Boulder, CO – Avery’s brewers hadn’t heard of Carcavelos when they came upon Carcavelos wine barrels, but they decided to buy them anyway. They had experience from their barrel-aging experiments with Madeira barrels—another fortified Portuguese wine—and they knew that aging the right beer in these barrels could add a rich, oxidized sweetness to the final beer blend.
This Sunday, July 12, Avery will release III Dolia, a blend of sour beers: 25% aged in the Carcavelos barrels, 44% aged in Madeira barrels, and 31% aged in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels. The beer name is a nod in Latin to the three types of barrels that comprise this unusual blend.
Due to the small yield of this beer, III Dolia will only be available at Avery Brewing Company. “Our new facility is allowing us to expand our barrel-aging program so that we can get more of these beers out into the world,” says Avery Barrel Romancer Thomas Ledder, “but we just couldn’t get our hands on enough of these barrels.”
“The entire island of Madeira only lets a couple hundred barrels a year get out into the world,” says Rocky Mountain Barrel Company President Sky Weekes, “making it one of the most sought-after barrels for a barrel broker like myself.”
Avery Chief Barrel Herder Andy Parker says he felt confident buying such expensive barrels that he’d never played with before because of his 10 years of experience aging beers in all sorts of exotic barrels. “I knew if we’d added a blonde base beer, it would have been overwhelmed by the oak. Add a beer with too much dark malt and we would’ve lost the barrel character. So we brewed a red base beer to complement the barrels, and we added Brettanomyces and our house souring bacteria to create a lot of lactic acid to balance out the sweetness from the wine barrels.”
III Dolia further validated Parker’s belief in gestalt when it comes to creating barrel-aged beers—that a blended sour can be greater than the sum of its parts. “The beers we aged in the Madeira and the Carcavelos barrels were so tasty on their own that we couldn’t imagine them getting better. But then we blended in some of the Cabernet Sauvignon barrels and the drying tannins balanced out the nutty, oaky, caramelly notes and created something entirely different.”
To celebrate this brewery-only release, Avery’s head chef Chris Blackwood is offering several food pairings to further enrich the tasting experience. “The boldness of III Dolia balanced with its bright acidity cuts through the richness of our barrel-smoked duck leg confit. On the side, the sweet potatoes, caramelized shallots, and sherry gastrique will highlight the sweetness from the barrels, creating the ultimate harmony in your mouth!” Another dish to pair with the beer are dates stuffed with house-made house made chorizo, potato, queso de mano, and saba (a syrup made from grape must) to complement the figgy, raisin-like flavors in the beer.
Bottle sales for III Dolia begin on Sunday, July 12 at 11am; there is a 12 bottle limit of each per person. The beer is 7.2% ALC/VOL and all 241 cases were bottled on June 25, 2015.
For more information about Avery’s Barrel-Aged Series, beer lovers can go to averybrewing.com and follow Avery on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.