I try to make people’s lives simpler. That’s why every Christmas I tell my lovely in-laws to get me beer. Easy for them. Great for me. Last Christmas, I was given a Firestone Walker Brewing Company Agrestic. While I was familiar with the California brewery’s beers such as its Pivo Pils and barrel-aged Parabola, Agrestic was new to me.
Part of its Barrelworks series of wild ales, Agrestic begins its journey as an English pale ale. Three types of proprietary microflora are added to it, and then it spends up to 15 months in French and American oak barrels.
Agrestic pours a cloudy amber-red color with an off-white foam. The aroma is overwhelmingly tart with some oaky notes. But upon a second sniff, you can pick out some bright citrus and nectarines. It has a medium body and has a nice effervescence. The first sip lets you know you’re in for a wild ride with its funky lemon tartness and sour cherry notes.
And while those wild-centric flavors are at the forefront, the barrel character also comes through. There are light notes of toasted coconut and vanilla. The tartness and the oak character from the barrel gives some tannins, so there’s a bit of a black tea that happens before the dry finish. Like I said, there’s a lot going on here, but in the best possible way. Additionally, the alcohol is moderate at 6.1% ABV and is so well integrated into all the other elements that it never crosses your mind.
No matter how you slice it, Agrestic is a complex and fantastic beer. Fans of funkier beers will enjoy this venture into the wild side.