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Avery SourFest 2012 Recap

Yesterday, I had the privilege of attending Avery’s 3rd Annual SourFest.  This is by far, my favorite event that they host throughout the year.  Strong Ale Fest is solid and I’m looking forward to the upcoming IPA Fest, but SourFest holds a special place in my heart.  I’m a sucker for sours and am constantly on the hunt for anything funky, wild and interesting.  SourFest puts together a collection of 50+ beers under one roof for beer lovers to taste and talk about.

We arrived about 20 minutes before the doors opened at noon and the line was already more than 75 people deep.  Turk and The Gubna were setting up for a live broadcast of their Colorado Craft Beer Show at noon.  Gary was supposed to be there to broadcast live with his American Craft Beer Radio show, but had to remain in the studio due to some technical difficulties.

Lined up out front

 We were able to track down a beer menu while we waited in line and started planning our course of attack.

Beer Menu Page 1

Beer Menu Page 2

My eyes lit up at the sight of Crooked Stave’s Blackberry Petite Sour.  This beer was made exclusively for their Cellar Reserve members and I have been trying to set up a trade for a bottle, without much luck.  I was excited to see it on the menu and couldn’t wait to try it.

When the doors opened at noon, we got our ID’s checked, swapped our tickets for glasses and headed inside.  We decided to slide through the Avery Tap Room and head to the Barrel Room to start our day.  The beers are organized in alphabetical order.  In the Tap Room, they were pouring AC Golden, Avery, Cambridge and COOP.  I like ’em all, but Avery always seems to have plenty of beer to go around, while some of the other breweries from out-of-state, might run out a bit quicker.

So, we headed around the corner and into the Barrel Room, where I snagged my taste of Crooked Stave’s Blackberry Petite Sour.  This funky, Brettanomyces fermented, oak aged brew, poured a light purple color.  It had a slight, funky cheese aroma, but tasted sweet, fruity and oh, so drinkable.  Delish.

Inside the Barrel Room

We quickly got word from some friends that the bottle tables around back were already creating quite the buzz.  We made our way out of the Barrel Room and into The Back Yard and discovered a line of people that must have been more than 100 deep.  People were going bonkers for Cascade’s bottled offerings and rightfully so.  Their stuff is amazing and I try to write about them whenever they have a new bottle getting ready to hit the market.  Unfortunately, none of their brews make it to Colorado and they didn’t come out for GABF last year either.  So this was one of those rare opportunities that CO beer lovers had to give them a try.

At SourFest, they were pouring Sang Royal (aged with Cabernet Sauvignon grapes), Sang Noir (aged with bing and sour cherries), The Vine (aged with white grapes) and Blueberry Sour, the latest addition to their stellar lineup.  If you ever find yourself out in Portland, OR, the Cascade Barrel House is a MUST!  I was out that way for their anniversary party last fall and they were pouring nearly two dozen sours at the time.  I could have easily spent all day sipping sours on their patio.

Cascade - Sang Royal

Cascade - The Vine

Cascade - Blueberry

Upland, from Indiana, also brought some delicious beers to share.  They’re another brewery that doesn’t distribute out here, but makes some amazing beers and always has a line during GABF.  Their sours really spotlight what their brew team is capable of.  They make 8 different fruit lambics that are released periodically throughout the year.  They use fruits like kiwi and persimmon to make some unique lambics.  The cork and caged 750mL bottles are sold via an online system and most of them don’t last more than an hour before they are sold out.  In fact, the demand has gotten so high and the servers have crashed numerous times, that they have decided to go with a lottery system for their next round of releases.

This year, Upland brought their Sour Reserve Blend (a blend of three lambics – think Gueuze) and Raspberry Lambic.  The Sour Reserve Blend was acidic and tart, with some earthy undertones.  We made our way through the bottle line multiple times until we had gone through and gotten our fill of Upland and Cascade.

On my last trip through the line, I went for Crooked Stave’s Persica.  Persica spent 9 months in barrels and was aged with Colorado peaches.  This cloudy, yellow beer was my personal choice for “Best of Show”.  Nice sweet and fruity nose, with an amazing sweet, peach taste.  It was so smooth and unlike anything I’ve had in a long time.  Not super funky or sour, but very tasty and drinkable.  As I drank it, my mind was racing to remember whether or not this bottle was going to be released into the CO market or not.  Sadly, it’s not.  Another selection for Cellar Reserve members only….

After trying Crooked Stave’s Persica and Blackberry Petite Sour, I’m pretty sure I’ll be signing up for the Cellar Reserve club next year.  Chad’s beers are ridiculously good and with his plans to move from Fort Collins to Denver in the near future, I can’t pass up the easier access to these small batch beers.  I’m sold!

Eventually, we made our way back through the Barrel Room, sampling along the way and finished our afternoon with the hordes of people in the Tap Room.  The Tap Room was hoppin’ with 4 unique and yummy AC Golden Beers, including two dark sours.  One made with Colorado sour cherries and another with Syrah grapes.

The Avery folks had tapped 10 beers for the event, including all three Eremita’s, past offerings from the Barrel Aged bottle series and a yummy little sour aged with Granny Smith apples, called Bad Apple.

A quick glance around the crowd at SourFest and you realize what a special event it really is.  Brewers, beer buyers, bar owners, reps, bloggers and beer lovers come from all over to enjoy this special day.  It’s a unique event loaded with some pretty special beers.  Hope you were able to get a ticket and enjoy this great event.  Feel free to comment with your favorites from the afternoon.

Cheers!

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7 responses

  1. I am so sad that I missed this event. Sours are my most sought after drink at beer festivals. Glad you got to taste some of the Crooked Stave Cellar Reserve beers. I’m a member and loved the Blackberry Petite Sour. Can’t wait to get my bottle of Persica in another couple of weeks. Did you happen to try the Brain of the Turtle from Trinity? That was my fave from GABF last year. I certainly hope that Avery increases the number of tickets for next year and do something to prevent a sellout in just a few minutes. I at least went to the 1st annual SourFest a couple years ago and loved every minute of it.

    Did they switch to unlimited samplings? When I went, you got 20 tickets to try 20 different beers.

    June 3, 2012 at 8:48 pm

    • Hey Dave,
      I thought you mentioned you were going this year and I tried to keep an eye out for you. Sorry you couldn’t make it. Sadly, several breweries from the past two fests didn’t bring beers to sample this year. Cigar City, The Bruery, Jolly Pumpkin, Jackie O’s, Allagash, Trinity and a few others…. Brain of the Turtle is a great beer though.

      I signed up for the Bruery Reserve Society this year and at the time, was kind of on the fence on the Crooked Stave Cellar club. After trying these beers, I think I’ll sign up next time around. I was really impressed.

      Avery’s still using the ticket system. I think you got 18 this year.

      June 3, 2012 at 9:34 pm

  2. I missed the ticket sales as I was out of town that day, I had a ticket being held for me but had to turn it down as family events piled up for that day, so I had to drop out. Perhaps I’ll see you at Burning Can Festival this weekend. Have a ticket for that already.

    June 4, 2012 at 9:59 am

    • Gotta work this weekend, but have fun at Burning Can. Sounds like it’ll be a great time.

      June 4, 2012 at 4:05 pm

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