Last night, as part of the three-pub cooperative Avery push we mentioned Monday, the Meddlesome Moth cracked open three kegs from Avery's Demons of Ale series.
The three beers in the series are all over 16 percent ABV and are not cheap. But given how uncommon they are, at least on draft, they were worth it. A flight of three 4-ounce pours was $16, while an 8-ounce glass of any of the three was $9. All three were still available as of this afternoon.
Samael's Ale, an English-style barleywine, was a very dark amber-red hue with an extremely sticky off-white head. It proved very sweet and syrupy, with pronounced woody and vanilla notes standing out along with the very noticeable fumes of alcohol warmth and caramel flavors and pruney, raisiny dark-fruit maltiness. As expected, it's definitely a slow sipper that would probably go wonderfully with bread pudding or some other substantial dessert.
The Beast Grand Cru, which I tried last year at the Fort Worth Flying Saucer Fall Beer Festival, was just as syrupy sweet as I remembered. But outside the rushed, one-strong-beer-after-another environment of a beer fest, I better appreciated the complex dark-fruit notes. As the description that came with the flight suggested, I picked up on some pineapple flavor as well. It was a bit more rounded and not quite as sweet as Samael's -- but I still can't imagine drinking any more than the 4 ounces that came with the flight. It's hard to believe this shares a category with the comparatively tame Celis Grand Cru -- it's like a whole other species. I imagine a year or two in the cellar would really mellow out the alcohol heat of this as well as Samael's.
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By far my favorite was Mephistopheles Stout. Not a syrupy texture but rather having a thick and velvety body, it is a phenomenal stout. The bitter espresso roasted malts do an excellent job of balancing the sweetness, and the beer is also by far the best at masking the alcohol, even though it's the strongest in the series at about 16.8 percent ABV. The sweetness and alcohol warmth make it almost like sipping a coffee liqueur along with an excellent stout. In fact, it's so good that I order a glass of it after I finish the flight.
And by the time I finish, I'm glad Lady Hophead came along and ordered lighter beers. With most beers, 20 ounces isn't a big deal, but with such highly alcoholic ales I'm glad not to be driving afterward.
Libertine manager Máté Hartai and Moth manager Matt Quenette happened to be sitting nearby and tossed around ideas for future multi-bar beer collaborations featuring other brands or perhaps an all-Texas lineup.
Tonight, the Libertine taps The Reverend Belgian-style quad and Hog Heaven American barleywine along with the already available Salvation from the Trinity Series, while tomorrow the Dictators take over The Common Table, with tappings of Maharaja Imperial IPA (which is awesome), Kaiser Imperial Oktoberfest (also great) and Czar Imperial Russian Stout (haven't tried it yet).