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96 Rating – Avery Brewing Co. – Expletus

Responses from "Barrel Herder" Andy Parker

BC: Who came up with this beer’s recipe?
The original idea on this one was mine. Very few breweries are making tequila barrel-aged beers, so you have to forge your own path. I went through the incredibly taxing process of making Tequila Sunrises every night at home to figure out how to make a sour beer based on those flavors. I quickly found that I preferred grapefruit juice over orange juice because of the tartness. I also researched the grenadine that gives the drink its color... traditional grenadine is made with pomegranates, but the most common grenadines today have more of an artificial cherry flavor. After some experiments with both fruits, I thought the cherry flavor would be more reminiscent of the mixed drink. So the plan was to put some cherries in during secondary fermentation, then add fresh grapefruit zest after debarreling the beer. We made the base beer, added the cherries, and filled a pile of Suerte Tequila barrels.

Six months later I brought a sample of the barrel-aged sour to a blind tasting. There wasn't a prominent cherry flavor, but it was easily the most Tequila-forward beer we've made. And everyone at the table loved it for that giant Tequila aspect. Instead of re-dosing with more cherry and adding grapefruit zest, we decided to leave the beer exactly the way it was and abandon the Tequila Sunrise idea. It can be a little polarizing, but for those of us who love Tequila, it's incredible.

BC: What’s your favorite aspect of this beer (flavor, aroma, etc.)?
That huge Tequila barrel flavor and aroma. We've been working with Tequila barrels for a few years now and we're tuned in to those flavor components. If it happens to be someone's first Tequila barrel-aged beer they might not even recognize those flavors for what they are, which can make it a pretty confusing beer.

BC: Where does this beer’s name come from?
Expletus is a Latin word for "complete" or "satisfied." It's a nod to the story behind the beer... the fact that we tried to make a Tequila Sunrise-influenced sour beer, then realized that the base beer was already a home run and we shouldn't mess with a good thing. It was already complete and didn't need more tinkering.

BC: Is this your “desert island beer?”
Does the desert island have chips and salsa?

BC: Can you describe this beer in 10 words or less?
If the GABF starts a Tequila sour category, we're confident.

BC: Do you know a story – or have a personal story – that revolves around this beer?
The barrels we get are from Boulder-owned Suerte Tequila, who are good friends of ours. We've had blind tastings on beers aged in their barrels vs. others, and the amount of Tequila flavor we're getting from their barrels is astounding. Having that personal connection with people and a company that you respect is invaluable and has allowed us to do more with Tequila barrels than anyone in the country over the last five years.

BC: What's a good food pairing for this beer?
Sour beers aren't always the first beers you think of with food pairings. The big Tequila aroma is something fun to play with, though. I'd put it on a charcuterie/cheese plate to learn more about it, but I'm guessing that it would balance well with milder and richer cheeses, maybe something as simple as a triple cream Brie. Nothing too spicy or funky, as I think the flavors would fight each other and your flavor hole would be too confused to continue.

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