Ok, so technically this isn’t a winter seasonal or Christmas beer, but with a name like “Salvation” this beer may be lie nearer to the heart of the Christmas season than any other. Avery’s religion-themed beers have earned a great deal of respect from me for their hop accentuated, malt-balanced beers, so I am more than willing to pry off the top on another one and see how it drinks. Let’s pour!
Look. It’s glowing!
Aroma 12/12: No questions about this score. If there were more points available, it would get those too. This beer is a spot-on perfect interpretation of what a Belgian-style Golden ale should smell like. It has a robust, muffled Belgian yeast ester, a vanilla-laced cream, a good spicy clove, and a lesser alcohol warmth that all come together into a aroma that is near floral as any beer I’ve experienced. They even throw in a little apricot to keep the drinker on their toes and a brighter grassy hop note comes along to make us believe all the more that we are in some flower strewn meadow. Salvation indeed.
Appearance 3/3: This pours like liquid gold. Not some alloy, I’m talking a bright, shining yellow, just-came-from-the-earth, the-Aztecs-would-have-owned-this-if-they could, type gold. I mean, look at the above picture. This beer is borderline incandescent. The high clarity on top of it all just seems wonderfully excessive. The eggshell colored head was satisfying in size, retention, and enjoyed a modest amount of lacing. To be frank, it’s the first thing this beer has done modestly.
Flavor 19/20: The beer enters the mouth with a fanfare of thick, cream-flavored beer. It rolls quickly to the backbone and shows hints of its warmth while displaying that wonderful Belgian yeast that is lessened a bit by some newly introduced caramel malts. Held in the mouth, the caramel and warmth seem to dominate the profile, but a slurp quickly strengthens the Belgian yeast flavors. More spices are present in the mouth than in the nose, most notably the nutmeg, but not the clove from the aroma. The spices lend another layer of complexity to place on top of the caramel. None of the floral esters from the aroma are present, but the finish tries to make up for that with a strong hop presence. The finish begins with a caramel flavor that I swear I was going to have to chew first. Thankfully the hops are there to balance by giving more bitter than one would expect in a Golden and a nice peach/apricot note which compliments this beer superbly. The aftertaste is a fairly distinct hop bitter, a noticeable warmth, hints of the caramel, and a spiciness on the tongue.
Mouthfeel 5/5: This beer is as thick a Golden as I’ve had. It’s surprising it can be so hearty and still showcase so many delicate flavors! The carbonation is a perfect match to its big body and the warmth, while never camouflaged, never threatens to overwhelm any other aspect of this beer. It sits at 9% ABV, but tastes lower. The hops are very drying despite the robust caramel malts.
Even the label glows! Crikey!
Overall Impression 9/10: Sure, there is room for improvement, but not much! The aroma was flawless as was the appearance. The flavor did not play at quite the same level, but left little to be desired. More of the floral notes would have been quite a treat and may be my only valid “nit-pick” about this beer. The beer also introduces more hops than one would expect into a Golden ale. What else would one expect from Avery?
Total 48/50: This review wrote itself for the most part. It was all I could do to type fast enough as my mind could gush praise. Things slowed down a bit in the flavor, but only because there is SO much going on there. I struggled to grasp it all at once and feel that in addition to my wish of “more florals from the amazballs aroma,” my only other aspect at which to nit-pick would be that of an overall theme of flavor. Not that this beer is all over the place or that it has combined seemingly random ingredients. Only that I had trouble picking out everything that was going on in this beer! Each ingredient seemed to grab for my attention at a different time instead of drawing me in together. In the end, even those grabs for attention were pretty gentle since the beer as a whole is fantastic. What a tasty, perfume-like, full-bodied bottle of goodness!
While finishing this beer, it seems that Avery has blended the styles of Golden Ale and their big IPAs. The golden happens in the mouth, but the finish is all about that “big malt” that Avery is so fond of mixing with a pronounced, delicious hop profile. Very neat and something I’ll look for again next year.
Joel R. Kolander is the Cheif Blogger for Sud Savant, a beer-savoring blog for the rest of us. We’re not here to get plowed. We’re not here because we are world-famous beer critics. We’re here because we enjoy savoring a great beer with even better friends. Sharing great beer is just as amazing as finding it in the first place. Lets share!