Beer Man

Avery Brewing expands its acclaimed barrel- aging program tenfold, adds new beers

Get ready for more Rumpkin, more Uncle Jacob's and, yes, Tweak.

Beginning this year, Avery Brewing will dramatically increase the size and scope of its acclaimed barrel-aging program so that it can share its rarest beers with more people -- not just in Colorado, but in some of the 27 other states where its distributes.

"We are tired of making what our sales guys call 'unicorn tears.' We make great beer and we've been making it for so long, but we don't make enough to get it past our doors," says owner Adam Avery. "We want to step it up on that side of the business."

See also: Avery Brewing's got good taste -- and the science to back it up

In 2013, the brewery produced 4,650 gallons (about 150 barrels) of these unicorn tears -- beers like Uncle Jacob's, Momi Hiwa and Thensaurum -- or just under 50,000 twelve-ounce bottles. In 2014, Adam Avery says he's got nearly ten times that amount on the books, or roughly 1,350 barrels, spread out among twelve different beers.

Some of those will be in the form of the one-off releases that Avery has been doing for several years. The latest, No. 18, is a tequila-barrel-aged sour called Opuntia; it will be sold from the brewery beginning at 1 p.m. on Sunday, February 23.

But the brewery will also add two new annual releases to the existing two -- Rumpkin, an 18 percent ABV rum-barrel-aged spiced pumpkin ale, and Uncle Jacob's Stout, a 15 percent ABV bourbon-barrel-aged imperial stout -- it is already doing.

The new ones will be Tweak, a bourbon-barrel aged, coffee-infused Belgian imperial stout, which should come out in November, and a second pumpkin beer, Bourbkin, "a monstrous pumpkin porter," Avery says, that will be aged in bourbon barrels.

Avery will brew and bottle about 3,000 cases of all four of those beers. Last year, the brewery only made 617 cases of Rumpkin, which disappears from Front Range liquor store shelves within minutes. It bottled 713 cases of Uncle Jacob's last week.

"We will put a lot of cases in Colorado, but we are in 28 states now, and we have too many good retailers across the country who don't get anything," Avery says. "We sometimes put twenty cases here and thirty there, but we want to get deeper on that list."

As for the numbered one-off beers, Avery says there could be as many as eight this year, including Rufos Corvus, a blend of two different barrel-aged projects. Most of them will be in much larger quantities than previous releases.

"We are making some super-awesome sours, but not enough to let people taste them - and that's how you make a name for yourself," Avery says. "This isn't a side project. It's a major focus for our brewery. This is what the beer lover is looking for."

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Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes