Avery Brewing hosted one of the most talked-about beer festivals of the year on Saturday -- and one of the hardest tickets to get -- delighting 400 beer geeks who love "sour" or "wild" ales, beers typically brewed with bacteria and yeast strains that give them deliciously off flavors.
The third annual Boulder SourFest included fewer big-name, out-of-state breweries this year, something that Avery spokesman Joe Osborne says is a result of how popular sour beers have become and how much pressure there is on breweries to make them.
Absent were breweries like Jolly Pumpkin and Cigar City; but Cambridge Brewing in Massachusetts, and Russian River and Los Abbey, both of California, had beers to pour. Portland's Cascade and Indiana's Upland also made good showings.
Colorado brewers made up the difference on the list of 59 total beers, however, with some real standouts. Some of my favorites were:
Upslope Brewing's (Boulder) Dark Belgian Sour, which was a blend of beers aged in whiskey barrels, zinfandel barrels and cabernet sauvignon barrels.
Dry Dock Brewing's (Aurora) Saison D'Funk, a saison re-fermented with brettanomyces yeast in chardonnay barrels.
Grimm Brothers' (Loveland) Brett Bock, a dopplebock aged and conditioned with brett.
Crabtree Brewing's (Greeley) Sauer Power, described as a 100 percent fermented bastard with peaches and our own house lactobacillus bacteria. This beer may have been my favorite of the fest; it garnered attention from other drinkers, as well.
Avery, of course, had ten of its own amazing sour beers on tap, including a vertical of Eremita I, II and III, along with Immitis and Dihos Dactylion and Boulder Weisse.
See some photos from the fest on the next page.