I have here a very exciting brew that I found last weekend at The Four Firkins, beer number one in Avery’s new Barrel-Aged Series of experimental beers. Brabant is an dark unfiltered strong ale that was fermented with two strains of Brettanomyces yeast and aged in Zinfandel barrels for 8 months. This particular brew was bottled Feburary 10th 2009 and though the bottle isn’t numbered only 694 cases were produced so if this sounds like your kind of beer I would try to find some quickly. Pours pitch black with a slight red peaking out when brought to light though it is not translucent at all. Light brown head was about a finger and faded with in a couple of minutes. As soon as I opened this beer I noticed a somewhat sour fruit aroma and upon actually smelling this beer it is obvious that it was brewed with brettanomyces. The tart aromas are hard to get past but it is not as intense as many traditionally “sour beers”. Sweet malt and an almost smokey aroma are detectable beneath but hard to distinguish as is the small amount of alcohol present in the nose. This is an intensely flavored beer and probably not the best introduction into sour beers, but it is quite interesting. Initially I get tart flavors obviously imparted by the yeast but they are slowly mellowed by the large amount of sweet malted barley in this brew, imparting some cranberry hints as well as nice creamy flavors making the mouthfeel of this beer quite smooth and desirable. For a dark beer with a 8.65% ABVthe body is rather light. The tart flavors in this beer really make me feel like I’m drinking a berry infused beer but it simply isn’t that fruity. The solid malt profile of this beer was obviously up to the task of aging and has created some wonderful flavors while working with both the yeast and aging in zinfandel barrels. There are definitely some dark pitted fruit flavors present as well but they are easy to ignore due to the dominate sweet and sour contrast in this brew. This really is a good beer. Upon my first sip I was a bit startled and turned off in a way, but as soon as I swallowed I knew I needed to try more. A bit sharp initially but as soon as you take a few sips you will realize how amazingly well balanced this beer is particularly considering how nontraditional it is. Definitely not the beer for those afraid of adventurous and strange beers but a wonderful beer for someone who doesn’t mind some tart flavors and enjoys a malty well aged beer. I can only imagine what further aging might do to this tasty brew. I am sad I don’t have another bottle to enjoy, Avery definitely needs to keep on producing this beer and continue to experiment. Give it a shot and ride your bike.