Category Archives: Avery Brewing Co

Thursday Tasting Notes; 12.1.11

Every now and then, I get to try a bunch of stuff out at once. I don’t take notes nearly as often as I used to (or should, for that matter) so it felt like a good enough excuse to post some thoughts as I tried things out tonight. Let’s get going, eh?

Lagunitas Sucks Holiday Ale (BrownShugga’ Replacement)

We all by now have heard the story of how the gang in Petaluma just plain ran out of capacity to brew the ever-popular BrownShugga’ seasonal this year. In its stead we get this IPA that I swear to Flying Spaghetti Monster is a repackaged version of their Kill Ugly Radio release from a few years ago. Not a compliant, mind you; I loved that beer and I love this one too. Aromas are sharp and spicy–black pepper spicy rather than coriander spicy. The palate is a quick rush of tropical fruits with a firm hop backbone establishing itself and carrying through the finish. I got a feeling we’re going to sell through a ton of this (in fact, we went through about 1/2 the 5 cases we got just today).

Le Bilboquet Mackroken Flower Scotch Ale

Now this is some serious cool. The nose alone, with with its sweet toffee malts and hint of honey, is worth the price of admission. The palate is a real treat, though; amid the sweetness of the honey and malt there’s a restrained roastyness that too many breweries tend to dismiss these days. It’s a beautiful thing when done right, and it’s done way right here. Imagine a richer, more robust Scotch de Silly and you’re starting to get the level of craftsmanship and enjoyment Mackroken Flower brings to bear.

Le Bilboquet La Corriveau Oat Stout

These guys in Quebec know what they’re doing: the La Corriveau is a complex, subtle Stout. With some of the nutty notes that I usually associate with aged Barleywines, Corriveau starts off on the palate a bit confusing. A few revisits reveals a mix of grains, chocolate (with a hint of dark chocolate ‘tang’ contributing to the feel–nice touch), and super-subtle hoppiness building to a rich finish. Between the two, I much prefer the Mackroken personally but I think La Corriveau may end up proving the more popular of the two.

Sierra Nevada Ovila Quad

Before I get to the beer itself: good lord I’ve never fought so hard with a cork in my life. No lie; not in a still wine, sparkling, dessert–nothing was like trying to pry the cork from this monster. Something to keep an eye out for if you pick one of these up.

But should you pick one of these up? I…don’t know. There are many different way too look at this beer, and almost all of them lead to different conclusions about it. As a Belgian Quad, Ovila’s a bit tame and thin; the aroma has a fair amount of the medicinal sweetness expected in the style but on the palate it feels lacking, and that medicinal quality goes almost vegetal on the back palate. The finish dissipates all too quickly. As a beer it’s enjoyable enough, but doesn’t stand out among the vast array of great Belgian options out there. Even as a Sierra Nevada beer, it doesn’t offer anything to the drinker that Life & Limb hasn’t already done (and done much better at that).

It’s not bad. It’s just not outstanding, and to make a mark for itself the Ovila beers need to kick the living hell out of expectations. My advice? Wait for the Brandy barrel aged version coming in 2012. That should be interesting.

Avery Rumpkin

*cracks knuckles*

Ok, let’s do this. How do I start to explain this thing? Let’s try…

Hmm. Good, but not quite it. How about…

Yeah; going with that. It’s got funk, dirt, sweet spice. Boozy as all hell. Will get you completely twisted if you aren’t careful. Rumpkin is freakin’ Go-Go made into a beer.

On the first sniff of Rumpkin, I wondered if something was wrong with it. Where was the spice, the gourd, the Rum? All I got off it was dirt-dog earthiness and nose-twitching heat. So I gave it a couple minutes.

(If you don’t think this isn’t turning into an excuse to post random Go-Go classics, just walk away now ’cause it is on over here.)

So, with a few minutes to air out and warm up a bit Rumpkin lets a bit more of the spice and pumpkin loose. The first taste is where Rumpkin gets you loose; it’s sweet without cloying and the rum barrel makes all kinds of sense in all the right/wrong ways. Beware: Rumpkin doesn’t feel 15.9% ABV and that only encourages you to roll with it. The lack of sweetness and overwhelming alcohol feel lets you enjoy Rumpkin for the great Pumpkin Ale it is. If you can snag some of this, do it.

I’m genuinely stunned at how much I dig this beer. I was expecting an over-the-top booze/sugar bomb with some pumpkin and spice thrown in to justify its existence–and I would’ve been down with that, if not totally enamored. But this is a legit creation with nuance and soul.

And it’ll make you want to get up and shake your ass. Can I just say, in summation: Goddamn I love the Northeast Groovers. ‘Til next time.

Cheers!

-Beermonger

The Beermonger Review: AleSmith Decadence Imperial Porter

AleSmith 2007 Decadence Imperial Porter

AleSmith 2007 Decadence Imperial Porter

I recently had to say goodbye to a friend of mine. My best friend (‘Mother’) moved his narrow ass back to L.A. (again). Before he left, the two of us got together at Our Cute Friend’s place for a night of beer, Guitar Hero, more beer, loud music, more Guitar Hero and a ton of great beer. I took the opportunity to bring a few beers out that otherwise I probably wouldn’t crack open for myself. We drank a 2006 bottle of Dogfish Head Fort (a favorite of My Cute Friend). We drank a bottle of Avery Maharaja (one of the Holy Trinity of Weed-Smelling and Tasting Beers). We drank one of my last bottles of Stone 11th Anniversary (the instant classic; they need to bring this beer into regular production now). We pounded beers like Dale’s Pale Ale and Loose Cannon in between. We even cracked some Miller Lite for the hell of it. Thankfully we avoided the 2002 Dogfish Head Worldwide Stout I’d brought, otherwise someone may have been injured.

While we were at it I figured I’d break out a super-special Scooby Snack: A bottle of AleSmith Decadence 2007 Imperial Porter (with great thanks to Alpha-level Beer Minion Doug, who was kind enough to bring it back from one of his San Diego excursions).

We can’t get the AleSmith beers out here in VA, so don’t even ask. I’ve had their Speedway Stout before and enjoyed it immensely before realizing I was at the bottom of the (12% ABV 750mL) bottle and completely hammered, causing me to rant and rave about how amazing the beer was to my fiance who just shook her head and informed me that she indeed knew that I was drunk. As if I didn’t know.

Anyhoo, I had this bottle of Decadence and thought this would be a good time to crack it. Not only could I try out the beer, but I could get opinions of friends who aren’t in ‘the business’. Mother and My Cute Friend are into beers, so they know a thing or two about a thing or two. The ’07 Decadence is a 10% Imperial Porter, rich and malty, pouring a dark reddish-brown. Smells roasty to me at first with hints of dark fruit (very subtle, that) and the expected notes of chocolate and caramel. Expected doesn’t mean boring, though. I could’ve smelled the beer all night. That would’ve been boring. I moved on and started to drink the beer.

What an experience. Not unlike the Speedway (Imperial) Stout, the Decadence is very drinkable for its alcohol level (10% ABV). Blind, I might have never guessed that it was as strong as it was. The malts were front and center—sweet, cocoa, caramel, more of those dark fruits I’d noticed on the nose (less subtle on the palate, surprisingly) and slightly smoky. My Cute Friend was impressed, which caught me a little off-guard since he’s a die-hard HopHead usually. I guess that’s by choice, though; I’ve seen him enjoy many types of beers but I think he just gravitates to the hoppy stuff. We all came away wishing we could get more of this good stuff.

That always kills me, knowing I can’t get certain beers. That will always bother me. If there was only one great brewery out there that I couldn’t get, even if I had all others, it would still piss me off. I’d be bothering every distributor in the area to sign them up. I guess that’s what keeps me in a job. I’m off on a tangent, aren’t I? Sorry.

In the end, boys and girls, I think it comes down to this: This all happened about 6 weeks ago. This was one more night with ‘the boys’; a send-off to a guy who’s like a brother to me. Good friends hanging out like stupid kids all night—like none of us had a care. Among all of the memories of that night (admittedly there aren’t that many), the AleSmith Decadence stands out.

Forgive me if this isn’t much of a review. If you’re reading this, you’re likely into beer and you have a fairly good idea of how this beer is—it’s a fantastic, outstanding example of a type of beer that we don’t see too much of. It’s powerful, richly flavored but perfectly drinkable. The point I think I’m trying to get to is that every now and then, it’s not about the greatness of the beer. It’s about the moment and the friends you share that beer with.

I give it a 10.

Beermonger

Savor, NoVA Summer Brewfest thoughts

Yeah, so that whole ‘I’m going to catch up on writing’ thing? Not so much, I know.

Anyhoo, I wanted to lay down some thoughts on the Savor event now that any and all relevance they might have had is gone and give a brief report on this past weekend’s Summer Brewfest.

Overall, I was very impressed by Savor. The setting was great and the collection of brewers and breweries was outstanding. I’m not sure how I feel about the layout though. The semi-circles of tables that lined the outside of the room caused a lot of traffic jams and made the food impossible to get to at times. Not good for an event that is supposedly about the pairing of craft beer and food. I was at the Friday night session, and I’ve heard some things said about the crowd that night. Yes, there did seem to be an inordinate amount of Hill staffers there as well as beer industry folks (myself included). But I can’t tell you how many customers of mine I ran into, and I think there were a fair amount of true Beer Geeks. The only problems I had with the crowd was:

1. The Hill people seemed to sweep in a poach all the food, and

2. The whole “Dress to Impress” idea kinda got blown up when I saw my first fanny pack of the evening. I sweated it out in my sport coat and Jo said she felt a little silly and overdressed (even though she looked fantastic). Fucking tourists. Sorry, that’s the native DC/Metro in me, but still…

Really, in the end I thought Savor was a success in showing off the creativity of craft brewers. The tickets were pricey, but I think the collection of that many great brewers in one room made it all worth it.  Highlights:

-Russan River, especially Supplication. Easily the beer of the show for me.

-Avery15 and Maharaja. Great beers, and meeting Adam Avery during the week leading up to Savor was very cool. He couldn’t have been cooler to me.

-Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron. Every time I have this beer it stuns me, and not just because of the ABV. I read an interview in Draft this month with Jim Koch from Boston Brewing where he said that Palo is an example of “fearless brewing” and I couldn’t put it any better.

-Clipper City Loose Cannon. The only beer they brought and they paired it with three different foods. Ballsy. Worked. This is a beer that I just can’t seem to order enough of for stock and every time I try it I see why.

-Flying Dog Kerberos. The new Tripel. These guys seem to get better and better all the time.

-Meeting Garrett Oliver, Charlie Papazian, the guys from Draft, All About Beer, etc. Really, that was friggin’ cool. I’m still relatively new to the beer business, so there’s a lot of folks I haven’t met yet. It was nice to meet some of these guys that I’ve heard and read about.

This past Sunday I went to the NoVA Summer Brewfest. I’ve heard a lot about the Old Dominion Fests, and how this may be the event to replace it. I never made it to the Dominion Fest but I really had a good time at Brewfest. There were some excellent beers out for tasting, the one cover band I heard was awesome (they had a female singer that Jo and I were both really impressed with, and that’s saying something) and plenty of volunteers. I didn’t see one unmanned booth. Admittedly, there weren’t a ton of new beers out, and many brewery reps that folks might have been expecting weren’t there, but to be fair there were about 3 or 4 other fests happening up and down the coast this weekend, so guys were kinda spread out. Devon from Dogfish had a great selection of beers, though, as did Tomfrom Clipper City with the new Oxford Organic Raspberry Wheat as well as the Oxford Organic Amber out of a firkin (which was all kinds of kickass). Worth the drive, worth the ticket price; can’t really ask for more.

And with that, I’m out. I’ll try to catch up some more later. ‘Til then.

Beermonger

My Day is Complete

“This place rocks.” -Adam Avery, of Avery Brewing, in the shop 30 minutes ago.