Nick Carr on October 26, 2015 0 Comments ALE TALE Quick Characteristics Brewery: Avery Brewing Company Location: Lexington, KY Style: Grand Cru ABV: 15-17% IBU: 63 Appearance: Deep mahogany with flecks of amber and orange with off-white head. Aroma: Big & boozy fruit upfront; Hints of old leather, raisins, dates, and dark candy sugar. Flavor: Fruity alcohol & candied sweetness; Notes of raisin, date and plum mixed with molasses; Boozy warm finish that has notes of wood & leather. Hops: Bravo, Bullion, Sterling, Hersbrucker, Columbus, Styrian Goldings Malts: Two-row barley, Honey, Dark Aromatic, Pale Wheat, Roasted Wheat, Special B Special Ingredients: Dates, Molasses, Dark Belgian Candy Sugar, Colorado Honey, Raisins, Turbinado Suggested Glass: Snifter or Tulip Serving Temp: 50-55°F Approximate Shelf-Life: 10+ years Availability: August until it’s gone Pairs With: Lobster, Duck w/ roasted fruit compote, Tilsit cheese, Pineapple upside down cake Ivan saw the cave through a break in the trees. If he’d not been looking for the opening he likely would never have noticed it. It was only visible for the span of a single step, then the dense foliage of the forest closed, swallowing the fissure from all view and knowing. So, the cave at least was real. But what did that mean. It certainly didn’t mean that all the other wild stories the village men, deep in their drink, had spouted the night before were real. They had talked of a monster, a beast of incredible size, and they had talked of a treasure jealously guarded by the thing. Ivan was a pragmatic man, and not at all superstitious. He was not prone to flights of fearful fancy, nor did he hold such men as were in any high regard. The village men were such men. Backwards and scared of their own shadows, even in this time of enlightenment. They’d known how to spin a tale though, Ivan had to give them that. They’d seen the snide unbelief in Ivan’s face and so targeted him with their telling. They’d goaded him, questioned him, dared him, until finally he’d found himself in a corner where he had no reprieve but to except the offered challenge and prove them false. And now here he was at the mouth of a cave. He pushed thick vines and a small evergreen aside and stepped up to the mouth. It breathed. The air, smelling of old dark fruit, issued forth from the hole before the cooling air of the surrounding forest was sucked inward. Ivan swallowed, a strange dread rising unbidden in his gut. All the villagers’ talk was getting to him. He forced a laugh. It sounded harsh and was immediately swallowed by the blackness before issuing back in a cacophonic echo of rancorous sound. He clapped is mouth shut, uncomfortable with his voice given such life. There was nothing here. He knew that, was sure of it, but still the dread persisted. Ivan realized he should have brought a torch. But he hadn’t expected to find a cave in the first place. He shrugged and took a series of slow short steps into the opening then stopped. The darkness and close air conspired to hang like a weight around him; warm, almost spice-like, with that strange fruity sweet smell filling his nostrils. His eyes slowly adjusted to the gloom. There was the sound of water softly dripping somewhere. The ashen light of morning, filtering through greenery, couldn’t penetrate far into the cave and there seemed to be a deeper blackness upon the back. He edged along one wall toward the deepest shadows. Ok, I go back for a few feet then I get out. No one in the village has to know I didn’t explore the whole bloody thing. This thought made him braver. He was almost done. Before he knew it he’d be back among the forest greenery with birds tittering, the sun shining down and everything would be fine. Just a little further… The floor was smooth and Ivan slide his feet into blackness. The darkness ahead was so complete that he got the strange sense of standing at the edge of some fast unknowable emptiness. The smell was stronger here. So strong he found it not only in his nose, but it was an almost chewable heaviness in his mouth too. It was sensory overload. A cocktail of age and pit fruit and spicy warmness. He moved another foot forward and it touched something soft and yielding. He froze, a sickening fear coursing like lightening up his body. He waited, fighting the urge to turn and run, trying with all his senses to penetrate the crowding blackness. He heard it then, his mind unraveling a slow second breathing, from the overshadowing rasp of his own. The sound drove all memory of how to move from his body. The pragmatic part of his mind flickered, a beacon in the fear-lanced blackness, and he grabbed at it. It’s my imagination. There’s nothing there. Nothing there, nothing there, nothing, nothing, nothing… The chant steady him, gave him a focus, and he followed the words as if they guided him, bringing movement to his limbs. He turned ever so slowly to the exit. Just a few steps then I’m out. I’ll even tell them I believe them just so’s they leave me be. Just a few steps…. He lifted a foot, swung it gently forward, and it tapped against something that rolled noisily across the floor and into the light. He stared at it uncomprehendingly. A skittering rasp of claws on stone came from close behind him. Then a snort and a low guttural growl, so close Ivan could feel the air. But he couldn’t turn, couldn’t run, he only stared at the skull lying in the morning light. THE TASTING Below are the tasting notes I took while drinking Avery’s The Beast. If you tasted this beer, please share your thoughts with me in the comments below. Pour and Aroma: Pours a deeply brooding mahogany with flecks of amber and orange along the edges. It is heavy and opaque through the middle. A two finger off-white head forms, but like a flitting ghost, is sucked away by the extreme alcohol in less than half a minute. First off, I could smell this as I poured it, like hearing the growl of a dog before you can actually see it, which made me think twice about dipping my head close. But I finally worked up the courage and came closer…. and got hit with a rum punch. Big boozy fruit upfront. Alcohol spiciness and dark meaty fruit like blackberries and plum along with an edge of pineapple and other citrus. An interesting, but not unpleasant combination. There are also hints of old leather, raisins, dates, and dark candy sugar. Mouthfeel and Taste: Thick. Actually thick doesn’t even do the body on this beer justice, it’s like a living vinous thing crawling across the palate. Carbonation is higher than expected for this big a beer and warming to the very core. The front of the palate is all fruity alcohol and candied sweetness. Mid-palate begins the job of unraveling the tastes a bit. There’s raisin, date, and plum with molasses mixing in. It’s a bit like getting your palate smacked and then drug around by, well… by a beast. Little bit of rumy vanilla and wood in the back end before dropping off with a note of spice. Finish is boozy, “green,” with hints of wood and old leather. FINISHING THOUGHTS This is one beast of a beer! It is one of the three ales — along with Samael’s oak aged ale and Mephistopheles’ stout — that makes up Avery’s “the demons of ale” line. It comes in a single 12 oz. bottle with red foil paper over the cap. One bottle runs about 8 dollars, so it is a beer to cherish for sure and one that can easily stand some long aging. The ABV changes somewhat from year to year, ranging from around 15 to 17 percent. This year’s, released in July, is batch number 13 and comes in at the top of that ABV range. It’s one of the biggest, if not the biggest, beers I’ve ever had the pleasure of sipping on. And I do mean sipping. It took me around 4 hours to finish this monster off. It is a great beer, but it’s so big that by around the middle of a 12 oz. bottle your palate is pretty well wore out, so if you do happen to corner the beast I’d suggest a little charity. Share it with a friend or two it’ll be much easier — and probably more enjoyable — to kill. Cheers!