A little Sisterly love for barrel-aged sours set for April

The spacious Sister Bar will be filled with sour beer lovers on April 11. (Photo courtesy of Sister)
The spacious Sister Bar will be filled with sour beer lovers on April 11. (Photo courtesy of Sister)

Sour beers are the final frontier of the industry for a lot of folks. For some people, they are a unique and cherished style, never to be missed when available. For others, they are a style to be avoided, so different from the rest of the beer universe. And for a third group, they remain a mystery, something not readily available in most places.

It is that third group, plus the first of course, that is being targeted for the upcoming Tart at Heart, a sour beer tasting event set for Sister Bar in downtown ABQ on April 11 from 4 to 8 p.m. Tickets are available online by clicking here. The cost is $35 and it gets you a sample of all 20, plus three additional samples of your favorites. The event will feature 20 rare sour beers, many of them barrel aged, from around the country and around the world. Among the local breweries, Blue Corn will send Pucker Up, their strawberry sour, while Tractor will send Wonder Weisse. Santa Fe is sending Kriek, Sour State Pen Porter, and the new Single Barrel Sour. Marble will bust out a sour from its reserves. There will also be exclusive beers from national heavyweights New Belgium, Odell, Sierra Nevada, and Stone, plus beers from Belgium that have never been tapped before in New Mexico.

The man organizing all of this is Angelo Orona, who currently works as the sales rep for Abbey Brewing and Santa Sidra Cidery and was formerly at Marble. I sat down with him over lunch at Nexus on Tuesday to get some additional details.

Q: So how did you guys come up with the idea?

Angelo: It’s kind of modeled after some of the other sour-centric beer fests that are around. Specifically, the format that happens during GABF up in Denver. I came up with the idea to feature these nice, high-end, esoteric beers so that Albuquerque could also enjoy a festival that has type of theme to it.

Q: Was Sister a natural place to partner with, especially considering the size of it and all the available taps?

Angelo: Sister is sort of becoming a destination for really eccentric, high-end beers, so they’re a natural partner for us. They’re also trying to bolster their reputation as a beer-centric bar and sort of a place where people can seek out hard-to-find and rare beers from local or national breweries.

Q: So what are some of the beers you’re bringing to this event?

Angelo: We have several new beers that are debuting at the fest, including Stone Passion Project, which will be its first time in the state. They’re only sending one keg for the festival. It has two pounds of Stone passion fruit per barrel. So it’s (a) really nice, sort of fruit-centric sour, barrel-aged offering. Odell’s raspberry sour, Golden Raspberry Ale. We’ve got some beer from overseas as well, Belgian-style lambic and also a beer from Italy that’s a collaboration between Birrifico del Ducato and Fontaine, which is from Belgium as well.

Q: What is your take on sours? They’re kind of divisive. Some people love them to pieces and others are saying no way. Is this one of these events for those on the fence to come out and help make up their minds?

Angelo: Yeah, the idea is to make the event educational as well as enjoyable from an aspect of bringing all these unique flavors. I think one thing about sour beers is, you’re right, they’re divisive, because people don’t have knowledge about the styles and the history of those styles. So part of our festival will be to have an educational component to it. So there will be an AV projector which will have descriptions of the beers and the styles that will be featured at Tart at Heart.

Q: All right, anything else you’d like to add?

Angelo: There’s limited space. There’s only like 150 seats total. So we started selling like a week ago and they’re selling pretty rapidly. People should buy their tickets in advance. They’re $35 (online) and $40 at the door.

* * * * *

Assuming none of the rest of you have to cover the Albuquerque Isotopes game that night, this sounds like a fun event, especially for people who love sours or want to learn more about them. If we get any additional updates on some of the special beers being tapped, we will list them on our Facebook page. Thanks to Angelo for the information (and for lunch).


— Stoutmeister

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