Founders Brewing Co.’s Barrel-Aged Series has been around a long time—since 2011, although it was named the Backstage Series back then—and as you can imagine, with that much time to play with, it has included a number of interesting creations. Beers like an imperial IPA brewed with mosaic hops before being aged in rum barrels, an imperial red ale aged in bourbon oak barrels and a dry-hopped “imperial malt liquor” brewed with both corn and lager yeast before being aged in bourbon barrels have shown that the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based brewery is not afraid to experiment, but the new beer released in May is easily one of the more polarizing members of the series so far, if only because of the combination of ingredients and the barrels it was aged in.
The beer in question is Más Agave—which translates from Spanish to More Agave—a 10 percent ABV imperial gose-stye ale brewed with agave, lime and sea salt before being aged in tequila barrels for “just the right amount of kick.” In keeping with the fact that the ale was brewed to pay tribute to a classic margarita cocktail, the label art for the beer was inspired by Day of the Dead imagery and commemorates the elaborate altars built to honor deceased loved ones.
“Marigolds play heavily in the altars as it is said that the scent attracts the spirits,” reads a post on Founders’ website. “Upon the altar, spirits will find their favorite things including liquor, pan de muerto (a sweet, egg cake), family photos and other offerings. The monarch butterfly is representative of the travel ancestors make to reach their loved ones during the holiday.”
Más Agave was the third of what will eventually be five different Barrel-Aged Series releases this year:
- Backwoods Bastard 2019 — January
- Kentucky Breakfast Stout 2019 — March
- Más Agave — May
- Underground Mountain Brown Ale — August
- Canadian Breakfast Stout 2019 — November
As with all of the Barrel-Aged Series releases this year, Más Agave is packaged in four-packs of 12-ounce bottles ($14.99) and 750ml bottles (11.99) that shipped across the brewery’s 46-state distribution network in May.
I was expecting it to be light, and the Más Agave does not disappoint in that regard: it pours an almost translucent honey brown color with plenty of carbonation as well as two fingers of off-white head that takes its time dissipating, eventually leaving the top of the beer almost totally covered. I could smell the beer from a few feet away almost immediately after opening the bottle, a scent that includes a combination of lime, tequila, sour apples, vegetation, oak, lemon rinds and caramel.
Considering the potent scent, I am unsurprised when the flavors in the profile of the Más Agave come hard and heavy from the first sip, including a dominant combination of lime, salt and tequila on the palate. While those flavors are definitely the main show, there is also quite a bit of caramel sweetness combined with an oak note on the finish, the former of which does clash a bit at times with the aforementioned flavors on the palate. The mouthfeel is extremely dense and creamy, while the carbonation is both quite effervescent on the palate.
The sweetness does start to take over the dominant spot in the profile as the beer warms up, leading to a much less balanced profile as it clashes with the lime and salt notes.