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“There is an ancient Celtic axiom that says ‘Good people drink good beer.’ Which is true, then as now. Just look around you in any public barroom and you will quickly see: Bad people drink bad beer. Think about it.” — Hunter S. Thompson
If you have not heard of, or enjoyed a beer (or perhaps many) from Avery Brewing, you must be underage, dead, or not a craft beer drinker, which is kind of the same thing.
In late September, Adam Avery visited the Dallas area. No, I wasn’t stalking his vacation. He participated in several beer tasting events, including a beer and food pairing at the Meddlesome Moth, and a tap takeover at Flying Saucer by the Lake. The festivities were in honor of Adam’s birthday, and/or Avery’s 25th anniversary. Flying Saucer (the one in Garland, by L
ake Ray Hubbard), was well attended, to say the least. Thus, I found myself spending most of the evening out on the deck, with Ben, my notebook, and a 12-slot tasting card for company. Not only did they have 25 or so regular Avery beers on tap (such as White Rascal and Maharaja), but Adam was also sharing some extra strong examples from his cellar.
Here’s what we made notes on:
Bug Zapper – 6% sour ale with ginger, mint and lime. The mint comes through strongest.
Ginger Sour – 6% barrel-aged sour beer. This is a delightful brew. I could happily drink it on the regular. Light, refreshing, complex, and of course, gingery.
Apricot Sour – 7.3%. Apparently, no one told the Avery crew that sour beers should be low in alcohol, like a Belgian Lambic. Or if they did, the advice was ignored. Which seems to be working out well for Avery Brewing. The nose and flavor are full of apricot character, as you might expect. This barrel-aged elixir also has a slightly herbal, woody flavor, that the Ginger Sour also has.
Raspberry Sour – 6.5% barrel-aged deliciousness. There’s no fake fruit flavoring here. It’s super full of raspberry goodness, without being too sweet.
Mephistopheles (2015) – 14.6% stout. Yes, you read that right. This thing is slightly stronger than Samichlaus Bier. Thick, dark, aged, which is appropriate. Barrel character, naturally. Creamy mouthfeel, molasses and chocolate, chili/black pepper. No vegetal flavors.
Go Play – 5.5% “activated IPA” with sodium and potassium. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s a bit sour, with a mélange of hop aromas and flavors. Following the infernally strong stouts with this probably wasn’t the way to appreciate its nuanced flavors. But seriously, I had to do something to break up the tasting fatigue.
Plank’d (2018) – 16.2% monstrosity of a coconut porter aged in a rum barrel. Sounds awesome, right? The coconut is strong with this one. As are the rum barrel notes, alcohol bite, blackstrap molasses aroma and flavor, and roast character. Quite possibly the highest alcohol beer I’ve tasted. The rum may be gone, but there’s always super strong beer. It could use a few years of cellaring.
Nuttiest Professor – 15.2% imperial peanut stout. They only brewed this one once, so it’s understandably rare. Super strong grain profile, strong alcohol bite. Chocolate, prunes, minerals. Plenty of barrel character. Sweet yet dry, with an almost sour hint at the finish.
Tangerine Quad – 10.1% Belgian-style quad, aged in bourbon barrels. Amazing.
Samael’s (2015) – 16.3% demon of an English barleywine. Just as evil as its namesake, and disappointingly vegetal. Kind of milky, too. Maybe he lost the coin-toss with Meph, for who got the better beer.
Old Jubilation – 8.3% English strong ale. This one is good; I’ve tasted it before. It’s a solid winter release, without spices added to confuse things.
Vanilla Bean Stout – 10.8% very smooth, bourbon barrel-aged vanilla stout. The strong vanilla character reminded Ben of Southern Tier Crème Brulée. Very tasty.
Ellie’s Brown Ale – 5.5% American Brown Ale. I’d like to tell you how this stacks up against Moose Drool, from Big Sky Brewing. However, this pour tasted like it might have got mixed up with a coconut porter. That or Ellie’s Brown tastes like a coconut porter.
And that’s the tasting list. Long, isn’t it? After pretty much all of that, I got around to briefly interviewing Adam himself. To be honest, it was a little tough at that point to think of insightful questions, or ask them without slurring. I told him it was his fault, for brewing so many strong beers, and then I asked why so many of their beers are crazy strong. The answer was pretty simple. Adam likes liqueurs, and with beer, you can brew up something very similar to a liqueur. He and his dad started the brewery together, and if my notes are correct, they’ve been making Hog Heaven (9.2%) since 1998. They brewed their first 15% beer in 2001.
Flying Saucer is no slouch, but I was still curious as to what brought Adam there. Turns out, he’s been friends with Keith (“The Flying Saucer’s Beer Captain”) for something like 18 years, and they’ve done more Flying Saucer events than any other venue. Also, he had a cool time at the Meddlesome Moth. The crowd was knowledgeable about beer, and though I can’t recall asking about the food, I expect it was good (they did a beer pairing dinner). Adam himself seems a friendly and sociable sort, who definitely knows how to make some knockout beers.
And lest we forget about the sours, those were out-freaking-standing.
If you don’t know Avery beers, you should. If you do know them, That’s good. Cheers!