Every now and again, all of us in the craft beer community in New Mexico have to sit and sigh when news of a great new brew is published, but we can’t get it here. From Founders to Bell’s to Firestone Walker to Great Divide to Ballast Point to Victory to many, many others, we are often left out of the party unless we drive to Arizona or Colorado. We grudgingly understand that it’s all a matter of population and the like when it comes to beers being distributed in our fair state. With a population of just over 2 million, New Mexico as a whole has fewer people than the metro areas of Denver (2.5 million) and Phoenix (4.2 million). Craft breweries, even some of the bigger ones, can only produce so much beer, and once it leaves their state it usually has to go to another state where they can obtain a sizable customer base.
So lo and behold, all of us in the Crew were more than a bit surprised when a long-standing rumor of a brewery returning to NM came true Thursday. Franz Solo posted in our GroupMe chat room something about Avery Brewing, one of the iconic breweries from Boulder, being back. After a quick check of our NMDSBC email and Facebook, I discovered that it was true, Avery was back, and it’s all thanks to the wonderful folks at Jubilation Wine & Spirits. They had struck a deal and brought back this wonderful brewery’s creations. For the first time in five years, we were blessed to have a new craft beer option in bottles and cans.
Now, we will always put our local breweries first and foremost, but it’s never a bad thing to try great beers from elsewhere and see how brews from around NM stack up. We’ve proudly called ourselves “beer polygamists” whenever folks ask us what our favorite brewery is. We love every brewery (well, almost, different Crew members have different preferences) as much as we can.
Avery’s initial lineup at Jubilation includes their IPA, White Rascal (Belgian-style white ale), Ellie’s Brown Ale, and Old Jubilation Ale, their holiday beer, in six-packs of bottles and cans. In addition to these, there are four bombers, including the delectable but brutal Czar Imperial Stout, Salvation Belgian-Style Golden Ale, Reverend (Belgian-style quad), and Hog Heaven (dry-hopped barleywine). I personally snagged a Czar as part of my International Stout Day indulgence (also had a Sleeping Dog Stout from Chama with dinner, then a Stout #2286 at Marble, and a Double Plow Oatmeal Stout at Tractor). It’s big and mean and not sweet at all. There’s a smokiness to it, and yeah, it’s a little boozy but at 11-percent ABV you would expect that. It’s not a stout for the timid. I also grabbed a sixer of Ellie’s. It stacks up well with Canteen’s Slow Down Brown as a super smooth, flavorful brown ale that you can drink on a lazy afternoon.
But in the end, no one in the Brew Crew is a bigger fan of Avery than Franz Solo. Here are his (many) thoughts on the return.
“Avery was one of the first three craft breweries I enjoyed early on in college alongside Rogue and Stone. Most weeks would end with a trip to Whole Foods to pick up a bomber of something grand to kick off the weekend right. Avery’s the Reverend was a frequent pickup with the lovely label and signature red wax seal that graced it circa 2003.
“At that time I was just a youngling when it came to the ways of craft beers and this over-the-top Belgian quad frankly blew my socks off. When I returned to Albuquerque a couple years later and discovered the glorious selection at Jubilation, the Maharaja and White Rascal became frequent and fast friends of mine.
“Something I really love about nearly all of Avery’s brews is just how consistent the mouthfeel and malt balance is across the board. Their standard IPA has plenty of hops for all ye hop heads around and manages to maintain a really good strong malt presence from start to finish.
“Enter the Beast Grand Cru: I picked one of these up on a whim and then promptly forgot about it in the vegetable crisper of my first apartment for approximately a year and a half. At the time I wasn’t too much into high alcohol content drinks of any kind, but finally one day we opened that bomber and yowza, that is a beer worthy of the gods!
“White Rascal was the first Belgian white I ever tried and I love it well to this day for the spicy flavors and wonderful profile. Old Jubilation is a fantastic winter beer which warms the bones and the soul and is one of those that will catch up to you for being so damn drinkable. The overall smoothness and drinkability of Avery brews from the 18-percent Beast to the Reverend is a testament to just how well they craft their big, brutal bomber beers and everything in between.
“It was honestly like Christmas when I found out that Avery had returned to the Duke City this week. It was a trip down memory lane to years gone by, many, many good brews ago, and being reacquainted with my old friends from Avery, I have not been disappointed in the slightest. Sometimes the past looks more golden and rosy in retrospect, but these are no fluke, no sir!
“So grab a bomber or a sixer of whatever your fancy may be, and rest assured you will not be disappointed. Here’s hoping that we see many more of the delightful bomber beers like the Beast, the Maharaja, the Kaiser and so on!”
— Franz Solo
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I couldn’t have put it any better.
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