Archive for the 'Avery' category
Avery makes some good beers. Now, Matty has been a huge proponent of Avery since day 1. However, I was a bit slower to come around. I always thought their beers were good, but not necessarily standouts. However, after visiting the brewery and having the opportunity to try some of their crazy Demons of Ale series, I had to come around. These guys have a great operation that is small, grassroots, and cranks out some good beers. At the brewery, it seems like everybody does everything, and there’s a true feeling of community. And, hell, a buddy of mine helped build their new tasting room, so that’s also pretty cool.
What I’m really getting around to is, I’d better really love a brewery to drop $9 for a single 12 oz. bottle of beer from them. And that’s just what I did. The Brabant is a little $9 bottle of wild ale brewed with two strains of Brettanomyces yeast and subsequently aged for 9 months in White Zinfandel barrels. I mean, that’s kinda risky, right? It’s very expensive, deals with a very testy yeast strain, and undergoes aging in a very unusual barrel. Anything could happen with this, and it’s ballsy for Avery to try it.
The Brabant pours a deep, deep brown with some purplish tints in the light. The head is sticky and dense and off-white, sticking to the sides of the glass all the way down. In the nose, this is wild and tangy. It actually burns a bit in the nostrils while giving off some light sweet notes reminiscent of light grapes – no doubt a contribution from the Zin barrels. Now, the flavor. It’s obviously unlike anything I’ve ever tasted. There is a sour burn on the tip of the tongue, which is something I’ve come to expect from Brett beers. However, there’s also this tart sweetness that brings to mind light grapes and some grapefruit tartness, as well. It’s deep and flavorful and it positively coats the mouth and throat with a flavor that just doesn’t seem to go away. Down the throat, the predominant flavor is grape and sourness, and it just sticks in the throat. I’m sure there are some flavors I’m missing here, and I’m certain I’m making this very simplistic. But, the fact is that this beer has many layers, and one of those is very reminiscent of a white wine, which can have many layers itself. So, there are several nuances here that would require a more sophisticated palate than my own. What I can say is that it’s unique, appealing, and challenging to the tastebuds, but I do think it’s actually worth the $9, just because it’s so darn novel.
In honor of my recent visit to Avery brewery, and my very favorable impression of the way they do business, I’d like to review the last of their “Demons of Ale” series. I’ve had the first two of this series, and they were bonkers, but this is the biggest of the bunch. It’s a gigantic oak-aged stout clocking in at nearly 16% abv, which is right up there with the biggest of the big in American stouts (which are the biggest in the world). So, seriously, give these guys props – with a small staff and a humbly sized brewery, they’re pumping out some of the most diverse and challenging beers in the US market.
The Meph, as expected, pours a motor oil black color with a thick caramel head. The head dissipates verrrrry slowly, but eventually leaves us with a barren surface of beer and lots of sticky residual on the side of the glass. The aroma is thick with alcohol and dark malty sweetness. It’s a super sweet aroma, but it slightly burns the nostrils, and it definitely tells you that you’re dealing with a sizable brew. In the mouth, this brew is almost too big and complicated to talk about. There are so many flavors, and at such amplitude, that it almost comes across as noise – delicious noise…
In all seriousness, this beer is big from the very first – the sweet, syrupy blast on the tip of the tongue is quite intense. The flavor is initially akin to concentrated maple syrup. As it travels through the mouth, the beer coats the tongue like some delicious polyurethane deck stain, sticking around for 5-10 years. The flavor lends bits of super dark chocolate malt, along with some lighter toffee flavors, and even a bit of dark berry flavors. There is also a bit of coffee here, but it honestly takes a back seat to the more decadent sweetnesses listed above. In addition to all of this, there are flavors and affects that I can’t quite place. The beer is strong enough that it is a sensory experience in aspects of mouthfeel and the play of the alcohol level around the mouth. So, combining this with the rich and complex flavors makes this a formidable beer. However, the sweeter characteristics also make it rather accessible for a 16% abv brew. All in all, I highly recommend this, if you can get your hands on it – far too many States still don’t allow beers of this strength. However, if you do get it, spend some time on it – taste it slowly while letting it warm from cold to room temperature, and experience the full gamut of flavors…
Now here’s one I bet most of you clowns haven’t seen around too much – The Liquor Mart 40th Anniversary brew from Avery Brewing Company. In case you don’t know (and I wouldn’t expect you to), Liquor Mart is one of the better beer stores in the Boulder, Colorado region where Avery is located. I’m wagering that these folks know each other, and so Avery decided to hook ‘em up with a nice anniversary brew. I personally picked up this bomber at the Avery Brewery tasting room for a steal of $3. I intend to do a nice write-up of Avery as well as the myriad other breweries I visited during the last weekend – it was truly a beer-tasting weekend of epic proportions.
This brew pours a deep golden color with definite hints of ruby. The beer seems especially effervescent and has one of the ‘pillowy-est’ heads I’ve seen on a brew in a while. It fluffs right up in the glass, whether you like it or not, and it stays thick and fluffy for minutes after the pour. In the nose, there are tons of malt and yeast on this beer, which isn’t a big surprise for the Belgian pale category. The yeast is pungent and reminiscent of what you might get in a big Belgian witbier. The malt is light but fairly rich, giving this a rather big nose for a pale ale, altogether. In the mouth, this is certainly a bigger and higher quality beer than you’d expect from a bottle with a “Liquor Mart” logo on the front. For me, the predominant flavor, front to back, is of yeast. I like this yeasty goodness, although some may not be wild about it – it’s sweet and a bit wild, and still reminiscent of a strong Belgian wit. However, this beer gains some richness and a fuller mouthfeel from the malt contribution. It is full and even a little sticky moving through the mouth, giving the tongue and walls of the mouth a nice coating. In addition to these two BIG flavor contributions, there are some interesting hints of orange zest and a decent hop profile that hits about the middle of the tongue and squats there even through the aftertaste. Overall, this is a really good beer – positively exceptional for a $3 bomber. Actually, this beer is pretty unique, too, for something in the pale ale category. The combination of that Belgian yeast and the rich malt, along with the orange zest, give this a big, refreshing and unique flavor. In short, it’s a pity that this won’t find its way out of Colorado. It’s a great beer, and quite a pat on the back for Avery to make something so tasty for a local liquor store…
Matt - September 22, 2008
Before I get started, here’s a public service announcement for those of you living in the Durham area. Sam’s Blue light has a wonderful deal on the Weyerbacher Blanche, $9.99 for a case!!! Do yourself a favor.
Incidentally, they also have this beer so if all goes well with the review you might want to pick this one up as well. This is a Presidential Pale Ale brewed to commemorate the inauguration of our next president on January 20th, 2009 in the year of our Lord. Avery has committed to keeping the new Prez well stocked so that he can focus on bettering our nation both at home abroad. Thus, at this very moment you will be happy to know I have decided to throw my proverbial hat into the political arena with Ben running as my VP. Vote Matt on Nov. 4, please!
Ahh the site of an Avery beer warms my heart and entices my palate. These guys know how to brew and I can’t imagine they would come up short seeing as this is associated with the Commander-in-Chief. It has a hazy, copper appearance although I can’t discern any debris. A thin, creamy ring of head dawns the top like the halo on an angel. The smell is hoptastic, earthy and floral-esque. These characteristics continue as hoppiness abounds throughout the mouth. Hops and carbonation tickle the tongue and rise to the top of the palate. The malt brings a sweetness to the fold but it only serves to buffer the hops. Despite its apparent “flavor size” the overall mouthfeel is very soft. This beer is very well balanced and, since I’m a hophead, quite delicious. I really like this beer, really want more of it, and now want to be elected President so I can have as much as my body can handle at no charge.
I’ll tell you what – I was REALLY excited about this beer. I’ve been craving some craziness on my beer palate lately, and I haven’t really found it. So, when I saw this Avery anniversary saison brewed with figs, hibiscus, white pepper, and brettanomyces, I thought for sure I was in for a flavor explosion. I was expecting something light, sharp, super tangy, and with some fruity sweet notes from the figs – I had it all figured out – I was tasting it even before I cracked open the bottle. But, sadly, this beer isn’t giving me near what I had in mind. Here’s what I am seeing:
This pours a hazy dark golden color with a thin white head that floats around in islands on the surface of the beer. The aroma is mildly tangy with some sourness and a noticeable presence of pepper. In the mouth, there is an initial light burn from the spice and carbonation. This burn lasts only a moment before a slight farmhouse sourness comes along, carrying some lemon rind hints with it. This flavor washes over the tongue, soon giving way to a soft sweetness that I would call lavender if I didn’t know better – I assume that this is, in fact, the hibiscus doing its work. As this washes down the throat, there is some remaining flavor from the hibiscus, but the most interesting characteristic is a lingering spicy burn around the middle of the tongue, as though you sprinkled a tad of pepper out of the shaker into your mouth. And, that’s really about it. The fruit never really rears its head – I think it wants to try on one occasion, but it is tempered by the sourness and the flavor just comes across a little distasteful.
Matty really tried to convince me to let this warm up to room temperature before writing a full review – he thinks that’s where this beer will really shine. However, I just can’t see it happening. I started this review when the beer was cold, and it has surely warmed several degrees in my chalice since pouring. However, though the flavors have become a bit more pronounced, the fact is that they are flavors that just don’t really play well together, in my humble opinion – no amount of warmth is going to help that. So, I’m let down. This is a mildly interesting beer, but not near as interesting as you would expect from a Brett beer with such interesting ingredients. I certainly would not buy this again, although I’m not going to hold it against Avery as this is a very rare blemish on an otherwise stellar record of making great brews… I guess you gotta take some risks to keep things interesting, and I respect Avery for doing that – this gamble just didn’t pay out.
This is the second barley wine style I have tried, with the first being the Sierra Nevada Bigfoot(s) 2006 and 2007. For some reason, I had never tried the Avery specialty with the flying swine, but this was my chance.
The beer pours a deep red – almost mahogany. The head dissipates quickly, but it still left a nice amount on the beer and a good amount to taste. The smell is very sweet and aromatic with almost a flowery component to it. The mouthfeel is smooth and sweet – there is no nasty bite from the hops. You can certainly tell you are drinking a big beer, but it is not overpowering by any measure. The flavor is sweet with a great deal of hops. There is an almost fruity flavor to the beer that is just very subtle and behind the overall taste. The hops are really the strongest feature of the beer – they are there at the first smell and there with the tiniest amount of aftertaste. There is almost a very subtle smoky flavor present, but it is not distinct at all.
Overall, I would highly recommend the Hog Heaven. Avery almost always makes good beers and they certainly have not disappointed here. I will certainly have to add this in the next time I have a Bigfoot and give a more comparative review.
This particular beer bears some special interest for me. Besides the fact that Avery makes some pretty excellent beers, they also tend to bring adventurous varieties to town when it comes to their anniversary brews, and this is no exception. This brew is a dry-hopped dark ale. Now, I don’t consider myself a true veteran of brews, but I have drunk a few cold ones in my day, and I can’t think of many dry-hopped dark beers that go into the list. However, this bad boy apparently started as a big, chocolaty dark beer, and was then shot through some dry hopping – sounds interesting. Furthermore, Avery tells us it was brewed with a “very distinct yeast strain”. So, I’m pretty psyched to see what they came up with.
The pour of this is akin to porter – it’s quite dark with just a hint of chocolaty brown highlights on the edge of the glass. Furthermore, it has a rich caramel colored head that sticks around thick and foamy and clings to the side of the glass. The aroma of the beer is more chocolate and toffee than anything, although you can pick up just a hint of floral hop that gives it a contrasting freshness, and there is also a slight bit of sweetness that smells as though it may come from that “distinct” yeast. In the mouth, there are a fair amount of flavors at play. Initially, there is a refined sweetness that isn’t terribly rich, but just light and fleeting. However, that sweetness quickly moves into a more decadent flavor of toffee and lighter chocolate. As the liquid continues through the mouth, it turns into a lighter fruity sweetness reminiscent of grape and dark cherry. Finally, at the back of the mouth, a light bitterness rears its head to remind us this was dry-hopped. This bitterness blends with a fresh floral tint and sticks around, leaving plenty of time for you to consider your next sip.
Overall, I quite enjoy this. Honestly, it may be a bit too busy for most palates – it’s a bit of a confused brew. However, every flavor is evenly represented and well executed. So, if you decide to pick this up for yourself, just be prepared for a busy beer and a slightly overwhelmed palate. However, if you’re up for an interesting brew, then this might just hit the spot.
Enough with the fake Christmas beers! This offering for Avery also masquerades as a holiday offering. In reality, however, this is nothing more than a porter. In this case, however, it is a porter of rather good flavor and follow-through. This beer has a dark hue and a beefy aroma, and follows through with a well-seasoned meaty flavor. I’m generally not a huge fan of porters, but this particular beer is a tad lighter than some previous porters, and leaves me quite satisfied
Turns out this is a combination of two “Salvation” beers, one from Avery and the other from Russian River Brewing Co. I’ve never tasted the latter, but I really enjoyed the former so I have high expectations for this brew. I also appreciate the fact that the two breweries have chosen to combine their talents rather than waste their time in a meaningless court battle arguing over rights to the name. In a lawsuit-happy society it’s refreshing to see there are folks that have no desire to misuse our judicial system.
This beer pours a deep ruby color with a caramel head that clings to the glass. Given that the Avery version of Salvation has a golden hue I am a bit surprised. Its smells delightful with hints of peach and berry intertwined with earthy undertones. Now to the taste…There is so much going on here that I don’t know where to begin. There is a definite spiciness, I’m getting cinnamon and nutmeg, that erupts in the mouth. There is also some cherry and banana flavorings and I’m not sure I like that combination. At this point I’m not really sure where the brewmasters were going with this. Finally the rich maltiness evokes a mild licorice flavor and now I am completely overwhelmed and dumbfounded. You would be hard pressed to find a bigger fan of the Avery Brewing Co. than me, and I am sad to say this, but I’m not really digging this beer. I typically appreciate a complex brew but this one seems to be a mixture of random flavors resulting in an experiment gone wrong. As a UNC grad and given that I am watching them get worked by Georgia Tech right now I would have to compare this beer to the 2007 men’s basketball team; it has a ton of potential but unless the parts work in concert the only thing it will produce is disappointment. Despite my unfavorable review I might give this beer one more shot, to make sure I haven’t misspoken, but only because I have the utmost respect for this brewery.
This particular bottle of beer has actually been around for a while, as it was brewed to celebrate Avery’s 12th anniversary in 2005. Fortunately, however, it is a high gravity saison ale, and so the extra age should do it nothing but justice. Furthermore, it’s an Avery brew, which generally guarantees quality. The pour of this saison ale is pretty standard – it is a luminescent light golden color. The aroma is especially pungent for the genre – it is heavy with sharp citrus and has a substantial herbal note to it. Honestly, it smells a bit like one of those lemon herbal cough drops with that bear on the label – can’t remember what that stuff is called. In the mouth, this beer is much more pronounced than a traditional saison. It exhibits the expected tart sourness. On top of this are layers of other flavors including a zesty lemon presence, the same herbal presence from the aroma, and a peppery kick. This is a very flavorful and complex saison and is quite good. I can’t quite get away from the cough drop resemblance, but this isn’t a bad thing. It doesn’t tasty medicine-y per se, but it does contain the lemon herbal properties that remind you of a cough drop. If I were reaching for a saison, this would not be the one due to the fact that it’s a bit too busy for my taste. However, I do respect it for the unique combination of pleasant flavors.
Okay – I won’t lie, this is NOT a favorite IPA of mine. But, at least it has balls enough to exhibit some real hop flavor. This one pours a little lighter than the rest, and the aroma is, frankly, quite sour and unpleasant. However, in the mouth, this beer comes with a heavy hop bitterness that begins on the front of the tongue and lasts far into the aftertaste. It isn’t the floral hop that I prefer, but seems more like a bitter English hop to me. I wouldn’t consider this a complex brew – the hops are straightforward, and the taste is fairly uniform through the mouth. Nevertheless, after the last couple of IPAs, I would give this one a thumbs up. -Ben
Well we all know I love Avery brews and I am hoping this one gets us back on the IPA track. This copper colored ale pours with a frothy white head and has a piney aroma. The taste is more subdued than I imagined. The flavor doesn’t reveal itself until the liquid reaches the back of the tongue. There you will experience a moderate hoppiness that flattens out into a rich maltiness that coats the throat. I agree that this is a simple interpretation of an IPA but given that it at least mimics the genre it is in the head of the class this far into this beer tasting. -Matt
This oak-aged English ale is packaged in a very intimidating fashion: black bottle, red foil wrapped around the cap and what appears to be a dark angel wielding a sword on the label. That, coupled with the fact that the Samael’s is part of Avery’s “Demons of Ale Series”, suggests this is a big scary beer. I guess I should also note the abv at 14.5% which all but confirms these allegations. It pours with a deep ruby hue and a frothy white head that sticks of the side of the glass. The nostrils are privy to the sweet smells of caramel and the high alcohol content. Initially there is a spiciness that attacks the tongue and rise in to the nasal cavity. Then the taste mellows out in the back of the throat and coats it with a rich combination of vanilla and caramel. This is an unbelievably complex ale and one that I am having a great time drinking. The only beer to date hat has tricked my palate more than the Samael’s is the Flying Dog Wild Dog Weizenbock. I highly recommend this brew but caution that it is not for the faint of heart or someone that hastingly finishes their beers. It is best enjoyed slowly to experience all that this beer has to offer. And, at $7.99 per 12oz bottle this isn’t one that you pound because it would be a complete waste of money.
Lucky number ’7′. This is the seventh Avery brew to be reviewed. I’m always excited about this time of year because it means cooler weather, football games, and the arrival of the great seasonal beers of fall. I hope to one day celebrate Oktoberfest in the mother land but until then I will have to settle for drinking beers that capture the essence of this festival. I found it difficult to discern this lager’s aroma. After doing everything short of huffing it I think I was able to pick out berries and a hint of “smokey-ness.” This beer drinks very smooth and leaves a sweet cherry flavor in the back of the throat. Ben and I both agree we like a little more spice in this style of beer, but that’s not to say it’s bad, just different from what I’m used to. This beer won’t knock your socks off; but much like the mustache and hat worn by the old chap on the lable, it will put a smile on your face. Another job well done by the Avery Brewing Co.
This seasonal offering from the folks at Avery was met with high expectations, and it seems to have delivered well against those expectations. The aroma is very sweet and spicy with a lot of chocolatey malt to it. The color is a dark brownish-red with a caramel colored head. In the mouth, this is a rather complex beer. It is an interesting marriage between the typically complex doppelbock and the slightly more simplistic and refreshing wheat varieties. Initially, this is quite spicy and carries a flavor of dark cherry. Through the mouth, this becomes quite malty and has a strong dark chocolate flavor. The beer tends to maintain its spice, but settles into a lasting sweetness in the back of the throat. It has a fairly full mouthfeel, and isn’t a beer I would consider refreshing. Rather, it is more of a dessert in a bottle. Delicious beer, and worth picking up if you see it around.
As previously noted I am a huge fan of the Avery Brewing Co. so I jump at the opportunity to try one of their creations. This is by far the strongest beer I have had the pleasure of reviewing at 14.9% abv. It pours a deep amber color and, no surprise, smells heavy of alcohol. It is very rich and complex as flavors of nut and a sort of maple syrup sit on the tongue and cling to the roof of the mouth. The Beast is less abrasive and more sweet than I had imagined. This is without a doubt a dessert beer and one that should be enjoyed slowly. It seems very expensive at $9 for a 12 oz. bottle but given the alcohol content I guess it isn’t that bad. It’s not a beer I will put on my grocery list, mostly because of the price, but one that I wouldn’t mind revisting every now and again.