Avery Brewing in Boulder has been a major part of the Colorado beer scene for over 20 years now, from the early days through the craft beer boom. This is in part to high quality flagship ales like Out of Bounds Stout, New World Porter, White Rascal, as well as great seasonal offerings like Old Jubilation Ale. But in addition Avery also offers a great variety of limited release barrel aged beers where barrels of all types are utilized and the beers are carefully blended to create a harmonious final product. In February of 2014 Avery released their newest offering to their Barrel-Aged Series: Opuntia, a sour ale aged nine months in first use tequila barrels, with prickly pear added. After acquiring a couple of bottles here are the tasting notes for this beer.
Like with any sour beer we reached for a tulip glass to enjoy this beer in, and after a soft pour there was a bright white head sitting on top of a copper colored ale with a subtle ruby hue. This led to a very complex aroma that was strong but inviting to want to sip this beer. The aroma had a strong floral note from the prickly pear. The tequila barrel aging brought out subtle aroma notes of oak, and vanilla. Additionally the agave notes added a hint of sweetness. Through it all this beer had a very complex aroma that was only enhanced through the very unique Brett yeast and lactobacillus which only made this beer a true sour style, which followed through to the taste.
The aroma carried through to the flavor perfectly creating a beer full of complex flavors. It started with a light, effervescent body that took on the bold flavors this beer offered. The primary flavor is the cactus pear, which provided a balance of sweetness, tartness, an all around flavor hard to describe with a refreshing quality. The barrel aging adds complexities and a deep flavor profile to this beer that compliments the prickly pear. The subtle hints from the oak play a role in this beer adding a hint of tequila and agave flavor to balance out the strong fruit flavor. The Brett yeast adds an earthy flavor that balances everything out, and the lactobacillus adds the great mouth puckering flavor that one would expect in a sour. This beer had a lot going on, and after one sip the complexities are strong, but each flavor shines through on its own from the tequila, oak, and prickly pear.
As a sour this beer hit the mouth with a quick hit of sour and tartness that made the mouth pucker, but it faded away very quickly making another sip easier to enjoy. The aftertaste was fairly clean, with only a hint of the yeast flavor lingering in the mouth. As a whole this was a very complex beer full of great and unique flavors, but also one that was extremely balanced and full of great flavor. With so many great beers in there barrel aged series Avery exceeded expectations with Opuntia making it a great addition to this lineup of limited releases. As a sour, fruit beer, and barrel aged beer Opuntia will cater to fans of many styles, and possible make people rethink whether or not they are a fan of certain styles. One that will only get better with age, or to drink in the moment this was a great beer and one that is a must try. Overall this would easily be a 4 out of 5 and one worth raising a glass to.
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