Beer Review 0441: Avery Karma Belgian-Style Pale Ale

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Avery Brewing Company is located in Boulder, Colorado, and began operations in 1993.  The brewer was Adam Avery, and the company was the result of his efforts to perfect several home brew recipes. Enter a couple of gold medals from the Great American Beer Festival, and popularity quickly followed, as it often does.

Initially only offered in 22 oz. bomber bottles, Avery fired up 12 ounce bottles in 1996, which allowed them to sell six-packs. In the same year, Avery brewed an IPA, one of their bestsellers. (I rated Avery IPA 89 points.)

Karma is Avery’s Belgian-Style Pale Ale, and it sees a once yearly release each April. Brewed with Rochefort yeast strain, the beer hits just 5.4% ABV (alcohol by volume) and has just a touch of Sterling hops to bring IBUs (International Bitterness Units) up to 10. You get what you give, indeed.

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Karma pours a small, fast diminishing head that is soapy in texture. The color of the beer is golden-orange, with an exceptionally clear (nearly sparkling) body that is free of particles and sediment. There was no lacing.

For a Belgian-style beer, the aroma was very light and didn’t go heavy on yeast. There’s sweet, sugary orange peel, grape skin, and caramel, along with a soapy yeast and hints of pink bubblegum. The nose is a bit medicinal, and it reminded me of an Amber Ale more than anything Belgian inspired.

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But the taste does surprise, in a pleasant way; this beer is incredibly refreshing and easy drinking, despite not being Belgian whatsoever. It’s fruity and very carbonated up front, presenting orange peel, tart apple, and grape, which leads to a heavily bready malty middle. A dollop of sweet caramel mixes with the bread to make an almost savory combination, then the finish washes in with more of the general fruitiness, heavy on the orange and grape. Karma is light-bodied, with a thin, foamy mouthfeel.

Scratch Belgian-Style Pale Ale, this is really a fruity Amber. Nothing wrong with that, but if you’re going in expecting a big Belgian presence, you will be disappointed. I thought the beer was refreshing and it sure tasted better than I anticipated after judging the aroma, but there’s really nothing here to write home about or want to return to.

Avery Karma Belgian-Style Pale Ale, 76 points. Price: $1.99 US for one 12 oz. bottle.

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