Monday, October 29, 2012

Avery Review #16 - Oud Floris

Posted by: Tyler Rippeteau

Oct. 29, 2012

…And we’re on the home stretch of The Avery Project with Review #16, a.k.a. Avery Barrel-Aged Series Beer #12, a.k.a. Avery Oud Floris.  These last few reviews will go relatively quickly.  After today’s review I have one more already written, I have two other Avery beers in the fridge and the plan for #20 is to head to the Taproom sometime before Election Day to do that one – which should give you a hint as to what #20 will be.

But back to the beer: the Oud Floris is a blend of brown ale aged in four different barrels – 67% in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels, 17% in Bourbon barrels, 8% in Rum barrels and 8% in Chardonnay barrels.

I went into this one very excited – the Flanders Oud Bruin is a style I have enjoyed greatly in New Belgium’s La Folie and Monk’s Café.  Plus, I was in the mood for something nice and sour when I cracked this beer open.  My true excitement, though, was from the variety of barrels involved in process and I was hoping to pick out unique and distinctive flavors from each of the four barrels.  Here’s what I found:

Location: B Town Wine & Spirits
Cost: $7.99/12 oz. bottle
ABV: 9.39%
Brewery Location: Boulder, Colorado
Style: Flanders Oud Bruin
Average Beer Advocate Rating: A-/4.09 – Excellent
My Beer Advocate Rating: D+/2.43 – Poor
Current Number of Reviews on Beer Advocate: 17
Brewery Description: Avery Oud Floris
Bottled:  June 14, 2012

APPEARANCE:  (3.5 out of 5) Deep, dark brown throughout, but when held up to the light a much lighter brown (think the color of the old, light brown M&Ms) comes in at the top of the glass.  A small head disappears as fast as the beer is poured, leaving a bright, off-white ring of foam around the edges of the glass.  Bubbles are flying up the sides of the glass, giving this beer a very lively look.  There is some lacing, but very minimal.

SMELL:  (4 out of 5) Funky.  There is a lot going on in the nose here, but in a very subtle way.  Some vanilla, a little oak, a hint of grapes, tart cherry and maybe even a little nuttiness waft up from the glass.  The aroma is pleasant and light, but also contains warning signs of an intensely sour beer.

TASTE:  (2 out of 5) Jesus.  This is like a sour punch in the mouth.  Tart cherry is the only thing I can taste at first.  It completely dominates the beer in a way I have never experienced.  It’s like Brian Urlacher nearly single-handedly bringing the Chicago Bears back from a 21-point deficit against the Arizona Cardinals in the second half in 2006, or Michael Jordan…well, anytime ever…that dominating.

After a few sips though, some other flavors emerge (or at least the palate is so desperate for them to do so that it imagines them).  Vinegar is second to the cherry and a good dose of wood in the form of vanilla and oak.  The caramel and spicy flavors of a typical Flanders Oud Bruin seem to have just been decimated.  Also, sadly, the bourbon and rum barrel flavors are nearly non-existent (save the hint of vanilla). 

MOUTHFEEL:  (1.5 out of 5) A little carbonation and a shit-ton of pucker is the only way to describe the feel of the Oud Floris.  This is not an easy beer to drink.  I never say this, but I’m going to have a hard time getting this one down.

OVERALL:  (2 out of 5) I love big, bold and aggressive beers.  I love gigantic double IPAs, huge Imperial Stouts and ridiculously sour beers, but this might have been the first sour beer I have tasted that has gone too far.  Call my palate undeveloped and immature, but I can’t taste all four barrels that this was aged in, which is an enormous disappointment. 

I have very, very rarely said this about a beer, but it is over the top.  Too much.  I would have loved to taste the subtle flavors of bourbon and rum barrels alongside the funk of wine barrels.  I had so much hope for this brew, but it ultimately let me down.  I think the only option here is to take my second bottle and age it for two, maybe three years and see what happens.

Now, with this all said, I think it is worth noting that there are plenty of people out there who disagree with me on this one, and for some extreme sour fans who I can see how this would work.  I also think that this missed the mark, not because of a lack of effort on Avery’s part, but because they tried to do something different and this time it simply didn’t work.  Maybe 67% on the cabernet was too much.   

As with many of their beers (and all of them in the Barrel-Aged Series), however, it was brewed as an experiment.  There are few breweries out there willing to take the same risks that Avery does.  Dogfish Head comes to mind immediately and as almost anyone who is a fan of the Milton, Delaware brewery can tell you, sometimes their crazy ideas simply don’t pan out.  When you take risks like this and do something completely out of the box you win some and you lose some.  95% of the time Avery wins, but I have to place this one in that rare 5% category.

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