The Halloween season is never, ever long enough. Just as I’m getting into the full swing of my spookytime festivities, it’s November and Christmas decor inexplicably begins sprouting from every store aisle. Last week I walked through my local purveyor of fine beers, looking for something to help ward off the post-Halloween blues. The 16.8% ABV Beast Grand Cru Ale from Avery Brewing looked to be quite the fitting way to do just that.
Like the great Cthulhu rises from the murky depths of R’lyeh to destroy our world, The Beast sinks to the murky depths of my guts to destroy my liver. This is one kick-you-in-the-head strong beer, but I’ll be damned if it isn’t one that’s easy to drink and I want more of.
I popped the blood-red top and dumped it into my trusty Founders snifter. It’s dark amber in color and pours with the slightest bit of head that seems to disappear almost at once. It smells very sweet, like toffee and brown sugar. And booze. Oooo you can smell that booze. But as I found out, it’s a booziness that hits your nostrils much harder than it hits your tongue.
The first thing that surprised me when I took my first sip was the lack of bourbon assaulting my dainty taste buds. Knowing this beer clocked in at nearly 17% alcohol, my mind automatically prepared my mouth for that ofttimes offensive bourbon kick, but of course this has none of that as it isn’t bourbon barrel aged. It’s just strong. And strangely, you can’t really even tell just how strong it is from the taste… because this tastes damn good.
The alcohol in this beer is very muted, hidden behind of wall of smooth sweetness. It’s fruity, bready and rich… raisins, molasses, caramel, figs, oak… it’s a whole meal including the plate! As a fan of Belgian dark ales, I relished in the dark maltiness of this beer, letting my spookytime woes drain out of my mind as I drained the glass into my face.
As the weather gets chillier, many like me will be searching store shelves for something dark, rich and strong to help keep the blood pumping. I recommend throwing on some Iron Maiden and downing a few of these beastly offerings from Avery Brewing. That should warm you up nicely.