Beer drinkers don’t have too many high holy days, but December 5th is among them. I know this isn’t the most timely reference to it, but it’s not my fault. Ever since TSJ’s editorial staff attended some Business Efficiency class modeled after Japanese corporate principles, they designed an 11 month calendar because “it’s 1/12th more efficient!”. Having a calendar that corresponds to no known standard can be confusing at first, but I rather enjoy celebrating St. Patrick’s day more often. And nobody likes February anyway. 28 day “month”, my ass.
On 12/5/33 the 21st Amendment to the US Constitution was ratified. It repealed the 18th Amendment which mandated Prohibition nationwide. For those who aren’t familiar, Prohibition was a 13 year period of criminalizing alcohol sales and consumption. It was once referred to as “The Noble Experiment,” but history has rebranded it as “The Colossally Harebrained Inability To Fathom People’s Love Of Intoxication.”
Though Prohibition ultimately failed, its example has provided the U.S. Government with a lasting understanding that a sovereign people cannot have their desires legislated upon and all attempts to curtail such behavior are ultimately doomed. Except with weed, opiates, psychedelics, bath salts, Ketamine and crack. It’ll totally work there.
I can think of no better way to celebrate the 78th anniversary of this seminal event in inebriation than to drink. Thankfully the enablers over at Avery Brewing, are happy to oblige.
The Beast (16.8% ABV)
The nose of this Grand Cru is swimming with brown sugar and dates. Grand Crus tend to be sweeter as a style, but this smells like sugar crystals dipped in molasses and then rolled in raisins.
This ale is most certainly a beast. An alcoholic beast. So basically, it’s my step father.
The booze on this is out of control, so much so that the initial belt calibrates your tongue into “OMG SHOTS!” mode. Once you gird your loins for battle (i.e. remember to sip it) you can discover the complexity underneath. The aforementioned raisins and molasses are prominent, but with a considerable menthol bitterness to cut into the mix. As it warms you definitely get more dates and honey.
I don’t mean to diminish this beer, but it is important to remember it is something of a novelty. You don’t chug this beer. It is built (and priced) to be savored. This is an industrial take on the style and it should be approached as such.
The Kaiser (10% ABV)
This sharp copper ale delivers aromatic notes of bread and flowers. It is definitely building on a traditional Oktoberfest recipe.
It continues to deliver on the Oktoberfest promise with flavor notes of pumpkin, bread and cinnamon. The hops do a fine job of balancing it with a dose of florals and musty bitterness. The alcohol is present, but nicely attenuated.
This beer is a contradiction. Part of what makes Oktoberfest beer an Oktoberfest beer is that you can drink it by the liter. It is supposed to be a lubricant for consuming miles of kielbasa and mounds of kraut. An imperial Oktoberfest is far too potent and flavorful to serve those functions.
All that said, it’s delicious.This beer is exactly what I would expect from a ‘roided out Oktoberfest, including the unprovoked fits of rage and testicular hypertrophy. And it’s awesome.
Eighteen (8.12% ABV)
The advertised dry hopping on this orange-amber brew produces a spicy, floral aroma that is quite pungent. The rye comes through just as strongly in the flavor, with a spiciness that offsets the funk of the saison. It’s a unique and delicious fusion of rye beers and saisons, a pairing that should have worked as well as an accoustic LMFAO album.
The big flavors in this just nest into each other and allow you to sip and enjoy. Its a unique, potent and delicious quaff that I highly recommend.
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