A Look Behind Avery Brewing Company's Barrel-Aged Series
Meet Andy Parker, Avery Brewing Company's "barrel herder" and fourth employee. Andy and his team lead the ever growing barrel program at Avery. He's done everything around the brewery from cleaning tanks to taking out the trash to brewing quality beer. Andy broke down Avery's longstanding barrel-aged series and gave us some insight into what's to come for the Boulder brewery. Scroll down to read more.
Click here to read more about Avery's Barrel-Aged Series. Avery Brewing Company's Barrel-Aged Series Among other breweries such as Dogfish Head, Goose Island and Russian River, Avery has been crafting barrel aged beers since the late 90s and the early 2000s. Andy has a huge role in Avery's barrel program and attributes a lot of their success to the freedom they have to be creative with different barrels. Andy has put Avery's beer in a variety of barrels such as Madeira, tequila, bourbon and rum from producers including Heaven Hill, Suarte Tequila and even Goslings. Their biggest day to day concern? Containing the wild yeasts from their barrel aged sour program. "We don't want them to spread. We spend a lot of time cleaning and killing the bacteria so it doesn't spread to other beers." They've hired a team of six lab employees to ensure this doesn't happen. "It's a lot of work but we'd rather work smart than lose more then we gain."
High ABV Beers Avery is known for higher alcohol by volume beers. Most of their total production sits at 14%-17% ABV which is well above the average 6%-8% ABV. Their latest releases include Rumpkin (16.73% ABV), a pumpkin ale aged in fresh rum barrels, and PumpKYn (17.22% ABV), a bourbon aged porter. Andy explains, "Alcohol is a huge part of the flavor profile. This adds a Port or dessert wine quality to many of them which people enjoy." Its popularity is apparent, as they sold 140 cases of Rumpkin in less than three hours when they released it at their tasting room. Andy believes Higher ABV beers aren't an issue for most beer drinkers.
Tequila Barrel-Aged Sours Tequila barrels are a tough find for most brewers. Luckily, Andy and Avery have a great relationship with local Suerte Tequila makers which enables them to play around with this type of barrel aged beer. Opuntia, their latest tequila aged beer, is an American wild ale aged 9 months with added prickly pear juice. Immense flavors of dill pickle, watermelon and agave create a tropical beer. Andy likes to blend a lot of barrels to get the right taste and goes through numerous tasting panels. He says that tequila barrels are by far his favorite. "The adventure part is fun. Being able to experiment with different flavor profiles and create different batches makes it exciting. Even if 8 of 10 batches fail, I'll be happy."
Grape-Beer Hybrids Avery started messing around with grape-beer hybrids after breweries like Russian River and Dogfish Head introduced them to the market. Avery sources their grapes from a local winemaker in Colorado, but hope to grow the program and begin collecting grapes from California. They've released a few grape-beer hybrids brewed with riesling and cabernet sauvignon grapes. The grapes come unsanitized, creating an entirely spontaneous fermentation. Only 30% of the finished product comes from wine, but time in barrels and lack of carbonation produce a wine forward product. Definitely give grape-beer hybrids a try. What's to Come for Avery Avery has broken ground on a new brewing facility in Gunbarrel, a city just a few miles from their current facility in Boulder. "For so long we have been brewing good beer in a shitty place," Andy explained the expansion will create a more comfortable brewery for their employees. "We have spent so many years cleaning out tanks and brewing beer in some of Boulder's biggest snowstorms with temperatures in the low teens. It's not fun for anyone on staff." In addition to comfort, a bigger brewery also means more tanks, more room to house barrels and of course, more beer! When Avery's new brewery begins production they'll be working on a 4 vessel, 80 barrel brewhouse. That's double what they are capable of brewing at their current brewhouse. Additionally, a 250 seated restaurant will be a nice addition for Avery visitors. Shop Avery beers at Binny's "Avery is criminally underrated and undersold in our market," says Pat, Binny's craft beer buyer. Fan favorites like White Rascal, Avery IPA, Hog Heaven Barley Wine and Ellie's Brown Ale are a few that you can get your hands on all year round. Seasonal favorites like Old Jubilation Winter Ale and Avery Karma are two you should try. Shop Avery's beers at any Binny's location. Check out the Beer Buzz for more beer news, product updates and beer happenings around town.