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Avery The Beast Grand Cru Ale

September 10th, 2009 beckel

Avery Brewing out of Boulder, Colorado is known for making some pretty serious ales such as their Maharaja Imperial IPA and Kaiser Imperial Oktoberfest with 10.24% and 9.3% ABVs respectively. With a name like The Beast this brew is sure to be no exception. If that weren’t enough it also boasts a 16.31% ABV which I am both very excited, and slightly concerned about. Though Dogfish Head has shown us that seriously high ABV beers can be very drinkable with their 120 Minute IPA [review]. The Beast is one of three brews in Avery’s Demons of Ale series, accompanied by two other big hitters Samael’s Oak Aged Ale and Mephistopheles’ Stout. Brewed with a myriad of ingredients including two-row malted barley, honey malt, a number of Belgian specialty grains (aromatic, pale wheat, roasted wheat & Special B), Magnum, Galena, Saaz, Hallertau, Terrnang and Hersbrucker Hops, too many brewing sugars to name, two yeast strains (at least) one of which is Belgian and of course water. On to the good part. Batch 6, Bottled in 2008 served at just above room temperature. This beer pours a dark burgundy hue that brightens up a lot and is moderately translucent when brought to light. Head is a light tan hue and consists of about two fingers of relatively loose bubbles that last for under two minutes leaving just a small ring of carbonation around the liquids surface. Aroma is wonderfully complex. Cherries, dates, raisins, plum and probably just about any other dark pitted fruit aroma can be found. This brew is quite sweet on the nose giving off a good deal of molasses and honey notes as well as other sugars, particularly something that reminds me of malted milk powder. Alcohol is definitely present but is easily hidden by the sweetness present. Very interesting and strangely appealing. Upon the first sip the alcohol is a lot more noticeable than in the aroma but as quickly as I noticed the ethanol notes I was also presented with rich sweet cherries,  chocolate, molasses, creme, dates and plum flavors with the alcohol lingering in the background simply playing a supporting role throughout the sip reminding me that what I am drinking is no joke by reminding me a bit of brandy. In addition to the dominate dark fruit flavors, chocolate and dark malt sweetness present there are also lighter citrus notes but this is such a complex ale they are difficult to isolate. The mouthfeel of this beer is a bit sticky, but with all the sugars that is really no surprise and not offensive to me in any way. The body is about medium as far as I am concerned but some people will probably say it is a bit heavy, though I find it quite light for the amount of ingredients and alcohol present. Considering what it is, I find it rather clean and drinkable. While no one will suggest that this beer isn’t alcoholic I will say I am amazed how well it is used to compliment the flavors present in this brew, particularly with a staggering number like 16.31%. Even if you feel a little ethanol in your throat in the after taste, what do you really expect? Though there are too many flavors to even list the notes that stand out the most to me are molasses, cherry, date and chocolate and of course alcohol warmth. This is one amazing beer that I really want to rant about, but I know that does no one any good. If you are a fan of complex Belgian Style Strong Ales you should absolutely try this brew, you really have no excuse. If you enjoy dark pitted fruit and sweet malts accompanied by plenty of alcohol you will simply be in heaven. Unquestionably one of the most unique and wonderful Belgian inspired strong ales I have had the opportunity to sample. A worthy beer for any connoisseur of unique brews, though you may want to split it with a friend, or drink it very slowly. I found this bottle and a bottle of Avery’s Samael’s at Zipps about a week ago but I also saw some on the shelves of The Four Firkins when I was there on Tuesday for the New Belgium’s Hoptober tasting, which by the way is a nice little hoppy addition to the New Belgium lineup. It seems like they have stepped up their production a bit lately so hopefully you can find some too. If Samael’s is any where near as tasty as this brew I will have no excuse not to sample their Mephistopheles’ as well. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Avery The Beast Grand Cru Ale

Victory V-Twelve

July 14th, 2009 beckel

Victory Brewing out of Downingtown, PA make a myriad of delicious brews and have apparently created a number of “Vintage-dated” brews over the years that have been released to limited markets. Today I have the opportunity to sample their V-Twelve a Belgian Style Ale which I found at The Four Firkins last month. With a 12% ABV this is sure to be a serious beer, let’s see how it goes. As soon as I popped this 750ml open deliciously sweet fruity aromas came to me. Pouring straight down the glass yielded a modest two fingers of loose off white head that faded with in two minutes or less leaving some small bubbles around the surface of the beer. Color is an attractive cherry red that is relatively opaque, only becoming somewhat translucent when brought to direct light. Aroma contains a good deal of dark pitted fruit, plum and cherry strike me most. In addition to a bit of carbonation, malty sweetness and some alcohol though less than I expected with its ABV. Flavor is quite interesting pitted fruit notes particularly date, plum and cherry come across first and are accompanied by a nice level of malty sweetness followed by an almost smokey characteristic all of which cover the alcohol content marvelously. Body is medium or more but the clean mouthfeel makes this brew feel quite light. As this brew warms the fruit notes become ever more and more dominate and sweet emphasizing the cherry flavors with a gentle alcoholic note in the end that further enunciates the soft bitter notes creating an enjoyable finish. They suggest consuming this beer at around 45 degrees Ferinheight, of course in the proper open tulip like glass. I traditionally consume most of my beer around this temperature, leaving a bottle out for 20-30 minutes before consuming it but with the temperature as warm as it is in yes, Minnesota this time of year I have been much more lenient as of late simply because of how quickly the brew tends to warm up in my glass. With that said I would highly suggest consuming this beer at its proper temperature as the flavors become so much more clean and noticeable, though of course that includes the alcohol notes. Unquestionably a solid Belgian influenced amber brew that will be enjoyed by anyone who doesn’t oppose sweet malty pitted fruit notes and a good does of alcohol. If you can still find it, give it a shot and ride your bike.

Victory V-Twelve

Spring Cleaning
Decided the desk needed a long over due cleaning