Collective Brewing’s Funky New Boysenbarrel Offering Instantly Earns A Place At The Top Of DFW’s List Of Sour Beers.

Welcome to On Tap! Each week in this recurring feature, we’ll take an in-depth look at one of the many beers now available in the suddenly crowded North Texas brew scene. The goal here is to look at these area beers without our local goggles on and to wonder aloud, “Is this beer good or do I just like it because it’s local?” Should be a fun experiment, no? Cheers to that!

This week, we sipped on The Collective Brewing Project’s Boysenbarrel. Fast Facts on The Collective Brewing Project Boysenbarrel.
Style: American Wild Ale.
ABV: 7.6 percent.
International Bitterness Units (IBUs): 6.
Color: Red.
Availability: Limited, in bottles.

The Collective Brewing Project has quickly turned in to the go-to destination in DFW for sour and funky beers. While there are some other breweries doing some interesting things with barrels, Collective seems to have fully embraced the funk with most, if not all of its lineup. While you will see some of its beers like Brett Smashy or Petite Golden Sour on draft at a few select bars, Boysenbarrel sour seems to be available only in bottle format for now. I’m not 100 percent sure on the distribution radius of this beer either. My wife and I visited Collective, and it just so happened to be the release day for Boysenbarrel. Score! And while it’s only been a couple weeks since I bought it – and most sour geeks hold on to bottles a lot longer – I’m going to go ahead and crack it open anyways, aging be damned.

Before we get started, lets walk through the official description of this beer in a little bit more detail. Collective states that this beer is a “farmhouse red base fermented with our house mix culture, then aged in Witherspoon Distillery bourbon barrels before being re-fermented on boysenberries.” Say what?! A farmhouse red is usually a variation on a saison, with a bit more red tint. The culture mix is likely made up of a little bit of Saccharomyces yeast (what most beers are fermented with) and a mix of wild yeasts like Brettanomyces. The bottle states that this beer is part of Collective’s Brett Series, so I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Brettanomyces has a leading role here. Now, having said that, there are a bunch of different Brett strains available from yeast manufacturers. After initial fermentation, this beer hangs out for a while in bourbon barrels, likely imparting some hints of booze, oak and maybe even some scarcer notes from the bourbon, like vanilla. And not that this process is already complicated, but after the aging process, the beer is re-fermented on boysenberries. So the Brettanomyces wakes once again to chomp down on some fructose imparted by the boysenberry addition. In case you aren’t intimately familiar with boysenberry, it’s a mix between raspberry and blackberry. Background on American Wild Ale.
For a primer on the American Wild Ale style, check out our review of Sangre y Miel, a Blood & Honey gone deliciously wild from Revolver Brewing. This beer, though, has fruit added to it. So this sub-category of the American Wild Ale is the Wild Specialty Beer. If you take a look at BJCP’s style guidelines for this style, it’s sort of a blank check. The base beer can be any style, but the main thrust of this style is that is should showcase some sort of fruit, funk and the result of a wild-ish fermentation. Easy enough, right?

Boysenbarrel pours a beautiful deep plum color in to the glass. It’s super-light-pink head sticks around for photos, but fades quickly. This is expected on some wild ales. There is a moderate amount of haze as well, also appropriate for style. Overall, the beer looks very inviting and I am itching to dig in. Aroma.
I get a healthy dose of berry on the nose. As promised, the boysenberry is absolutely present. The aroma is both sweet and tart at the same time, but the sweetness is more along the lines of raspberry. But don’t let that sweetness fool you, because there is a very dry sensation that I perceive in the aroma. There’s a tiny amount of oaky, woody situation; it’s very subtle, and it doesn’t smell like bourbon to me yet. And I think that’s a good thing based on where this beer is headed. As the beer warms, the fruit gets turned down, and in its place comes the round barrel note, with a hint of spirited boozy bourbon.

As I get farther into this beer, I’m reminded of some of my homebrewer buddies’ 100 percent Brett-fermented beers. They are weirdly fruity and strangely clean, and they challenge me to re-examine my pre-conceived notions are about what a Brett-fermented beer is. That’s exactly what’s going on here with Boysenbarrel. The flavor lacks that typical Brettanomyces funk that I’m used to. Where’s the horse sweat, the barnyard, the fecal? Not here! First and foremost, this beer showcases its tart berry flavor. Behind that, there’s a bright kiss of not funk, but something of a wild fermentation that keeps me guessing. While this is a fruit-forward beer, I’m not going to say that the fruit is overpowering. As the beer warms, I start to sense the barrel notes. I get more oak and woody flavor in general, and just a tiny hint of bourbon after the swallow.Mouthfeel.
As expected with a sour like this, the carbonation is super cranked-up. It turns up the fruit, bright acidity and tartness to the maximum. The beer finishes exceptionally dry, almost like a chalky sort of dryness like you might get in an extra-brut sparkling wine. This is likely due to Brettanomyces: it’s a voracious sugar consumer, and with no sugar comes that exceptional dry character.

Overall Impression.
Of sours available in DFW, Boysen has claimed a spot near the top of that list. As of this writing, the beer I reviewed is only two weeks out from its release date. It’s 100 percent likely that this beer will morph and change a little bit, showcasing different and more complex flavors as it matures. However, it’s very drinkable right now, too. My advice is to buy two: drink one sooner, and one later. And maybe share this one with a friend. You won’t get wrecked on this 500 ml beer – it’s not about that. This is a slow sipper, it’s $13 per bottle, and it begs for company.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d give The Collective Brewing Project Boysenbarrel a 10. What’s happening in the area brew scene?
• Saturday, March 25. Four-Year Anniversary at Martin House Brewing Co.
• Tuesday, March 28. Malt Madness: Final Four Craft Beer Dinner at L.U.C.K.
• Friday, March 31-April 2: Big Texas Beer Fest at Fair Park.
• Saturday, April 8. Second Anniversary Party at Bitter Sisters Brewery.
• Saturday, April 15. Eastside Tour on the Dallas Brew Bus.

Previous On Tap Reviews:
Revolver’s Sangre y Miel: 10.
Peticolas’ Royal Scandal: 10.
Community’s Mosaic IPA: 10.
Peticolas’ Velvet Hammer: 10.
Community’s Barrel-Aged Legion: 10.
Community’s Legion: 10.
BrainDead’s Fill in the Blancs: 9.5.
Oak Highlands’ Freaky Deaky: 9.5.
Deep Ellum’s Barrel Aged Four Swords: 9.5.
Lakewood’s Saint Dymphna: 9.5.
Peticolas’ Lost Epic: 9.5.
Community’s Ascension Porter: 9.5.
Lakewood’s Temptress: 9.5.
Lakewood’s Goatman: 9.5.
Community’s Public Ale: 9.5.
Peticolas’ Thrilla in Brazilla: 9.5.
• Collective Brewing Project’s SMaSHY: 9.2
• On Rotation’s Lingonberry Sahti: 9.25.
On Rotation’s Jalapeno Saison: 9.
Woodcreek’s Bourbon Barrel Bock: 9.
Lakewood’s Wild Manimal: 9.
Revolver’s Blood & Honey: 9.
Martin House’s Imperial Texan: 9.
Community’s Trinity Tripel: 9.
Peticolas’ Irish Goodbye: 9.
Four Corners’ Block Party Porter: 9.
Cedar Creek’s Belgian Dubbel: 9.
Small Brewpub’s Black Pepper Pils: 8.5.
Peticolas’ Ghost Of Alfred Brown: 8.5.
Deep Ellum’s Easy Peasy IPA: 8.5.
Deep Ellum’s Oak Cliff Coffee Ale: 8.5.
Lakewood’s Rock Ryder: 8.5.
Rahr’s Bourbon Barrel Aged Winter Warmer: 8.5.
Lakewood’s Raspberry Temptress: 8.5.
• Peticolas’ Prime Minister: 8.25.
Community’s Texas Helles: 8.
On Rotation’s Moar Blackberry: 8.
Lakewood’s Thread Spinner: 8.
Texas Ale Project 50 Ft. Jackrabbit: 8.
Texas Ale Project’s Payne Pils: 8.
Noble Rey’s Bridesmaid’s Tears: 8.
Collective Brewing’s Urban Funk House: 8.
Lakewood’s On Call: 8.
Oak Highlands’ Golden Mustache: 8.
903 Brewers’ Crackin’ Up: 8.
Deep Ellum’s Play Date: 8.
Rahr & Sons Brewing Company’s 11th Anniversary Russian Imperial Stout: 8.
Bitter Sisters’ Belgian Tripel: 8.
Noble Rey’s SteamPunk: 8.
903 Brewers’ Citra On Top: 8.
Bitter Sisters’ Hissy Fit: 8.
BrainDead’s Gritz: 8.
Community’s Barrel-Aged Inspiration : 8.
Cedar Creek’s Fisticuffs: 8.
Lakewood’s Punkel: 8.
Four Corners’ El Chingon IPA: 8.
Martin House’s Day Break: 8.
Deep Ellum’s GOURDzilla: 8.
Peticolas’ The Duke (Aged 12 Months): 8.
Deep Ellum’s Pale Ale: 8.
Revolver’s Bock: 8.
903 Brewers’ Sasquatch: 8.
Peticolas’ Wintervention: 8.
Armadillo Ale Works’ Brunch Money: 8.
Martin House’s Salsa Verde: 8.
Cedar Creek’s Spinning Mule Robust Porter: 8.
Lakewood’s Holiday Bonus: 8.
Lakewood’s Hop Trapp: 8.
TUPPS Full Grown Man: 7.75.
3 Nations American Wit: 7.75.
Armadillo Ale Works’ Dapper Apple: 7.75.
Chimera Dirty Dog: 7.5.
Legal Draft’s Accused Amber Lager: 7.5.
Grapevine’s Reserve Tart Cherry Berliner Weisse: 7.5.
Martin House’s Stars Above: 7.5.
Grapevine’s Prickly Pear Wheat Ale: 7.5.
Bitter Sisters’ Knock Out: 7.5.
Four Corners’ Notorious O.A.T.: 7.5.
Noble Rey Golden Rey With Raspberries and Ginger: 7.5.
On Rotation Saved By The Belma: 7.5.
True Vine’s Unicorn’s Revenge: 7.5.
Deep Ellum’s Hop Seeker: 7.5.
Four Corners’ El Super Bee: 7.5.
Lakewood’s Hopochondria: 7.5.
Three Nations GPA: 7.5.
Martin House’s Rubberneck Red: 7.5.
Lakewood’s Antigoon’s Revenge: 7.5.
Community’s Texas Pils: 7.5.
Lakewood’s Zomer Pils: 7.5.
Cedar Creek’s Dankosaurus: 7.5.
Cedar Creek Brewery Clover Kicker: 7.25.
Noble Rey Sex In A Canoe: 7.25.
Oak Highlands Brewery’s Oktoberfest.: 7.25.
3 Nations Mango SMASH IPA: 7.
Legal Draft Chief Justice Stout: 7.
Manhattan Project’s Plutonium-239: 7.
Backcountry’s Texas IPA: 7.
Backcountry’s Double IPA: 7.
Rahr’s Visionary: 7.
Shannon Brewing’s Irish Cream Ale: 7.
Oak Highlands’ Guava Good: 7.
TUPPS Brewery’ Northbound 75: 7.
Rahr & Sons’ Iron Joe: 7.
BrainDead’s I Like Harvey IPA: 7.
Martin House’s Turtle Power: 7.
Collective’s Petite Golden Sour: 7.
Shannon’s Chocolate Stout: 7.
BrainDead’s Red Ale: 7.
Community’s Razzy Raspberry Witbier: 7.
Martin House’s Gateway Blonde Ale: 7.
Bearded Eel’s Purple Unicorn: 7.
Noble Rey’s Off The Leash: 7.
Shannon Brewing Company’s Irish Red: 7.
Texas Ale Project’s Somethin’ Shady: 7.
Deep Ellum IPA: 7.
Cedar Creek’s The Lawn Ranger: 7.
Martin House Brewing Company’s Cellarman’s Reserve IPA (Amarillo).: 7.
Lakewood’s Till & Toil: 7.
903 Brewers’ The Chosen One: 7.
903 Brewers’ Sugar On Top: 7.
Martin House’s Gateway XPA: 7.
Armadillo Ale Work’s Quakertown Stout: 7.
Revolver’s High Brass: 7.
Community’s Pale Ale: 7.
Oak Highlands’ Chump Change: 7.
Martin House’s River House: 7.
Grapevine Craft Brewery’s Sir William’s Brown Ale: 7.
Community’s Funnel Cake Ale: 7.
Audacity’s Boss Raptor IPA: 7.
Martin House’s Queen of the Mist (Prickly Pear): 6.75.
Three Nations Texas Xmas Hazelnut Ale: 6.5.
Martin House’s The Juice: 6.5.
Collective Brewing Project’s Mom Azacca: 6.5.
Four Corners’ La Lechuza: 6.5.
Revolver’s Ironhead IPA: 6.5.
903 Brewers’ Trot Line: 6.5.
Four Corners’ Celebración: 6.5.
Peticolas’ Operation Collaboration: 6.5.
Grapevine Craft Brewery’s Nightwatch: 6.5.
Peticolas’ The Duke: 6.5.
Deep Ellum’s Double Brown Stout : 6.5.
Wild Acre’s Tarantula Hawk: 6.
Martin House’s Kafkaesque: 6.
TUPPS’ Cotton Mill Gold: 6.
Rabbit Hole’s Tweedleyum: 6.
Rabbit Hole’s Off With Your Red: 6.
Cedar Creek’s Elliott’s Phoned Home Pale Ale: 6
Grapevine Craft Brewery’s Lakefire: 6
Armadillo Ale Works’ WunderMelon: 6
Deep Ellum Pale Ale: 6
Lakewood’s Troll Toll: 5.5.
Martin House’s Hell Below: 5.5.
Lakewood’s La Dame Du Lac: 5.5.
Woodcreek’s Lakeside Cerveza: 5.
Martin House Cuvee Pumpkin Latte: 5.
Intrinsic’s Crunktoberfest: 5.
Martin House’s Mind On My Money: 5.
903 Brewers’ The Land Of Milk And Honey: 5.
Deep Ellum’s Numb Comfort: 5.
TUPPS’ Day Off: 4.75.
Four Bullets’ Black Jack Brown: 4.5.
Audacity’s Checkered Past: 4.
Four Corners Heart O’ Texas: 4.
Audacity’s Sunset Boulevard: 4.
Shannon Brewing Company’s IPA: 4.
Grapevine’s Monarch: 4.
Twin Peaks’ Dirty Blonde: 3.
Franconia Wheat: 3.
Miller Lite: 1.

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