The Ale Apothecary’s Paul Arney revels in making
concoctions that are tough to wrap your head around. The former
Deschutes brewer, who now works alone in a small barn outside Bend,
outdid himself with the mysterious El Cuatro. The base for this 11.9
percent ABV “mixed fermentation ale” includes two malts and no hops.
After a year in brandy barrels with Brettanomyces and other wild
yeast, that base was blended with another Ale Apothecary beer, Sahalie,
which includes Cascade hops. The final product is intended to sit for
another year before drinking, but I couldn’t resist popping a $25
wine-sized bottle purchased recently at Beer Mongers. The carbonation is
already right, as the cork pops loudly and a gentle pour yields a
supple froth. It’s a bready and wild brew that smells like the sidewalk
outside a French bakery and tastes like a fizzy cocktail made with pear
brandy and Grand Marnier. I don’t get it, but I like it. Recommended.