Quick Take: The lack of sweet or bitter elements to balance out the spicy alcohol makes this an easy pass for me. If you want tequila but for some reason don’t want to drink the real thing or want it with a more manageable ABV, this is for you. If you want a Saison with just a touch of booze and tequila spice, this may very well flatten you. I have an intense dislike of this version of Lavery’s Imperial French Ale and plan on never letting it near my mouth, nose or any other orifice again.
Brew Facts: There are three barrel aged versions of this Imperial French Ale: bourbon, rum, and tequila. All three are wax sealed with red wax, making it impossible to tell them apart unless the beer shop wrote the barrel type on the bottle as they unboxed the shipment.
Appearance: This pours an orangy brown with a whole lotta murk. No clarity to be found among the tiny bubbled carbonation. Looks like apple cider with a cube of melted caramel. A clear oil slick oozes down the glass when swirled and a white rim of white bubbled foam clings to the edges. It resembles a slicked up Barley Wine, but just a touch lighter.
Aroma: A quick sniff lets you know that this beer isn’t going to be subtle. Earthy tequila and nose awakening booze (as opposed to burning). The smell has an odd, pickley brine quality from the tequila spice and yeast. An undertone of burnt toffee rounds out a fairly unpleasant aroma, at least to me. I’m pretty sure I’m the only one that would think it smells brine/pickley, so don’t let that dissuade you as there are so many other reasons to dissuade you from getting this in, on, or around your body.
Taste/Mouth Feel: For such a boozy tequila rich beer, the mouth feel is light, near thin with prickly carbonation. Woah boy does this taste like I’m swigging watered down tequila. A big cirtusy/lemon note that nears Pine Sol levels comes roaring out of the swirl of hot booze. The dry finish fills my mouth full of wood (you heard me!) and spicy alcohol. It definitely doesn’t stick around (there is a positive!) and leaves your tongue loaded up with a metallic/mineral quality. Tequila just dominates this beer. The base Imperial French Ale is far too delicate to handle the extreme bludgeoning the tequila dishes out. For Game of Throne fans, this is a Viper versus Mountain situation and we all know how that ended. The only difference here is that the beer qualities never stood a chance. Not even remotely balanced.
Final Thoughts: The lack of sweet or bitter elements to balance out the spicy alcohol makes this an easy pass for me. If you want tequila, but for some reason don’t want to drink the real thing or want it with a more manageable ABV, this is for you. If you want a Saison with just a touch of booze and tequila spice, this very well may flatten you. I will admit that the cost isn’t outrageous considering Lavery tends to charge a bit more than most local brews and this is a barrel-aged experiment. If I were to get a barrel-aged version of this Imperial French Ale again, it would be the rum barrel version. That one successfully melded with the base beer to at least create an enjoyable experience. As I am not a fan of straight tequila, you may enjoy this more than I did. I have an intense dislike of this version of Lavery’s Imperial French Ale and plan on never letting it near my mouth, nose or any other orifice again. That said, the base beer is quite good on its own and worth trying.
Note: I drank this with a fellow beer fanatic and tequila fan and even he said this was too intense. He’d rather have straight tequila and wouldn’t buy this again.