Friday, September 14, 2007

WHEN AVERY MET RUSSIAN RIVER, AND THE WORLD BLURRED

I copied & pasted this pic from the Brookston Beer Bulletin, as I didn't take any of my own - thanks!

Perhaps you’ve heard the tale of how AVERY BREWING of Colorado and RUSSIAN RIVER BREWING of California both made a beer called SALVATION, and in mock indignation decided to “collaborate” rather than “litigate” this budding controversy, thereby producing an excellent beer called COLLABORATION, NOT LITIGATION. It’s essentially a mash-up of the two SALVATIONS, and not only is it excellent, it’s still available & I believe even being made again this year. Then I get the good word just a few weeks ago that AVERY have secured distribution of their outstanding beers in Northern California, and lo & behold, brewmaster and owner Adam Avery shows up on the west coast two weeks ago for a series of events designed to promote the arrival of his beers in these parts. Cue the sound of rabid beer dorks quickly yanking money from their wallets.

One such event appealed to this particular beer dork, and that was a beer dinner hosted by “THE BEER CHEF”, pitting the beers of AVERY vs. their old doppelganger RUSSIAN RIVER BREWING in a knock-down, drag-out drink off. If you’re thinking, “only two of the US’s finest brewers!”, that’s exactly what I was thinking too when I ponied up the (cough) $85 admission fee. I’ll get a few things out of the way first: the food was very good, the joie de vivre and camaraderie shared by RR’s Vinnie Cilurzio and Avery’s Adam Avery was fun (I think these fellas might have been nipping each others’ beers when backs were turned, and as such pretty much spent the second half of the dinner constantly “on mic”, roasting each other, the beer chef and the world at large), and for eighty-five large, the amount of top-quality beer served was staggering and more than generous. This wasn’t ordinary beer, as both breweries tend toward high-ABV monsters, often soured or aged or generally tweaked-with to produce some true marvels. Many have been discussed in this forum before, so lemme tell you what we had:

RUSSIAN RIVER BLIND PIG IPA
AVERY IPA
AVERY SALVATION
RUSSIAN RIVER SALVATION
AVERY MAHARAJA
RUSSIAN RIVER DAMNATION, BATCH 23
AVERY FOURTEEN
RUSSIAN RIVER TORONADO ANNIVERSARY ALE
COLLABORATION, NOT LITIGATION


The first two IPAs were served to all comers before dinner even began, and it was “Drink as much as you like”, and in all the excitement that’s (alas) just what I did. The big a-ha moment out of that was just how much I loved the RUSSIAN RIVER BLIND PIG IPA. What a wonderful beverage. It was my second time having it, and I really dug it last time, but it was so citrusy & well-balanced & out-and-out delicious I had to get a second pint of it, and proclaimed it a 9.5/10 to the entire room whilst standing on a chair with a lampshade on & my pants unbuttoned. Whoops. AVERY IPA was a good solid IPA, but on this round it was “the Santa Rosa kid” taking the lion’s share of the IPA points.

After that it all gets a little less clear. I do know that I enjoyed everything, and I mean everything. One beer in particular really made the grade, and that was AVERY’S 2007 anniversary ale, FOURTEEN. Lots of oohing and ahhing around the table as that one was being consumed, and thankfully I had secured a bomber of this earlier in the week and have it waiting for me at home one of these days. Another surprise was just how drinkable & delicious the “ultra-aged” and oaked DAMNATION, BATCH 23 from Russian River was. The word on the street was that it was really, really oaked-tasting, and that doesn’t usually square with me. Thankfully this one did, and again, the bottles are out there and I got lucky enough to grab one, so after I, uh, “age” this one for a bit I’ll drink it with a critical tongue, and tell you about it if you’d like.

A friend tells me that he knew my night was over when I noisily demanded to be passed the water pitcher from the rest of the table and got nowhere, and then just closed my eyes in frustration for a ‘lil catnap. The next day was a little ragged, and as someone who basically never has hangovers & curses himself for weeks when he does – well, let’s just say that I’d firmly decided to end the beer geekdom, this blog, and all drinking whatsoever for about 24 hours after this event. But "that’s what you get when you play with the big kids". I’ll know better next time. In the meantime, if you’re lucky enough to procure the beers of either of these heavyweights in your area, by all means make a point of doing so, and pay special attention to that AVERY FOURTEEN while it’s around. That’s it – I’m going back to my ice water pitcher now.

3 comments:

Steve said...

ha, it's hard to write good descriptions of beers when your hungover from them- no matter how good they were at the time of consumption. Just shows how great the beer/night was for you to be able to such a nice entry for it that fast.

Anonymous said...

Damnation 23 is awesome. A month ago I bought 7 bottles of Damnation 23 at Ledger's, figuring if it wasn't as good as I heard I could always trade them away. Well, I had one and I guarantee I decided quickly I sure won't be trading the other 6 away.

Tweedy said...

Avery 14th is great. Had a bottle at the Linkery in San Diego, but haven't been able to get my hands on it since. Big fan of both of these breweries and was sad that I had a conflict the night of the beer dinner. But I am very excited to see Avery come into Northern California in a big way (not just City Beer and Ledgers, but also BevMo). Mephistopholes Stout, the Reverend, Avery IPA, and Salvation are all fantastic beers.