Avery Brewing Company is a Boulder, CO based brewery that has operated since 1993. They offer a wide variety of regular and seasonal offerings. For some reason I’ve always been prone to passing over Avery’s beers while at the bottle shop, but I recently bought some of their IPA (yet to be reviewed) and ESB.
ESB, or Extra Special Bitter, is a traditional English style of beer characterized primarily by good balance of hops and malt. Avery’s example of the beer is hopped with Bullion and Fuggle hops and uses two row caramel malt.
ESB’s tend to be a little on the malty side, but with enough hops to counter the sweetness that can accompany too much maltiness. This makes them very drinkable beers, when done right, although at 5.0% Avery’s 14′er is a little strong to be considered a session beer.
Avery’s 14′er pours a nice copper color, slightly hazy, with an average sized head. On the aroma I caught traces of raisin, which carried over into the flavor, too. Once I fixated on “raisin” as a flavor I had trouble pulling others out of the profile, but like a good ESB I found 14′er to be very drinkable and nicely balanced.
14′er has a fair amount of bitterness in the flavor, but I noted very little of the more aromatic, citrusy notes that come with something like a pale ale. The hops were used almost entirely for bittering, not for aroma. This balances the malt out, which can be overly sticky and sweet when left alone. The bitterness built substantially while I drank this beer, but it was very enjoyable. Another winner from Avery!