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Avery Callipygian

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Venus Callipyge is an ancient Roman statue depicting a partially draped woman with her head looking back and down, as if to evaluate her bare buttocks. Little is known of its origins or the original artist. Indeed, it is thought to be a copy of an even older ancient Greek statue, also of unknown origins. Let's just call the original sculptor Sir Mix-a-Lot, to recall a more modern appreciator of posteriors.

What does this have to do with beer? Well, Avery seems to think this 17.4% ABV monster is "well-rounded", which is a bit of a stretch. Full bodied and bodacious? Certainly! This is along the lines of something like Uncle Jacob's Stout, but with the ever-so-popular kitchen sink approach to ingredients. A big, bourbon barrel aged stout with coffee, cocoa, cocoa nibs, and vanilla beans added. I would make some sort of additional Baby Got Back reference, perhaps adapting it to beer, but I will not sully such a lyrical masterpiece and instead, will just get to it:

Avery Callipygian

Avery Callipygian - Pours a deep black color with half a finger of short lived tan head. Smells of rich caramel, oak, bourbon, and vanilla, a little of that coffee is apparent and gets more prominent as it warms, but this is no coffee bomb (nowhere near something like Tweak). Taste hits similar notes, rich carmel, oak, vanilla, coffee, and lots of boozy bourbon. Again, the coffee is there, but far from dominant. Still, there's enough to raise my coffee indifference meter a bit. Mouthfeel is full bodied, rich, and chewy, lots of boozy heat. To some people a 17% ABV beer will never be balanced, but this one seems a little more out of whack than similar efforts, though it gets more unified as it warms. Overall, a nice tweak (pun intended? Sure, why not.) on the bourbon barrel stout, kinda like a more complex, even less balanced version of Uncle Jacob's... B or, what the hey, I'm feeling generous: B+

Beer Nerd Details: 17.4% ABV bottled (12 ounce). Drank out of a snifter on 6/3/16. Bottled: Apr 25 2016. Production: 1174 Cases.

I'm liking that these barrel aged efforts are becoming more widely available around here, even if my favorites tend to be the simpler versions. Still, looking forward to trying more of these in the near future...

Old Perseverance

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So you're making a beer celebrating Winston Churchill, what do you do? Obviously start with an English style, in this case an Old Ale, something that is distinctly English. Should probably name it after something that embodies his spirit, and perseverance is unquestionably something Churchill had in abundance. I mean, any survey of famous quotes is bound to find a Churchill quip that is pertinent here. For example: "If you are going through hell, keep going." Yes, sir. Then, naturally, you need to amp up the alcohol. I mean, sure, the notion that Churchill was a functioning alcoholic is almost certainly exaggerated, but the man did certainly enjoy imbibing and liked to promote his seemingly "bottomless capacity." So high ABV it is! This sounds like a job for Adam Avery. Yes, another behemoth from Avery's Barrel-Aged Series that stretches beyond the 18% ABV mark. So, like, not an everyday drinker, but after a long weekend of not drinking much, this one was perfect. Will I persevere in finishing this beer? So it would appear:

Avery Old Perseverance

Avery Old Perseverance - Pours a clear amber brown color with half a finger of off white head. Smells of fruity malt, a little of that maple syrup, and hints of bourbon, vanilla, and oak. Taste is very rich, again with the almost fruity malt character, figs and the like, with some toffee notes and a little caramel pitching in (but not as much as you'd expect), and just enough boozy bourbon, oak, and vanilla. Mouthfeel is full bodied, rich, and chewy, plenty of well balanced carbonation, and lots of booze. Intense, such that it would be nice to share a single 12 ounce bottle... Overall, this is very good, rich, tasty, worth checking out, but it's not going to make you fall down and see God. It is an interesting spin on the style while still retaining its distinct attributes though, which is admirable. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 18.5% ABV bottled (12 ounce bottle). Drank out of a snifter on 5/1/16. Bottled: March 3, 2016. Production: 783 cases.

Never, never, never give up! And I won't, Winston. In fact, I will be seeking out some more in the way of Old Ales in the near future, I think. It will require some hoop jumping though, so wish me luck.

Avery Insula Multos Collibus

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During this, my most favoritest of seasons, I like to tie one on whilst watching horror movies. I try to select appropriate beers to match what I'm watching (for instance, last week's Pumpkin beer jamboree was paired with a trio of cheesy Larry Cohen films, making for a nice sorta gimmicky match), but this week was a Frank Henenlotter marathon and, well, there's no matching beers with that (and if there were, I don't think anyone would want to drink such things). So I just snagged this Avery beer with the Latin name, thinking perhaps I might inadvertently summon a demon or something.

Alas, that was not in the cards, but what I got was pretty good nonetheless! Insula Multos Collibus is Latin for "Island of many hills", but if you translate to Dutch, it basically means "Manhattan". It turns out that this is something of an ode to the cocktail. Aged in bourbon barrels with cherries and Avery's house souring cultures, which I guess gets you close enough to a Manhattan without getting too kooky (though wouldn't you use Rye barrels for this? Eh, better not overthink it.) So get your grimoire out and turn to the evocation passages, it's time to summon a cocktail in beer form:

Avery Insula Multos Collibus

Avery Insula Multos Collibus - Pours a murky amber color with a finger or two of short lived, tan head. Smells of a sorta bourbon cherry pie, rich and sweet, oaky, fruity. I'm no Manhattan expert, but I guess this is close enough while still hewing to (sour) beer. Taste starts off on the sweet side, fruity, boozy, but then it sorta dries out and a bracing fruit sourness kicks in towards the finish. Not as pie-like as the nose would have you believe, but admirable nonetheless. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, rich up front but it dries out by the finish, a little heat from the booze, and a bracing acidity. Overall, this is quite an interesting beer, better than your typical one note American Wild Ale, perhaps a bit too strong, but given the goal to emulate a pretty strong cocktail, we'll let it slide. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 9.7% ABV bottled (12 ounce). Drank out of a tulip glass on 10/2/15. Bottled: APR 16 2015. Production: 1308 Cases. No 27 in Avery's Barrel Aged Series.

This was certainly an interesting one, really quite happy I grabbed a bottle when I could. No more Avery reviews in the pipeline, though I did have a Rumpkin (which clocks in at 18% ABV this year, so lookout!) and might snag a Pump[KY]n if it shows up again... And any of these Barrel-Aged series beers generally interest me, so it probably won't be too long until we see another on here.

Avery Tectum Et Elix

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The last year has seen many breweries upgrading their facilities and increasing production, often dramatically. Colorado's Avery brewing is among those ranks, with a new facility, increased production, and a greatly expanded barrel aging program. 2 years ago, they had 250 barrels aging a variety of beers in their warehouse and they're now at around 2000 barrels. This a welcome development and probably explains how I could get my grubby hands on several of their barrel aged beers over this past year. I'm pretty enamored with those beers, so when this beer, part of a recent trend that's been dubbed Sour Spring, showed up in my local bottle shop, I took the plunge despite never having had any of their sours before (unless you count the infected Black Tot, I guess).

Tectum Et Elix translates to "roof and grains", a reference to their new brewing facility. The new building also seems to be the inspiration for the cryptic little description for this beer, number 26 in their barrel aged series: "Conceived in the alley. Born under a roof on Nautilus. Where 'drain' isn't just a noun but finally, once again, a verb as well. FINALLY!" The new brewery is located on Nautilus Court in Boulder, Colorado, so that line is easy to figure out. Presumably there's an alley next to the building where people hang out and come up with beers or something. And the notion of drain being a verb rather than just a noun is perhaps a reference to draining barrels after a long wait? This beer spent 9 months in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels along with a mix of yeasts and bacterial beasties (apparently straying from their normal Brett strain to experiment with others). Worth the wait? Let's take a closer look:

Avery Tectum Et Elix

Avery Tectum Et Elix - Pours a clear, golden orange color, radiant with a finger of white head. Smells intensely earthy, lots of funk, hints of fruit, sour cherries, but really earthy, horsey, barnhouse stuff (supposedly due to the use of different Brett strains than normal Avery sours). Taste is more on the fruity side, sour cherries, some earthy funk, sweet fruit, and a little vinegary sourness in the finish. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, crisp, moderately acidic, light bodied. Given that the normal barrel aged Avery beer is somewhere north of 14% ABV, this sucker feels downright approachable at 5.5%... Overall, it's a nice little sour number, nothing ecstatic, but really very nice and quite tasty and it grew on me as I drank. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 5.5% ABV bottled (12 ounce). Drank out of a flute glass on 5/24/15. Bottled: Apr 16 2015. Production: 908 cases.

On deck is Insula Multos Collibus, a sour aged in bourbon barrels with cherries. After that, who knows. The production on these things is way, way up, so I'm sure we'll see more Avery barrel aged wonders as time goes on. In the meantime, I've got my hands full with VT and Boston beer, so it may be a while...

Uncle Jacob's Double Feature

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While the origins of Bourbon are not well documented, there are a few legends and claims that are frequently made. One credits an early distiller by the name of Jacob Spears with being the first to call his product "Bourbon whiskey" (named after the location of his 1790 distillery: Bourbon County, Kentucky). This sort of obscure historical reference would normally be enough for a brewer to get all hot and bothered and brew a Bourbon barrel aged beer, but Adam Avery's sister discovered this tidbit while doing a genealogy project and it turns out that Jacob Spears is their 6th Great Grand Uncle.

As a fan of Bourbon barrel aged imperial stouts, I've been on the lookout for this beer for a while, and as luck would have it, I snagged a bottle late last year not realizing that it was a 2013 vintage. Then, when the new 2015 batch came rolling around, I started seeing it everywhere and obviously I cannot resist such temptation. It was fate, and I knew I needed to drink both side-by-side. Of course, both are 16.5+% ABV, so it's important to find a night where I could pace myself. So here we are, comparing two vintages of Uncy Jacob's Stout:

Avery Uncle Jacobs Stout

Avery Uncle Jacob's Stout (2015 Vintage) - Pours an almost cloudy (hard to tell, since it's so dark) pitch black color color with a finger of brown head. Smells of dark, roasted malts, a little caramel, bourbon, oak and vanilla, maybe a faint hint of coffee. Taste is all rich caramel, bourbon, oak, and vanilla, faint hints of dark malt in the background, an some booze in the finish. Mouthfeel is full bodied, rich, and chewy, surprisingly well carbonated, but still a little sticky in the finish. Thick and viscous, I'm guessing a relatively low attenuation here. A pleasant amount of boozy heat. Overall, it's a pretty fantastic Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout, worth seeking out. A low A

Beer Nerd Details: 16.9% ABV bottled (12 ounce). Drank out of a snifter on 4/11/15. Batch No. 4. Bottled Feb 13, 2015.

Avery Uncle Jacob's Stout (2013 Vintage) - Looks pretty much the same, though I guess it's a clearer looking beer, even if that doesn't really matter because it's so dark. Smells much more of bourbon and oak, a little caramel and vanilla, brown sugar with an almost fruity aroma. Taste is similar to the 2015, but it again features a new brown sugary molasses type of character and less in the way of dark roasted malts. It feels a little more sweet and a little less boozy. Mouthfeel is the same - full bodied, rich, and chewy, well carbonated, a little sticky. Perhaps not quite as thick, though it's still a pretty viscous beer. The booze is a little more tame here as well. Overall, it's another fantastic BBA stout, a little sweeter and more integrated than the 2015. Just a tad too sweet though, so I'd go with 2015, though they're very close. A high A-

Beer nerd Details: 16.53% ABV bottled (12 ounce). Drank out of a snifter on 4/11/15. Batch No. 2. Bottled Jun 27, 2013. Production: 848 Cases.

So there you have it, a beer I'll totally get every year if I luck into it at Whole Foods like I did this year (while I had given up beer for a while, no less). It is certainly knocking at the top tier door, even if it isn't quite there just yet. But you never know. I gave Parabola an A- the first time I had that, and now it's an A+ candidate (yes, this is a thing, I should really get on that, seeing as though I have not awarded an A+ in, like, 2 years).

Avery Pump[KY]n

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And the parade of high-ABV Avery "session" beers continues. What's that? 17.22% ABV isn't a session beer? Well, according to Adam Avery, it is: "I try to just limit myself to one per drinking session. So I'd call it a sessionable beer... your session just ends quicker." In fairness, it's only about 13-14% more than your typical session beer. Someone alert Ding.

I greatly enjoyed Rumpkin, Avery's rum barrel aged pumpkin beer, and what we have here is a bourbon barrel aged pumpkin porter. Oddly, I wound up having this both on tap and from the bottle on Friday night (a local drinkery had just tapped it before we arrived for happy hour), so I've got you covered. Or something like that.

Avery Pump[KY]n

Avery Pump[KY]n - Pours a very dark brown color with a finger of tan head. Smells full of pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove, a little in the way of bourbon, oak, and vanilla as well. Taste is very rich and sugary, but not super sweet, lots of pumpkin pie spice comes through in the middle, with that bourbon, oak, and vanilla coming through more towards the finish, which is fairly boozy when you start drinking, and gets more boozy as you go along. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, full bodied, rich, and chewy. The spice comes through a little as well, as does the warming booze character. Overall, it's pretty damn great, easily the equal of Rumpkin, maybe better. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 17.22% ABV bottled (12 ounce). Drank out of a snifter on 10/24/14. Batch No. 1. Bottled Sept 12 2014.

At this point, while I'm pretty much done with Pumpkin beers for the year, I'm on board with Avery's barrel aging program in general. It seems to be expanding, so I'm guessing we'll see more of their stuff around here too. Next up, if I can snag one: Uncle Jacob's Stout.

Avery Rumpkin

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Sometimes the Kaedrin beer acquisition department conspires to kick my ass with their high-ABV game, which of course, means they've gone on a purchasing jag of Avery beers. First, there was the rather fantastic 5 Monks a couple weeks ago, a beer which has earned the dubious title of most-alcoholic-beer-I've-ever-consumed. Then their machinations directed me to a bar serving a recent incarnation of The Beast Grand Cru, which depending on its exact vintage was somewhere between 16%-18% (and with that one, you could really tell*). This reminded me of the Kaedrin cellaring department's meticulous aging of a bottle of 2010 Beast, which I figure is about ready to drink (the cellarman has been instructed to make preparations).

Finally, this past weekend, a chance occurrence lead a Kaedrin rep to overpay for a bottle of Rumpkin (amongst other treasures). In a bit of serendipity, circumstances sought to keep clean and sober for most of Saturday, so when I finally had a chance to dip into my fridge for a libation, this single bottle seemed mildly appropriate. Clocking in at 16.73% ABV, it's not quite the monster that 5 Monks was, but it shares a lot of similar flavors. It is basically a huge imperial pumpkin ale that has been aged in rum barrels, one of their regular barrel aged releases. The flavor profile is similar to 5 Monks, but it's got those additional pumpkin pie spice notes that really do differentiate it. It's an admirable and intense take on a much maligned style, but it matched well with my annual horror movie marathon (which is being chronicled over at my generalist blog, if you are so inclined) and of course, 'tis the season for mutated fucking gourds:

Avery Rumpkin

Avery Rumpkin - Pours a very dark amber color, brown in the glass, but with beautiful highlights when held up to the light, finger of off white head that has decent retention. Smells intense, lots of pie spice, cinnamon and ginger coming through loud and clear, and the rum barrel character adds a rich sweetness to the proceedings, a complement to the spice rather than something that overpowers. Taste is very sweet, lots of rich, sugary molasses, a little caramel, with a spicy/fruity note emerging in the middle (that pumpkin and pie spice coming through), followed by boozy rum, vanilla, and oak. Mouthfeel starts of very smooth, full bodied, rich, and syrupy, with ample carbonation, ultimately yielding to a more boozy, hot finish. Overall, this is very complex and interesting, a little sweet and boozy, but well, this is my kind of pumpkin beer. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 16.73% ABV bottled (12 ounces). Drank out of a snifter on 10/11/14. Batch No. 4. Bottled Sept 22, 2014.

Alas, aside from the cellared Beast, no more Avery brews on the future horizon, but I wouldn't put it past the acquisition department springing a couple monster Avery beers on me. Bring it on, I say. In the meantime, they've got some other treats in store, and a line on some others.

Update: I have spoken too soon. A particularly ambitious Kaedrin purchasing rep from the acquisition department has informed me that I have a bottle of Pum[KY]n (Bourbon Barrel Pumpkin Porter) incoming. I'm pretty sure he's trying to kill me. Please send help.

* Seriously, The Beast was uber boozy and hot. I didn't take copious notes, but I plan on comparing this one to a cellared bottle in a few weeks or so. A friend got a coffee stout called Tweak, which also clocks in at around 16% ABV (I took a sip, and boy, the alcohol was much more hidden in that sucker. A pity it had so much coffee in it. Worth trying if you like coffee beers...)

Avery 5 Monks

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Well, let's hope this goes better than the last time I tried a beer from Avery's Barrel-Aged Series. Black Tot sounded good in theory, but wound up infected. Such are the perils of barrel aging. This one shows promise, if you can call not being infected promise. Which I think I can, so I will. You're not the boss of me!

So anyway, they're calling this a Belgian Style Quintupel ale, which is like 5 times better than regular beer. It's kind of a joke, but then this does clock in at a hefty 19.39% ABV which, yes, looks to have nudged out Black Tuesday as the strongest beer I've ever had. Fortunately, this time around, we've got a simple 12 ounce bottle, so it appears that Avery isn't trying to completely annihilate me. The ultra-high ABV game gets tiresome pretty quickly, but sometimes it can work. Is that the case here? Only one way to find out:

Avery 5 Monks

Avery 5 Monks - Pours a turbid, muddy brown color with half a finger of tan head that fizzes down to a ring around the edge of the glass pretty quickly. Smells of dark fruits, molasses, and boozy bourbon. The taste hits pretty hard with that molasses character, with some really rich caramel and brown sugar, maybe even a hint of dark chocolate, less in the way of dark fruit than the nose would imply, though maybe some of it peeks through. Tons of booze, bourbon, and a little of the rich sugary oak and vanilla character from the barrels. It's sweet, but never approaches cloying levels. Mouthfeel is rich, chewy, thick, and full bodied, a real monster. Lots of alcohol heat, it doesn't quite burn on the way down, but you'll get a warming feeling in your belly pretty quickly. Despite this prominent alcohol character, it's not as overwhelming as you might expect - there's enough other stuff going on that it all works. Very well carbonated and a surprising lack of stickiness make it more approachable than you might think. Overall, this is intense and complex, a boozy monster that has no real pretensions of balance, but works nonetheless. Kinda reminiscent of a boozier version of The Bruery's anniversary beers, with more molasses than fruit. It's probably the sort of thing that should be shared 3 ways from a 12 ounce bottle like this, but it made for an excellent sipping beer, something that works over long periods of time. I like. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 19.39% ABV bottled (12 ounce). Drank out of a snifter on 9/27/14. Bottled: July 17 2014.

So yes, I will most certainly be seeking out more Barrel Aged Avery. I actually have a bottle of something I've been aging for a while that might be worth pulling out now, so keep your eyes peeled. I'm sure we'll get to it soon enough.

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