It’s always an interesting little reveal to see what Avery Brewing Co. has planned for its annual anniversary beer. In past years, the anniversary beer has been a showcase of all the styles Avery is drawn to—reading through them is like a laundry list of the brewery’s influences in that regard. There are IPAs, of course. There are also wild ales and barrel-aged sours, traditional Belgian ales and even the occasional German lager or ale. They’ve been nothing if not varied, which is half of the draw.
This year’s anniversary, Twenty Two, isn’t the most round number, but it’s an especially poignant one for the brewery, given that they are just now celebrating the opening of their new facility in Boulder’s Gunbarrel neighborhood. It’s another great step for Avery, which has personally been a favorite brewery of mine for a long time. It’s a company whose sense of authenticity makes them hard to dislike. Just go to GABF sometime and look at Adam Avery still manning his booth and pouring beer for new fans, long after most of the marquee names in the brewing industry have given up on the large-scale festivals. It shows a commitment to the nitty gritty that Avery has never lost.
Twenty Two is described by the brewery as a 100% brettanomyces-fermented wild ale, heavily dry hopped. In description, that sounds to me like “wild ale” is still supposed to be the primary selling point, but in practice I feel like this beer comes off as more of a “wild IPA.” Not that I’m complaining. In fact, it’s been a while since I’ve liked a hoppy beer from Avery this much.
The nose is particularly nice, very hop-forward with big notes of citrus and pine—orange, tangerine, resinous tree sap and even a bit of what I think might be mint. There’s a bit of the trademark barnyard characteristics of brett, but to me that aspect doesn’t pop very strongly beyond adding another layer of complexity that would be hard to put your finger on if you hadn’t read the bottle. But I fully expect that if I was smelling this in a blind tasting, I would say that it was simply an IPA.
On the palate it’s still quite hoppy, with a fresh, juicy citrus/tropical white winey character balanced on top of biscuity malt. Here, though, the wild yeast expresses itself a bit more prominently than in the aroma. There’s no real tartness to speak of, which is typical in brett-exclusive wild ales, but there are some of those nebulous funky qualities: Hay, leather, and that musty note that has always reminded me of a used bookstore (in a good way). It’s fuller of mouthfeel than expected, with medium levels of hop-derived bitterness.
Ultimately, the wild yeast could probably be slightly more expressive, but I don’t really find myself caring because I’m enjoying the bright, fresh hop flavors to such a high degree. I’m not sure whether the final product is quite what it was intended to be, but it’s very close to exactly what I want.
Brewery: Avery Brewing Co.
City: Boulder, CO
Style: Dry-hopped wild ale
Availability: 22 oz bottles, limited to Colorado, full national distribution in September.
Jim Vorel is Paste’s news editor. You can follow him on Twitter.