Last month I had the pleasure of spending an afternoon with Adam Avery, the President and Brewmaster of, as you probably already know, Avery Brewing Company out of Boulder, Colorado. Adam was in Florida visiting his distributors. I am employed by one of those and he sought to check out some of the modest beer and brewing meccas of Tampa. Adam and I spent the afternoon and early evening imbibing on great beer, discussing America’s most incredible beers, Adam’s brewing techniques, and our hobbies outside of the beer business. It was, without question, a damn good time!
As Adam and I ate lunch at Tampa Bay Brewing Company, the same place we ate dinner because Adam enormously enjoyed their beer and culinary offerings, I mentioned that I was rather involved with RateBeer. Adam’s eyes lit up and he praised the site as a great resource to consumers, retailers, and brewers alike. It was at that moment I asked him if he would be willing to assist me in an informal interview article about his quickly emergent brewery. I believe his response was, “Hell Yeah!”
These initial questions are to assist us readers in better understanding Adam Avery:
Q#1.) Which animal would you prefer to have as a pet?
*Beaver – I added this one after the interview… I couldn’t resist!
Adam: Dog. I like cats too, but I’ve never had or met a dog that didn’t like beer- that’s an animal you can trust and build a relationship with.
Q#2.) For dinner, you would most likely order an entree of?
*Noodles of some sort
Adam: Red meat. I eat a lot of poultry and fish as well- I drink my carbs.
Q#3.) Other than brewing, “You Would Rather Be” … as the license plates suggest, doing what?
*Playing the Cello
Adam: Rock climbing (20 years), basketball (my whole life, still play twice a week), surfing (when I can, Boulder surf is ALWAYS flat), skiing (two planks, no knuckle draggin’, YET), and, yes, I love to torture myself with the game of golf.
Ok, now down to brewing business!
Q#1.) Adam, Avery Brewing Co. released one new BIG Beer into their lineup in the past 12 months, the “Kaiser Imperial Octoberfest.” Should we as beer geeks, be looking for any other big, bold statements from Avery in the next 12 months; and if so, what shall we keep a lookout for?
Adam: Actually, in the last 12 months, we brewed three, The Beast, The Kaiser, and the Eleven. We are going crazy next year with at least 8 new offerings in very limited amounts! I am installing some new tanks in two weeks to increase our capacity by about 40%, so I’ve finally got some room to play with! Here is the list by release date:
March 1 - The Maharaja Imperial India Pale Ale will complete The Dictators Series, along with The Czar and Kaiser. Since my guys and I want to drink a huge IPA as often as possible, and we are known as the "hoppy" brewery, we’ll make this available 6 months of the year. If ever I created a beer just for myself and my own lupulin lust, The Maharaja is it! I do believe those that enjoyed the Eleven will not be disappointed. More IBUs (120), more dry hops and a little bitty more alcohol = more hop fun!
April 1 - Karma Ale, a summer seasonal, will fill out our 6 pack seasonal offerings for the year. Inspired by the wonderful farmhouse and pale ales of Belgium, Karma will be a decidedly fruity, estery ale, complex in body and nose, driven by a unique yeast strain. We’ll import grain and hops from Belgium as we always do. This beer will be "live", a small amount of yeast will remain in the bottle to aid in maturation. At 5.5% abv, Karma will have some legs to stand on! Good beer happens to good people!
May 1 - Twelve - Avery Anniversary Ale is a super Saison. Spiced out the ying- yang, unfiltered to keep yeast for long cellaring potential, spritzy carbonation, honey-fruity aroma and 9% abv add up to a big saison. The depth of character will be amazing. Complex - you bet!
July 1 - Samael’s Ale is a super-caramelly, sweetish, English-style strong ale. Perhaps the least hoppy (sacrilege here at Avery!!) beer we’ve brewed, to accentuate the malt. It is the second, along with The Beast, of our Demonic Series of Hellish Ales. Samael is one of the angelic names for the devil and we will have one bad-ass looking angel on the label. This, along with The Beast and the third member of the Demonic Series, will be offered in 12 oz bottles in place of 22oz. As we read your rates, the common complaint is that The Beast is too much to handle in a 22. We agree! Too much goes to waste or you have to wait to get a couple of friends together to share one. Thanks for the advice and enjoy!
December 1 - Mephistopheles’ Stout will complete the trilogy of The Demonic Series. It is a stout lover’s and only a stout lover’s kind of stout. Think double Imperial Stout, American/Belgian-style. Tons of black, chocolate and roasted malts along with a healthy Avery dose of hops, coupled with 18%abv will make for an extreme drinking experience. We are using a blend of our house yeast and a Belgian strain to gain complexity. 12oz bottles.
Release Date Unknown - The Wood Aged Series aka The Holy Trinity Crucified is a work in progress. The barrels have been filled. Hog is in port wood (sweetness of port will add a layer of complexity to the hop aroma and IBUs of Hog), Reverend in Opus One (cabernet) barrels (the sweet malt of Reverend marries well with the tannins and strong oak) and Salvation is soaking in chardonnay casks (vanilla to go along with the super fruity aspects of Sal). Already tasting quite "woody." When will these bottle? Honestly, when they are ready, they will let us know. I’ll keep ya posted.
Q#2.) What “style” or “non-stereotypical style” of beer have you always wanted to brew for commercial consumption but never had the opportunity, recipe, or time to brew? If there is one, when do you think it will ever be achieved?
Adam: There are soooo many recipes just screaming to come out of my head and into a kettle. I can’t wait to build a brewery with a pub so I can really experiment. We’ve received some notoriety for our big beers, for being new styles or big interpretations of existing styles. This we will continue with the aforementioned new brews. The weirdest idea I have may freak you out because I brew high octane, but I’m serious about it. I love beer. I think that’s fairly obvious. I really love the taste of hoppy beer. I would drink it 24/7 if my liver could handle it. But my sense of good health tempers my love. I have dreamt of creating a non-alcoholic IPA that I could drink like juice. Maybe even throw in some vitamins and amino acids, an energy drink, so to speak. Most if not all, N/A’s suck, and they are hard to brew for many reasons. Lots of technology and major capital expense for specific equipment. Wouldn’t it be great to wake up in the morning and have your favorite beverage, guilt free? Some day, some day...
Q#3.) What is your most-favored style of beer for your personal consumption?
Adam: My favorite style is, by far, India Pale Ale. It is my go-to style. I ask bartenders first what kinds of IPAs they have on tap. If I’m at a brewery or brewpub, the first thing I taste is their IPA. My session beer is my own IPA. A close second style is Double or Imperial IPA. But, I prefer IPAs because I get to drink more of them before falling asleep.
Q#4.) Lastly, if it is possible for a father to favor one of his children most, which of your beers are you most proud of and why?
Adam: I am most proud of Hog Heaven. We brewed the first batch back in 1997 and it was one of the first of its kind. A hugely hopped, highly malty and alcoholic big beer. It started us down the road that we are on. This beer put us on the map. Hog is our #1 beer that most other brewers want to talk about (and drink!) with us at fests or here at the brewery. Personally, when my IPA isn’t quite enough, when I need more hops, more malt, more body and abv, I go straight to the Hog!
As the day progressed, Adam and I continued to talk shop. One of our discussions was about our all-time favorite brewers. I know I must have gone on a rant about how much I adore Brasserie Fantôme, Brasserie Cantillon, Southampton, Three Floyds, AleSmith, and Hair of the Dog, as I tend to go off about these breweries on a regular occasion. I then recall asking Adam what American breweries he most admired and revered. Without hesitation, but possibility reluctant to exclude, Mr. Avery’s response was clear: “Dogfish, Allagash, Three Floyds, Bells, Stone, AleSmith, Russian River, Pizza Port, Oggi’s,” are those that standout most in my mind. With that, Adam’s response fully affirmed that the RateBeer population is equally as great a judge of America’s finest beers and brewers, as one of America’s finest himself.