Thursday, April 16, 2009

An Unholy Trinity: Three High Octane Avery Beers

California is a world of variety and experimentation. Whether you are talking about education, politics, or alcohol, you can be assured that something radical is happening here. This is both inspiring and risky, but is perhaps the great charm of this land. One can risk it all, put oneself completely out there - that opportunity in itself is uncommonly rare. Failure is likely most of the time, but when you've excessively devoted yourself to something and it works, well there's nothing quite like it.

Avery, even though from Colorado and not California, fits in that realm of excess. These three beers all go way out there to try and offer something utterly unique. Each works in its own way and to varying degrees, but one has to admire the sheer conviction evident in each one of these brews. And, if I can be blasphemous, sometimes it is at the utter ends of excess that one finds the perfect balance, moderation, and ultimately, expression that makes it all worth while.

Avery The Beast Grand Cru, Batch 4, 2008

In one word: Massive. 16.3% abv. This is malty, thick, syrupy with deep flavours of caramel, brown sugar, cigar, tobacco and popcorn. Incredibly deep and full, this is surprisingly well balanced. A remarkable beer in its own right, and certainly unique.

Very Good+
$11/12oz at City Beer

Avery Samael Oak Aged Ale Batch 3, April 2007

This smells like heavily buttered popcorn, likely due to the heavy oak aging. This is a mind boggler - unique, woody, buttery as hell, but tasty despite its incredibly intense oakyness. For some reason the intense oak works a lot better than with wine. Drinkable, despite its very high alcohol at 15%, this will get bourbon lovers into beer. You can't call this 'nuanced', but you can certainly call it ball busting, and utterly singular. I commend Avery for their daring-do.

Very Good+ to Excellent
$9/12oz at Liquid Bottleworks

Avery Mephistopheles Stout Batch #3 November 2007

Another crazy big beer at 16% ABV. That said, don't discount this as overly alcoholic. Rather, this has the proper amount of age to smooth that out to perfect levels. The nose here is like a vanilla caramel sunday. Chocolate and vanilla are quite evident on the palate, but surprisingly there is an edge of minerals and metal, which is quite unique and does not clash with the sweeter flavours. Caramel arises again on the finish. This is very very tasty, but I wouldn't call it utterly complex. That said, there is layering of flavour that exposes itself as the beer warms up, and this is certainly one of the best Imperial Stouts I've had. This is the best of the three devlish beers sampled here, and that is no small feat.

$9/12oz at Liquid Bottleworks

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