February 3, 2006 Written by Oakes
Vancouver, CANADA -
Adam Avery is a beer geek’s beer geek. He is one of those guys who is living the dream. His parents had what he terms a “European” attitude to drink so he was exposed to quality beverages from an early age. He started homebrewing in college and caught the bug. But where most college homebrewers move on to other careers, Avery realized that making beer was a calling, and moved to open his own brewery.
The brewery has always made fairly robust versions of regular beer styles (their Out of Bounds Stout and New World Porter are excellent) but over the past couple of years, the brewery has taken off, based largely on embracing Adam’s passion for boundary-pushing brews. It’s a bit counter-intuitive, really. Conventional brewing wisdom states that volume-based product makes you money and high-test specialties are fun products that you merely hope will break even. In Avery’s case, the specialties have put the spotlight on the brewery and that has a spillover effect on the other beers.
Adam’s big beer fixation first came to fruition with the release in 1997 of Hog Heaven, a barley wine that simply drips with hops. A few years later, Avery made The Reverend as a one-off tribute beer. It was a hit and was added to the regular lineup. To these two was added Salvation, completing what Avery dubs “The Holy Trinity”.
In 2004, Avery announced that new series’ were to be launched. They added an Imperial IPA called Maharaja to the lineup, completing The Dictator Series that was started with The Czar (an imperial stout) and The Kaiser (billed by the brewery as an ‘imperial oktoberfest’).
The Demonic Series of Hellish Ales is the most insane yet, featuring 18% + abv beers like the Belgian-style The Beast Grand Cru, Samael’s Ale (based on English-style strong ales) and Mephistopheles’ Stout (out now, to rave reviews). This is in addition to barrel-aged versions of the Holy Trinity and the regular slate of seasonals and anniversary beers.
Where does all this madness come from? Avery’s head. “I’m a homebrewer gone berserk. I get ideas and I want to do them. I like to brew a lot of different beers because I like to drink a lot of different beers. Our best selling beer, the IPA, is 26% of our business. We’re not the kind of brewery that has just one dominant beer.”
Diversity and a taste for the extreme are Avery’s trademarks, but don’t forget that their “regular” beers rock, too.