Monday, October 21, 2013

River North Avarice review

River North Avarice Belgian-style Imperial StoutFew Imperial Stouts measure up to the best, but a small brewery in Denver is making a name for themselves and has an entry worthy of your consideration. River North Brewery of Denver, CO has only been open for just under two years, but the beers they have been putting out since the beginning have been amazing. They've recently started distributing 22oz bottles across the state and when I spied a bottle of River North Avarice Belgian-style Imperial Stout, I just had to grab one.

I visited River North Brewery in Denver about a year ago during #GABF week and was impressed with what they had on tap. They are located in the old Flying Dog building at 2401 Blake Street, just 3 blocks away from Coors Field. I'm a big Imperial Stout fan anyway and when they put out a release of Avarice I knew I wanted to give it a full review. Avarice was made with a Belgian yeast strain and a load of malts building it up to a big 9.3% ABV and a hefty 83 IBU.

River North describes this beer as: "Crossing a traditional Russian Imperial Stout with a Belgian-style yeast strain produces an unprecedented spicy, roasted aroma reminiscent of chocolate and anise (black licorice). An aggressive hop backbone complements intense notes of coffee."

Normally, brewers don't put a lot of hops in with an imperial stout, rather they normally focus on the malts instead. This beer tries to bring out not only the malts, but the yeast AND hops as well. How would this beer turn out? Let's find out.

Appearance: Avarice poured extremely dark with just a hint of dark mahogany edges. When poured cold, there wasn't much of a head, but later during 2nd pourings the brown frothy head built up much more quickly. During the last pour, there was a bit of the Belgian yeast sediment that went into the glass. Don't miss that stuff as it actually gives a bit extra to the beer later on. Looked dark and inviting.

Aroma: I made use of a large snifter glass for this beer and I'm glad I did. Let this beer warm up a bit in order to draw out all of the full aroma. I got a lot of chocolate, roasted malt, dark fruits, mild spice, toffee and a hint of black licorice in the nose. There was a slightly sweeter aroma in this beer than in other imperial stouts. Despite the bigger alcohol content, there wasn't a lot of heat in the aroma.

Avarice close-upTaste: This beer was big and roasty with flavors of chocolate, dark roast, not like coffee, but in dark malts. The Belgian yeast would come into full effect once the beer warmed up and during the last pourings of the bottle. It was almost like having two different beers in the same bottle. One with just the imperial stout - big, rich, dry and the other with a bit more fruit, licorice and spice. I also picked up a taste of molasses too.

Despite this being high in IBU, the hops really were subdued next to the malts and yeast. The beer just slightly coated the tongue with roast, but not as much as other stouts.

In both pourings, this beer was easy drinking for a big beer. I highly encourage that you do mix the yeast sediment from the bottle of the bottle into your pour and get the full effect of that flavoring. The yeast really comes through in the 2nd pouring. This beer tasted well-built. I had no trouble in slowly finishing off the entire bottle in an evening's sitting - although I warn you will feel the full effect later on.

This beer screamed to be paired with chocolate and I just happened to have a handful of semi-sweet mini chocolate chips to pair this beer with. I first tried the beer all by itself to get just it's own flavor, and later I ate some chocolate chips and sipped the beer at the same time. Oh heaven! The perfect pairing. This beer would go great with any chocolatey dessert.

Overall: I thoroughly enjoyed this beer. It's richness, full bodied feel and taste and how the beer changed as it warmed up and introduced more of the Belgian yeast into the mix. The yeast really distinguished this imperial stout from others and added a great mix of spice, fruit and other flavors. Sometimes an imperial stout can be just big on alcohol and roast and leave you wanting a bit more chocolate or sweetness, but not this beer. Avarice had just the right mix of flavors and again, almost like two different beers in one with a pour from the top and the bottom of the bottle. You'll enjoy both! This is the kind of beer that would definitely stand up to a few years of cellar aging. Might just have to get a couple more bottles and do a vertical tasting next year.

Disclosure: I paid full retail price for this beer at my local liquor store. Worth every penny.

Related articles:
- River North Quandary Quadrupel Ale review. (2013)
- River North inks distribution deal with C.R. Goodman.
- Walking around Denver - River North. (2012)

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