Friday, September 7, 2007

The Avery Experience

Written by Mark Zahn, Jeff Barber and Rick Sellers

This week was pretty busy for the PBN crew, with a couple of great beer tastings locally. I started my Tuesday night with Mark and Jeff over at Vino's, along with Jose and Jim (all have been on our show). We were there for Adam Avery, who was in town for a couple of days to push his lineup upon us willing to try it, and this night saw 15 of his beers being poured for our enjoyment. I didn't stay long, sadly, I had to head to BJ's for their first Brewers Dinner, but Jeff and Mark were there for the long run and did a good job summing things up.

Mark, being known in our parts as the Beer Geek, brought along his pen and paper to aid his ever-failing memory for future reference, purchases. He shared his notes with me, and I thought they were good enough to pass on, thinking they make a pretty decent Avery Buying Guide. Sorry we didn't get all the Avery names here, by the way, but we got the styles listed.

The Avery tasting at Vino's was quite interesting. Here were my impressions about the beers with a very basic 1-5 point scale:

American Brown: light and mild; easy drinking - 3
Wit: very light; refreshing, but a bit weak - 3
IPA: nice hop flavor, fruity; a bit dry but a solid American IPA - 3
American Porter: smokey flavor; a bit grainy and fizzy (not in the Old Grind class) - 2
Weizen Doppelbock: a bit Belgian Dubbel-like with some cherry notes. Very enjoyable; a solid brew - 4
Belgian Dubbel IPA: nice hops with a Belgian twist; smooth and packed with flavor; well balanced; a solid 4, but I'll give it a 5 because of Adam's adventurism in trying this - 5
Belgian Strong Golden Ale: pretty light and refreshing (is this really 9%?); a bit more malty than the Deschutes 19th; tasty - 3
Belgian Quad Dark Strong Ale: a really mellow Quadrupel; nicely balanced; I lean slightly to the Urthel Quad, but this was good - 3
Hog Heaven American Barleywine: 100% Columbus hops - spicy in aroma and flavor (peppery!); nice balance, very good - 4
Maharaja Imperial IPA: unfortunately, this bottle seemed to be off; - no score
Kaiser Imperial Oktoberfest Strong Lager: basically a strong Munich Helles (not a Marzen beer); interesting beer - most people liked it, I found it a bit too fruity which overshadowed the biscuit malt - 2
Russian Imperial Stout: not an imperial stout in the Rasputin class; thin body; very nice flavors; a solid stout - 3
Grand Cru Belgian Dark Strong Ale: a very enjoyable strong Belgian ale; sweet, but balanced - 4
English Oak-Aged Barleywine: very sweet! Strong vanilla notes; a bit too sweet for me, but a good desert beer - 3
Belgian Imperial Stout: very fruity; sweet stout with cherry and plumb notes; this is definitely an imperial; another solid 4, but I'll give Adam a 5 on this one too because of his adventurism - 5

Well, that's what my taste buds discovered during the Avery tour. Very interesting - good beers, I hope he does well in Cal.

Jeff, having checked out Mark's notes as well, had a few additional thoughts.

I didn't bring my scores home, but I know I bought the Hog Heaven and the Belgina Dubbel IPA, which I thought we're excellent. I also remember I scored the IPA high, as well as the Maharaja. The Maharaja wasn't as good as I remember it. I also thought the Belgian Imperial Stout was quite good, but balked at the price (8.99 for 12oz bottle). I agree with Mark on the Imperial Oktoberfest, I thought it was way too fruity for an Oktoberfest and thought the Belgian Wit had a weird, off-finish for me. Overall a great night though, with some very unique beers.

I've heard from several people that the night kicked ass there at Vino's, and I was a bit sorry I'd left the party. However, I had a great time at BJ's and hope to get you some notes on that soon.