Monday, December 5, 2011

Avery Review #6 - Avery The Czar Imperial Stout

Posted by: Tyler Rippeteau

Dec. 5, 2011

Picture courtesy of
In last week’s review of Avery’s DuganA Double IPA I promised to review a few of the more easily obtainable Avery brews, so today, here are my thoughts on The Czar Russian Imperial Stout.  It is currently on tap in the Avery Tap Room and bombers are fairly easy to track down at any bottle shop that the brewery distributes to.

Here’s my take on this 2nd beer from Avery’s “The Dictator Series”:

Location: Avery Tap Room
Cost: $3 – 10 oz. pour
ABV: 11.03%
IBUs: 60
Brewery Location: Boulder, Colorado
Style: Russian Imperial Stout
Average Beer Advocate Rating: B+/3.88 – Very Good
My Beer Advocate Rating: B+/4 – Very Good
Current Number of Reviews on Beer Advocate: 771 (16th most popular RIS on Beer Advocate)
Brewery Description: Avery The Czar
Tapped: November 2011

APPEARANCE:  (4 out of 5) This is a deep black beer, but some ruby red light does show through the very bottom of the glass and near the surface of the beer when held to the light.  A thick, healthy, light brown head rests on top and it is not going anywhere for a while.  The Czar has excellent head retention with a few big bubbles scattered throughout the top of the foam.  As the glass empties a nice, cathedral-like lacing forms as well.

SMELL:  (4 out of 5) Coffee overwhelms the fairly intense nose.  Roasted malts warm the nostrils with each sniff – this beer smells comforting, but at the same time it warns of some of the intense flavors to come, including a touch of hops.

TASTE:  (4 out of 5) There is a lot going on in this beer.  The coffee from the nose is there, and it is strong.  A small dose of chocolate lies just beneath the heavy coffee surface and almost entirely masks the slight alcoholic burn that the 11% ABV produces.  Even deeper down lurks a slightly sour lemon flavor and all of this is rounded out with a nice, hoppy finish.

MOUTHFEEL:  (4 out of 5) The Czar is smooth and dry making it an excellent beer to pair with food.  All that is left on the palate at the end of each sip is a very subtle coffee flavor.  There is no residue left over as there is with some other beers, particularly Russian Imperial Stouts.

OVERALL:  (4 out of 5) The Czar is an excellent early winter stout and a great way to warm up from a cold and snowy Colorado evening.  The complexity of The Czar when fresh is outstanding, but before the season is over, I plan to sock away two or three bottles for a future vertical tasting.  I can only imagine how delicious this beer will be three to five years from now. 

DRAWBACKS:  The Czar suffers from exactly the same problem that the DuganA does – it has a very successful and tasty big brother.  Like the DuganA has the Maharaja, The Czar has The Mephistopheles – a gigantic Imperial Stout that clocks in at over 16% with an incredible amount of flavor.  In its own right, the Czar really is a terrific beer, and it does have some advantages over The “Meph”, like the fact that one of these will not knock you out…it might take two.  The fact is, though, this November stout offering from Avery is still an appetizer for the early December Mephistopheles release. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Avery Review #5 - Avery DuganA

Posted by: Tyler Rippeteau

Dec. 2, 2011

After some busy time at work and a week-long trip back to Chicago for Thanksgiving, it had been a couple of weeks since my last appearance at the Avery Tap Room here in Boulder.  Since it was about time to get a post or two up here on 20 Beers in 20 Nights, I headed over to the Tap Room earlier this week to review a couple more beers for the Avery Project.

Since three of the first four Avery reviews here have focused on some very difficult to find offerings from the brewery (Rumpkin, Repoterrior, Thirteen) the next few reviews will cover some beers that will be readily available to most of the audience here, at least by way of trade (which I am completely willing to do with any of you out there without access). 

So for Review #5 we’ll be focusing on one of Avery’s instant classics – the DuganA.  While only a couple of years old, the DuganA has quickly become a fall and winter staple of the brewery’s line up.  It is a Double IPA released every September just as the Maharaja is drying up for the year.  With a second batch released in January, the DuganA fills the DIPA void when Maharaja is not available during the winter months (although, rumor has it that this year the Maha will be released in a week or two).

Here’s some specifics on the DuganA:

Location: Avery Tap Room
Cost: $3 – 10 oz. pour
ABV: 8.5%
IBUs: 93
Brewery Location: Boulder, Colorado
Style: American Double/Imperial IPA
Average Beer Advocate Rating: A-/4.12 – Excellent
My Beer Advocate Rating: B-/3.43 - Worthy
Current Number of Reviews on Beer Advocate: 473 (46th most popular DIPA on Beer Advocate)
Brewery Description: Avery DuganA
Tapped: September 2011

This is one of the few beers I have reviewed in which I have disagreed with the official brewery’s description.  It is particularly surprising that I disagreed with Avery’s description, but I just did not (and really have never gotten) “dank, piney and resinous” from the DuganA.  Bitter?  Yes.  Piney?  Maybe.  Dank and resinous?  No.  Anyhow, on to the review: 

DuganA and friends at the Avery Tap Room
APPEARANCE:  (4 out of 5) The DuganA is a good-looking beer, crystal clear and light, pale orange.  Hundreds of bubbles stream to the top of the glass futilely trying to add to the quickly dissipating, quarter-inch, off-white head.  The head (which would have been a bit thicker in a larger glass) dissipated quickly leaving a thin layer of foam, which remained throughout most of the glass.  That foam was enough to leave some decent lacing throughout the glass.

SMELL:  (3 out of 5) The DuganA is a bit lacking in the aroma department, for a Double IPA it is simply too subtle for my taste (or smell).  What is there smells pretty good – crisp notes of grapefruit along with a touch of floral smell.

TASTE:  (3.5 out of 5) That subtle grapefruit from the nose is no longer subtle once it reaches the palate.  Again, the bitter citrus of the grapefruit is crisp and clean.  Aside from the big, citrusy flavor though, the DuganA seems a little thin for a DIPA.  There is a little bit of a floral flavor lurking behind the grapefruit and some bready notes are noticeable, but neither does enough to fully round out the flavor. 

MOUTHFEEL:  (3.5 out of 5) The DuganA is a palate cleansing beer to be sure.  It is crisp and dry for most of the sip, but it does leave a touch of a funky acidic aftertaste on the tail end.

OVERALL:  (3.5 out of 5) From its ABV to its taste and aroma, the DuganA seems to be hovering somewhere in between a regular IPA and a Double IPA.  It is certainly more on the crisp side than most big, full-flavored DIPAs like its big brother, Maharaja.  On the other hand, for someone just looking for a straight forward, bitter IPA, this would be a good option, although it may be more than expected. 

DRAWBACKS: To be fair, it is tough not to compare this beer to Maharaja and comparing any other beer to Maharaja is generally unfair.  The DuganA, however, is a little thin for a DIPA.  I will still regularly drink this beer when I can and I will enjoy it, but I’m not sure that it is worth paying the price of a bomber for.