No, you're not hallucinating: Avery Brewing is flirting with the green fairy.
After more than a year of trying, the brewing team at the Boulder beer maker has gotten their hands on a couple of empty absinthe barrels from Leopold Brothers, the Denver micro-distillery known for its local version of the famous spirit.
What will they do with them? Knowing Avery, they're going to push the limits.
Avery has produced seven barrel-aged beers in the past two years, including: Margarete, a stout that sat for eleven months in bourbon barrels spiced with cherries; Quinquepartite, which combined sour-style beers aged in barrels of Cabernet Sauvignon, Port, chardonnay and zinfandel; and Black Tot, an oatmeal stout aged in rum barrels.
All of them were released in very limited quantities, some at the tap room only.
As for the absinthe barrels, Avery spokesman C.V. Howe says the barrel-aging guys aren't yet sure what they're going to do, but that "something cool will come of it."
One possibility is a brew crafted specifically to be used in a beer cocktail at Denver's Colt & Gray restaurant, Howe says. "A lot of mixologists out there are really opening up to beer as a mixing agent because some of them hold up so well to the flavors in spirits."
Kevin Burke, the head barman at Colt & Gray, says some Avery brewers came by earlier this year to play around with ideas for beer cocktails. "One of the flavors that was really inspiring was dosing the Czar with Leopold's Absinthe," he says about Avery Czar, a Russian imperial stout that Avery makes in the winter.
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"Now, where that flavor has progressed I can't really say definitively, but I have tasted some pretty delicious barrel samples coming from their barrel room that taste vaguely like Czar in either an Absinthe barrel, or absinthe aromatics in another barrel."
Sounds like we'll have to wait and writhe a while to find out.