Monday, August 27, 2012

Avery Review #14 - The Kaiser

Posted by: Tyler Rippeteau

Aug. 27, 2012

Before we begin Review #14 of The Avery Project I have to mention a couple of things for the sake of full disclosure.  Avery’s The Kaiser holds a special place in my heart.

For starters, last year, when Emily and I first moved here to Boulder and had very little money, our nights out were few and far between.  It was tough to explore our new home on a shoe-string budget, but one of the things we did treat ourselves to a few times last fall was a trip to The Sink to grab a couple pints (yep, pints) of this delicious beer.  So, I have some very fond memories attached to this beer.  On a side note, The Sink is also the place President Obama visited the day we saw him speak here at the University of Colorado last spring.

Second, it was at The Kaiser release party at Avery last year that I made the decision to dive into The Avery Project.  I had recently finished The DIPA Project and I was looking for something fun to dive into as a new Boulder resident.  The funny thing is that I initially predicted it would take me about two months to get through the project.  Ha!  Here we are, nearly a year later, and I am only on Beer #14.  Oh well. 
So, the point is, I might be a little biased in favor of this particular beer.  I will try not to be, but you’ll have to forgive me if I am.  Here’s some stats before we begin the review:

Location: Liquor Mart
Cost: $8.99/22 oz. bomber
ABV: 9.1%
IBUs: 24
Brewery Location: Boulder, Colorado
Style: Märzen/Oktoberfest
Average Beer Advocate Rating: B+/3.79
My Beer Advocate Rating: A-/4.05
Current Number of Reviews on Beer Advocate: 561
Description: Avery The Kaiser
Glassware: Avery 19th Anniversary Tulip
Bottled On: August, 2012

APPEARANCE:  (4 out of 5) The color of this beer is about as rich as I expect the flavor to be – a deep, copper-penny red.  On top rests a half-inch of off-white foam, but it only lasts for a few moments.  The head quickly crashes in the middle of the glass leaving a thin lid over the beer with a thicker rim rising around the edges.  The head completely vanishes after a few sips, but some strong, patchy lacing is left behind.

SMELL:  (3.5 out of 5) Bready aromas waft out of the glass while some subtle spices give the nose some character.  I also believe I smell a faint hint of pumpkin, or at least pumpkin-like spices. 

TASTE:  (4 out of 5) The smell does not indicate how much of a malt-bomb this beer is.  Sweet caramel flavors, toffee, a touch of molasses and some earthy spiciness collaborate to make up the base of The Kaiser.  Hints of banana bread and orange serve to round it out.  This has to be in my top three Oktoberfest beers, but of course it is…it’s an imperial.

MOUTHFEEL:  (4.5 out of 5) The mouthfeel here reminds me a lot of G’Knight (a.k.a. Gordon) from Oskar Blues – sweet, sticky and a little syrupy.  The nice thing about this, though, is that despite the sweet, syrupy stickiness, the body is relatively light.  So, I guess in early 90s lingo this beer would not only taste great, but it would be less filling as well. 

OVERALL:  (4.5 out of 5) It isn’t terribly surprising that of the 779 Märzen/Oktoberfests listed on Beer Advocate this is the second highest in ABV.  That’s the way Avery does things, big and bold.  Of course, it also isn’t terribly surprising that I like it as much as I do.  As much as I love hops, I also love me some malt, and this beer has the latter in spades.  

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Oskar Blues Deviant Dale's India Pale Ale

Posted by: Tyler Rippeteau

Aug. 26, 2012

A beautiful case of Deviant Dale's
For a variety of reasons, this review of Oskar Blues Deviant Dale’s India Pale Ale is bound to be one of the most exciting I have ever done.  For starters, I am reviewing this beer on a train, hurtling across the great State of Nebraska at about 70 MPH in the middle of the night.  More importantly, though, I am reviewing this beer as a part of Reddit’s new beer blogging community’s (r/beerblogs) first ever community-wide review.  Check out everyone else’s reviews here.  So as we take a break from both The Avery Project and The Barleywine Project here at 20 Beers in 20 Nights, enjoy this review of a beer that is becoming a bit of an instant classic out here in Colorado. 

Deviant Dale’s has long been a favorite at the brewery in Lyons, CO.  Until earlier this year, however, it was not available outside the taproom.  So only those who could venture up into the tiny town outside of Boulder could taste this delicious brew.  Enter the new canning line at Oskar Blues (Longmont), one capable of producing tallboys at exceptionally high speeds, and bam!  We now have Deviant available just about everywhere Oskar Blues distributes.  Here are some stats:

Location: Somewhere near the Colorado/Nebraska border, on a train
Cost: $12.99/4-pack of tallboys
ABV: 8%
IBUs: 85
Brewery Location: Longmont, Colorado
Style: American IPA
Average Beer Advocate Rating: B+/3.99
My Beer Advocate Rating: A-/4.05
Current Number of Reviews on Beer Advocate: 381
Glassware: Plain Pint Glass
Bottled On: NA

APPEARANCE:  (4 out of 5) A fairly strong pour into a pint glass reveals a nice, deep amber color with a generous off-white head.  The retention isn’t bad and the head seems to settle in for a little while after about half of it has evaporated.  At first the lacing is fairly thin and cathedral-like, but after pouring the remaining 4 ounces into my glass, it becomes much thicker, almost caked on.

SMELL:  (4 out of 5) Big pine and grapefruit aromas greet the nose with a hint of some woodiness.  The Deviant does not have a terribly complex smell, but it is strong, solid, appetizing and straight forward – typical for a big IPA like this.

TASTE:  (4 out of 5) Up front, the Deviant has a big dose of sweet caramel and toffee-flavored malt, along with a faint hint of chocolate.  Those malts vanish quickly, though, as a very strong hop flavor takes over.  At first the hops provide a piney and slightly weedy resinous taste, but towards the end of the sip they put forth a full-on lemon and grapefruit assault.  The switch from big malt to big hops really makes the hop bite seem much more pronounced than in other IPAs. 

MOUTHFEEL:  (4.5 out of 5) As you may have gathered from the previous paragraph, this beer starts out sweet and finishes very dry.  The hop bite at the end makes the middle part of the tongue feel almost raw, but the good news is that there is just enough malt in each new sip to repair it.  It flirts with the extreme, but never goes over the edge.  There is a mild boozy heat from the 8% ABV, but it only becomes noticeable as the beer warms.

OVERALL:  (4 out of 5) This beer is delicious as always.  I first tried this beer back before I moved to Colorado.  I was in Lyons specifically to go to the original Oskar Blues location.  In my initial review on Beer Advocate I noted that the malt up front was much sweeter and maybe even contained a hint of honey.  I didn’t get that honey this time and the malt does not seem to be as intense as it was back then.  Also, the hops seem a lot more aggressive, but either way, this is still a strong beer from a great Colorado brewery.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Avery Review #13 - Karma Belgian Pale Ale

Posted by: Tyler Rippeteau

Aug. 24, 2012

For Review #13 of The Avery Project we have another standard brew from the Boulder-based brewer.  Although Avery Karma is not a year-round beer, when it is released, it is pretty widely available.  So, unlike some other brews I’ve had to track down for this project, the Karma only required a short trip to my local liquor store.

Location: Boulder Liquor Mart
Cost: About $1.89/12oz. bottle
ABV: 5.4%
IBUs: 10
Brewery Location: Boulder, Colorado
Style: Belgian Pale Ale
Average Beer Advocate Rating: B/3.4
My Beer Advocate Rating: B-/3.2
Current Number of Reviews on Beer Advocate: 445
Description: Avery Karma
Glassware: Avery 19th Anniversary Tulip
Bottled On: NA

APPEARANCE:  The slightly hazy Karma is a deep, rich orange; a very good looking color.  What little head there is at first disappears quite quickly leaving a thin ring of foam around the edge of the glass.  Only a few very small patches of lacing appear on the glass.

SMELL:  The aroma here is nice and citrusy with a solid dose of grassiness.  Some light bready characteristics are noticeable as well along with a touch of sweetness.

TASTE:  This is a rare example of a beer in which the taste does not follow the flavor.  Some of the citrus from the nose, a little lemon and maybe a touch of grapefruit are there, but the dominant flavor is a slightly tart, green apple.  A faint clove flavor rounds this beer out before a slightly sour finish.

MOUTHFEEL:  Light in body, a mild pucker is the highlight of the mouthfeel here, but it shows up towards the end of the sip.  Early on, the Karma is crisp, clean and very sparkly.  Oddly, the pucker seems to subside as the beer warms.

OVERALL:  Avery’s Karma is an interesting example of a Belgian-style Pale Ale.  The mouthfeel is outstanding, and it is quite refreshing, but unlike many, many other Avery beers, the Karma is not an example of pushing the limits of the style or of experimentation.  Rather, this is a fairly conservative take and something that seems as though it was created less to be thoroughly enjoyed by beer lovers and more to be accepted by a wide audience of occasional beer drinkers.  That’s not necessarily a terrible thing, and this beer was enjoyable, but it seems like an odd approach from a brewery like Avery.  All in all, it’s good beer, but not Avery’s best. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Avery Review #12 - Ellie's Brown Ale

Posted by: Tyler Rippeteau

Aug. 14, 2012

After a string of rare Avery beers, it is time to get back to some more of the mainline stuff in The Avery Project.  So, Avery’s Ellie’s Brown Ale is up next as Beer #12.  If you happen to live in one of the states Avery distributes to, and you drink brown ales, you have probably tried this beer before.  It is arguably the second most popular beer in their lineup behind the IPA. 

Named for Adam Avery’s late Chocolate Lab, Ellie, the Brown Ale has been in production since 2002.  It is a year-round beer available in cans and bottles.

Location: Boulder Liquor Mart
Cost: About $1.89/12oz. bottle
ABV: 5.5%
IBUs: 28
Brewery Location: Boulder, Colorado
Style: American Brown Ale
Average Beer Advocate Rating: B+/3.9
My Beer Advocate Rating: B+/4
Current Number of Reviews on Beer Advocate: 580
Glassware: Ska Brewing Pint Glass
Bottled On: NA

APPEARANCE:  (5 out of 5) This is one of the more impressive heads I have seen on a beer.  It is foamy, creamy and about an inch thick.  In fact, the 12oz. bottle ended up pouring perfectly flush to the brim of the 16oz. Ska pint glass.  I have a clock running on this foam now and after 10 minutes it is still hanging on strong with about a third of it left. 

This impressive mass of foam all sits on top of a deep brown, but still faintly transparent beer.  Red hues slip through when held up to the light and the lacing is spectacular.  For a brown ale, this could not look any better.

SMELL:  (4.5 out of 5) A nice, intense and rich smoky aroma greats the nose while some nuttiness and spicy chocolate smells round it out.  The nice thing about this beer is that with the fantastic head, the aroma sticks around with a fair amount of intensity throughout most of beer.

TASTE:  (4 out of 5) Up front, Ellie’s is dry and a relatively hoppy in an earthy sort of way – not at all what I expected after the sticking my nose in the glass.  The smoky and chocolaty flavors build throughout the sip, however, and by the time the finish rolls around the chocolate malt is very apparent.  Some nutty flavors also expose themselves as the beer warms along with an increasingly stronger vanilla backbone.

MOUTHFEEL:  (2.5 out of 5) The body is disappointingly thin, particularly up front.  If the malt were more apparent at the beginning of each sip this could be a truly exceptional beer.  Additionally, the carbonation is not very strong which only adds to the thin feel. 

OVERALL:  (4 out of 5) This is an excellent example of a beer that needs to be served at its appropriate temperature.  When cold and fresh out of the glass a lot of the sweeter flavors are masked (although the aroma from the Bullion hops is very strong), but it becomes significantly more enjoyable as it approaches 50 – 55 degrees.  The Brown Ale is not my favorite style, but every once in a while, when I’m in the mood, Ellie’s is a solid choice.