Beer News, Reviews and More!

Posts tagged “coop

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!

Advertisements

Avery Strong Ale Festival 2012 Recap

I had been looking forward to the Avery Strong Ale Festival for weeks.  Unfortunately, these things always seem to come and go so quickly.  I’m a little sad that another one is in the books, but wanted to share some highlights with you.

My wife and I checked into our hotel at around 2PM on Friday and walked to a nearby restaurant for a big dinner.  We wanted something that would stick with us late into the night and the big ol’ NY style pizza we ordered really hit the spot.  After dinner, we tracked down a few bottles of water and called for a cab to pick us up.

The festival opened at 5PM and we arrived about 20 minutes after the hour.  There was no line, so we strolled right in, but were still early enough that it wasn’t packed with people just yet.  We got our glasses, tasting tickets and a beer list.  Avery was nice enough to post the list on their Facebook page on Friday morning, so atendees could get an early glimpse at what would be pouring.

They set the festival up in alphabetical order by brewery name, so it’s relatively easy to navigate.  The Avery tasting room housed the first 20 taps, from A-B.  The barrel room had an additional 35 taps, from B-G.  The remaining 69 taps, from G-V, were in the warehouse.  We figured the least amount of people would be in the back warehouse area and decided to hear there first.  Kind of like when you’re a kid going to Disney World.  You want to hit Space Mountain first to avoid the long lines later in the day.  Same principle.

Ready to roll with the first 20 beers in the Avery Tap Room.

In the warehouse, I grabbed my first beer, Russian River’s, Pliny the Younger.  I couldn’t resist the hoppy goodness and wanted to get a pour before the keg kicked.  I figured it wouldn’t last long.  It was the perfect start to the night, until I went to reach for my camera…  Yeah, so, uhm, no camera…  I had left it back in the hotel.  A blogger without a camera is like a stormtrooper without his blaster.  Pointless.  Oh well, I’m new to this.  Lesson learned.  Still, I wasn’t going to let this get me down.  I used my quick thinking, ninja skills and hijacked my wife’s iPhone to use the camera feature.

Anyway, moving on, I headed down a few taps to get a pour of The Bruery’s, Melange No. 3.  I’ve got a bottle of this in the cellar at home, but I’ve been been waiting to try this one for a while.  It didn’t let me down.  Melange # 3 is a blend of three different beers.  White Oak Sap, a wheatwine, their Anniversary Old Ale and Black Tuesday, their famous Imperial Stout.  Big, sweet nose, chocolate, bourbon and dark fruit flavors.  It’s a pretty special beer.  Mmm, delish!

Moving on down the line, I found what would prove to be my favorite beer of the night, Surly’s Five.  Brewed in honor their recent 5th anniversary, this is a 100% Brettanomyces fermented dark ale, aged in red wine barrels.  Sour cherries, oak, along with some tartness and bretty funk.  A beautiful brew.  I love my sours and this one was top notch.  Now for the bad news, Surly doesn’t distribute outside of Minnesota…  Sigh.  If you’re a beer trader, you’ve got to seek this one out.

Surly Five. My favorite beer of the night!

We came across plenty of other highlights along the way from all over the U.S.  Some of my other favorites were Alpine – Bad Boy DIPA, Cigar City – Marshal Zhukov’s Imperial Stout, Avery – Bourbon Barrel aged Meph Addict and Pizza Port – Nose Rider DIPA to name a few.  The lineup seems to get a little better every year.

We saw lots of familiar faces and good people from around the beer world.  Plenty of local brewery representation, bloggers and even some out of state breweries.  Avery, Great Divide, Lone Tree (Jason, please bring beers next year!), Strange, Dry Dock, Bull & Bush, Oskar Blues, Redstone Meadery and many more.  We also met the gang from COOP Aleworks out in Oklahoma City, OK.  These guys were really cool and have some interesting projects going on that they were eager to tell us about.  Well worth checking out if you’re ever out that way.

Gary V. and The Gubna. Nothing like a little friendly competition.

“What’s yours?”

They don’t call themselves Strange Brewing for nothing.

No bathroom lines, the ability to go in and out of the fest to get some fresh air, good food, even better beer and some high school kids laying down some nice jazz tunes.  Another job well done by the good folks at Avery!

As the night began winding down, we called for a cab and headed back to our hotel.  It was time to head back and grab some zzzz’s.

American Craft Beer Radio host Gary V. had asked us to help him with his show on Saturday.  He was broadcasting from the Avery lot on Saturday morning and wanted us to pull some winners from his facebook page for a few brewery prizes he had to give away.  The good people at “The Kitchen” offered their upstairs bar for us to set up shop and connect with Gary.  His show is on 102.3FM from noon-1PM on Saturday’s.

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that The Kitchen people really know their beer.  If you’re ever up in the Boulder area, check them out.  They’re right on the Pearl Street Mall and have a huge beer list.  They were pouring not just tasty locals like Avery IPA, but also harder to find beers like Russian River Supplication and Firestone Walker XV.  They also host beer dinners and have a Dry Dock beer dinner scheduled this week.  The food looked good too.  Being a sucker for cheese, they had a pretty impressive selection.  Like I said, check ’em out.  The radio show went off smoothly and it’s always fun to help when we can.

The Kitchen, Boulder, CO

After we wrapped up, we cruised the Pearl Street Mall for a bit and headed back to Avery to do a little beer trading.  I had set up a trade ahead of time and just needed to make the switch.  I left with a case of Avery bombers, so be on the lookout for some upcoming reviews.  The weather was perfect and people were really digging the outside patio area.

Again, awesome weekend, great people, amazing beer and perfect weather.  Avery, you guys rock!  Let’s do it again next year.  Cheers!