Avery’s Hog Heaven
The term “Barley Wine-style” is a new one on us. We like to think the guys at Avery Brewing Co. were making hand quotation marks as they seized on the phrase. That’s cuz Hog Heaven is hardly the malt bomb that you’d expect from a bottle with “Barley Wine” on the label. Most powerhouses in the Barley Wine class, like Stone’s Old Guardian or Anchor’s Old Foghorn, are heavy on sugary roasted malts and can knock you out with a boozey left hook. In a class of beasts and brutes, Hog Heaven is the Oscar de la Hoya of the Barley Wine world.
Avery, if you’re not familiar, are brutes themselves, specializing in the huge and hoppy. Stone’s strongest beer never exceeds 12% Alcohol By Volume, whereas Avery brews at least three that exceed 15%. Which is why it’s kind of insane that these monoliths’ only attempt at the Barley Wine is one of its weakest beers at “only” 9.2%.
On first pour the beer looks caramel red and opaque and deceptively “smooth.” The nose is there; it certainly smells like a Barley Wine — all alcohol and sugar. But the first sip shatters that impression. We were reminded of a super sweet IPA, think Lenny’s RIPA. Like an IPA, it was exceedingly drinkable, not merely sip-able like most Barley Wines tend to be. There was little head, but it stuck around. The burnt, amber booze flavor slide down the gullet rather than sticking to your tongue. Misnomer or stroke of genius? We don’t know. Either way the bottle needs to read “Barley Wine-style” along with a sticker that reads: DANGER: Thirsty Beware.
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