Beer Review: Avery Ellie's Brown Ale from Avery Brewing

It pours into an American pint with brilliant ruby brown vitality, creating a dense, stable crown of light tan head that endures like a fluffy cloud of beer bliss.

The woodsy, fruity, and floral hops aromas of Fuggles, Bullion, and Cascade varieties mixes with a toasted bread malt essence. It's something likes whole grain waffles drizzled with caramel and dark fruit, served in the middle of the woods. It's a substantial scent, yet fresh, airy, and unobtrusive.

On the palate, this brew is all about the malt. Two-row pale imparts its signature clean barley taste, with a sugar laden nuttiness from munich and caramel malt. Chocolate malt lends to the dark sweetness and adds, not surprisingly, a rich cocoa tone with a slight roasty bitterness.

With ballsy hops explosions like The Maharaja and Ale to the Chief, you might expect Avery's brown ale to be loaded with an epic ton high alpha acid hops. But with only 17 IBU, Ellie drinks more in the English tradition. Hops contribute to the brew in terms of aroma, rather than coming across as tools of palate annihilation. All this robust flavor in a somewhat light bodied 5.5% ABV package makes Ellie's Brown an incredibly sessionable gem of a beer, a true exhibition of range.

Also from Avery --

The brewery's 14er ESB and Redpoint Amber are both flavorful and drinkable, and like Ellie's Brown, have moderate alcohol by volume, only around 5%. Only slightly higher at 5.8%, White Rascal is a white beer with lemony orange notes and a lovely Belgian spice bouquet.

Traditional Belgian is a common theme among Avery beer, as is high gravity, which is a beer nerd term for ass-kicking alcohol content. These massively intoxicating brews are usually grouped into trios.

The Holy Trinity of Beers includes Salvation, a golden ale that weighs in at 9%, Hog Heaven, a 9% English style barleywine, and The Reverend, a complex and malty 10% Quadrupel ale that can undergo about 4 years of cellaring.

The Dictator Series is a set of Imperial beers that drives your palate into submission. There's The Kaiser, a 9.3% Oktoberfest lager, The Maharaja, a citrusy IPA with 10.25% abv, and The Czar, sporting an impressive 11% worth of Russian stout goodness.

The Demon Series features three massive 14-15%ers loaded with intense flavors. Oak aged Samael, Mephistopheles stout, and The Beast grand cru will surely flex true demon power if you disregard their potential to mess you up beyond repair.

Collaboration not Litigation is a joint effort with Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River Brewing, who also makes exquisite beer. After realizing both breweries produced a beer called Salvation, and in a stroke of pure beer genius, they decided to blend the two Belgian-inspired brews. The result of this partnership is a kick ass beer that drinks like a dreamy, beefy Dubbel.

But it's the yearly anniversary beers that keep me on the edge of my barstool. This year's installment, a saison, celebrates the 16th year that Avery has been making rad beer. Past installments of the anniversary series include a weizenbock, double ipa, and wild ale.

In the mountain town of Boulder, Colorado, Avery Brewing operates with imaginative commitment to craft beer. The brewery's website proudly asserts, "we brew what we like to drink—with utter disregard for what the market demands— and search out fans with equally eccentric palates." They found me many years ago, and since then I have thoroughly enjoyed my fandom.

I think Adam Avery is the bees knees; some of my favorite clips from I am a Craft Brewer feature his interpretations of the CBC keynote video collage script. As president and brewmaster, he was once a homebrewer who became ambitious enough to start a commercial venture. And since the beginning, the beer produced by the brewery that bears his name has been consistently excellent, challenging the way I think about how beer should taste, how much alcohol it should have, and how large a dose of hops should be added.

Ellie's Brown is one of my favorite examples of the brown ale style. The brew takes its name from Adam Avery's former canine companion, a Chocolate Lab (1992-2002) whose likeness is depicted on the label.

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