Avant-Garde Artisans Brasseurs have been on the scene for the better part of a decade, however most of that time has been spent contract brewing. About a year and a half ago they opened their very own brewery and the already great beer got even better.
Co-owners Shawn and Renault have always done a great job creating a rich and diverse portfolio of beers to choose from; whether it’s a simple brown ale, a hazy IPA, or a barrel-aged sour, there is always something for you no matter what your tastes are.
Personally, I’ve always been partial to their barrel-program, which has impressed me at almost every turn. Their use of wild yeast and bacteria is really something, and their blending techniques are always on point. Today I’d like to dive into three bottles that dropped a few months back, and most of them are still available on their site, which you can access right here. Let’s get into it.
Nature Urbaine is a pretty complex blend of beers. It begins with a mixture of “Jet-Set” (their Pilsner), “P.S. Tendresse” (their grapefruit and Verbena Witbier), and “GraviOH-Là-Là” (their SourSop infused fruited sour). Then the mixture was barrel-aged with a mix of wild yeast and bacteria.
The nose delivers some fruity layers of apple and pear alongside hints of stone fruits. Ground cherry and peach come through as well with hint’s of citrus. Rich oak and a zesty flora match some light brett funk as well.
On the palate a big hit of acidity strikes first, with sour grapefruit, apple and tangy lemons. Some oak lends a nice spiciness to the whole thing, while the flora provides complex layers of tang. It’s aggressive but balanced, with a dry and surprisingly clean finish. I’d personally prefer a slightly toned-down acidity, but, man, this is good.
Concord Express is a blend of Weizen and “Nature Urbaine” (description above), aged in neutral barrels for 3-14 months with a slew of wild yeast and bacteria, before being re-fermented in the bottle with concord grape juice.
The nose is bright and fruity, delivering a rich flora funk alongside barrel spiciness. The concord grapes add that classic “Welch’s” grape juice vibe, which is so much fun to take in. The palate is aggressively tart upfront, while the layers of grape fruitiness deliver a big juicy presence, yet is cut down by some serious tannins and a whopping acidic bite. The barrel comes through as well, lending a vinous quality that is further complemented by the grapes. It has a wild character, but it’s not aggressively dusty or funky. Delicious.
Nuances D’Alphonso is a blend of Weizen with “P.S. Tendresse” (their grapefruit and Verbena Witbier), aged in neutral barrels for 3-14 months with wild yeast and lactic bacteria, before being re-fermented in the bottle with an insane amount of mango puree.
The nose is crazy. Intense fresh mango puree mixes with oak spiciness, lending a vinous quality. There is a tart smelling flora coming off this, too, with some wild earthy funk and slight phenolic layers.
Wow, this is essentially a barrel-aged smoothie. Upfront you’re expecting sweetness but it’s tart and tannic, with enough acidity to cut through anything. This is dry AF. Luscious mango puree dominates, delivering that bright tropical richness without any of the sugars. Some solid layers of flora give off a bracing acidity, along with tannic oak and light spices. This is really something wild, and I’m here for it.
As usual, I’m happily impressed by Avant-Garde’s delicious barrel series. Their use of fruit and blending approach is always interesting and feels classic while going in a more modern direction. I love the nod to the smoothie trend by creating a barrel-aged sour that marries the insane mouthfeel you get from a smoothie while still being completely fermented and dry. I can’t wait to see what comes next!
An article by Noah Forrest
Photography by Noah Forrest