(Author's note: This brew originally appeared under 'Favorite hard to find beers' until it was entered as it's own Epinions category. This review is an updated version of the original epinion that has been placed in the new and appropriate category.)
Recommend this product?
A pedantic preface to my review: I'm a huge fan of Flogging Molly's music. While my musical tastes seem to be uttely inimical to a review of a beer, there is a strong connection. Flogging Molly's music brings out a level of pugnacious determination in me that will allow me to take a high velocity brick to the face, only to return a death's head grin and a haymaker of equal velocity. This variety of upbeat Celtic folk and Punk is a perfect musical compliment to The Beast (Yes, the name deserves to be bolded), as consumption of this ale will require dipping deep into one's reserve of combativeness and constitution. In short, The Beast is a dark wonder, a tourist attraction within the walls of Dys, but one that can reap the drinker rewards that should be a mortal sin.
Avery Brewing has always been a source of top notch brews. Having had recent cause to celebrate, I decided to swing by the local liqour superstore and obtain a few bombers by way of rejoicing some recent career advancements. Being in the mood for some high quality strong ales, I obtained a bomber of Stone's Arrogant Bastard, and Avery brewing's The Beast, a true leviathan of a Belgian Grand Cru.
Everything about The Beast is daunting from the get-go. Distributed in 22oz bombers, The Beast is truly an epic brew. The label graphics depict a snarling predator, with the brew's name emblazoned upon the bottle with aggressive red lettering. A bright crimson foil wrap over the bottlecap serves as further warning to would-be brew crusaders: The faint of heart are decidely unwelcome here. I was mildly surprised that Stone's gargoyle mascot didn't back itself into a corner and simper when it was in the awesome presence of The Beast, as I placed the bottles next to each other. With a stout heart and an extra large tankard at the ready, I waded into combat with one of the most powerful ales I've ever met.
Pouring The Beast is an exercise in patience, as the brew tends to form a craggy, off-white head that quickly settles into little more than clinging lace around the edges of the body. The 'float the bottlecap on the head' test is wholly unnecessary here, as one can nearly float a bottlecap on the body of the beer itself. The body is a deep reddish mahogany color that brings about notions of the lifeblood of some Lovecraftian horror decanted into a glass for you consumption. The mere armoa of this brew is more complex than the body of most beers, with notes of various dark fruits, molasses and honey riding a coffeelike malt aroma. In short, everything about this beer's appearance and nose led to one conclusion: This beer is less a sensory experience, and more a Lord of The Rings style quest into realms previously unseen by men.
A sip of the brew is like being hurled bodily into a wall of earthy malt and yeast flavors, with heavy overtones of honey and fruit. Finish and aftertaste are very syrupy, with a decided hop bite, and just a hint of alcohol. The fact that alcohol bite is a passing notion is a tribute to the huge flavor of The Beast, which manages to make the alcohol flavor an also-ran, despite the downright massive 18.1% ABV of the 2004 run of The Beast. If I was pressed against a brick wall, with a firing squad facing me, I could sum up the flavor as the bastard child of New Belgium's Trippel and Stone's Arrogant bastard ale. The body begins with an oveture of Trippel style earthy yeast flavors, and rises to a crescendo of harsh, malty 'strong ale' flavor. Mind you though, this description is a gross oversimplification of the flavor profile of The Beast, which I would only give on pain of death. To grossly misquote Pinhead, from the Hellraiser series; Consume a bomber of The Beast, and I shall show you dark wonders beyond your wildest imagination. I've sucked down bombers of Stone's Double Bastard, which is probably the mightiest brew that can fall under the aegis of 'American Strong Ale', Oak conditioned Arrogant Bastard, and a legion of other strong ales, but all pale before the stygian majesty of The Beast.
This brew is not something that would be enjoyed by someone other than a hardcore beer grognard. Since my prior update, I've taken on The Beast twice more, on the grounds that no mere mortal can take in this brew in a single sitting. Every neophyte that I've offered a sip to has literally gagged on the brew, as the flavor is a slap in the face for even the most hardened strong ale connisuer. The massive, complex body is incredibly daunting, even when poured at roughly 44 degrees farenheit. After letting the brew warm to about 55 degrees, the flavors only deepened and became more complex. I could write multivolume tomes about the interplay of flavor in this beer, but suffice to say that it will put off any holiday excursionist. The malt profile was insanely complex, and the even half-dozen hop varieties added to the brew only served to take an already complex flavor into the realm of a mythical Labyrinth.
Overall, I'd rate The Beast as a near religious experience for any hardcore strong ale fanatic. It's not for the faint of heart, but those with the constitution to withstand the massive assault on their senses will find themselves well rewarded. A 22oz bomber of The Beast is basically a '6-pack in a bottle', with an alcohol content roughly equal to a six pack of 12 oz 4% beers. This review's title mentioned 'Tyrannosaurus Rex', the latin name for the incredibly destructive predator dinosaur that roughly translates to 'King Tyrant Lizard'. The Beast, if given a latin name, would be something along the line of Tyrannomatera Rex (Roughly: King Tyrant of fermentation) Within the category of beers (excluding barleywines), The Beast is a Mount Everest of both flavor and alochol content.
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