Avery Brewing Company

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Wild Ale
4.38 | pDev: 8.68%
Avery Brewing Company
Colorado, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Notes: Sour ale aged 9 months in Tequila Barrels with prickly pear juice added.
Reviews: 16 | Ratings: 129 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
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BeerDawgs from Georgia

4.4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A 12oz bottle with a bottled on date of 2.19.14. So this is 3 years old :)

L - Amber with clarity, 1/2 a finger of head that dissipates quickly. Gorgeous brew

S - Acidic, Sourness, citrus, lemons, lime, almost like a Corona with lime

T - Sour lingers in your throat, lemons, lime, tart. Very good!

F - Well carbonated, medium body

O - An awesome barrel aged sour. Another great one in Avery's lineup.

Feb 05, 2017
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Jugs_McGhee from Texas

4.19/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Last year, one of the best beers I tried was Avery's majestic Rufus Corvus. Hoping for a repeat performance, I cracked this one open.

2014 vintage. 12 fl oz brown glass bottle with a gold foil-ed over crown cap. Label art is classily understated.

6.65% ABV. Bottled: Feb 19, 2014. Production: 263 cases.

Served chilled into a flute per the label and allowed to come to temp over the course of the review. Reviewed live as a barrel-aged sour ale per the label.

HEAD: ~2 inches wide. Off-white in colour. Audibly fizzy, though not aggressively so. It's a neat cushion of foam, but a creamier fuller consistency would be nice; it's a biteen thin. Leaves no lacing as it recedes, which takes about 4 minutes to fully occur.

BODY: Vibrant golden honey-copper. Translucent and semitransparent, with a clean yeast & sediment-free appearance. Appears well-carbonated.

It's a nice looking sour ale - mimicking a Belgian golden ale to its benefit, which I think matches the tequila-based premise.

AROMA: Lime zest, fresh juicy pear (but not a dry saison-like orchard pear), pale malts, intricate pediococcus and lactobacillus bacteria lending it mild (~5/10 in terms of intensity) sourness, lactic acid, tequila-redolent agave cactus, and a rustic wooden character...though I'd stop short of calling it oak. This doesn't scream overt tequila to me, but rather hints at it with the lime, the wood, and the cacti. It's definitely a more sophisticated and subtle tequila presence than you'd find in, say, Desperados, and it seems to play well with the bacterial intangibles.

I don't detect any brettanomyces funkiness, though I do see brettanomyces yeast listed as an ingredient.

Aromatic intensity is moderate, suggesting an off-the-beaten-path sour ale build that isn't hindered by the tequila, as one might suspect given the beer's premise. It's alive and inviting, and I'm eager to try it.

TASTE & TEXTURE: Gorgeous. The lactic acid twang of the mouthfeel is complemented beautifully by the aptly high acidity, which accentuates the limey citrus and concomitant zest from the rich tequila presence. The barrel never overwhelms or eclipses the base beer, but instead plays off its natural nuances, letting the fruity juicy prickly pear emerge but then wane and return, teasing the drinker over the course of the flavour profile.

It's remarkably smooth, with an ideal presence on the palate. Perfectly medium-bodied, with near perfect carbonation and a juicy yet soft overall feel. Wet and refreshing, yet twangy and smacky from the sourness...which is a reasonable 6/10 in terms of intensity - not enough to induce puckering or cause warhead-like discomfort, but enough to satisfy sour ale fans. Many ostensible sours aren't really sour; I'm happy to say this isn't one of them. And it's not just lactobacillus-induced; there's also pedicoccus in there, and maybe some near-intangible complexity from the brettanomyces...though again, I don't notice any obvious funkiness or farmhouse notes.

The tequila isn't overt or even obvious; I don't know that I'd even recognize it if I tried this in a blind tasting. But there's an added fruity dimension beyond the prickly pear and lime that I guess I could attribute to the cactus. Or wait, is cactus a vegetable? In any case, the tequila is well incorporated, seamlessly melting into the base beer. I don't find any rich oak or barrel sugars per se, but there's a wooden character I suppose.

Boasts impressive depth of flavour and flavour duration, with the lime-driven acidic twang of the sourness lingering through the finish and into the aftertaste. This is a remarkably well-balanced brew, and most critically, it never succumbs to what was my biggest hesitation coming in - that there'd be boozy spicey tequila ruining the delicate bacterial notes. I find myself loving it more as it warms, and the natural harmony of texture and taste really elevates this beer a few cuts above most American-brewed sour ales.

To style, there's no overt hop presence and I find no off-flavours.

If we're nitpicking, still more sourness and tartness would improve the beer, as would a more developed agave presence. With tequila, it seems you could work in delicate notes of smoke and/or spice to add intricacy without destroying the balance.

OVERALL: Well worth its high price point, Opuntia is a damned impressive sour ale that again upholds Avery as one of my home state's finest sour producers - if not one of the USA's. As drinkable as it is balanced, with a near-unique flavour profile that has me itching for another bottle already. I'd like to see them do this year-round. Just as I found with Rufus Corvus last year, this is easily one of the best beers I've tried this year. Worth seeking out, and a beer I'll rave about to friends. Hat tip to the cats at Avery for another stellar addition to their already impressive sour lineup. This is, without a doubt, the best inclusion of tequila-redolent flavours in a beer I have ever encountered.

A- (4.19)

Dec 18, 2015
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GilGarp from Colorado

4.41/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottled Feb 19, 2014. Production of 263 cases.

Served chilled into a goblet, opuntia is a beautiful copper-amber color with great clarity. The head is non existant so no lacing on this one.

Aroma is mostly coming from the wild yeast but with subtle undertones of vanilla and pear.

Flavor is beautifully balanced with sweet, tart, and sour all playing in unison. The vanilla from the oak and the prickly pear come through as well as some sour grapes and honey. The sour note is not overpowering even after a year of aging. I don't get much from the tequila but I don't see that as a bad thing.

Mouthfeel is medium to light in body with sparkling carbonation. The sweet to sour balance is just right for my tastes.

Overall an excellent sour and one of the best from Avery.

Mar 25, 2015
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UCLABrewN84 from California

3.6/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Wowcoolman for sharing this one at Retsinis' tasting.

Bottled 2/19/14.

Pours a hazy golden-orange with a foamy bone head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Tiny dots of lace slowly drip into the remaining beer on the drink down. Tiny chunks of sediment are seen floating around in the beer after the pour. Smell is sour with grain, fruit, agave, tequila, and acidic aromas. Taste is much the same with sour grain, fruit, and bubblegum flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of acidity on the palate with each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp and dry mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer with an interesting mix of prickly pear and tequila aspects all around.

Serving type: bottle.

Dec 15, 2014
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cpetrone84 from Pennsylvania

3.5/5  rDev -20.1%

pour is lightly hazed copper with a white head. Nose is fruited, pear is light, hint of kiwi, sweeter, faint tequila and grain notes. Taste is fruitier, tequila is faint. Pear comes through more in the back with a moderate tartness. High carb and light body.

Dec 09, 2014
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putonyourwalkingshoes from California

4.5/5  rDev +2.7%

Had this at Hamilton's along with other Avery sours. This one blew me away. I don't normally think tequila barrels and sour work well together but this one is executed really well. Excellent complements with the prickly pear almost tropical. Just a pleasure to drink start to finish. Even has some lactic finish in the mouthfeel which I really dig in a sour. Would buy a case of this in a heartbeat if I could find it.

Oct 31, 2014
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Alieniloquium from Florida

3.65/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Deep orange body. Small white head. Medium collar.

Smell - A very interesting fruit aroma. I don't smell much prickly pear on a daily basis, but it smells like it's in the cactus family. Faint tequila aroma.

Taste - Lots of fruit. Like the smell. A fruit cactus flavor. A vegetal flavor that isn't unpleasant. Seems to fit. Citrusy. Pleasant sourness.

Mouthfeel - Medium carbonation and medium body.

Overall - I didn't expect to like this. The tequila is present and not unpleasant, which is quite a surprise.

Oct 07, 2014
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ONovoMexicano from New Mexico

4.02/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From a 12 ounce bottle into an oversized wine glass.

A- quickly dissipating head, pale cream-colored... Orange-colored body with a haze. Thin lace above the body. Visible heavy carbonation.

S- Peachy and and cherry-like. Bretty, horse blanket and earthy, and a big sour aroma. Slight caramel aroma.

T- Vinegary on the taste, something vegetal that reminds me of celery or a fresh salad. There's a touch of lemon at the finish.

M- Tart and sour at the same time, at times sweet and grainy and it has a vegetal texture. There is acidity here but it won't destroy your mouth.

It's like no other beer I've had for the vegetal quality. It's not an offtaste but rather a bold turn. I enjoyed.

Aug 13, 2014
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kevanb from Illinois

3.92/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into an Avery snifter. Enjoyed on 6.10.14, reviewed from tasting journal.

The beer pours a hazy, light amber color, hues of gold and copper with a thick, frothy, white head, a nice finger or so that has good retention and yields a high amount of lace. The aroma is very fun, potent tequila barrel, chewy oak, citrus, pear, strong funkiness and a surprising amount of malt. The balance seems fine, but it's just a very unusual combination of flavors for a beer, even a wild ale. The flavors are similar, more funky up front with a stronger malt presence as well, plenty of chewy oak with lots of citrus and tropical fruits, prickly pear is easily noticeable, while the tequila barrel is quite prominent towards the end, sweet agave flavor comes out but thankfully it lacks the booziness of tequila. The mouthfeel is nice, zippy, lively and bubbly that coats well with just right amount of carbonation and an easy, soft, finish that leaves just the right amount of pucker.

Verdict: A very fun wild ale from Avery, bizarre, creative, interesting, but more importantly, successful. The flavors are balanced, complex and very peculiar. The brightness and the tropical flavors are quite enjoyable and the adjuncts and barrel treatments isn't distracting at all. Kudos to Avery for their ambition here, it paid dividends.

Jun 20, 2014
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spoony from Colorado

3.99/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From a 355 ml bottle into a tulip. Reviewed from notes dated April 27, 2014.

A-A normal pour produces about a finger of off-white head with decent retention. There is no lacing on the glass as I drink. The beer is murky with some visible carbonation. It is honey-golden in color.

S-The beer smells pretty sour with lemon, lime, and green apple flavors. It smells more sour than I remember it smelling when I first tried it on the day of the release. Anyway, there is some overripe fruit that I assume is the prickly pear, although I don't think of prickly pear as I sniff, with touches of oak and tequila. Unique, for sure.

T-The taste tracks the smell mostly with sour flavors like lemon, lime, and green apple balancing against the sweetness of the prickly pear flavor. Lurking underneath it all is a healthy dose of tequila and slightly funky oak. It is very interesting and true to the label, but I'm not sure that it is my favorite combination.

M-The feel is slightly heavy for a wild ale with semi-creamy carbonation and a wetness on the finish.

O-The tequila barrel and prickly pear definitely come through, which make for an interesting beer. While this is a good beer, and a creative one, I'm not go-go-ga-ga over it. I have a few more in the cellar and I'll be curious to see how they age because the bottle that I reviewed tasted different than I recall the bottle tasting on the day of the release (although I didn't take notes on that earlier bottle). Any, props to Avery for busting out the tequila.

May 04, 2014
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BEERchitect from Kentucky

4.28/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

With as much of a wine character as it does of beer, Opuntia resonates with tangy and dry chardonnay, Belgian-esque earthy maltiness all packed into a cocoon of brilliant tequila and floral arrangements.

And those wine-like tones speak to the eye as its rosy golden appearance casts the most dainty of haze. A thin ribbon of cottony foam encircles the glass and scatters nearest its center and hangs on for most of the session.

Sharp aromas pierce the olfactory senses with utmost tangy tartness of lemons, limes, under-ripened oranges, sour grapes and crab apples. Its vinous aroma invites soft horse hair, saddle leather and cellar-like must while a background of agave and prickly pear offer a delicate fruit tone- similarly of orange blossoms and honeysuckle.

Stripping the mouth completely, the beer's acidity bypasses its wafer-thin and timid honey sweetness and slices through the thirst with dried citrus peels, sour grapes and chardonnay dry taste. Finishing sourish, a dry taste invites woody and winy character but with tepid cider notes. The bulk of its agave and prickly pear delicacy is reserved for the finish and aftertaste; as its musty bite recedes.

Its incredible dry mouthfeel absorbs the thirst and waters the mouth as its dry white wine acidity entices the palate with its mild astringency to accompany its souring pang. Its dry path closes with powdery oak and peppery warmth.

The beer's ability to deliver high flavor, power and complexity is remarkable, despite its moderate alcohol and its straight forward "wild" character than never really reaches across the sour fence.

Apr 22, 2014
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roastedboulder11 from Colorado

4.54/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Orange, yellow, unfiltered hues. Decent white head the retreats rather quickly to a thin wisp on top of the beer. Similar in color to Bulliet Rye whiskey, except with bubbles and sediment.

Smell: Key limes. The sourness is present but subdued. Not overly tart. No clear sign of tequila.

Taste: Not as tart as I expected-- matches the noise. Nice acidity, subdued sourness, notes of lime, alcohol is not overpowering at all. Tastes like Sour Patch kids. Light to medium body, smooth drinking for a sour.

This really an enjoyable, sessionable sour ale. Which makes it unfortunate that they did such a limited release. I would have liked more tequila notes on the nose and palate, though.


Mar 27, 2014
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jbaker67 from Pennsylvania

4.32/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Orange and pretty clear with light sediment and a fizzy, quickly diminishing head. Tropical, fresh aroma of tart fruit, sour notes, light oak and a touch of tequila. Similar flavor, juicy, fruity, tart, sour and lightly sweet. Medium body with a nice puckering feel and a lasting finish. Pretty damn good.

Mar 21, 2014
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jegross2 from Illinois

4.62/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Reviewing Opuntia, a sour ale aged in first-use small-batch tequila barrels with prickly pears for 9 months from Avery Brewing Company out of Boulder, Colorado.

Score: 96

Bottle is dated 02/19/14. Served in an Upland snifter and enjoyed on 06/11/14.

Appearance: Pours a translucent orange-amber color with a thin layer of head that settles to a ring around the glass. Poor lacing, below average retention. 3.75/5

Smell: Sour pears, lime, grape and agave/tequila! I hate tequila, yet I love this nose! Light oakiness and apple. 4.75/5

Taste: Sour pear, lime and green apple with a sugary sweetness and light tropical fruitiness. Faint agave/tequila (particularly relative to the nose). A touch of oak in the finish with the sugary fruit. Lasting sour pear flavor. So delicious. 4.75/5

Mouthfeel: Light-medium bodied, appropriate carbonation. Nice acidity with a good sourness without being super intense or overly dry and bracingly tart. 4.5/5

Overall: If you like pears and limes, then you must seek this delectable sour out.

Cost: $12 for a 12 oz bottle.

Mar 18, 2014
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StonedTrippin from Colorado

4.06/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

one of the more unique of these barrel releases from avery. thanks to drlovemd87 for bringing it by. the color is hazy amber, light, and there isnt much head or visible carbonation. the aroma here isnt particularly enticing either, for me at least. heavy on the tequila, fresh juicy agave, oak, and that classic watermelon jolly rancher candy vibe, sugary before its sour. the flavor is far superior to the smell, the tequila takes a back seat to the cactus flesh tasting prickly pear, which adds only a little sweetness and a lot of character that is fully compatible with the tequila flavors, which have a touch of smoke, and also mesh nicely with the sourness, which stays on the front of the tongue but is rather intense. the oak mellows things and gives just enough sweetness to an otherwise dry beer. it could stand a little more carbonation i think, but its medium body and soft overall feel allow the tequila flavors to stand out, as well as the prickly pear finish to last a little longer than it otherwise might. not overly sour, but robust in that regard. complex, but not muddled. its layers of flavor, sequentially arranged and contributing equally to the overall product. all of these beers in this series have been unique, but this one may take the cake. best use of a tequila barrel in a beer i have seen, although i suspect the quantity of ones on the market is about to ramp way up. outstanding beer, expensive, but worth it for the experience.

edit: bumping up a few scores after having another bottle last night. sour like a warhead candy, and i dont mean that sour, i mean it literally tastes like a watermelon warhead, which i happen to love. better than i gave it credit for originally, still weird, but its aged gracefully, although still in its infancy im sure...

Mar 11, 2014
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gueuzedreg from Colorado

4.08/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A- Golden sour clear as day. Medium lacing.

S- I get agave, or cactus more so than tequila presence which goes 50/50 with a golden sour funk smell.

T- Again, more agave than tequila. They must have used some good tequila barrels. (Just read the label; prickly pear was added which is the dominant presence). Decent sour background. Not to impressed with that.

M- Thin golden sour with medium carb. This one is more negative in the M.

O- I thought I would hate this beer considering how sick I got off of tequila in high school. The only tequila that I get is a minute after the taste. Def give it a try!

Feb 28, 2014
Opuntia from Avery Brewing Company
Beer rating: 95 out of 100 with 129 ratings