Despite the many angry beer nerds who couldn’t garner access to this Boulder shindig, the event was stellar and other festivals can learn from the crew at Avery.
First, not only were we trusted with glass goblets touting a bitter beer-faced man with the tag line “Pucker Up Buttercup,” – thanks to the seasoned drinkers in attendance, only a few GABF “Ooooh” moments occurred – but the process of getting that glass was exceptionally streamlined. Checked in and ID’d at one tent-covered table, then wrist banded, glassed, and beer listed at a second – not to mention the accurate suggestion to bee-line it to the tents in the back parking lot before the bombers ran out.
The great thing about SourFest is the “big guys” – Crooked Stave and Russian River – are relatively line-less, while the lesser known breweries like Colorado Springs’ Trinity Brewing, NOLA Brewing (LA), and Jester King (TX) steal the show. The crowd, which was largely made up of beer geeks, head brewers, assistant brewers, media, and other industry members, knows how to drink, but most importantly, they know how to drink adventurously.
People stand in line for the “weird stuff,” like Jester King’s Viking Metal – a 7.4% ABV ale brewed with smoked malt, juniper, and Myrica gale, and aged in gin barrels – or Trinity Brewing’s Ten Minutes of Pleasure collaboration with New Belgium – a shocking 3.6% ABV Berliner Weisse with soursop fruit aged in Chardonnay barrels.
Luckily, Avery Brewing Co. set up a table of palate cleansers. Missing were the coffee beans and pretzels, but White Rascal was present. Hallelujah I can taste again! And just in time for a stellar BYO taco bar with a kick-your-palate’s-ass hot green chile. Sitting down to a local ska/bluegrass band, taco in one hand, sour brett beer in the other, makes a Coloradan a happy hop head.
The only downside to SourFest – and just because it is too funny (and too true) not to reveal – was that #cropdusting wasn’t a secondary hash tag to #averyfest.
Aside from the sometimes unpleasant aroma, “it’s all fantastic at SourFest.” As Jess Hunter, one of our trusted Wagon writers said, “Do yourself a favor and set the alarm clock today for 2014,” the 5th Annual SourFest at Avery is sure to be better than the already great first, second, third, and fourth year. While our taste buds are still kicked, we are still dreaming of these notable beers. Here are some highlights from us Wagon writers to you:
The Lost Abbey (CA), Cuvee de Tomme – a surprising 11% ABV beer brilliantly aged for one year in Bourbon barrels with sour cherries and Brettanomyces. The Lost Abbey, Framboise de Amorosa – a simply beautiful 7.0% ABV beer, giving all the flavor of summer, aged for over a year in wood and pitched three different times with fresh raspberries.
Firestone Walker (CA), Lil Opal – Light in ABV at 6.5%, this brew lacks nothing in flavor. Aged three years in oak barrels, the Lil Opal packs a deep nutty oak aroma with a hint of vanilla and caramel flavors. This is also the first beer from their new Barrelworks project to be sampled in CO.
Avery/ New Belgium (CO), SourFest Blend #4 – A “flat out rockin’” 7.0% ABV dark sour ale boasting big sour cherry notes, softened by hints of apple whiskey and, well, “awesomeness.” New Belgium, Oscar Worthy Coffee – a pleasant palate cleanser on its own, this 6.0% ABV beer is truly award-winning after the addition of cold-pressed Costa Rican City Roast coffee from Bean Cycle, then blended with New Belgium’s Sour Oscar.
Perennial Artisan Ales (MO), Strawberry Rhubarb Wild Ale – a surprising beer from Missouri. After being aged 10 months in white wine barrels, this brew packs a big punch that is balanced by the rhubarb and a low ABV of 5.0%. A perfect roller coaster of tart, sour, and sweet.
NOLA Brewing (LA), Smokin’ Flanders – a Flanders red ale aged in bourbon and rum barrels. The 5.3% beer is perfect for summer, flaunting a smokiness reminiscent of a campfire.
Trinity Brewing (CO), Damn It Feels Good to be a Gangsta – A 8.1% ABV dark wild ale aged in oak barrels with honey, golden raisins, and mustard seed. Yes, this was named after Office Space – The Red Swingline (featuring Melvin’s mug on the label) hoppy sour brewed with coriander and tangerine zest then aged in French oak barrels, wasn’t too shabby neither.
Avery Brewing (CO), Volunt Plus Erat – a walloping 10.4% ABV beer with big lactic acid notes rounded out by an irresistible tartness. “The flavor notes just keep running around like a catchy pop song. This would not be a ‘Call Me Maybe?’ but an I am going to blow your phone up and stalk you like a paparazzi,” says Justin Lloyd of Star Bar.
And on that note, we’re out!
–Special thanks to Jess Hunter, Casey Berry, Justin Lloyd, and PJ Hoberman for tasting notes.