El Dorado Reposado, our second barrel-aged beer release from the Market, is a bright, crisp beer aged in Tequila barrels. Its origin is a bit of a coincidence as we didn’t plan to make a Tequila barrel beer at the start of our barrel-aging program but we had the opportunity to get some fresh barrels so we took the plunge. As mentioned in previous posts, the starting point for any great barrel-aged beer is fresh barrels, so if we get them we’ll use them.
First a word about Tequila. There are many different types of Tequila, all classified on their method of production. They all start in the same place, with fermentation of sugars from the Blue Agave plant, and they drop out of the process depending on how long (or complex) the desired result. White (Blanco) Tequila is the pure distillate and displays the most straight-forward character. It doesn’t get aged in barrels. Reposado (rested) and Añejo (aged) Tequila do spend time in barrels, with Reposado being a relatively short time (months), and Añejo being a year or more. A general rule of thumb is that the darker the Tequila, the longer the barrel contact. We don’t know how long our barrels held Tequila, but we do know they came to us very fresh and expressive.
When we get barrels from brokers we sometimes know the origin and sometimes we don’t. For El Dorado Reposado we don’t know which Tequila producer used them, but we do know the barrels were originally used for Heaven Hill Bourbon (thanks to some stamps on the barrel). Tequila is commonly aged in previously used bourbon barrels.
After the initial fill we normally taste the results after a month and a half to see how thing are progressing. With Eldorado Reposado we were shocked to taste how fast the beer picked up bright, ripe fruit and lots of boozy notes from the barrels. Our brewers hadn’t done a lot of work with Tequila barrels in the past, so we didn’t know that we’d be picking up so much fruit character in the beer. It was a very welcome surprise.
When it came to finishing the beer we determined that the alcohol notes were more prominent than we wanted for the final beer, so we brewed more of the original base beer (a light ale using Saison yeast) and blended some back into the barrel-aged beer to add a bit of restraint to the booziness.
The last thing to touch on are the name and the source of the label art for the beer. We wanted the name to reflect the process for the beer as well as the contents. We zoned in on the name El Dorado Reposado fairly quickly as we were designing the beer. We knew we’d be using El Dorado hops in the beer, and given it was an aged Tequila (either a Reposado or an Añejo) we decided to put the two concepts together in a name that rolled off the tongue! The art was done by an illustrator name Alan Rodriguez. As with all of our label designs we gave Alan some very general guidelines (narrow colour palette, bold/simple illustration) and let him run with it. If you take a look at Alan’s portfolio you can see these instructions were right in his sweet spot. We’re really happy with how the beer and the label both turned out—fresh and bold!
This is our first bottle launch in the world of COVID, so we’ve adapted and release the beer via our online store for delivery and pickup. There isn’t a huge supply of this beer, so if you want to try it, you need to act quickly as it’ll likely sell out in just a couple weeks.