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Archive for the ‘Brewer: Avery’ Category

Avery Demons of Ale

June 9th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Avery, Country: America, Grade: A regular, Grade: A-, Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale, Style: English Strong Ale

With the first “Demon,” Mephistopheles’ Stout being a smashing (and I-got-smashed) A+ success for me, I thought it about time I try the other two ass-kicking and hard-to-photograph brews from the line, and luckily my friend DW hooked me up with a bottle of each last week.

The Beast Grand Cru

16.31% ABV bottled (Batch 6; 2008)

How does this beer get a B+ on Beer Advocate?  That is mind-boggling to me.  Just tells me that many BAers are ninnies that can’t handle a 16.31% asskicking.  This is very much not a subtle beer.  But, nor am I a subtle man and every day Avery gets closer and closer to being the official brewery of my life.  The Beast is so, so fragrant, you can almost smell it through the glass bottle.  Sugary and boozy, like a port or sherry.  This is one tasty brew too.  Drinking it, I had no clue what it was.  A barley wine?  Perhaps a quad?  “Technically,” it’s considered a Belgian strong dark ale and goddamn is it muscular.  Boozy, rummy, raisiny, with a syrupy mouthfeel full of yeast, bread, and pure deliciousness.  Took me a couple of hours to put this beauty down and by then I had been humiliated.  I was asleep mere seconds after finishing the bottle.  There are weaker lethal injections fluids currently on the market.  Instantly one of my new favorite beers.  To quote George Bluth, Sr., “I am having a love affair” with The Beast.


Samael’s Oak-Aged Ale

16.45% ABV bottled (April 2009; batch 5)

Samael’s Ale–product copy alert: “…the prince of demons, the angel of death, accuser and destroyer. Filled with enmity towards man, he planted the vine, the forbidden tree of paradise. Behold his venom and vengeance, both sweet and tempting, enticing you, his spellbound victim, within his wings…“–is easily the worst of the Demons of Ale line but that is just akin to being Playboy’s 12th hottest centerfold of the year. Pure maltiness, not a hint of hops, this sucker is bready and chewy.  Full of a caramel and vanilla oaked sweetness, this one is very woody too.  After Mephistopheles’ and The Beast this was a mild disappointment, but only compared to those lofty standards.  This is another sublime beer that’ll take you two hours to drink and will have you walking funny afterwards.


Avery, bring on more Demons!!!

Battle of the Imperial Stouts

June 4th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Avery, Brewer: Deschutes, Brewer: The Lost Abbey, Country: America, Grade: A plus, Grade: A regular, Grade: A-, Style: Stout

Deschutes The Abyss (2008)

11% ABV bottled


Avery The Czar

11.03% ABV bottled


The Lost Abbey Serpent’s Stout

10.5% ABV bottled

When you’re a besotted loner, it’s virtually impossible to do blind taste tests.  What are you going to do?  Have your cat pour you some beers and mix them up?  Visiting friends in DC over the weekend, I decided to bring along a bottle of the legendary and possibly highest regarded stout in the world, The Abyss, sent to me by San Diego legend Jesse the Hutt to share with my pals.  And when I noticed that my friend Derek had bottles of similarly ABV’ed and not-as-well-but-still-well-regarded The Czar Imperial Stout and Serpent’s Stout, I thought it might be fun to do a little blind taste test.

I always hate, in a way, giving universally regarded beers A pluses because I often wonder if I’m reviewing the beer or the esteem the label already has.  It’s almost impossible to separate the two unless you do it blindly.  It’s why symphony tryouts nowadays are conducted behind curtains.  No matter how hard they tried, no matter how non-biased they thought they could be, judges couldn’t stop themselves from down grading certain minorities, unwittingly thinking it impossible they could play as well as others.

We had Derek’s kindly girlfriend distribute the glasses and here were my findings.

Mystery Beer A

I thought this beer had a great smell, a very complex nose which reminded me of the splendid Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout.  Unfortunately, the taste was much simpler, nothing like that A+ offering.  A creamy, smooth beer with bold chocolate and espresso flavors and a fairly sweet taste bordering on cloying.  A very drinkable, frequent-tippling stout, though no masterpiece.


Mystery Beer B

An incredibly smooth nose that drove through my nostrils and into my brain.  Delicious!  A kind mouthfeel with strong tastes of burnt coffee, molasses, black licorice, and even a little vanilla.   Absolutely wonderful and I would drink it every single day of the year but it did not completely knock my socks off.


Mystery Beer C

This one was right up my alley.  Everything I want an imperial stout to be.  Incredibly boozy like some stout/quadruple sort of hybrid, but smooth as silk.  Tickles every single inch of your pharynx and larynx before plummeting into your belly and filtering through your liver and making you dance around the room with joy.  What a pleasure to drink.  A rich chocolate sweetness perfectly balanced with roasted coffee, a burning rumminess, oodles of dark fruits, and a tad hops bitterness.  Smooth, outstanding, a masterpiece.  Cannot say enough about this surely already legendary beer.


Though I liked them all, I didn’t really think it was close, Mystery Beer C won in a blowout on my scorecard.  In fact, it won on 5 out of 5 taste testing friends’ scorecards, all 5 thinking it a landslide.

Beer C had to be the gorgeous wax-dipped bottle of The Abyss, right?


We were shocked when Derek’s girlfriend revealed the answers…

Mystery Beer A:  The Czar (A-)*

Mystery Beer B:  The Abyss (A)

Mystery Beer C:  Serpent’s Stout (A+)


This can’t be possible.  With newfound knowledge of what each beer was, we tried them again, and still had to agree that the handsomely corked-and-caged Serpent’s Stout was superior to them all.

The next day, we ran into Tomme Arthur at Savor and told him of our findings.  He gave us a stern eye-bulging and said, “Shhh…keep it down, don’t let any one know.”  A cocky smirk fell over his face, like he was proud of the little secret that only he and a few others know, that his imperial stout is better than maybe the most highly-regarded stout in the world.

*Unfortunately not as great as their masterpiece Mephistopheles’ Stout.

Avery Ale to the Chief

March 31st, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 17 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Avery, Country: America, Grade: A-, Style: IPA

The French Fry Rankings

I got into a never resolved drunken argument with a buddy last week, and since I have a public forum and he doesn’t, I’ll now get the final, definitive word (in your face, GW!)

My picks for the best french fries by style.

1.  The Curly Fry (seasoned or not)–Clearly the king of french fried pertaters (mmmhhh) the coiled shape produces splendid crevices for oil collection–much like the ruffled potato chip–creating a thicker, crisper, and more flavorful fry.  Coated with a flawless blend of hot spicy seasonings only makes these more sublime.  Throw in a cheese or mayonnaise based dipping sauce, and the seasoned curly becomes a work of art, though I will admit that the curly is not the sturdiest for the actual act of dipping.

2.  The Fresh Cut Fry–A much underrated fry that people rarely ask for by name yet are always excited to see on their plate, these are the most often served fry variant at finer pubs and burger joints or places that actually have chefs.  The smoky potato skin still remaining on the fry itself, for some reason these just seem fresher, even healthier, perhaps even fancy foreign (Belgian pomme frites).

3.  The Waffle Fry (seasoned or not), aka the Criss Cut Fry–The most varying in quality of any fry mentioned on this list, this style can be absolutely sublime or disgustingly terrible.  It all depends on how hot they are and how correctly fried they are.  Whereas most fries remain similar in taste as they cool, the waffle fry becomes less and less edible in a ridiculously quick pace.  These demand going straight from the hot deep fryer into your face within minutes, ignore your burger as there’s no time to spare.  Likewise, sometimes the waffle design’s countless crevices, if not monitored properly, collect so much oil and seasonings that it becomes a misshapen hockey puck of breaded yuckiness.  Another great fry for dipping what with its very sturdy design, the only problem arises when the idiotic restaurant presents you with ketchup or sauce in a tub with too small of radius to actually cram a fry into.

4.  The Shoe String Fry–The style of fry served by basically all fast food restaurants, these are rarely not good.  Simple, abundantly greasy and salty, what’s not to love?  They won’t blow you away, but never will they disappoint either.

5.  The Potato Wedge–A rarely utilized fry variant, this often seasoned style is always crispy on the outside and full of flavor.  Problems arise when undercooked, though this style rarely is.

6.  The Sweet Potato Fry–Another hit or miss fry style, at its best this variant is a nice, delicious change of pace.  At its worst, it’s still a french fry packed with fucking vitamins.  Seriously.  B6, C, and beta-carotene.  The biggest issue with this style is that it absolutely demands a dipping sauce while seeming to cool much quicker than normal potato fries.

7.  The Crinkle Cut Fry–The retarded cousin to the curly fry, I’m not sure if these accordion shaped monstrosities are actually served at a single restaurant in the world.  They seem to be solely owned by the frozen food conglomerates of the world.  In theory, these fries should work due to my aforementioned mention of the creviced collection areas as brilliantly employed by curly fries, waffle fries, and ruffled potato chips, but in this instance it simply doesn’t come together.  Perhaps because they are always prepared by your drunk uncle at a family BBQ and, of course, without the usage of a deep fryer.  Perpetually soggy, undercooked, and under-salted, these suck fries evoke memories of elementary school cafeteria meals.

8. The Steak Fry–BY FAR the worst fry variant, if I see this as a “comes-with-a-side-of” on a menu, I always ask for a swap to onion rings, tater tots, hell, even fruit salad.  Never cooked properly, steak fries are like tiny, skinless baked potatoes.  Each bite yields far too much chalky, flavorless potato interior and far too little fried grease.  You know why we eat baked potatoes slathered with butter and sour cream and shredded cheese and bacon bits?  Because a potato by itself kinda fucking sucks.  And so do steak fries, arguably the only french fry that no one is excited to get, the only french fry left standing on a plate at the end of a meal as none of your friends will even “help” you finish your order.

So that’s my list.  What’s your order of styles?  Did I miss any variants?

The funniest thing is, I think I kinda prefer fresh, greasy onion rings over all of the above.

Ale to the Chief

8.75% from a bomber

My friend Derek hooked me up with this special release from the Colorado brewer commemorating the recent Presidential election (Did I miss that one?  Who won?).  Citrusy with an abundance of cascade hops and honey malt which gave it a nice creamy sweetness which truly make this beer exemplary.  I tell you, just a half year ago I would have told you that Avery is nothing more than a mid-level brewery based on what I had imbibed from them, but lately–what with Maharaja, their Russian River collaberation, and especially Mephistopheles’ Stout–they have absolutely been knocking it out of the fucking park.  What a sublime beermaker.


Here’s what the beer’s faux-parchment label read:

“Ale to the Chief! We the Brewers of Avery Brewing Company, in order to form a more perfect ale, require new leadership that can liberate us from our quagmires in foreign lands; embrace environmentally sound energy alternatives to imported oil; heal our ailing healthcare system; free us from tyrannical debt and resurrect the collapsing dollar. We hereby pledge to provide him with an ample amount of our Presidential Pale Ale to support in the struggle for the aforementioned goals! Hail to the New Chief!”

Avery Mephistopheles’ Stout

February 24th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 10 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Avery, Country: America, Grade: A plus, Style: Stout

15.92% ABV bottled (Nov. 2008 BATCH 4)

A Modest Proposal: For Preventing the Homeless People in America from Drinking Low ABV Shit Beer, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Public

If I was the kind of guy that was into charities, the one I would found would be called Craft Beer for Bums (CBB).  Oh how it upsets me so when I’m walking through my tony Manhattan neighborhood and see a hobo trying to keep himself warm with a pathetic forty of Olde English.  How saddened I am upon encountering a wino trying to drink his troubles away while forgetting that he smells like the Kansas City stockyards as he slugs some fortified wine.  How many tears have trickled down my cherubic cheeks watching a transient try to numb his pain and pass out for the evening on some rotgut potato vodka.

No, I will not stand for it any longer, from now on I want the homeless of the world drinking craft beer.  It just makes sense!  Man needs a certain amount of pleasure in his life.  You’re getting a lot of sex then you don’t need much else.  Not getting any intercourse and all of the sudden you’re gorging on food.  It creates a vicious cycle no question.  Which came first:  the girl was fat or she wasn’t getting laid?

The homeless are the same way.  Stinking like urine, members of the fairer sex are obviously not talking to them and thus the closest they get to coitus is that pocket pussy they stole from Babes in Toyland.  Likewise, little culinary pleasure can surely be derived from day old Dunkin Donuts munchkins.  Thus, the homeless have no choice but to get their daily minimum of pleasure from alcohol.  And I am the satyr that will orchestrate things.

What kind of life is it for these gentleman to be laying in a gutter drinking 4.2% Bud Light tallboys?!  It’s not a life, not at all.  They need stuff with taste and flavor and enough alcohol per volume to put them on their motherfucking asses.

A splendid beer to start a craft beer neophyte homeless man with might be Avery’s Mephistopheles’ Stout.  For years I’ve considered Avery as a good but nothing special brewery.  I’m not sure why that is, because I had no reason to feel that way, no proof whatsoever.  And, considering the last few beers I’ve had from Avery have been their splendid Collaboration with Russian River, their top-of-the-line DIPA, and now this stout masterpiece, I must admit my visceral regard toward them was unequivocally wrong.  Mephistopheles is simply one of the best stouts I have ever had.  I tippled it in the same sitting that I had the A+ Dark Horizon 2.0 and Dogfish Head’s Worldwide Stout and it outshone them both.  Probably the regular release beer I’ve found to be the closest in deliciousness to Surly’s phenomenal Darkness.  A very sweet stout, but not cloying in the least.  Lacks that overpowering dark chocolate/roasted coffee flavor most big boy stouts have which makes it quite unique.  Its prominent tastes are molasses, dark cherries, sweeter chocolate, and boozy, stinging, delicious rummy alcohol.  Even though it ain’t cheap–we’re talking a couple of sawbacks for just 12 ounces–you absolutely have to try it.

A single bottle of this and a malnourished, scurvy-riddled bum would be in lala land, having the most pleasent of dreams.  And the benefits of well-drunk homeless people would be immense to us beer geeks.  No longer would one have to waste a few minutes on Beer Advocate or RateBeer researching upcoming brew purchases.  Naw, you could just walk down you block and “Hey, Smitty, had any good saisons lately?”  The streets would be literally lined with beer recommendations.

You might think me callous, “Bums can’t be getting shit-faced on expensive, super alcoholic beer!  Have a heart!”

But ask yourself this:  who is callous?  Me, who wants to give the dregs of society a little pleasure in their lives, or the sanctimonous leftist city that won’t even sell cheap booze in the parts of town where their homeless congregate?  Move to New York, homeless folks, CBB will get you well snockered.

If you agree with my cause, please PAYPAL me your donations.*


*Please don’t.  I don’t want to go to jail for running a false charity.  But feel free to send me some money or beer to satiate mine own dipsomania.

Avery Maharaja

July 19th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Avery, Country: America, Grade: A regular, Style: IPA

9.7% ABV from draught and a bomber

I always workout shirtless. Not cause I’m a vain douche that thinks he has a bangin’ body or something. Rather, because I am one of the world’s greatest sweaters, and after mere seconds of exercise my t-shirts become so deluged with salty water that it feels like I’m jogging around with a flak jacket on. Thus, no matter how hot or cold it is, no matter how fat or slightly-less fat I am, I go running down Manhattan’s Hudson River Park jogging path sans shirt. And, being that I live in gay Hell’s Kitchen and run toward gayer Chelsea every single day, I immediately get feedback on how well I’m doing with my workout regimen via stares by rollerblading homosexuals. At the start of the summer, I was getting no stares in the least. By mid-June I might get one up-and-down per week. And, yesterday afternoon, I got visually objectified by a record-breaking five, count ‘em five, skating swishes.

Score! Except for the fact that I’m a heterosexual. And not a single woman ogled me yesterday. Though, I did leer at about 900 women myself.  Whatever the case, those stares must mean my jogging is working!

I bring this up because I know that my blog is “working” by the more and more feedback I get from friends and readers.  The most prominent feedback I get is from people challenging me as to whether I’ve had some “obscure” beer they just tried and loved.  Everytime someone finds themselves drinking and mildly enjoying something that isn’t an American macro, I get a text or email telling me about this great new beer discovery that has just been made.

I take these recommendations with a big grain of salt.  50% of the time I’ve actually had the beer.  25% of the time I immediately dismiss the recommendation because I know it has to be faulty.  24% of the time I file the recommendation away for future considerations.  And a mere 1% of the time do I know that I must run out and find the beer post-haste.  This happened recently when a friend recommended Avery’s double IPA, the Maharaja.

On Wednesday, I stopped in at New York’s best beer bar before heading to the world’s most famous arena to watch the universe’s funniest man perform standup.  In an act of kismet, Maharaja was on tap.  My friend was right.  It was fucking delicious.  Beautiful amber cherry pour.  Frothy, fruity, sugary, tons of hops, and very alcoholic.  Complex, a terrific finish, and very drinkable.  I could have these until I fell off the barstool.

I liked it so much the next day I went to Whole Foods and snagged a bomber of it which I found equally tasty.  I’m gonna put this one into my regular IPA rotation.

A pretty damn perfect double IPA.  I think it’s probably Avery’s best beer.  Very close to giving it an A+.


Collaboration Not Litigation Ale

June 4th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 2 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Avery, Brewer: Russian River, Country: America, Grade: A regular, Style: Strong Ale

8.72% from a bomber, Batch #2

(from Avery Brewing Company/Russian River Brewing Company)*

A few years ago I tried several of the major Avery releases. I recall liking them all, but not really loving any and thus I had pretty much ignored the brewery ever since then. That all changed when one of my favorite beer blogs, Fermentedly Challenged, mentioned how much he had loved this brew. His review most intrigued me because he noted something I hadn’t known, that this beer was a collaboration between Avery and Russian River. For the longest time, Russian River beers (predominately Pliny the Elder and Younger) have been at the top of my “most wanted” list. For whatever reason, Russian Rivers simply do not seem to make it to the east coast—as far as I can tell—and thus I have never had a single beer from that brewery. This would be my first chance to kinda have one. I immediately went to the Columbus Circle Whole Foods and was lucky to find one sole bottle left. (I found several other great beers on this trip as well).

It pours a much bigger head than I expected yet isn’t as dark as I thought it would be. Nice little fruity smell almost like a barley wine. But it also has Belgian-esque “hints” in it. So many complex flavors in its taste. Very alcohol-y the more you drink it, which is something I like indeed. The aftertaste is a tad bitter. Quite frankly, the more I drink it, the more I feel almost like I’m drinking a weak bourbon neat. In fact, halfway through drinking this I realized I had no idea what style of beer this was. I thought it kinda tasted like a barley wine, kinda tasted like a Belgian ale, perhaps a stout…? (It is in fact a strong dark ale.)

It might not be an exact science, but one way I do like to judge alcohol is by the borderline arbitrary pseudo-standard of “how good it makes me feel” as it gets me drunker and drunker. Allagash Interlude is perhaps the king of this sensation. I feel like I’m floating in the clouds by the time I’m done with a bomber of Interlude. Collaboration gave me a similar feeling. I felt sensational by the time I was done with this one. And that was not exactly a good thing because I had several more craft beers I had wanted to sample that evening and was thus unable to because I don’t like to try new beers while bordering on blotto. Thus, I was forced to nightcap my evening by stealing from my ladyfriend’s stash of Bud Light Lime. Quite a difference, no doubt. Like starting your evening by making out with Scarlett Johansson and ending the night in bed with Kathy Bates.

After drinking Collaboration not Litigation I may have to revisit the rest of the Avery bottlings to see if my opinions have changed (while I continue dreaming about one day trying Russian Rivers beers.)

Overall, this one is fantastic. A minor masterpiece.


*Salvation. The name of two intricate Belgian-style ales, created by us - Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River Brewing and Adam Avery of Avery Brewing. After becoming friends a few years ago, we realized that we both had a Salvation in our line-ups. Was it going to be a problem? Should one of us relinquish the rights? “Hell no!” we said. In fact, it was quickly decided that we should blend the brews to catch the best qualities of each and create an even more complex libation. In April 2004, in top-secret meeting at Russian River Brewing (well actually it was packed in the pub, and many were looking over our shoulders wondering what the hell was going on), we came up with the perfect blend of the two Salvations. Natalie, Vinnie’s much more significant other, exclaimed, “We should call this Collaboration, not Litigation Ale!” “Perfect!” we shouted. We celebrated deep into the night, (or is it morning?). Fast forward to November 14, 2006. After talking about it for over 2 years we finally decided to pull the trigger and Vinnie flew out to Avery to brew his Salvation exactly as he does in his brewery. This was blended with Avery’s Salvation December 11th, 2006. We hope you enjoy it as much we enjoyed brewing and blending it.

Fast Forward to 2008. After incredible demand from fans of beer across the country Avery and Russian River have teamed up to do it all again. This year’s batch will become available mid February, marked by a release party at the Avery Brewing Co tasting room, Boulder Colorado 2/12/2008.