Beer and Pavement

Beer Review: Avery Mephistopheles

Posted in Beer, Review by SM on January 5, 2012

Beer: Mephistopheles (2011)

Brewery: Avery Brewing Company (Boulder, CO)

Style: Imperial Stout

Glass: 10 oz. snifter

Context: Over NYE weekend, 44 Stone Public House, a British-style gastropub, had Mephistopheles on tap. When a beer like that is available on draft, you jump at the opportunity to try some. I had one in a bottle last year for my birthday and another in my cellar, but I had to make it out for a proper glass at a pub. My friend joined me, but he sipped on something less-intrusive as he enjoyed two glasses of the stuff the night before. It was noon and I needed to eat. So, I had some excellent lamb sliders to soak up some of that alcohol.

Appearance: It was like this. Surprisingly, there was a small head, but the bartender was sure to give me a full glass, scooping some of the foam in order to make room for the black stuff. This is surprising as the ABV on this demon child is in the 17% range. I know of 10% beers that don’t produce half this much head.

Aroma: There was a smooth chocolate thing going, but the roastiness of this beer stood out right away which, again, is surprising. From my experience, big beers like this hardly resemble beer. After crossing the 15% threshold, all boozy beers kind of taste and smell the same. Big imperial stouts like this rarely feature so much roasted barley in the nose.

Palate: Not as syrupy as one might expect, but it was smooth and coated my mouth. The surprising amount of carbonation worked well with the medium body. I never noticed the heat until it rolled down my throat and belly. That’s where the booze settled and warmed me from within.

Flavor: One would expect loads of booze, but this beer actually features a fair amount of roast and chocolate. It paired perfectly with the lamb sliders, providing both sweetness and roast to combat the strong cheese and gamy meat.

Suggested Soundtrack: Rich and loud with unexpected subtlety would describe both this beer and Wye Oak’s Civilian. Additionally, Jenn Wasner’s smoky vocals are as boozy as any vocalist I’ve heard in a long while.

Thoughts: Either this beer changes a ton with age, it’s just different on draft, or this year’s recipe is decidedly different from past versions, because I was pleasantly surprised to find it tasting like your typical imperial stout. The thing that I both love and hate about extra boozy brews is that they rarely taste like their style suggests. For example, 120 Minute IPA does not taste like an IPA. Mephistopheles tastes like an imperial stout should and you’ll only need one. The one I had nearly caused me to take a nap.

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14 Responses

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  1. johnking82 said, on January 5, 2012 at 7:42 am

    So this was a 2011? I’ve never had it fresh but have had 2005-2008 in bottles. After aging for that long, I couldn’t stand drinking it and just use it for cooking (chili).

    • Zac said, on January 5, 2012 at 9:38 am

      Sorry. It was a 2011. I’ll have to correct that.

      I get the distaste for the aged versions, but I like them for different reasons. However, I feel I know your tastes pretty well and could see why those older vintages would turn you off.

      • johnking82 said, on January 5, 2012 at 3:20 pm

        too much booze and burn. you know me…pour some sugar on me!

  2. jeffmenter said, on January 5, 2012 at 8:43 am

    Even though I knew it was a 2011, it had a lot of the characteristics that a year or two of age can add to a beer.

    It’s quite a treat to have a beer like that on tap. I should have stuck with the one on the previous night. Two is just a bit too much. But it was just $6 for a snifter on happy hour special. Can you blame me?

    • Zac said, on January 5, 2012 at 9:39 am

      It’s true. I wonder if some of those characteristics are lost from aging in a bottle.

      It’s hard to pass up $6 for a beer of this quality. At least you didn’t have to drive home.

      • johnking82 said, on January 5, 2012 at 3:21 pm

        The 2005-2008, I got were on sale for $2 a pop. There was also a deal for Avery Czars where I got a case of them for 24 bucks. The ages were 2003-2007.

      • Zac said, on January 5, 2012 at 3:28 pm

        That’s hard to beat, John. Avery just doesn’t last long enough here for any of it to go on sale.

  3. Lyrics, Libations, and Life said, on January 5, 2012 at 11:18 am

    Great review. I have a bottle of it sitting in my fridge at home. I may just have to crack that one open this weekend. Probably a few differences between it on tap and in a bottle, but I am excited. I love Avery anyway. I also have the Grand Cru. I’m not sure which one I’ll do first.

    • Zac said, on January 5, 2012 at 11:21 am

      Yeah, those big Avery beers are ridiculously good. Avery’s lineup is good from top to bottom. We get a fair amount of their stuff in Missouri, but sometimes it’s hard to get the premium beers like this one. Enjoy either, but don’t drink them in the same sitting.

  4. Daniel said, on January 11, 2012 at 11:24 pm

    We’ve got a 2010 keg in the back of the store…can’t fucking wait.

  5. […] Mephistopheles […]

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