Avery – Collaboration not Litigation Ale

Collaboration not LitigationIn case you don’t know the story about this beer, here it is in a nutshell. Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River Brewing and Adam Avery of Avery Brewing realized that they both had a ‘Salvation’ in their respective stable of beers. Instead of squabbling over the rights to the name, they decided to blend the brews in an attempt to capture the best qualities of each. I like this story already. And it speaks to why I love the craft brew industry at large. There is a genuine interest in the creative process for which we are the beneficiaries. It’s absolutely rare for a great majority of an entire industry to be comprised of entrepreneurs who are willing to forsake commerce for craft, economics for art, all to expand and redefine our understanding of what brewing means and what can be accomplished when we, ahem, collaborate. So without further philosophical adieu, let’s get to the beer. It pours a beautiful hazy amber, very hazy in fact, and leaves a nice 1/4 inch head which laces throughout. The nose is distinctively Belgian, with a spicy coriander and clove texture over a subtle fruity sweetness. The taste is complex and changes throughout the swallow, beginning with a malty caramel sweetness and quickly giving way to the spice of the yeast. It closes with a surprising bitterness, tinged with a small bite of alcohol. As it warms, the sweetness of the malt becomes more present and the beer generally feels a little thicker and oily on the tongue. If I had to compare it to something else out there it would probably be the Maudite from Unibroue in its texture, general feel and flavor. Overall, I think this beer is truly outstanding and a really nice effort from both Avery and Russian River. Cheers to things being greater than the sum of their parts.

~G

score 4.5

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Grimbergen – Dubbel

Grimbergen DubbelIf you’re new to the Belgian style then this might just be the place to start. I originally tried the Grimbergen Dubbel with a pretty heavy meal, so I wanted to try it again – this time without food – to see if it was enjoyable as I remembered. It poured a chocolate brown with hints of garnet and a nice, albeit modest, head which dispersed fairly quickly. On the nose there are hints of raisin, sweet malt, and fruit, with a touch of a clove spice presence. There is also a pleasant toasted quality which ties the nose to the flavor and serves as a nice backbone to the ale overall. Aside from a pretty aggressive amount of carbonation, there is very little that dominates this beer, which is why I feel like it could serve as a great introduction to the style. The body is relatively light and refreshing, while still offering up some complexity, finishing with a fruity malt richness which respects its Belgian roots. I don’t always feel like a Dubbel is the easiest style to pair with food, but the Grimbergen seems as comfortable in front of a steak as it does all alone, and it’s the ease of this beer that is most appealing to me. I wouldn’t put this in a class with, say, a Maredsous 8, but I would definitely recommend it to all Belgian lovers and to those who are simply interested in becoming one.

Cheers, ~G

– score 3.75