It’s been a busy month for Avery Brewing Company Fans.  I’m truly fortunate to live in close proximaty to a nationally known and respected brewery.

Recently the guys at Avery (Peter Archer and C.V. Howe) decided to host an Insider Tasting Series.  For this inaugural event, they decided to break open their cellar and have a vertical tasting of 3 of their ales.  Apparently cellaring is a recent thing with the brewery, as they’ve been able to sell as much as they make.  It takes a concerted effort to put some away for the future.

Vertical 1 – New World Porter.  An old style english ale yeast.  Avery has it’s yeast maintained offsite and they buy it from local and national suppliers.  This beer is easily classified as a black IPA due to it’s aggressive over hopping for the style.

12/06/2005 – largest head of this flight.  Least amount of hop aroma character.  The driest beer of the flight.   Slight hints of vegetal and other characteristics of oxidation.

12/27/2007 – mild compared to the other beers in the flight.  I found this true for the entire evening – the middle beer was overwhelmed by the older and younger versions.

02/06/2008 – Dry hopped firkin transferred to keg on 12/25/2007.  Unfortunately there was an accident while tapping the firkin.  Most of the beer went to waste, but enough was salvaged for the tasting.  The carbonation was lost though.  There was a strong hop character to this beer due to the dry hopping with 1 pound of columbus hops.  C.V. provided a nice history on the term “firkin” which is derived from the middle Dutch word vierdekijn, which means “fourth”.  So a firkin is a quarter barrel or 9 imperial gallons.

Vertical 2 – Hog Heaven Barleywine Style Ale.  Based on an English traditional barleywine, which is “beer at wine strength”.  Compared to Sierra Nevada Bigfoot and Anchor Old Foghorn.  Hog Heaven is the first year round available barleywine, now in it’s tenth year.  Created before the style “Imperial IPA” became known, this beer is a direct fit for that style at 9.3% ABV.  2.5 Pounds of Columbus hops are used for dry hopping.

1/17/2002 – lowest hop aroma in the flight.  Bitter with caramel, raisins and pear characteristics.  This was my favorite for this flight of beer.

9/21/2006 – relatively small nose. 

1/24/2008 – Strong hop aroma, sharp bitterness, white creamy head.

Vertical 3 – Collaboration, not Litigation Ale.  This is a collaboration between Russian River Brewing Company and Avery Brewing Company.  Both companies have a Salvation ale and Collaboration is a blend of those two beers.  As a footnote, Adam describes himself as a “reformed Catholic” – otherwise known as “fallen away.”  Vinnie uses many spiritual names for his Belgium beers (Salvation, Damnation, Perdition, Redemption, Sanctification, Deification, Benediction, and Erudition).  Tomme Arthur from the Lost Abbey also describes himself as being raised Catholic… I’m starting to see a trend here!  Catholics like to brew beer!  Ah, back to the vertical tasting.

The way the story goes, Adam realized that both he Vinnie had a beer of the same name, so he called Vinnie and they decided that litigation was not the way to go.  They thought it’d be interesting to blend the beers – which they did at Vinnies place in CA after guzzling a few Pliney the Elders.  Then everyone got busy and the project fell through the cracks until BA magazine asked Adam about the collaboration, which he commited to.  This got published and forced the brewers to get together in Boulder to each brew a batch of their Salvation, which they then blended to create the one off collaboration.  It was such a hit, they decided to do it again!  Thanks guys.

1/11/2007 – Beautiful.  This is an awesome beer.  It’s dark and quiet.  The yeast tartness has dissipated leaving a wonderful belgian strong ale.

2/6/2008 – Bottled 4 hours before the tasting.  Lighter in color then the first Collaboration.  White creamy head the fell quickly.  Batch #2 specifics: OG 1.076, 8.72% ABV.  Yeast in suspension (RRBC is unfiltered).  Off cherry tart taste.  Fruit nose.

Proceeds from this beer pay to send the Brett Pack to Belgium every year!

Next vertical tasting is the 1st Wednesday of March.