review #115) and Raspberry Sour (review #120), so now that Avery Brewing Company's beer is readily available to me at my favorite local beer seller, I'm working my way through their line up. These beers aren't cheap, but as they tend to be 'big beers' in 'bog bottles,' and damn good ones at that, they are certainly worth the price tag.
This time I'm settling down with a pint and a half bottle of their Vanilla Bean Stout, a "stout with vanilla beans added aged in bourbon barrels" from their Botanicals & Barrels series. The vanilla beans complement and enhance the natural 'vanilla' like attributes of the oak barrel tannin's to create a beer that is pretty dang special.
A double dose of vanilla derived from both fresh Bourbon barrels and the trio of Tongan, Ugandan, and Mexican whole vanilla beans is complemented by essences of chocolate, caramel and molasses to round out this luxuriously silky stout.
Whenever I review a dark beer I like to hold it up to a bright light. Initially pitch black, the light nevertheless reveals dark red highlights on the edges of the glass. Sitting atop this black beer is a stubbornly slowly dissipating head of dark brown foam. I've been drinking a lot of pale beers recently, and I must say its nice to have something dark and mysterious like this in my glass again.
The aroma- as well as taste- is full of huge smoky (almost bacon like) and vanilla notes, as you might expect from a bourbon barrel aged beer. What I love most about these beers is how they take the only redeeming qualities of whiskey - and put them closer to 'front and center,' without forcing drinkers to sip cautiously and fight through the burn of superfluous alcohol.
Watch for some coffee on the back end.
That said, as far as beers go, the 10.8%ABV on this baby makes it relatively strong, so be careful if you are more used to the 4.8%ABV of Bud Light
The most fulfilling barrel aged stout I've tasted since Anderson Valley's Huge Arker (review #88)
Twin Tiers Beer Trail:
-Twin Tiers Craft Beer Club (Sayre)
- I-86 Beer Trail
- The Jolly Farmer, Waverly (Waverly)
- Bluestone Brewing Company (Sayre)
- Diversion Brewing Co. (Chemung)
- The Grille at the Train Station (Sayre)
- River Rat Brew Trail (Central Pa)