Alibi V.16 No.32 • Aug 9-15, 2007 

Hip Hops

Sweet 14

Boulder's Avery Brewing Company is probably the best argument in favor of Southwestern beer superiority. In terms of flavor, packaging and lunacy, their beers rank highly in our little pantheon of liquid love. Oak-aged barley wines? Fifteen percent alcohol by volume (ABV) stouts? Imperial Oktoberfest Lager? Every year this brewery churns out beautiful bombers that make our tender clutches quake when we spot them in reach-in refrigerators.

The Avery Anniversary Ale has run the gamut from last year's beautiful “13” Bock to the still-wistfully-remembered “Ten”—10 hops, 10 malts, 110 IBUs (International Bittering Unit, the scale that measures hop bitterness), 10 percent ABV. This year’s offering, a dry hopped dark ale, can be summarily described as “a fucking mouthful.”

The ale pours a deep mahogany color reminiscent of many great imperial reds currently en vogue on the West Coast. Bubbles abound in miniature infinities. Though they are never strong enough to form a lasting head, these little armies arise at the mildest agitation and swirl so invitingly as to desire intimate knowledge of their physics. Like lacing that makes you want to remove your trousers.

While we did at first whine that we once again were deprived the depravity of an Avery Anniversary IPA, the complexity of this beer surprised and awed us into submission. In the nose this guy is full of red fruits, spices and chocolate. The first sip is an explosion of malts that some abyss-colored stouts barely achieve and fades directly into a full-flavored dry hop finish. Dump this dude into a big glass with plenty of room for swirling and sniffing. You'll find yourself contemplating its various flavor profiles like some kind of drunken pre-Socratic.

The “14” proves no ale is too dark for summer. Find this beer; wait until sunset, slow down.

Dairy Pairy: Beemster Classic. (Or the eldest Gouda you can find. Sixteen months minimum.)

Soundtrack: Ethiopiques Vol. 21, Emahoy Tsegue-Mariam Gebrou