Bonfire Brewing releases new tequila barrel-aged sour beer with Beaver Liquors
Get the beer
What: Special-edition Beaver Liquors Sour Brown Ale.
When: Until it runs out.
Where: The beer is exclusively sold at Beaver Liquors, 110 E. Beaver Creek Blvd. in Avon, and Bonfire Brewing, 127 W. Second St. in Eagle.
Cost: $12.99 per 22-ounce bomber.
More information: Call Beaver Liquors at 970-949-5040 or Bonfire Brewing at 970-306-7113.
AVON — For the past three years, Beaver Liquors owner David Courtney has been sending his store managers to the Herradura distillery in Jalisco, Mexico, to choose single-barrel tequilas for his shop in Avon.
“You go there and you taste 20, 30 different barrels that are all unique,” Courtney said. “You choose the barrel that you want, you buy that barrel, they label it still Herradura, but on that side label, it references Beaver Liquors and that we were there to pick it out.”
The Beaver Liquors reps try to look for different flavor variations in Herradura’s 100 percent blue agave tequila each time they head to Mexico, in order to score a barrel that’s unique but also sellable. After the barrel is selected, both the barrel itself and the tequila bottled from it are shipped to Avon.
The idea is to display the single-barrel bottles of tequila with their barrel of origin in order to attract attention to the product, but last year, Courtney had something else in mind for his tequila barrel, so he called up Bonfire Brewing in Eagle.
“They wanted to do something fun with it, so they approached us about filling it,” said Edric Spears, head brewer at Bonfire. “At the time, I had a bourbon barrel of our Demshitz Brown Ale aging with lactobacillus to sour. I already had that going and figured, what should we do with this?
“It seemed like a good idea to go down that same path. I filled the Herradura barrel without rinsing it or anything with our brown ale and lactobacillus and let that sit for about six months before re-carbonating and packaging it.”
It was the first beer Bonfire had ever aged in a tequila barrel, and Spears said he wasn’t really sure what to expect, but the resulting special-edition Beaver Liquors Sour Brown Ale turned out quite nice, in the brewer’s estimation.
“Beer will soak into the wood of the barrel much more than a spirit will,” he said. “It really leeches that residual flavor of that liquor out, especially if it’s a first-generation use of that barrel such as this.”
Despite that, the tequila flavor of the finished beer is actually very subtle, Spears said.
“I get a lot of barrel flavor out of it,” he said. “The nose is very tart, there’s a strong lactobacillus presence there, and it finishes really, really smooth. The kind of oak and dark wood flavors mesh really well with the roast of the brown and complemented by the lactobacillus.
“The longer a beer sits in a barrel with the souring agent, it actually gets less tart over time. This isn’t a kind of Warhead beer; it drinks really well. I’m very happy with how it came out. It’s a compliment of the tart character in the nose and in the finish and a nice blend of the roasted malts mixing with the oak of the barrel itself.”
Courtney said the beer isn’t “super over the top,” and his beer buyer and other customers have described it as an entry-level sour.
“It’s a beer that people who have had sours before will enjoy and those who haven’t had a sour before won’t get freaked out on it,” he said. “It’s that first little baby step.”
The Sour Brown Ale was packaged in 22-ounce bombers about two weeks ago, and the bottles are being sold for $12.99 each exclusively at Beaver Liquors in Avon and Bonfire in Eagle.
Last year, the single-barrel Herradura Tequila itself was so popular that the one barrel Courtney mused would be a year’s supply ran out in eight months. This time around, Courtney’s crew selected two barrels to hand over to Bonfire, both of which had been used for other types of spirits before having tequila aged in them.
“Sours, they take 10, 11 months before they’re ready to be bottled, so the barrel we gave them last year we’re just now seeing the beer,” Courtney said, adding that he hopes this will become an annual collaboration. “Next year, we’ll have a cognac barrel sour and a bourbon barrel that tequila was aged in sour.”
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