and it goes down easy.
Overall, Steven Sour is a neat attempt to combine two of the dominating beer styles in American craft beer. Despite being both aggressively bitter and sour, the result is a smooth beer that would be great sipping on a summer day. Perhaps some wood aging could provide a bridge between the two flavors and balance it out, but kudos to Magic Hat and VPB for trying something new and pulling it off.