The Exchange Brewery had a vision in 2018 to promote and celebrate sour beers, an endeavour that culminated in Sourpalooza, “Niagara’s first and only sour beer focused festival.”
The event created for sour beer lovers has “the mission of celebrating some of the best sour beers from Ontario and highlighting the talent of the passionate brewers and people behind this craft said Audrey Le Goff, marketing coordinator at The Exchange Brewery.
First celebrated in 2018 at the Old Courthouse, with 11 breweries participating, their mission included celebrating sour beers but also educating the public about this ancient type of beer process.
A sour beer is produced by the introduction of yeast and bacteria into the brew, which can be added together into the brew directly for greater control of results. Although different types of bacteria can be used, one of the most common is lactobacillus, which is commonly used in yoghurt. In contrast to the direct addition of a specific yeast or bacteria, some breweries may choose to follow an “old school Belgian way” of producing sour beer. This Lambic type of beer production involves exposing the brew to airborne wild yeasts and bacteria just as the monks did hundreds of years ago. This tradition does not have the same control over the outcome but can make for some interesting brews.
By 2019, the festival had grown as the popularity of sour beers increased, with 12 breweries participating from Ontario, Quebec and the US. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the 2020 Sourpalooza Festival had to get creative. The festival was moved to an online event with six breweries participating. Each brewery put their best sours forward to add to a tasting box that was either shipped to ticketholders or picked up at participating brewery locations. The Exchange sold more than 70 Sourpalooza boxes and between 100 to 150 people tuned in for each virtual live tasting session.
Unfortunately further COVID-19 restrictions took their toll and the festival had to be cancelled in 2021. However, this year, Le Goff says, “The Exchange Brewery team is very excited to be working again on a ‘real’ physical Sourpalooza Festival, and is looking forward to meet again in-person with craft beer lovers from Ontario and beyond.”
For the 2022 edition of the festival, eight breweries from around Ontario will be participating including: Bellwoods Brewery; Blood Brothers Brewing; Collective Arts Brewing; The Exchange Brewery; Indie Ale House Brewing Co.; Merit Brewing; Short Finger Brewing Co.; and Small Pony Barrel Works.
Tickets are $75 per person, available at exchangebrewery.com until Friday, March 25. There are three different sessions to choose from: 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.; 3 p.m, to 6 p.m; and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Each ticket includes a personal table during your reserved time, various snacks, and a Sourpalooza kit, including a branded Souvenir glass, a bottle of water and a sampling passport to sample two beers from each participating brewery.
All seating and tasting will be outdoors and in compliance with any current health protocols.