Posted by: Tyler Rippeteau
Nov. 27, 2012
As I sit here on my patio on a mild, late fall afternoon here in Boulder to reflect on The Avery Project, what surprised me the most was how long it took me to finish. I initially anticipated that it would take me a couple of months, tops. As it turns out, however, finding an hour to sit down and really, truly focus on a beer, no matter how easily obtainable it is, is not so easy to do three times a week.
So here we are 1 year, 2 months and 15 days later; 276 ounces of beer later, $129.83 and 617-plus IBUs consumed later; and 24 blog posts later. That is what it took for me to review 20 Avery beers.
To be fair, 20 Avery beers are not your typical 20 beers. The average ABV of beers I drank for this project was 9.5%, which works out to be the equivalent of 43.7 regular, 12-ounce Budweiser’s…at least in terms of alcohol consumed. Flavor is a different story – not sure there are enough Buds on the planet to equal the amount flavor I experienced during this project.
When I set out on this little excursion, my goal was to get to know my new hometown brewery in a much more intimate sense - and to expand my beer horizons with their wide variety of styles. Along the way I was hoping that my journey through 20 of their beers might enlighten a few people as to what Avery is capable of accomplishing aside from their flagship brew. Since many beer drinkers, particularly those outside of
Colorado, only know Avery for their IPA I wanted others to have the chance to see more of what those of us here in Boulder see of our hometown’s most well-known beer producer.
By the way, when I say that this journey was through 20 beers, 20 is the number that I actually wrote about and posted. During my visits to the taproom over the past year I have probably sampled 50-plus Avery offerings, many of which did not make it into the project. This was not because they weren’t great beers, rather that when I drank them I was not in a position to review. Drinking great beer at the brewery with great company is not exactly the time to break out the notes and start reviewing.
Even during several of the occasions when I was able to take notes at the brewery I was often unable to convert those notes into full posts. At times it was not just because I never had the time to make the conversion, but rather because of the intent of the project. Had I began this whole thing as an effort to only review rare and special releases that no one outside of Boulder really gets a chance to try than my trip to the 19th Anniversary party would have yielded five or six reviews…or maybe a few less considering that by the end of said party I managed to spill three ounces of Uncle Jacob’s on myself (I know, sacrilegious). That day I had at least one glass of Summer’s Day IPA, Bourbon Barrel Aged Salvation, Ross’s Mom, Tweak and, as indicated above, more than my fair share of Uncle Jacob’s Stout.
Some other notable beers that I had over the past year at/from Avery – Trogdor, Piglet Purgatory, Odio Equum, Out of Spec and Lilikoi Mahu. All of these were amazing in their own way (and in one or two cases a little too weird), but again, this wasn’t about showcasing beers that no one can get. Avery has very strong flagships, solid seasonals, several excellent rotating series and some spectacular one offs – all of which deserved some attention here.
With all of that said, there are a few beers that could have (and maybe should have) easily been included in this project but were not. I’ll start with my favorite beer that did not make the cut – Mephistopheles Stout – one of my all time favorite beers. I actually wrote a review for it while sitting at the West End Tavern here in Boulder, but sadly it was a month before I was able to sit down to turn those notes into a full review. Writing a post based on month-old notes did not seem appropriate for a beer that deserves such respect. I ended up going with The Beast as the representative from the “Demons of Ale” series instead – which I was able to review and post in a much more timely manner.
So I guess now we’re at $134.83 + tip for the whole project.
Collaboration not Litigation was a similar story. This one I actually reviewed at home one night and I did not forget about it. Instead, my computer crashed half-way through the review and I never was able to retrieve it. Rather than go on memory alone, I chose to skip it. An $8 mistake bringing the new total spent to $142.84. By the way, this is the eighth most reviewed Avery beer on Beer Advocate.
Next, Old Jubilation is probably one of two that I feel the worst about missing out on. No, it isn’t my favorite seasonal from Avery, but it is one of the most popular and I simply never got around to reviewing it. The good news for you all though is that everyone else did – it is by far the most reviewed full-production seasonal from Avery.
And that brings us to the final beer that could/should have been included here, which is Eremita. Eremita is a taproom exclusive, sour, brett beer that has had four iterations over the past year. They have all been very good and I am slightly ashamed that I never got around to reviewing any of the four of them. I may have to add an addendum to the project just to sneak one of these in. This beer really does say a lot about the brewery.
Additionally, some of you may have noted that two very important Avery beers did not get reviewed for this project – Hog Heaven Barleywine and Maharaja Double IPA. The reason I skipped those two is because they were both already reviewed here during our Barleywine Project and DIPA Project respectively. I did not want to unnecessarily double up on them.
Anyhow, a strong argument can be made that the lack of any one of the above beers makes this project incomplete, but on the other hand, what would I have removed from the list? Karma? Rumpkin? The Reverend? Surprisingly, only 20 beers simply left too many bases to cover.
Ultimately, I do believe that I was able to provide a good mix of everyday Avery brews, special, but widely available beers and the rare, highly sought after special-releases. I made sure to review a few of the everyday, year-round releases like Ellie’s and IPA, a couple from the “Trinity of Ales” series (Reverend and Salvation), both beers from the “Annual Barrel-Aged” series, a few from the regular “Barrel-Aged Series”, a collaboration (Repoterrior), a couple Anniversary brews (Thirteen & Nineteen), a “Demons of Ale” release (The Beast) and finally a special, once-every-four years brew in the Ale to the Chief. I think, overall, it is a pretty solid representation of what Avery Brewing Company does.
|Collection of Avery bottles, not necessarily what I reviewed|
I worked hard to avoid simply reviewing the styles that I prefer and I made an effort to try some things that weren’t necessarily what I would always reach for and I am glad that I did. I learned a lot more that way and I am hoping that you, the readers, have appreciated that and learned from it as well. Thanks for enjoying The Avery Project. Stay tuned for the completion of The Barleywine Project and for whatever comes next here at 20 Beers in 20 Nights.