This column concentrates on North American beers, so what should we do about Zuur? It's brewed in Belgium at Brouwerij Liefmans but to the specifications of Brewery Ommegang in New York. Let's call it a hyphenated American. It's one of the Flemish-style sour ales we've been discovering lately, actually a mixture of two Liefmans brews, Goudenband and another brown ale aged for a year with cherries. Zuur is a limited-edition beer, so don't expect to find it all year round.
So what's this baby like? It pours very dark reddish brown, almost black. The nose is a little malty with a pleasant, unusual note perhaps like sweet potatoes. On the palate it's quite sour — more sour than Goudenband, about like unsweetened yogurt. The cherries give a refreshing touch of fruit character, which could as easily be from sour apples as cherries. Balancing this is a bit of malt sweetness but scarcely any hops at all. The finish is tart, fading slowly to reveal a bit of malt, but basically quite dry.
This is very much a food beer, perhaps even more than a drinking beer. It pairs like a wine; try it with chicken, pork, fish or sausage.
Style: A tart, exotic mouthful, like fruit juice from Mars
Price: $11 to $13 per 22-ounce bottle
Where to find it: Wally's Wine & Spirits in Los Angeles, (310) 475-0606, http://www.wallywine.com; Wade's Wines in Westlake Village, (818) 597-9463, http://www.wadeswines.com; Red Carpet Wine in Glendale, (800) 339-0609, http://www.redcarpetwine.com; and Total Wine & More stores (Northridge, Brea, Tustin and Rancho Cucamonga), http://www.totalwine.com