It seems like all the beer Avery brews are bigger than average. Their IPAs are hoppier, their Stouts are darker and everything in between just has more alcohol in it. Avery has a series of even more extreme beers with alcohol contents pushing 20%. This bottle of Mephistopheles' Stout in part of the demonic series of Avery beers that are sold as individual 12 ounce bottles for $7-9 each. Mephistopheles' Stout is a 16.83% ABV Imperial Stout that looks as evil as it sounds. I'm hoping it is as enjoyable as The Beast Grand Cru I enjoyed from the same series last year.
At one point of another I drank each of Avery's beers at least once. Well, most of their beers at least once. I've even visited their tasting room in Boulder on three different occasions, but somehow there is a year round beer I seem to have over looked. I can't say it was entirely by accident... it's their Barleywine. Barleywines are beers I feel like I should like, but they always leave me a little disappointed to say the least. Hog Heaven is Avery's attempt at a Barleywine and I'm hopeful it is the Barleywine that will sway my opinion of the style.
Collaboration Not Litigation is the product of blending two production beers from different breweries, both of which are named Salvation. The name is said to be a tribute to the collaborative nature of craft brewers, because in any other industry there probably would have been cease and desist orders issued by one party or the other. One of the most interesting parts of this beer is the fact that it's a blend of two fairly well established beers. Two beers that already have followers and quite well regarded in their own right. Blending those two beers together sounds risky, but it also sounds like a lot of fun. This beer has a great story behind it, hopefully the actual beer is as much fun to drink.
I've always had nice things to say about Avery. Though admittedly, I haven't had too many of Avery's more "extreme" beers. I visited their brewery in Boulder last year and was about to try a couple of their bigger golden Belgian series beers and I was hooked. This is the first of the darker big beers I've gotten around to reviewing. The Beast is a bit intimidating, it's 15.07% after all... That's twice the alcohol content of Avery's anniversary Saison beers! I've had stronger beers, but there was always something about the Beast... Maybe it was the name, the menacing label or just the price tag. At $8 for 12 oz it isn't cheap, but it's worth every penny.
I first heard of Avery's Anniversary Saisons from a flyer hanging up in the bathroom of the Avery tasting room next door to the brewery in Boulder, Colorado. This was just last summer so the poster was advertising the Sixteenth Anniversary Saison. A couple months later I was about to get my hands on a bottle of the Sixteen and thought pretty highly of it. It wasn't my favorite beer by any means, but I enjoyed it. As time passed, my memories of the Sixteen grew fonder. About a month ago I was smaller liquor store looking for a new release when I came across a bottle of Avery's Fifteen and couldn't resist taking it home.
This is probably the strongest flavored Winter Warmer I've had this season. It also happens to be the most mellow flavored Avery beer I've had yet. The Old Jubilation is a roasty, spiced Winter Warmer that has a very warming flavor. There is a strong bitterness in this beer, but that's something you can pretty much expect with all Avery beers. That bitterness isn't overpowering, at times it even tastes a little like chocolate. The other flavors in this beer balance out the bitterness to a degree, but in the end the Old Jubilation tastes like an oaked brown ale with a touch more dry roasted malt.
The Kaiser has a lot going for it. Not the least of which is its reference to the turn of the century German monarchy. The label is thoroughly Germanic and even has a picture of Wilhelm II donning his favorite Pickelhaube. This beer speaks to me on levels that I'm uncomfortable discussing in public... and yet, I can't quite come to terms with the actual beer inside the bottle. First impressions mean a lot, even when it comes to drinking a specialty beer. The Kaiser does just about everything right, it's got a killer bottle, mouth watering appearance and aroma... but it ends up being all for naught. Well, that may be a little melodramatic, but you get the idea. There's some deceptively awesome packaging here and I really want to like this beer but the flavor falls short. Actually, it falls too far... as in, it's too strong, too alcoholic and too sugary sweet.
Here's a beer that'll warm you up a cold winter's night. Avery's Out of Bounds Stout is an incredibly dark beer that tastes like an even darker beer. There isn't anything terribly extreme about this beer, especially considering that it comes from Avery. Avery is most well known for their bigger beers and hop bombs. At 5.1% the Out of Bounds won't single handedly get anyone ripped... but it does have a strong bitter finish that tastes a vaguely like the hops in Avery's Maharaja. The combination of flavors in this beer taste a little like a Rauchbier but without quite as much smoke of course. There's plenty of roasted malt flavor in the Out of Bounds but there's also a hint of smokiness, not too strong or too obvious but it's definitely there.