Sour Black Tot

Reads 12108 • Replies 31 • Started Monday, May 10, 2010 8:41:41 AM CT

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08:41 Mon 5/10/2010

Good Morning Ratebeerians,

Glad to see there are no sour ratings for the Black Tot on, but since I responded to a thread on regarding some issues with the beer being sour, I thought I would share the exact information I posted on their thread. Due to the character restriction on, I have split the post into two different posts.

Hey all,

Well, this thread is quite the eye-opener for my crew and myself here at Avery Brewing Company. It obviously grabbed our attention and deserves a full disclosure response. We were in a meeting about it for most of yesterday!

First and foremost, I’d like to start off by apologizing to those who have been less than pleased with Black Tot. Hate to read things like “drain pour” and I am sorry for those experiences. We will absolutely take care of each and everyone who has experienced “off” or “sour” bottles of Black Tot. This release from our Barrel –Aged Series was definitely not intended to be a sour or wild ale. We created it with the intention of blending great rum flavor into an Imperial Oatmeal Stout producing a silky smooth, complex and one-of-a-kind beer.
You know, what we do here at Avery!

Here is our plan to make things right:

Please send empty bottle(s) to:

Avery Brewing Company
Attn: Adam Avery
5763 Arapahoe Ave. unit E
Boulder, Co 80303

As it is technically illegal to ship beer in many states (though I know it’s done all the time), please send empty bottles only. I’d hate to further your problems with any chance of getting in trouble for shipping the beer back to us.

Please add, inside the package, a return address and email address. I will email each of you to talk about your preferred compensation and about your experience to gain more insight to our problem.

We’re obviously working on the honor system here but feel we’re dealing with a very honest crowd: you (the lover and ardent supporter of small, artisanal craft brewers like us), who are willing to spend big bucks on bodacious creations.

As always, please feel free to contact me at or call 303-440-4324 to discuss this issue or anything else you might want to address.

We have also contacted the seven distributors that we sold Black Tot to and instructed them to collect any remaining bottles from their individual markets. They all assured me that they had not heard any complaints but we feel it best that we take it off the market.

The post continues below...

08:42 Mon 5/10/2010

The continuation...

So let’s talk about what the hell is going on with this beer!

I intend to be very transparent and forth coming on our procedures and protocol here with regard to the Black Tot and the Barrel-Aged Series in general. We feel we have great quality control measures in place and we are, quite frankly, mystified at the seemingly random bottles of sour Black Tot in the market. As frequent visitors to BeerAdvocate and RateBeer (your feedback is an awesome resource for us and the brewing industry) we have noticed that the great majority of raters have enjoyed Black Tot. As have we!!

Here is the lab protocol we used for Black Tot :

We plate each and every barrel twice throughout the aging process. We found no growth of beer spoilers in any barrel.

We blended the barrels into a stainless tank and let stand for 50 days at fermentation temperature (70 F) to encourage any last fermentation or growth from potential beer spoilers. There was none. The plates were clean. As you know, it is impossible to sterilize wooden barrels so the possibility of infection is always a fear. This is why we wait so long to bottle our Barrel- Aged Series offerings.

Many random bottles throughout the bottling run were also plated in our lab. All were clean. No beer spoilers were grown.

Many random bottles throughout the bottling run are placed in a “hot box” to encourage any potential beer spoilers to grow. No growth and none of these bottles tasted sour. To the contrary, they aged remarkably well in adverse conditions.

So we released the beer with confidence that we had a very stable product within those bottles. And, we felt, quite tasty.

So why the hell are some bottles sour and others perfectly fine? We wish we had a definitive answer for all of you but we have to admit, at this time, we simply do not know. We have added more testing to the mix in our lab and are sending out bottles to larger labs with more capabilities than ours.

In the past two days, we have received bottles back from customers that range from perfectly fine to slightly sour to full on sour. pH on the sour bottles are 4.0 and 4.4 on non-sour. So we have a random infection of an acid producing organism of some sort. Hopefully our lab or an out-sourced lab can give us definitive answers in a few days.

Too bad we didn’t label it as a black sour as I, along with a few others, actually enjoy it. But as stated earlier, it was not designed as a sour. If you open a bottle expecting an Imperial Oatmeal Stout with rum character, you’d be sadly disappointed with the contents of those random sour bottles. To those that this happened to, I again, humbly apologize.

Our advice, as a precaution, is to drink any remaining bottles that you have immediately. We feel is not worth the risk to continue cellaring
Black Tot.

I hope you can forgive us and continue supporting us in our quest for creating even more adventurous and unconventional beers in our Barrel-Aged Series.

We are definitely going to learn a lot from this experience and will introduce new protocol to further ensure we do not have this problem in the future.

To all, have a great weekend! Hope you involve some of our beer!

Adam Avery
Avery Brewing Company

beers 1592 º places 63 º 08:48 Mon 5/10/2010

beers 50 º places 15 º 08:52 Mon 5/10/2010

Originally posted by pepsican

+1 Avery

beers 4565 º places 92 º 08:53 Mon 5/10/2010

Haven’t tried Black Tot sour or otherwise but I just wanted to say that I appreciate you being open and honest about it and actively addressing the issue.

beers 736 º places 2 º 08:53 Mon 5/10/2010

Ironically I’d love to try a sour black tot....

beers 10001 º places 672 º 08:54 Mon 5/10/2010

I kind of want the soured version now

beers 7164 º places 10 º 08:57 Mon 5/10/2010

Originally posted by tarheels86
I kind of want the soured version now

+1. Had the regular non-sour.

beers 4375 º places 76 º 09:01 Mon 5/10/2010

Originally posted by FlssmrBrewAlum
Originally posted by tarheels86
I kind of want the soured version now

+1. Had the regular non-sour.

I wish there was some way to know which bottles were sour. I’d love it if they could re-release em’ with a big ol’ sticker across the label that says SOURED.

beers 736 º places 2 º 09:06 Mon 5/10/2010

Originally posted by CanIHave4Beers
Originally posted by FlssmrBrewAlum
Originally posted by tarheels86
I kind of want the soured version now

+1. Had the regular non-sour.

I wish there was some way to know which bottles were sour. I’d love it if they could re-release em’ with a big ol’ sticker across the label that says SOURED.

Heh, ala Baladin.

beers 1519 º places 16 º 09:18 Mon 5/10/2010

I love the proactive approach! I bought 3 bottles, traded 1, drank 1 that was not sour and in fact really awesome, and am still planning on cellaring the other. I guess I am risking having a sour one down the road.