Colorado’s beer cellars and basement refrigerators will be a little more forlorn in coming years, as Avery Brewing has decided to discontinue seven of its pioneering mainstays, including some much-loved beers that are particularly valued because of how well they age.
The Boulder brewery said last week that it will stop brewing and bottling The Beast, Samael’s Ale, Mephistopheles, The Kaiser, The Czar, Salvation and Dugana. The decision means that Avery’s three acclaimed trinity series, the Demons of Ale, the Dictators and the Holy Trinity, will come to an end as well. The remaining beers from these series, The Reverend, Maharaja and Hog Heaven, have been repackaged and will be released in new formats.
The beer retirements are surprising; Avery used the two series to redefine what bold, high-gravity craft beer could be in the United States and to build its reputation. While other older breweries — like Great Divide, Ska, Boulder Beer, Twisted Pine, New Belgium and Odell — have retired beer because their flavor profiles no longer matched consumer demand, Avery’s beers still held up. The Czar, a 10 percent ABV Russian imperial stout; Mephistopheles, a 15 percent ABV imperial stout; and Dugana, a double IPA, are among BeerAdvocate’s highest rated Colorado beers; The Kaiser, a 9.3 percent imperial Oktoberfest, and The Beast, a 17-percent grand cru ale, are highly sought-after seasonals from year to year.
Avery spokesman Mike Mackay acknowledges the importance of these beers and their status as favorites among the public. But he said the brewery wants to move on and give its focus to a newer series of six year-round barrel-aged beers, in 22-ounce bottles, called Botanicals & Barrels.
“It was a tough, tough decision. We’ve never really cut a lot of beers out of the portfolio before,” he explains. But it made more sense for the brewery to cut the smaller-batch seasonal beers in favor of the year-round Botanical series. Two of those, Vanilla Bean Stout, aged in bourbon barrels, and Raspberry Sour, aged in oak barrels, are already out. A third, Tangerine Quad, will debut in a few weeks. Three others, Apricot Sour, Ginger Sour and Coconut Porter, should show up in 2017.
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Avery now owns more than 3,300 barrels, many of which it keeps at an off-site location, and the new series will keep them full, Mackay adds. The new beers will also give Avery’s brewers new challenges. “It’s a new frontier for us, and we want to go all in,” he says.
“The Demons and Dictators series were ahead of their time when they first came out, but that was over a decade ago,” said Avery Brewing founder Adam Avery in a statement. “These beers led the way for everything we do today to push the boundaries of our beer. Now we are taking all that courage, expertise and quality control we gained and amplifying it in a much bigger way in our barrel program.
"We are not only focused on making our barrel program the biggest out there, with annual production of multiple different styles of barrel-aged beer, but more important, we are committed to making it the best and highest quality," he continued. "This is challenging us more than we’ve ever challenged ourselves before — and that’s a good thing. It’s hard to say goodbye, but I couldn’t be more excited to see the reaction of our fans when these barrel-aged beers get in their hands."
Mackay says the older beers may be resurrected from time to time in the taproom or for a barrel-aging project.