Avery Hog Heaven

Tasting: February 7, 2012
Style: American Barleywine

Avery Hog Heaven

Some big news in American brewing was reported last week. I mentioned in an earlier entry that Boston Beer Company (Sam Adams) was the largest American brewer (by volume) in 2010. By American – meaning American owned and brewed solely in America. They produced about 2.2 million barrels in 2010. In 2011, it seems that D.G. Yuengling roared ahead with an output of 2.5m barrels, outpacing Boston Beer by just a 100 k barrel margin. To put it all in perspective – Anheuser Busch (not solely American-owned) produced 98.8 million barrels last year.

Even though production under 3M barrels is still considered “craft beer”, the story of Colorado’s Avery Brewing is probably more typical of the story of many craft-brewers. In 2011, Avery announced that they were ceasing distribution in eight states and in seven partial states because their production increase couldn’t keep up with demand. According to their website, they produced about 8,000 barrels of beer, which puts them in the “micro-brew” category (under 15,000 barrels). We’re lucky to have Avery Brewing available in New Jersey. Keep your fingers crossed that they stay.

Hog Heaven is a barleywine ale that checks in at 9.4% ABV. This one is described as being dry-hopped. Pours a rich reddish brown with minimal head that dissipates quickly. Smells sweet like a barleywine should — heavy malt base. First sip is a swirling combination of caramel and strong pungent fresh hops. At first blush, it reminds me an awful lot like Founder’s Devil Dancer. It’s full-bodied as you’d expect and sticky. Does get a little boozy toward the end of the bottle. But really beautifully balanced. I love, love, love it – 93 points.

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