Podcast Episode 199: Alex Flores of Urban South Kettle-Sours the Hard Way

For the head brewer of Urban South in New Orleans, focusing on tight process, healthy lactic fermentation, and quality fruit is the difference between dull and delicious quick-soured beers.

Jamie Bogner Aug 7, 2021 - 5 min read

Podcast Episode 199: Alex Flores of Urban South Kettle-Sours the Hard Way Primary Image

Alex Flores of Urban South

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Kettle sours get a bad rap in some brewing circles, but Urban South’s Alex Flores would love to change your mind. Recalibrating and considering these beers as their own thing—rather than some faster approximation of other sour traditions—and you just might see them in a new light.

They’ve definitely grown on the fans of Urban South, who’ve fallen hard for the tart beers. The brewery has nurtured a range of beers within the broader family. On one end, beers such as Cucumber Lime Gose strike a crisp and refreshing pose with light salinity, freshly juiced cucumber, and subtle tartness. On the other, heavily fruited beers thick with purée scratch that fruit-smoothie itch. Adjacent to those are more creative expressions, such as the Drip line of fruited coffee sours. Urban South is committed to exploring this particular expression of acid and fruit in beer.

In this episode, Flores discusses:

  • The importance of vigorous lactic fermentations for better-tasting beer
  • Avoiding hop cross-contamination in the kettle
  • Controlling oxygen when kettle souring
  • Managing water and salinity in delicate tart beers
  • Dialing in sweetness to highlight fruit flavors
  • Homogenizing flavors through the mash, souring, boil, and fermentation
  • Adjusting and tweaking flavors
  • Processes for getting punchy natural fruit and vegetable expression
  • Blending whole bean and ground coffee in beer additions for better results

And more.

In Flores’ words, “You can’t kettle-sour your way into a Cuvée de Tomme,” but that’s not the point—they shouldn’t be viewed as contemporaries with traditional, funk-forward mixed-fermentation beers. When approached with the right frame of mind, and a buttoned-up process, brewers can make exciting beers that customers love.

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Jamie Bogner is the Cofounder and Editorial Director of Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine®. Email him at [email protected].