I’ve been mauled by a Beast. A Grand Cru Ale named The Beast, by Avery Brewing Company, to be exact. There are many surprises that come in this little 12 ounce bottle, one of the biggest being the 16.83 percent alcohol by volume. The actual percentage may vary according to what year, as a batch is made every August. With such limited quantities, it makes some sense to only dole it out in 12 ounce singles. For this particular variety, as well as some other amazing beers from Avery, I had to travel a little bit further than usual. After tasting though, I knew it was well worth it.
I also knew with something so rare and so high in the ol’ ethanol, it wasn’t going to be cheap. I picked mine up for about one Xander Hambone, ($10), which is pretty reasonable, considering. Heck, quality over quantity is my creed, and this is 12 ounces of pure quality.
The information on this beer on the Avery website promised aromas of honey and pineapple, with sweet, sugary flavors like date and molasses. Being technically a Belgian strong dark ale, the dark candy flavors are expected. However, this is being touted as more fruity and tropical, so I prepared myself for one heavy complex drink. I poured mine into a little tulip glass, and got one heavy note: BOOZE.
I realized though that at this temperature, the high alcohol content is going to evaporate pretty heavily, so I let it slide. Beyond that though, I got plenty of woody and roasted malts, and a very distinctive brown sugar. Not so many fruity notes, but I would imagine something like that would come out more in the taste. So, I dug in.
WOW. It hit me, and I was absolutely amazed. Just a whirlwind of unique and clear flavors. The heavy alcohol and malts didn’t burden the rest of the drink, as I could clearly pick out apricot and that pineapple they mentioned. There was something that, at first, I couldn’t quite put my finger on, but I realized it reminded me exactly of those coffee flavored hard candies. The ones that, as a child mistakenly lead me to believe I liked coffee.
I assume this nostalgic flavor was linked to the honey malts and 2-row barley malts. These, and the Belgian malts and yeasts, gave a very interesting baked bread aftertaste, almost appetizing in itself. Certainly warranting another taste, at least. Each taste would reveal another interesting little combo like honeyed raisins, or just a touch of citrus and tea-like hops over a creamy, sweet turbinado sugar background. Just an absolutely amazing journey.
I can only imagine how this would be aged. The website says that it is cellar-able for over 10 years. Imagine the unruly command a bottle will take in 2023, if any ever last that long. Personally, I couldn’t imagine being able to keep my hands off this delicious little number for even a week, knowing what Beast lies inside. Just bring a friend, because a little bit of this goes a very long way. In fact, I would say the small size is a blessing in disguise. Even split with friends, 12 ounces is more than enough to get a long and hard look at an amazing annual tradition of Avery Brewing Company.