Opuntia | Avery Brewing Company

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129 Ratings

Brewed by:
Avery Brewing Company
Colorado, United States

Style: American Wild Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.65%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
Sour ale aged 9 months in Tequila Barrels with prickly pear juice added.

Added by StoutSnob40 on 01-10-2014

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 129 |  Reviews: 16
Reviews by tjmodica:
Photo of tjmodica
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%

More User Reviews:
Photo of kojevergas
4.19/5  rDev -3.5%
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)

 5,000 characters

Photo of BEERchitect
4.28/5  rDev -1.4%
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.

 1,603 characters

Photo of Prospero
4.5/5  rDev +3.7%

Photo of Janis_Hoplin
4.75/5  rDev +9.4%

Photo of jbogner
4.75/5  rDev +9.4%

Photo of acurtis
3.75/5  rDev -13.6%

Photo of ltdantheman
4.5/5  rDev +3.7%

Photo of ONovoMexicano
4.02/5  rDev -7.4%
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.

 696 characters

Photo of GilGarp
4.41/5  rDev +1.6%
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.

 776 characters

Photo of Sammy
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%

Photo of MagicalBeerMan
4.75/5  rDev +9.4%

Photo of DenverBigRed
3.25/5  rDev -25.1%

Photo of Alieniloquium
3.65/5  rDev -15.9%
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.

 575 characters

Photo of hiphopj5
4.5/5  rDev +3.7%

Photo of blindpiggie
4.75/5  rDev +9.4%

Photo of KevinGordon
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Taperwookie
4/5  rDev -7.8%

Photo of LotsofLupulin
4.5/5  rDev +3.7%

Photo of jaydoc
3.87/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of jegross2
4.62/5  rDev +6.5%
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.

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Photo of Mike
4/5  rDev -7.8%

Photo of OnryAndMean
4.08/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of minterro
4.5/5  rDev +3.7%

Photo of FUwolfpacker
4.5/5  rDev +3.7%

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Opuntia from Avery Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.34 out of 5 with 129 ratings