Thursday, October 4, 2007

Avery 14'er ESB

Style: Extra Special Bitter
Hops: Bullion, Fuggle
Malts: 2-Row, Caramel 120L
OG: 1.048
ABV: 5%
IBU: 37

It's always a mistake for me to drive to the beer store without a specific beer in mind; I either buy everything I see that looks good or I can't make up my mind. I entered the store last night knowing that I wanted to buy one six pack to bridge the gap to this weekend when we're (hopefully) going up to MA and I can stock up there. I stood in the beer aisle for 20 minutes until I started to feel my eyes glazing over. I decided on Anchor Porter, which I haven't had in a while, but changed my mind deciding that I wanted something I've never had before. Also, I wanted it to be local. What did I walk out of the store with? Colorado's Avery 14'er ESB. Nicely done...sometimes my brain is a mystery. Well, at least I've never had it before...

The "14'er" part of the name is an ode to the 54 Colorado peaks above 14,000 feet. I can appreciate this as a hiker whose father is obsessed with hiking all 48 of New Hampshire's 4,000 footers.

This beer pours a light copper color and is very clear due to filtration. Very large bubbles congregate to form a soapy white head that dissipates after a few minutes. The aroma is dominated by a malty character with some estery notes providing a bit of fuitiness. I don't pick up much, if any, hop aroma. The taste continues with its malty presence. A bit of sweetness is provided by the caramel malt. The estery fruitiness is stronger in the taste, probably aided by the sweetness of the malt. There is a bit of a floral hop note in the background. It has a restrained bitterness, but enough to keep the sweetness from the caramel malt becoming too dominant in the flavor profile. It finishes with a slight metallic taste. Mouthfeel is full and round, but there's probably a bit too much carbonation...forced carbonation at that. This is a very enjoyable beer that would probably go well with many types of food. Still, it feels a bit lifeless, a result from being filtered and force-carbonated I guess. I bet this beer would kill if served via cask...or even just bottle conditioned. Part of the problem may be that it's a little more attenuated than you'd expect from an ESB. Doing some quick calculations, if the starting gravity is 1.048 the final gravity must by 1.010 to yield 5% ABV, which is 78% apparent attenuation. I'd expect this to be a bit lower to provide a more body and sweetness. It could be a contributing factor anyway.


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