In June of 2009, Ashley and I decided to sign up for the Steamboat Half Marathon in Steamboat Springs, CO. If you’ve never been, I encourage you to. We ended up meeting and staying in Louisville, CO (right near Boulder) with some good friends of ours, Steve and Jen Merschel. Steve is a fellow craft beer fan that I’m trying to get into homebrew. Colorado is really known for its good beer and Boulder is the home of Avery Brewing. Boulder is an amazing, eclectic town full of people who love organic food and pot. Ok, that’s a strong stereotype…but the people there are awesome. Boulder also houses an amazingly talented running community as well with miles and miles of trails.
We made the trip down to Avery for a tasting and also a brewery tour. The brewery tap room was pretty low-key with outdoor tables and the brewery tour was typical, but we weren’t there for the tour…we wanted to try the beer. Probably the best part of the tour was catching a glimpse of a Delorean (great scott!) across the street at a local auto shop. After the tour was complete, we sat down for a sampling of their beer.
To me, their flagship beer is Ellies Brown, a brown ale named after the founders Chocolate lab. Although it wasn’t the real Ellie, I spent a majority of my time petting Ellie #2. As someone who grew up with labs, I was in heaven (Note: Ashley, if you read this, I want one).
Like dogs, I have a soft spot for this beer whenever I see it on the shelf. It’s always a solid go-to 6 pack option. As Avery says “Crystal and chocolate malts give this beer a brown sugar maltiness with hints of vanilla and nuts, while subtle hopping gives it an overall drinkability that’s second to none, just like Ellie!”
Granted, this was a trip over a year and a half ago, so I will do my best to recall what we tasted. It was at a time where I was just getting into craft beer intensively and wasn’t really keeping track of what I drank at the time. Unlike now, where I carry a paper and pen whenever I enter a bar or restaurant.
(Note: Avery is distributed to Kentucky. Fistpump.)
Like most breweries, Avery has four year-round beers. Ellies Brown, India Pale Ale (pretty much self describes itself), White Rascal (Belgian Style Wheat Ale), and Out of Bounds Stout. White Rascal is a light colored Belgian wheat with hints of coriander and orange peel. Sorry, not a big coriander fan and not a big fan of Belgian Wheats either, but Ashley liked it. Out of Bounds was a solid regular old stout. The taste of roasted malts is evident in this stout, but the flavors aren’t too “out of bounds” from normal stout styles.
I want you all to notice something in this picture. Notice the sunglasses hanging from the v in my shirt. Notice them, because this was the last time I ever saw them. I think I left them at Avery because in every picture that was taken afterwards, they weren’t there. I wasn’t too happy, I was borderline 7 year-old girl losing her favorite teddy bear.
Avery also has a good deal of specific seasonal or ‘series of beers’ as well, which is where their claim to fame might lay.
Seasonal: New World Porter (a dry-hopped porter) , Karma Ale, and Old Jubilation (winter strong ale)
Holy Trinity of Ale: The only one I have had of this series is the Hog Heaven Barleywine. In fact, this was the first time I had ever tasted a barleyine. It made me fall asleep on the ride to Steamboat.
Dictator Series: My personal favorite. Maharaja (a double IPA) is what really turned me onto IPAs. I can remember sitting in our apartment kitchen at the time, taking a sip, and telling Ashley “you know, this really is pretty good stuff”. With a combination of Simcoe and the three 3′s (Columbus, Centenniel, and Chanook) alongside a strong malt presence, the beer comes in at about a 10.2% ABV (which is a boost from 2005, when it was 9.6% ABV).
The series also holds Czar, a Russian Imperial Stout, a beer which should be cellared and not drank at first and Salvation, a Belgian Strong.
Probably the most famous beers are Averys’ Demons of Ale. Three alcohol laden (all 14% ABV or above) beers which are as high in percentage as they are in price. I have had only one, The Beast (a Grand Cru) and the alcohol flavor masked the taste tremendously. It was a combination of beer and turpentine I thought.
Their most recent beer out in stores is Seventeen, their Anniversary Ale, which I’ve had the pleasure of drinking twice. A dry-hopped black lager which is pretty close to a black IPA, but not there yet. A simple drinking dark beer with a bite of hops when it leaves your tongue. If you like double IPAs, try to get your hands on a duganA as well.
Although we were only at Avery for about two hours, we just had an awesome time sitting back and enjoying what the Colorado brewery had to offer. I need to start buying more of their beer and aging it (instead of drinking it) to really get the experience of what their beer has to offer.