Of microbrewers with nationwide reach, Avery Brewing Company is unmatched. No one so eagerly flouts mass-market expectations, experiments with wild abandon and challenges conceptions and pre-conceptions about what makes a good beer better than Avery. Everything that emerges from Avery's Boulder, Colorado-based brewhouse is big, from their "simple" Champagne and spice Salvation Golden Ale, through their cellarable, monolithic Hog Heaven Barleywine-Style Ale to their Dictator and Demons of Ale series, rightful tyrants of the U.S. craft brew scene.
Cap N' Cork Junior Market, Beverage Warehouse and The Winehouse already stock a wide variety of Avery product, but the lauded small-batch brewer is expanding its Southern California distribution network, which means local craft beer enthusiasts must be on the lookout for No. 5 in Avery's elusive Barrel-Aged Wild Ale series. The Wild Ales are unclassifiable, anything-goes, one-and-done (once its bottled and sold it's gone forever) flights of mad fermentation that are maverick even for this real Taste of the Rockies brewery. No. 4, Dépuceleuse, bolted the funk of wild brettanomyces yeast to the pucker of sour cherries and tried, humorously, to take the edge off by maturation in Zinfandel barrels. The sweetness and spice of the Zin did poke through, but there was no undoing the the implacable wall of tang and stone presented by Dépuceleuse sour ale.
We are treading on the warped, wonderful outer fringes of beer science here, friends. Avery's Wild Ales are confrontational, provocative and not to be missed. Supplies of No. 4 have dried up and no amount of canoodling with Avery has persuaded them to cough up a release date for No. 5. Such beers are simply ready when they're ready; the vagaries of wild fermentation mean the series cannot deliver on a pre-set schedule. All we know is that sometime soon QuinQuePartite, Avery Wild Ale the Fifth, will be uncorked and inflicted upon a rabid beer-drinking populace, and 75 percent of the juice is allotted for destinations beyond the Colorado border. Nos. 6 and 7 are anticipated to follow before the end of the year. Squid Ink will keep you posted on local availability. Consider passing the time with a Maharaja Imperial IPA or Mephistopheles Stout. Black as tar and tilting perilously toward 16 percent ABV, it won't shorten the wait but is guaranteed to make it far more palatable.