What's in a name? Everything.
A Review of The Kaiser by Avery Brewing Co.
It's no secret that we here at BrewChief are huge fans of this time of year. The summer is winding down, and fall is rapidly approaching. To us, fall arriving means that one of our favorite types of beer is now in season. The style we speak of? The Oktoberfest. The Oktoberfest style normally has a big, malty backbone with some lovely spice notes, and a decent hops presence. Now as if these beers aren't elusive enough by just being a seasonal offering, I want to tell you about an even rarer seen offering within this style: The Imperial Oktoberfest. That's right, I said Imperial Oktoberfest. The big, malty backbone? Bigger. The spice notes? Spicier. The hops presence? Hoppyer. That's right, I said hoppyer. Sounds pretty amazing, right? Trust me, it is. So without further delay, let me introduce you to one of the greatest, tastiest, most delicious examples of this style to ever be put in a bottle: The Kaiser by Avery Brewing Company.
(For those interested, this was a 2009 bottle of The Kaiser.)
When poured into the glass, The Kaiser takes on a beautiful, deep copper color, and greets you with a nice, thick head that is going to be with you for a while. Upon taking that first whiff, you are instantly taken to an Oktoberfest happy place. A nice, rich caramel aroma comes up to greet you, and its pushed forward by a deep, toasted bread undertone. You can pick up on some spicy notes laying just beneath the surface. They are warm and give the beer a feeling of fall. There is a bit of an alcohol smell that's noticeable, but not discouraging. And if you try really hard you can pick up on some faint floral hops notes way down underneath everything else.
If the first smell took you to an Oktoberfest happy place, then the first taste will show you where the nice, plush, velvety couch is in the V.I.P. area of the happy place, and then invite you to have a seat and make yourself at home. The smoothness of the mouthfeel on this one is amazing. There is some weight to it, but it is far from thick. This is the true definition of a full bodied beer. It is like a blanked of caramel is coating your mouth. The malts come through with a sweet and bready tone that is complimented well by the spices noted in the nose. The alcohol that was noticed with the aromas does come through, but more in a warming sense rather than a normal alcohol burn. And at the very end, there is just a bit of a hop nibble to keep you on your toes. Due to the higher than normal ABV, there can be moments where The Kaiser takes on the feel of a barleywine, but those moments work well with the beer overall.
In German, Kaiser means ''Emperor''. Emperor means ''ruler of an empire or another type of imperial realm''. Well I have to hand it to Avery Brewing. I can't think of a more fitting name for a beer. The Kaiser completely rules this special realm of the Oktoberfest family. I can honestly say that I don't think I have ever had a better Imperial Oktoberfest beer in my life. For the more experienced drinkers, this one is a must. It has all the qualities of a fantastic Oktoberfest multiplied by 10. Great flavors, great aromas, and a great balance between the two. I would probably have to advise against this one for those that are still new to the bigger and better beer world. It might come across as a bit overpowering to the untrained palate. I would instead recommend that you take this year to get your feet wet with some of the amazing regular Oktoberfest seasonals that are out there, and think of this one as a goal for next year. I know that waiting a year to taste something that I'm telling you is amazingly delicious right now sounds crazy, but take my word for it. It is well worth the wait.