Beer Review 0308: Avery Old Jubilation Ale

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Avery Brewing Company is a brewery sorely in need of some reviews on this website. Based in Boulder, Colorado, operations began in September of 1993. At first, they only made 22 oz. bomber bottles, but in 1996, expanded with the purchase of a twelve ounce bottling machine.

Old Jubilation is Avery’s cold weather offering; it is an Old Ale brewed with no spices. Yes, a winter beer that lacks spices! Rejoice. Coming in at 8.3% ABV (alcohol by volume), the malt bill is loaded with two-row barley, special roast, Black, Chocolate, and Victory, while the only hop used is Bullion.

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The pour on Old Jubilation presented a small, soapy head, which quickly faded atop a brown beer. Around the edges of the glass, the liquid was lighter brown, and it was clear in body, free of particles and sediment. Lacing was good, leaving behind mostly sudsy bits but an occasional sheet in places.

Aromatically, this one came off more like a standard Brown Ale rather than an Old Ale — the dominant scents are caramel and hazelnut. This one is very English malt-esque, with a general roasted character that hints at both biscuit and burnt toast; there’s also a nice bit of grapefruit hoppiness that plays out in the back, which provides an interesting amount of contrast. And for 8.3% ABV, you’d never guess it on the nose.

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On the taste, there’s lots of caramel, some mild chocolate, and a grapefruit hop flavor up front. It transitions into more of a soft, nutty flavor, giving off hazelnut, a small bit of coffee and some toffee. At this point, this is a full-bodied brown ale; the finish sees the smooth nuttiness give way to a more bittersweet note of burnt coffee, hazelnut creamer and a very mild grapefruit bitterness. Old Jubilation is medium-bodied (by Old Ale standards) and foamy in the mouthfeel, with an average carbonation.

Without question, this reminds me of a very good Brown Ale instead of an Old Ale. There are a couple of things at play here that make this a very good beer: the flavors are extremely nice, and this is such a great change from the typical heavily spiced winter ale. Chalk up more points for the moderately high ABV, which is a ghost in both aroma and taste — this is a beer to seek out to try, even if just once. I’ll remember this one for next year.

Avery Old Jubilation Ale, 89 points. Price: $1.99 US for one twelve ounce bottle.

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