Allagash FV 13 – How I learned to stop worrying and love the bacteria

Next up, Allagash’s latest foudre-aged beer, FV 13:


It’s notable that I’m reviewing a beer that was aged amongst wild yeast and bacteria. With daughter 2.0 only three weeks old and daughter 1.0 at her prime in germ factory output, we are currently engaged in a pitched battle against bacteria and other such nasties around the house. Unfortunately, we’re leaving behind that dastardly 0.1% that hand sanitizers and soaps shamefully acknowledge in their fine print as unable to eliminate.

bacteria 99 percent

A little cultured humor…

I’ll admit I don’t know how this 99.9% kill rate is measured, but there are an estimated 5,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 bacteria in the world. So, according to my calculations, 0.1% of that still equals some crazy-ass number that pisses off calculators into using a big exponent. In fact, 0.1% of all bacteria would still likely amount to more biomass than all humans on earth. They’re everywhere. They eat ore and crap gold. They survive in the most inhospitable places (Chernobyl, pools of arsenic, New Jersey). They even help Jamie Lee Curtis poop.

This is Allagash’s first foudre beer. It was aged in a 2,700 gallon foudre (an oak tank formerly used for wine) named FV 13. For four years, it got all sexy in there with two types of Brettanomyces yeast and with lactobacillus and pediococcus bacteria. Although, it seems Allagash’s lab nerds determined that most of the souring work was done by the pediococcus, while the lactobacillus further disappointed its parents by taking the four years off to “find itself”.


Honey, I didn’t go through the pain of binary fission for you to become a lazy parasite.

It pours a hazy copper with a tight, but small, off-white head. It smells lightly funky from the Brett, and it has definite vinous, cherry, and caramel aromas. Also, there is a sycamore tree smell that I sometimes get from sour beers. It smells like the spot I would fly fish after class on the Clark Fork near some sycamore trees; but the Haybag says that’s creepy and nobody else smells sycamore trees. In any case, it smells like it is going to be sour.

First taste, it’s not as sour as I thought it would be. It IS sour, but there is a pleasant, malty background sweetness to it that slightly blunts the sharpness. It has a definite red wine character with cherries and oak (I swear the oak is there even though this is from a big foudre rather than a smaller oak barrel). It also has a little bit of an oxidized port/sherry character and some caramel.

Further, although it seems we have lactic acid bacteria at work here, the malt, caramel, and sour give it a little malt vinegar kick. It’s relaxed, though. It’s not all like a drunken hobo on a Carlo Rossi and Long John Silver malt vinegar packet bender. The finish is somewhat dry, as the sour definitely wins out. And the carbonation is pleasantly fine and moderate, and not all prickly and obtrusive.

I loved it.

The Haybag (whose post-pregnancy tastebuds were still a little wonky when we had this): This doesn’t immediately strike me as being beer. I usually hate sour beers. I’m OK with this one.

*In the interest of full disclosure and so as to not spoil any of the goodwill I have generated from foul language, fart jokes, and barely competent beers reviews over the last year and a half, I should note that Allagash sent me this beer, along with several others. Although I don’t doubt my capacity to whore myself out for free beer, I promise  that I review all beer as if I had bought it with my own hard-earned cash.


18 thoughts on “Allagash FV 13 – How I learned to stop worrying and love the bacteria

  1. You received beer in the mail? For free? Teach me your ways, master!

    Great review. I don’t go for sours, but that one has a beautiful color to it.

  2. Although I have no clue what all the science (I almost flunked Biology in High School and barely made it through Chemistry) was about, I must admit that I am intrigued. I bought a bottle of their Coolship Resurgam when I popped into the brewery this past summer (alas, there was no time for a tour). It was superb! This sounds right up my alley as well. Once again, fantastical review!

    As far as that crack about New Jersey, you’re right. It is quite inhospitable, but these days, I call it home. At least you didn’t pick on Philly like those jerks on SNL. 😉

    • I like that that they have a coolship and foudre program. Maybe one day I’ll get my hands on a coolship beer (they’re brewery only, right?).

      And I always give pause before making fun of New Jersey. Poor State is always gettin ragged on. But sometimes I get a little lazy and gladly take a low hanging fruit for a laugh.

      • I knew nothing about their Coolship series until I saw it on the shelves at the Brewery. I was intrigued, so I bought a bottle. Not cheap though. It cost $15. Well worth it!

        And I take no offense to your fun making of the “Garden” State. I always said that I would rather die than live in NJ. But then you marry a Jersey Girl and the rest is history. Still hoping to get my 2 bedroom condo with a view on one of the Squares (Washington or Rittenhouse) in Philly one day. Cue the theme music to The Jeffersons…

  3. That is one crazy-ass spectacular review! It’s about time somebody threw an electron microscope at those pricks and exposed them in all of their psuedo First Amendment glory (gory is more like it).

    I’d like to defend NJ as well but it’s… well…. not all that hospitable (but that berm by the side of the Turnpike where you get dumped after traveling through John Malkovitch’s head is pretty cool).

    Off to sniff some sycamores………..


    • Thanks. Yeah, who knew bacteria were so politically active. And I’m afraid I now have to do a review where I’m nice to New Jersey and point out one of their positives. I did this once already for a Flying Fish beer, though, so that means I’ll need to find a second nice thing about New Jersey.

  4. Awesome, I’m looking forward to hunting a bottle of this stuff down! And foudres can impart big oak character despite their size – Rodenbach Grand Cru is very oaky, and they’re aged on foudres. Perhaps it’s the age that does it – how can it not have an oak character when it’s been in there for four years!

    • That’s true. I still haven’t had Rodenbach Grand Cru. I love Rodenbach.

      And four years is a pretty long time for a beer to aging in something. I’ve read people claim that foudres don’t impart much oak…although, perhaps it’s just that they don’t as efficiently as a smaller barrel does. But if you leave something in there long enough, it’s clearly going to come out smelling and tasting like it…no matter how big it is.

    • I’m a beer pimp. Although, someone needs to impart upon everyone else in my household what a big shot I am…especially the latest addition, who seems to think it’s OK to wake me up several times a night.

  5. Pingback: Beer Review #5: Allagash Curieux | Awesome Beers

  6. Pingback: Beer Review #5: Allagash Curieux

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