In the glass, Bear Republic’s Sonoma Tart presents itself as a brilliant, pale straw-colored spectacle with a slight haze, adorned with a frothy, resilient white foam that gracefully dissipates after a brief moment—a typical trajectory for a sour beer.

Aroma: A Tropical Overture with Funky Undertones

True to its label, the aroma is an immediate burst of real guava and passion fruit juices. While this might sound predictable, it’s a rarity for beers to live up to their aromatic promises. Adding depth to the tropical fruit notes is the distinctive funkiness derived from the kettle souring process with lactobacillus. There’s a noticeable cheese-like stinkiness, a characteristic feature of the Berliner Weisse style. As the funkiness mellows, notes of lime blossom and hints of vanilla cake emerge, adding a delightful layer to the olfactory experience.

Taste: Ticking All the Boxes for Fruited Berliner Weisse

Diving into the tasting experience, Sonoma Tart impressively checks all the boxes expected of a fruited Berliner Weisse. The wheat addition contributes to a soft, creamy mouthfeel, and the aftertaste offers a thick, dairy-like consistency—a common trait among exceptional kettle sours. The flavor profile remains lively with notes of white grape, a balanced lactic acidity, and subtle tropical fruit undertones. The high carbonation, coupled with an exceptionally dry finish, accentuates the beer’s refreshing qualities. Notably, the overall acidity is delicately balanced, hitting a sweet spot at a 4/10 level, imparting a delightful half-sour quality.

Mouthfeel: A Symphony of Creaminess and Refreshment

Sonoma Tart continues to impress with its mouthfeel, presenting a harmonious blend of soft, creamy textures owing to the wheat addition. The beer’s exceptional carbonation enhances the refreshing qualities, while the aftertaste maintains a luxurious, dairy-like consistency typical of top-notch kettle sours.

Overall: A Well-Mannered Summer Session Delight

Bear Republic’s Sonoma Tart strikes a chord as a well-polished spring or summer session sour, inviting anyone to dive into its flavorful depths. It successfully channels white wine aspects, achieving the intended goal of the recipe. Despite the subtlety of the fruit juice addition, the beer remains well-balanced and accessible. Surprisingly refined for a brewery renowned for its bold IPAs, Sonoma Tart stands out with its exquisite base recipe. In my book, this one’s a winner, reminiscent of other beloved kettle sours like Dogfish Head’s SeaQuench Ale and Bell’s Oarsman.