Sunday, December 6, 2009

Avery Brabant review

Avery BrabantI always look forward to sampling a sour beer whenever I get the chance. And when it's barrel aged for 8 months it sounds even better. But the proof is in the eye, nose and mouth of the beer holder. During a recent trip to another side of town, I found a big selection of beers that I hadn't tried yet. I happen to spy three bottles of Avery Brabant - Barrel Aged Wild Ale sitting on a standalone shelf and I grabbed all three of them.

Brabant won a Bronze medal at the 2009 Great American Beer Festival in the Experimental Beer category. A testament to Avery's dedication to craftsmanship.

Avery only made 694 cases of this 12oz American Wild Ale. Brabant had been aged in wooden Zinfandel barrels for 8 months prior to its bottling on February 10, 2009. This brew was the very 1st in Avery's new line of Barrel Aged Beers and it got a lot of people excited around Colorado.

Below the name is the phrase: "Cheval de trait Belge" which translates to Belgian draft horse. I suppose having two different strains of Brettanomyces (Brett) yeast might bring an expectation of horse blanket prior to tasting this beer. I was willing to find out.

Appearance: Avery Brabant poured a dark dark brown with slight ruby edges. I got a nice 2+ finger tall tan head in the tulip glass and the bubbles seemed to stick around for a while. Later, a small thin bubble head remained. Swirling the glass yielded a short lived lacing that didn't stick to the glass for long. There was a good amount of carbonation in this beer also.

Aroma: Oh my yes! The smell of this beer was definitely one of the big highlights for me. There was the very familiar tart & funky Brett yeast smell that I've come to enjoy.

The funkiness dominates the aroma and was very inviting. I could pick up on a hint of sour fruit in here as well. Despite it's high 8.65% ABV, I couldn't pick out any noticeable alcohol in the nose.

Drinking from a tulip glass seemed like the perfect choice for this brew. It allowed the beer to breathe a bit and let the aroma out well.

Mouthfeel: Many times a sour ale will attack your tongue. Brabant didn't. Rather it was smooth, a bit creamy and semi-fizzy. The tip of my tongue tingled a bit. Later it left a dry finish.

Taste: Brabant was moderately tart and sour with a semi-sweet malt taste. I didn't notice the alcohol up front. This beer is not as funky and sour as others of it kind but rather it focused on blending itself well with the Zinfandel barrel wood.

I could also pick up some spice and floral characters to this beer. Gladly, they were subtle and not dominant. While this beer was sour, it wasn't very bitter. The IBU rating was just around 25 IBUs.

It wasn't until 1/2 way through the sampling that I started feeling a nice glow from this ale. The ABV is definitely there, but it just doesn't dominate the session.

Overall: I'd have to classify this brew as a mild sour ale. Avery certainly has made other Brettanomyces ales in the past, some of which were over the top with funk and spice, but Brabant was more carefully crafted. It's not a pucker-your-mouth kind of sour ale, but has just enough to let you know the Brett is there.

I'm real glad I bought 3 bottles of this as I look forward to having more of this. I doubt that I'll have much luck finding any more of this in stores as it was a limited run. I'm giving this beer a nice thumbs up. It's far from my favorite sour beer but it had enough of what I was hoping for to make this very enjoyable to sip.

Avery has also put out it's 2nd barrel aged beer: Sui Generis back in October. That batch was extremely limited. Their 3rd batch: Black Tot is due out in January. I look forward to trying those if I get lucky enough to find some.

Related articles:
- Avery Sixteen Anniversary Ale review.
- Avery The Kaiser Imperial Oktoberfest review.
- Avery Salvation review.
- Avery Sui Generis to debut in September.
- Avery Redpoint Ale review.
- Avery Black Tot named as third barrel aged beer.

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