Avery beers have been divisive for me, sometimes it is a tart delight, other times it is a dramatic wine substitute. This is a nice foray into the world of their hellish huge beers in the same lineage as Mephistopheles, The Beast, Grand Cru, etc. I enjoyed one of those three, so we shall see how this 17.42% abv giant socks me in the face in today’s review.
Avery Brewing Company
Colorado, United States
American Double / Imperial Stout | 17.42% ABV
Let’s let the label speak for itself:
In the quest to create a collection of barrel-aged beers to be reproduced annually, Avery Brewing Company is releasing Uncle Jacob’s Stout, the second member of its Annual Barrel Series. The collection began with Rumpkin rum barrel-aged pumpkin ale in the fall of 2011, and now continues with this 17.4% ABV stout that was aged in first-use Bourbon barrels for 6 months. While the Avery Barrel-Aged Series features one-time-only batches, such as the recent Muscat d’Amour and Récolte Sauvage, the Annual Barrel Series features a selection of cellarable barrel-aged beers that fans can return to and get to know every year.
In other words, get ready to get socked in the liver.
A: This is jet black, Joan Jett black and this beer loves rock and/or roll. The lacing is minimal largely due to the huge slick sheeting imparted by the massive ABV. It settles to an inky blackness almost instantly but I wouldn’t expect my tank class to be nimble.
S: The smell of this beer isn’t too menacing and almost comes across as something at half the alcohol content. There’s some gentle chocolate and brownie batter smell that subsides into some nice light char similar to a sweet Cohiba cigar. The bourbon has that oaky vanilla aspect similar to single barrel Buffalo Trace, but at 684 cases you know they used Rebel Yell or some shit that Eclipse nerds go apeshit for. Smells good, but this is the eye of the storm.
T: The sweetness of the bourbon rolls onto the sweet zones like tight sickles prickling the entire way back in a crackly chocolate pop rocks sensation. The light char can barely hold back the massive kraken that is the bourbon and sweet malts profile. Even the baker’s chocolate looks pissed, furiously rolling out baked macaroon shurikens and tossing them down the back of my throat.
M: This is as hot as a New Mexico meth lab and scorches the insides just the same. The chocolate and coffee notes haunt like specters of mouths past, letting me know that this 12oz bottle should have been shared but, oh well, too late for those prodigious moments, off to 17.42% assaults. The chocolate octagon takes it out on your liver and Uncle Jacob stares on knowingly from a bourbon barrel altar, thumbing through the maltronomicon.
D: This is a tough call, at the outset I want to pull the simple “too hot, too big” red flag like all the haters but, I don’t think deserves that treatment. Sure it is a behemoth to wrangle and puts you back in 6th grade pretty quickly, the 16 bit RPGs are busted out after a single bottle. Sure you CAN drink a single bottle, but you certainly SHOULDN’T. I mean, sure I did, but do you want to be like me? Buying clothes at the LA Morgue and running a website that talks shit on beer nerds and hipsters? Well, I guess it isn’t so bad.
Narrative: “This is a cop out but, I can’t formulate a reasonable response to this beer. My chest feels like E.T. punched my sternum and my mouth is like a 5th grade sleepover chocolate binge. I was gonna write this dystopian steampunk novella about a chocolate harbinger that steals bourbon souls, or some shit, but after a couple beers and then this haymaker, the creative juices are frozen in my head. I homebrewed something of a similar strength that was aged on Willet oak and it gave me this same heat in my chest and light residual headaches. Maybe I am just a cooze, maybe I could have just framed it as a first person narrative from some dialogue mouthpiece but oh well, here we are-” Thomas Jacobs thought to himself in his 8th grade algebra class, thinking of the 6′er of Coronas he had hidden under his bed.