Friday, May 20, 2011

Avery’s The Reverend and FatCat’s Evil Belgian Ale Throwdown

Last weekend FatCatKC had plans of exploring the Sam Adams’ Latitude 48 Deconstruction sampler. But last weekend’s weather was less than IPA-like and in addition to that put FatCatKC under the weather this week. But never fear, the FatCat is back! And now I bring you a good old fashion throwdown. The two brews were The Reverend, a Belgian Quadruple, and my very own Evil Belgian Dark Strong Ale.

I have an affinity for the name, “The Reverend”. This particular affinity is due to my love for a bourbon named Elijah Craig. Not only is this delicious bourbon affordable, it is named after the reverend who invented bourbon whiskey. Now when my friends and I enjoy this particular bourbon, we can officially say we are speaking with “The Reverend”. Naturally when I see a craft brew with this moniker, I must try it.

Avery The Reverend

OG: 1.093

ABV: 10.0%

IBUs: 10

The Reverend poured with an off-white head about one finger high. There was a definitive yeast character accented with subtle fruit in the nose. The taste of this brew was dominated by the character of Belgian yeast. If you hunted intently you may detect a very small amount of dark fruit in the taste, but it would immediately be overwhelmed with the spice of the yeast. The finish was very dry with bite from the yeast. As with all Belgian style ales, the strength of this brew is deceiving in the mouthfeel. Overall the brew was drinkable but was borderline offensive with the yeast flavor.

FatCat’s Evil Belgian Dark Strong Ale


OG: 1.100

ABV: 10.6%

IBUs: 23.6%

This is FatCat’s first attempt at a Belgain style strong ale. I was excited to try my hand at this style due to the complexity and the high ABV. I added my own stove top Belgian Syrup and table sugar to increase ABV without increasing body. I brewed this in November 2010 so it has been marinating for a while. I poured out the Evil and it was a dark ruby color. There was very little head as the brew is under-carbonated. I attempted to bottle condition the ale with respect to the tradition of the style. Unfortunately, it is not easy to bottle condition a high ABV ale and consequently the Evil did not fully carbonate. There were hints of caramel and plums in the nose. It was time swallow my fear and drink the Evil. It was slightly sweet in taste, with subtle spice from the yeast. There were dark fruit flavors like plum and raisin in the background. The caramel flavors came through more as the brew warmed. The finish was somewhat sweet but satisfying. The mouthfeel obviously suffered due to the under-carbonation and was thicker than The Reverend’s. Overall I am happy with how the beer turned out and the taste was great.


Some may accuse me of being biased because this throwdown involved FatCat’s own concoction. Well the accusers would be correct, but based on taste alone the Evil would be my favorite. It had better flavor and was more complex. Based on the Evil’s character flaw of being somewhat flat, The Reverend would probably win out in an unbiased competition. Since I’m the only judge, and this is my throwdown, I crown Evil Belgian Dark Strong Ale the winner!

I was disappointed in a brew with a name of “The Reverend” being so one-dimensional (yeasty). Every drink of The Reverend gave me the impression I was ingesting spoonfuls of yeast. I checked the bottom of the bottle and I didn’t see any yeast residue to indicate this brew was bottle conditioned. I am usually very careful not to disturb the sediment at the bottom of the bottle, so I don’t think this was operator error. I was expecting great things from this brew so I checked out Beer Advocate to see what others thought. Overall it had a B+ rating out of 658 reviews. The thing that struck me as odd was the plethora of descriptions used to describe this brew. Everything from cherries, plums, grapes, malty, apples, too much hop bitterness, floral, citrus, thin, syrupy, etc, etc, etc. So I’m not sure if it is better at different times of the year, or if the recipe has changed frequently. It is a very affordable brew at $5.99 for 22oz of 10% ABV. I may pick up another bottle to see if the unpleasant yeast signature was exclusive to my particular bottle as I really wanted “The Reverend” to match the distinction of its name.


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