El Cuatro | The Ale Apothecary

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El CuatroEl Cuatro
125 Ratings
El CuatroEl Cuatro

Brewed by:
The Ale Apothecary
Oregon, United States

Style: American Wild Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.12%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
EL CUATRO is made of barley and caramel malts co-mingling with lactobacillus and brettanomyces. After brewing and conditioning, the beer is transferred into brandy & whiskey barrels to age for over a year during an extended Brettanomyces Lambicus fermentation. Prior to bottling, the beer is blended with a small portion of year-old SAHALIE. The only hops added to this beer arrive from the aged SAHALIE. 
The brandy barrels and wild yeast fermentation give EL CUATRO a plum & cherry fruitiness balanced by the slight toast of the malt body.

ABV varies by batch:

5/2/2015 = 8.79%

Added by Alieniloquium on 07-04-2013

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 125 |  Reviews: 20
Photo of kingjohnh
4.13/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Photo of jvillefan
4.5/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Amazing beer. A little more sour then farmhouse. Some sweetness from the barrels. The flavors mix perfectly. There is a touch of heat in the back end of it. A must have.

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Photo of TheGent
4.44/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Photo of ADTaber
4.1/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of Sammy
4.16/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

Photo of BEER88
4.25/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of NickThePyro
4.5/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of Pearlstreetbrewingco
4/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of Zonian1
4.09/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Photo of oline73
4/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of jaydoc
3.79/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Photo of SaxmanRick
4.48/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of mattreitz49
4.41/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of MonkeyBread
4.21/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Sour cherry, green apple, red grape skins and white plums supported by a sweet brandy character. The whiskey sits in the background. Finish is tannic and biting sour. Quite an experience and glad to have tried it. Worth almost $50 per bottle? No but I can't think of a beer that fits that bill.

 294 characters

Photo of Zythophile
4.52/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Bottle Date: 8/11/16
Palate Contaminants: none

The look is an opaque, dark amber. Lots of head for a not-so-vigorous pour.

The smell is really pungent, super rich. It's mostly fruit and funk, with a tinge of soap. Floral honey, too. The fruit scent is actually an amalgam of a few. Sweet pit fruits like apricots and nectarines, then dried fruit like raisins. It's a little lactic, too, after everything else has mostly volatilized.

The taste has a lot more of the lactic slant, and it's mostly butter, although it could fairly be called soft cheese. It's sneaky sweet. The dairy and funk lead the way, and it never tastes super sweet, but it hangs around like a tawny port. Apricots and nectarines are there, but I'll call them under-ripened. One of the richer wild/sour brews I've had. Alcohol is well hidden for a tenner.

Lots of pillowy carbonation, at least it's not coarse. Aftertaste is in line with everything else: a bagel with apricot jam and cream cheese.

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Photo of bshefftz
4.25/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
3.25/5  rDev -22.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Photo of MalarkeyMcGee
4.42/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

L: Somewhat of a muddy brown, but a fascinating one. I would say this is a weaker point of this beer but it barely matters. Good lacing. Not much retaining head.

S: Wonderful dark fruit. Hint of booze from the brandy. Tons of funk.

T: So many layers of flavor. It's really something to savor. Dark fruit, leather, tons of brett and souring elements.

F: Just ever so slightly thin and heavily carbonated. It goes down very very easily for a 9.19%.

O: Really really solid. Reminiscent of Supplication, but with a stronger wine/brandy character. Loved it.

 557 characters

Photo of Stinkypuss
4.3/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a light copper color with a fizzy head. Good clarity, head dissipates quickly. Aroma of tangy farmhouse funk, lemon, apple cider vinegar and sour fruit. The taste had oak, cherry, lemon and stale funk. Light hop notes, waves of sour and funky flavor, some tannins too. Full bodied, smooth drinking wild ale. It is quite a treat. Wild ale, aged in barrels picking up all kinds of flavors. This is a nice beer from an obscure brewer.

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Photo of biboergosum
4.25/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750ml, foiled and corked bottle, shared courtesy of doktorzee at his (ok, sour-only, essentially) tasting party a few days ago. From surprisingly thorough notes - uno, dos, tres, cuatro!

This beer pours a glassy, medium bronzed amber colour, with two fingers of puffy, finely foamy, and yet fizzy tan head, which leaves a bit of peninsular outcrop lace in places around the glass as things very slowly dissolve away.

It smells of acrid red apple core, further tart apple vinegar, some cherry-forward Pinot barrel notes, slightly separate generic vinous and spirituous Brandy essences, a hard to really give a shit about gritty and grainy mixed malty thing, subtle peppercorn spices, a touch of indistinct funkiness, and verdant hops that might have seen better days. The taste is lightly sour cherry, apple, and red wine grape fruitiness, a muddled bag of wooden stave characters (vanilla and spice, really), sneaky bready caramel malt, more thankfully ethereal earthy spiciness, subtle lactic beasties, a weird and almost medicinal chalkiness, and some still strangely understated leafy, weedy, and not even perfumed floral green hoppiness.

The bubbles are typically supportive in their genial frothiness, the body a solid middleweight, and mostly smooth, the sourness really only of the fruity sort, and I am totally freaking ok with that! It finishes trending dry, but still rather frooty, the mixed orchard character really still running the show here.

Overall, this is certainly another crazy and wild and 'what the hell were they thinking' brew, but in the end, it somehow just works out. As is patently obvious, I am not a fan of this style of beer, for myriad reasons, but every once in a while, the stars align, and I can see what all the bloody fuss is about. Sort of - the stupidly well-obfuscated 20 proof booziness here might have something to do with that.

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Photo of aaronyoung01
2.84/5  rDev -32.5%
look: 5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2.75

Photo of rodmanfor3
4.25/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of DefenCorps
4.32/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Thanks! I finally get to try something from these guys.

A clear ruddy brown with a beige head that falls off to a ring rapidly. The nose is pretty excellent. Plenty of fruit, complex sweetness, barrel character and funk, this has great structure and balance. Plums and cherries, pomace and brandy, a little vanilla, some coconut, a dark caramel and some buckwheat honey. On the palate, this is remarkably well-integrated with a wonderful blend of barrel and funk. Bright and fruity cherries and plums, rich and vinous with big red wine notes to go with brandy and with vanilla from the bourbon and with a mildly sweet but fairly deep malt backbone, this is impressive. Rich, layered and well-structured, this beer has a mild funk, rather earthy and mildly mushroom like with some woody notes. Mildly sweet on the finish, this full bodied beer has a blend of honey, barrel and funk that lingers on into the finish. Impressive stuff, I'd like to revisit this at some point.

 973 characters

Photo of SimcoeKid
4.45/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Photo of Pauken
5/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Batch: 4/7/16

I know it may be slightly shallow of me to go with a 5 rating across the board, but I'm no stranger to sours or farmhouse ales.

This beer is one of the best sours I've had. Hands down. Right up there with a few of my favorite Side Project brews. The batch I had was not overwhelmingly sour which is fine with me. Absolutely a perfect balance between the brandy barrel, pinot barrel, oak, sour and funk. Everything worked so well in a delicious harmony. Yes this is pricy but what "whale" sours aren't? If the price bothers you then your probably not that interested in great sour beers. It's the same price as the other whales. Did this back to back with Cascade Manhattan NW and while that was fantastic as well (and more expensive mind you), this won. Good beers to do a back to back with as they're similar in style. The Cascade funk/sour took over a little too much. This beer was perfect.

Also, to back up what others have said about Ale Apothecary every batch does seem to be distinctly different. My tag on the bottle says brandy barrels for 1 year and pinot barrels for 6 months which differs from the description here slightly.

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El Cuatro from The Ale Apothecary
Beer rating: 4.21 out of 5 with 125 ratings