Monday, September 12, 2011

Avery Review #2 - Avery India Pale Ale (IPA)

Posted by: Tyler Rippeteau

Sept. 12, 2011

It would have been criminal to get through the entire Avery Project without reviewing Avery’s flagship beer, the Avery IPA.  So here, as the second review in the Avery Project is my current take on Avery IPA.  I say current, because this is an IPA that I have been familiar with longer than almost all others.  It was my gateway into the world of the India Pale Ale.

Way back when George W. Bush was still president and I lived in the Chicago Area I was just beginning to discover craft beer.  I never really liked wine all that much and I was getting bored with the usual spirits, plus as I was getting older Bourbon was getting more and more difficult to drink – even though I still loved it.  I had previously not been a beer drinker at all, but all I had ever had were macrobrews.  As I slowly began to discover that I actually liked beer when it wasn’t watered down piss water being passed off as lager, I started to experiment.  Sometime in the distant past, however, I had tried an IPA and decided I couldn’t stand the stuff, so while I was in the middle of this personal beer renaissance, trying many new and exciting beers, I always stopped short of IPA.

Then one night, while sitting at Cooper’s on Belmont in Chicago (which was quickly becoming one of my favorite beer bars in The City) our bartender, Mike, said “You know, I really think you would like IPAs if you gave them a shot, why don’t you try one and if you don’t like it I’ll buy it for you.” 

I gave in, said “Alright.” and watched as Mike poured a really cool looking bottle of beer into a pint glass for me.  The bottle itself was a good start for me.  I have always loved maps and this particular bottle had a map of Europe, Africa and Asia with a little red path stretching from England to India to represent the India Pale Ale’s origin.  Of course the label on that cool-looking bottle looked exactly like the one you can see in the picture to the right.

One sip was all it took - I was instantly hooked.  I did like bitter beer after all and I suddenly realized that I had been missing out on a fantastic array of beers.  From that point on I was on a mission to find the most bitter beers I could and I wanted to taste every IPA I could get my hands on.  Avery IPA sparked it all. 

So here we are now, several years later, hundreds of IPAs, Double IPAs and Barleywines later and about 1,000 miles closer to a brewery that, at the time, was about 1,000 miles away from me, as I sit down to review an old standby and one of the original beers I fell in love with. 

My opinion of it has certainly changed over the years.  It is no-longer an exotic, hard-to-find beer.  It is available almost everywhere here in Boulder and even back home in Chicago it is becoming increasingly easy to find.  Knowing the brewery as well as I do now, I also know that while it is a strong beer, it is nowhere near the best that Avery can do.  Anyhow, that’s enough rambling about my history with this beer, how about a review?

Location: West End Tavern, Boulder, Colorado
Cost: $4 - 12oz. bottle
ABV: 6.5%
IBUs: 69
Brewery Location: Boulder, Colorado
Style: American IPA
Average Beer Advocate Rating: B+/3.9 – Very Good
My Beer Advocate Rating: B+/3.93 – Very Good
Current Number of Reviews: 1,028/2nd Most Reviewed Avery Beer
Brewery Description: Avery IPA
Bottled On: ???

APPEARANCE:  (3.5 out of 5) The Avery IPA pours from the 12oz. bottle a pleasant orange-golden color with a very white head resting on top of the beer.  As the head settled, a ring of it clung to the edges of the glass while a thin film completely covered the surface of the beer.  That ring of head eventually led to some decent lacing on the top half of the glass, but not much farther down.  A few bubbles were very easy to see slowly floating to the top in this nearly perfectly clear beer. 

SMELL:  (3.5 out of 5) The strength of the nose is lacking a bit, but what aroma does get through is classic American IPA – piney and floral hops with a bit of citrus.  This is what an IPA should smell like, it is exactly the right smell for the style, there just isn’t enough of it. 

TASTE:  (4 out of 5) Avery’s IPA is a solidly bitter beer.  The hops are up front with some grapefruit and lemon along with a healthy dose of pine and a hint of anise.  Some malt is present to provide a small amount of balance towards the finish, but ultimately this is a big, hop-forward beer.  As it warms some of the sweeter flavors emerge, like orange and more of the malt, but they continue to lurk in the background behind the hops, which are the clear star of this show.

MOUTHFEEL:  (4.5 out of 5) The carbonation on this one is strong.  It has a crisp and clean feel with a sharp sparkle.  The mouthfeel is excellent.

OVERALL:  (4 out of 5) As the standard bearer for Avery, this is a fantastic beer.  By no means is it the best beer they make, but as the beer that generally introduces people to Avery’s products (like it was for me) it represents the brewery well.  It is a highly drinkable beer that for a seasoned IPA drinker is also quite sessionable. 

DRAWBACKS:  My biggest disappointment with Avery IPA is the less than stellar nose.  I really enjoy the smell, but I every time I drink it I really have to get my nose deep into the glass to get a decent whiff of it.  Aside from that, while I love the bitterness, a touch more malt to balance it out would have been nice. 


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