El Cuatro

El Cuatro, The Ale Apothecary
Judges Ratings 
1 Review
90
Aroma:
22 / 24
Flavor:
37 / 40
Appearance:
5 / 6
Mouthfeel:
9 / 10
Overall Impression:
17 / 20
Description 

El Cuatro is made of local Oregon barley and crystal malt as well as aged Cascade hops. The beer is aged for 12 months is both brandy barrels and fresh Oregon pinot noir barrels, and finally naturally carbonated with honey. The combination of spirit and wine along with our house yeast culture is the focus of this beer.

Profile

ABV: 
10.9%
IBUs: 
25
Served at: 
55º F
Hops: 
Aged Cascade
Malts: 
Vanora, Copeland Pils, Multiple Crystal Malts
Judges Review 
Jason Johnson's picture
Judges Rating:
90
Aroma:
22 / 24
Appearance:
5 / 6
Flavor:
37 / 40
Mouthfeel:
9 / 10
Overall Impression:
17 / 20

El Cuatro by The Ale Apothecary is a wild ale aged in brandy and whiskey barrels, that puts it in the category 28C, Wild Specialty Beer. That category specifies it's for wild ales aged in wood or with fruit, herb, vegetable or spices added. This beer is just a wood aged wild ale. Let's take a closer look.

In the aroma, it's very interesting that I get a noticeable hit of tart cherry, considering there is no fruit in the beer. I suspect there are caramel malts in conjunction with the oaked brandy character at play there. I do also smell some low amounts of sweet caramel malts and a very light toast. The hop aroma is fairly void, but the sourness is a pretty evident even in the nose. It has a light lactic aroma. Still that aside, it's clean with no other wild-like aromas. The beer poured amber in color, crystal clear, with no head. That can happen with some wild ales so it's not a huge deal. Still, a nice head is good to see on any beer. The flavor is mildly sweet with a bit of caramel. There is a low amount of toasty malt that dries it out fairly quickly. Again, the tartness and sweetness combined with what I think is the brandy adds a cherry note to the flavor. The oak is also evident in the flavor, with a low oaky astringency from the tannins in the wood. The balance leans on the tart fruitiness. The bitterness is pretty low but barely balances the beer. It's mostly the tartness that prevents the beer from coming across sweet in the finish. The tartness and oaky astringency gives the perception of a dry finish. The body is medium, carbonation is crisp and poppy, and while not creamy, the beer is refreshingly tart and puckering. Overall, I really enjoyed the dynamics of this beer and found it very interesting and fun to drink. I could have used a bit more hop bitterness and aroma to make this beer a bit more beer-like as opposed to a funky wine. But some of the light caramel and toast did remind me that it's a beer. I think this beer stands taller than many other wild ales I've tried.