Sensory Analysis Informs the Blend at Avery Brewing Co.

Avery BrewingBoulder, CO — Selling out in under 15 minutes for a 2nd year in a row, Avery Brewing Company’s 4th Annual Boulder SourFest once again affirmed the soaring popularity of craft beer’s esoteric and niche category of sour and wild ales. As their brewing process involves a several months to a few years of aging in wood barrels or large wooden tanks, it is no surprise that the limited capacity of these special vessels and time needed with them result in a rareness and limited quantity of the beers.

On top of that, there could be preexisting environmental conditions and/or micro-organisms in wood barrels which make the results of aging unpredictable. While this makes commercial brewing of such recipes seem unlikely, the brewers at Avery Brewing Co. use tasting sessions and a robust sensory education to inform decisions for blending enough volume to serve at the Avery Tap Room or possibly release a very limited amount of bottles.

Avery’s Chief Barrel Herder Andy Parker wanted to share a bit of the experience of blending so he has put together a presentation where attendees can sample the separate component brews which were combined to create Avery’s in-house sour ale. Affectionately titled “Gestalt Theory: Blending a Barrel-Aged Sour Beer,” the class demonstrates to participants how flavor and tasting knowledge are used to, in Parker’s words, “make a blended sour that is greater than the sum of its parts.” The small number of tickets to the public session planned for May 13th sold out in hours, and he plans to give a similar presentation at this year’s SAVOR in New York City on June 15th. The incorporation of trained sensory analysis is not solely reserved for Avery’s barrel-aging program, as production staff uses it frequently throughout the process of their larger-scale brewing. The sensory analysis has become so important to quality assurance that production managers brought in world-renowned sensory expert Bill Simpson for intensive training, and is creating a sensory analysis department managed by Melissa Antone. “After all,” Antone notes, ”we brew beer to drink beer, and it is important that we have a full understanding of how our beer is enjoyed by our customers. No lab tool can measure human perception.”

This Saturday, May 4th at 5pm, the brewery celebrates its first Barrel-Aged Series beer release since October with the debut of Volunt Plus Erat. #14 in Avery’s “one-and-done” series of barrel-aged ales, this wild-fermented sour ale was barrel-aged for 14 months with the flavors focused on a Cabernet Franc grape must. With just 55 cases available, it will only be released at the brewery, and the brewers are confident that it will sell out quickly.

Established in 1993, Avery Brewing Company has developed a reputation as being one of the most daring and visionary breweries in the nation. They are the brewers of Avery IPA, The Maharaja Imperial IPA, White Rascal Belgian Wheat Ale, Mephistopheles’ Stout and eighteen other year-round and seasonal beers. Please go to for more information on Avery beers.

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