April 2nd 2008 was the third Insider Tasting Series.  This session was a special treat for me for two reasons – I love malty beers and the beer they show-cased happened to be one of my favorites from Avery Brewing Company – Samael Oak Aged  Ale.  My biggest fear was being able to walk out at the end of the evening. Not a problem as C.V. Howe and Peter Archer, our moderators for the evening, are always very conscious of giving folks enough without getting them wasted.

April usually marks the release of Samael’s Oak Aged Ale.  This is a big beer from the Demonic series – it’s brethren are The Beast and Mephistopholes.  NICE!

Flight 1: North American malts vs. Belgians

The Reverend Belgian Quad – Belgian yeast signature in it’s aroma.  Sweet taste.  This beer has Cara 20 (19° – 27° L) which lends body, adds smooth mouthfeel, and foam stability.  This malt was imported by Dingemans of Belgium.  This beer also has some Special B which imparts a heavy caramel taste and is credited with the raisin like flavors of Belgians.

Ellies Brown Ale – nutty nose.  Darker then the Belgian Quad. This beer has chocolate malts in it which is a high nitrogen malt that is roasted at temperatures up to 450°F then rapidly cooled when it reaches the appropriate color.  The malt lends various levels of aroma, a deep red color and a nutty/roasted taste.

Flight 2: Surprise Mystery Beer!  Czar vertical!  Noble hallertau hops, English Toffee, rich mocha, candied Currents, Anise.  This beer features Honey Malt (20° – 30° L), which is a North American (Gambrinus) version of a European malt – brumalt.  It’s intense malt sweetness makes it perfect for any specialty beer.  It’s devoid of astringent roast flavors.

Czar Russian Imperial Stout – Bottled November 2nd 2007.  Coffee, astringent, “brighter” and hoppier.

Czar Russian Imperial Stout – Bottled November 4th 2006.  Molasses, Sweet, Vinous.

FLight 3:

Samael’s Oak Aged Ale – April 2nd, 2008.  Awesome beer.  15.5% ABV “Bright” (a term Peter uses to describe fresh beer).  Some alcohol phenols but minimal heat.  Mouthfeel is somewhat thinner then other beers in this flight.  There was a bit of a bite.  Definite oak character.  Fermented in stainless steel with oak chips.

Samael’s Oak Aged Ale – May 5th, 2006.  Only beer in this vertical that maintained any head at all.  The head was about 1/4″ and persisted for several minutes. It was a creamy white color.  14.9%.  Effervescent.

Samael’s Oak Aged Ale – April 2005.  Sweet, caramel.  SMOOTH.  Very nice nose.  Body due to residual sugars.  It sipped like a liquor or after dinner drink.

There were a lot interesting discussions.  One of the discussions had to do with the price of malt going up.  This is having even a larger influence on cost of brewing then the cost of hops.  2 Row pale was .19 cents a pound last year, now they are up to .34 cents per pound.  I pay up to $2.00 a pound, so apparently buying in bulk is obviously worth it if you can!

They discussed brewing on a 40 BBL system, yielding 22 BBLs due to the high gravity involved.  To fill a 120 BBL fermenter, they need to brew 5 batches. 

And finally the discussed filtering beer on a 10 M DE filtration system using Perlite, then Pall at to filter it to the 5 micron level.

All in all, it was another great night at Avery Brewing.  I hope they don’t run out of topics to discuss, I want to keep coming back!