Monday, November 5, 2012

Avery Review #19 - The Beast Grand Cru

Posted by: Tyler Rippeteau

Nov. 5, 2012

Election Night Eve and we are down to our second to last beer of The Avery Project – The Beast Grand Cru.  The Beast, as the name would suggest, is a big, huge, frightening, yet surprisingly tasty monster.  

While I have a bottle of this sitting in my cellar for a future date that (most likely sometime around the next Presidential Election when its Chris Christie versus Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer - just trust me on this one) I also realized that we have nearly completed this project and not yet reviewed a beer from Avery's "Demons of Ale" series.  I was a little ashamed when I realized this, also a little sad since Mephistopheles is one of my all time favorites and I failed to squeeze it in.  On the other hand, I knew, when I began this project that I would be certain to miss out on at least one or two Avery brews that deserved recognition.  I can live without doing the Mephistopheles, but at least one of the three "Demons" had to be represented and this was the one I had access to.  All three, however (Samael's is the third), are wonderful beers.

Cost: $8.99/12oz. bottle
ABV: 16.83%
IBUs: 63
Brewery Location: Boulder, Colorado
Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale
Average Beer Advocate Rating: B+/3.78 – Very Good
My Beer Advocate Rating: B+/3.93 – Very Good
Current Number of Reviews on Beer Advocate: 519
Brewery Description: Avery The Beast Grand Cru
Bottled: July 2012 – Batch #10

APPEARANCE:  (3.5 out of 5) The beer pours much lighter than I remember it from the taproom and unlike the tap pours, out of the bottle, this one has a little bit of head.  That head hangs in there, at about a quarter-inch for a minute or two.  The beer is a lighter burgundy color and thousands of bubbles can be seen darting up the sides and the middle of the glass.  It is very clear and without any haze.  The lacing sticks around for one sip at a time, but this beer is just too heavy to sustain it.  It just slowly slides down under its own weight and never stays long enough to stick.

SMELL:  (4.5 out of 5) There is an impressive amount of malt in this beer to be sure, and every ounce of it is present in the nose.  This smells like a Dogfish Head beer to me, a lot of raisins and a nice, solid, boozy heat wafting up from the glass.  There is a lot more going on here though, and after three or four sniffs I am getting some molasses.  This sounds bad, but there is a hint of gasoline in there as well, but it is very faint and does not actually detract from the smell, just seems to supplement the booze.  Very complex aroma. 

TASTE:  (4 out of 5) The Beast really is a unique beer and while I have tasted it many times I don’t think it has ever been my first beer of the night, nor have I sat down with no distractions and paid my full attention to it.  Big, sweet candied orange peels are hitting me the hardest here.  The raisins from the nose along with some cherries and other dark fruits are swirling around those oranges in what is an increasingly complex beer with every sip.  Caramel and vanilla are both here.  Grapes?  Yes, I think that is a hint of grape I taste.  I feel like I am just throwing flavors out there, but there is a ton going on.  A little oak shows up for the finish right next to a small hop kick.  The aftertaste is most definitely hoppy, a little piney and resinous.  While the alcohol is certainly noticeable, it is not nearly as strong as it could be. 

MOUTHFEEL:  (2.5 out of 5) Saying this beer is full-bodied might be the biggest understatement I have ever made here at 20 Beers in 20 Nights.  This is huge!  The booze gives it some heat and this thing is sweet.  This finish dries up a touch, but the sweetness lingers until the next sip with a bit of a mouthcoating sugariness.  This is one of the few issues I have with this beer.  It is a little too much in the sugar department.  That, and after 8oz. I am feeling fairly tipsy.  Two of these and I would be outright drunk.

OVERALL:  (4 out of 5) One of my personal goals for this project was to intimately get to know many of the Avery beers that I take for granted.  Those world-class brews that I can bike down the street to get pretty much anytime I want.  This review and the last one in particular have helped me achieve that goal.  I have sipped on this beer over a dozen times at the brewery.  It is always enjoyable, particularly because I am drinking with great company and probably in the midst of some great conversation as well, but in those cases The Beast is a supplement to the atmosphere.  And to be fair, those conversations and company over the past year and a half have probably become a part of what I am experiencing every time I stick my nose in this glass or take a sip. 

Despite the number of times I have sampled this outstanding effort from Avery, tonight is the first time I have ever had more than 4 oz. at once.  I am slowly working my way through the full 12 oz. in this bottle simply so I can get the full experience…and it is good. 

Is this the best Avery beer I have had?  Not at all.  But for hundreds and hundreds of other breweries in this country it would be their best effort.  It just so happens that Avery probably has 10 – 15 more beers that beat this.  They are a world class organization and, in my opinion one of the more underrated of the top tier breweries.  There is a reason that Vinnie from Russian River has chosen to make his only two big collaboration beers with Sierra Nevada and Avery.  That’s because he knows neither brewery will release a beer unless it is just right.

Ultimately, Avery Brewing Company makes a lot of beers with a lot of hops and they make them very well.  This is a beer that showcases just what Avery can do with malt, but of course, in true Avery fashion, even their malt masterpiece still has 63 IBUs.  

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