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Sour beers are hard to make, especially since you're basically infecting your beer with normally no-no bacteria until you get to a tartness that's so bad it's good again. Not unlike firefighters working on a controlled burn, many of the world's best sour brewers know how to balance the base flavor with the tongue-buckling infection, using various barrels, inoculation methods and starter styles to mix up this traditional Belgian beverage. Some of L.A.'s younger breweries — notably Eagle Rock and Smog City — are already experimenting with occasional sour releases. But it's worth recognizing that Craftsman Brewing Company has been seasonally releasing quality sours for years. From its frequently released traditional Flanders red (Ursa Minor) to weird, one-off, herb-infused wild ales (Bay Laurel with bay leaves), Craftsman does sour beer right, including sour strong ales (Cave Art), sour fruit beers (Stonefruit Sour) and a sour black ale (El Prieto), all occasionally available at your favorite Craftsman-pouring establishment. —Sarah Bennett

1260 Lincoln Ave. (no tasting room), Pasadena, 91103. craftsmanbrewing.com.

LA Weekly