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Inaugural Avery IPA Festival Recap

Inaugural Avery IPA Festival Recap
Scott Hoffman

Here’s the challenging aspect of taking notes while drinking—the more you drink, the more incomprehensible and terse your notes become. You start out detailed, taking into account every distinct characteristic. After several beers, the notes become more brief. Maybe they’ll just list your first impression, if you’re lucky. Several beers later, you’re fortunate to have a listing of the beer you’ve tried.

For you, dear reader, we soldiered through. Avery IPA Fest was an absolute blast. Not too crowded, and a varied assortment of beer from around the country. “Holy crap, they managed to get Cigar City … and Two Brothers …” The list goes on. I was psyched for this, and it did not disappoint. So without further ado, my top five from last Saturday’s fest in Boulder.

1. Port Brewing Company/Nose Rider: It’s usually not a complement to say a beer reminds you of another beer—it’s a sign that either a brewery is resting on its laurels, or worse yet, simply being lazy. The exception to this rule is Nose Rider, probably the closest smell/taste combo to Pliny the Elder I’ve seen. It’s not as smooth and the hops linger a bit longer on the palate, but that can be attributed to it being a double IPA. And really, these are the attributes that make it standout a bit. I enjoyed the increased emphasis on hops, because it didn’t overwhelm the rest of the beer.

2. Oskar Blues/Barrel Aged Gubna: I love barrel aging, but sometimes all it will add is a faint whiskey/bourbon taste to the background. Not a bad thing, but you’re paying a premium for the increased ABV and taste of bourbon. Gubna is one of the rare beers I’ve tried where the barrel aging process completely reinvents the taste profile. Yes, you can still taste the bourbon in the background of each sip, but the bourbon here actually accentuates the best parts of the beer. The citrus flavors, which were previously playing second fiddle, are now much more pronounced. Barrel aging so me how managed to make this a much more well-rounded beer. My first comment when I took a sip? “Sweet Lord, this puts Gubna to shame!”

3. Cigar City/Jar Alai IPA: The brewery I was most excited to see when this fest was initially announced. It’s also the one thing  that keeps me from going insane when I visit Florida (well OK, aside from the ocean). Probably one of the most unique, refreshing IPAs I’ve ever tried. It’s a much lighter pour than I expect from the style, and the first taste is a mix of hops and tropical fruit. It’s one of those mixes I would never expect to work, but damn does it taste fantastic.

4. The Xylophone Brothers: No idea if that’s their actual name, but they can feel free to steal it from me if they see fit. You’re welcome.

5. Two Brothers/Outlaw: I’m going to be completely honest—I’m including this beer at the tail end of my list simply because it’s an Illinois brewery, and they produce some of the best beers coming out of the state. Outlaw isn’t the most remarkable or unique offering from Two Brothers, but it’s still a good IPA. First taste was incredibly malty. Hops take a back seat on this one.

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