There’s a natural progression when first introduced to craft beer. First, there’re the bridge beers, the beers that gill the gap between elaborate craft and utter crap. Beers like Pilsner, Kӧlsch, Helles, cream ale, and Dortmunder. Then, it all progresses to a more flavorful—but still approachable—stage where Hefeweizen, saison, and witbier reside. From there, it continues into the hoppy realm, dark beers, and on and on until the palate becomes accustomed to the whole wide spectrum of craft beer.
However, there’s one type of beer some of the most hardened beer geeks avoid, a beer that might scare even the veterans of craft brew drinkers: sour beers. There’s no good way to ease into sours; there’s no transitional beer linking the rest of the beer world to the tart and acidic land of Berliner Weisse, oud bruin, and American wild ale. One must simply jump in with both feet. At least, that used to be how things were done. Today, thanks to New Belgium Brewing, there’s an entry-level sour beer, a beer that doesn’t lay the pucker down quite so heavily. That beer is Snapshot Wheat Beer (5% ABV).
Color: Being unfiltered, Snapshot pours a cloudy, pale lemon yellow—almost a pastel color. Its head of foam is bright, snowy white.
Aroma: Snapshot is yeast-forward with a decent bit of bready aromatics greeting the nose. There’s also lemon peel scents intermingling and, overall, the smell of Snapshot is complex but not overbearing.
Taste: With rounded, soft flavors, there’s nothing blatant or intense about Snapshot. It starts wheat-y and bread-like which then morphs into a faint lemony sour note. Mere hints of coriander float amid the more prominent flavors. One would first assume there is no aftertaste but, with time, a small amount of acidity gains strength with each subsequent sip. Regardless of how much (or little, rather) sourness is detected in Snapshot, it is always overshadowed by the wheat and pale malt bill.
Mouthfeel: Very light on the tongue and very dry, drinking Snapshot is almost like drinking nothing at all (in terms of weight, that is; there’s plenty of flavor making Snapshot something).
For the aspiring sour-head there’s no better introduction than Snapshot. It tingles the tongue with but a spritz of tartness yet remains highly quaffable. In fact, the sourness of Snapshot is so muted that some drinkers may not even detect it. But it’s there and, after killing a few bottles of Snapshot, those once intimidated by sour beers may well be ready for the higher levels of lacto-laced ales. Snapshot is the gateway beer to bigger and stronger sours.