North Coast's Grand Cru is a new limited release version of the brewery's 20th anniversary ale from 2008. This beer, like the rest of North Coast's offerings, has deceptively boring packaging. It comes in a corked and caged 500ml bottle that looks like a slimmed down Champagne bottle. I wouldn't have given this beer a second thought in the liquor store if I hadn't known it was 12.9% alcohol and brewed with agave nectar. North Coast does some pretty interesting stuff with their limit release beers, it just seems like they don't want anyone to know about it...
This is a beer I've wanted to try ever since I had my first sour ale. Rodenbach was a name that always came up when sour beers were discussed, so of course I wanted to get my hands on a bottle. Until recently I wasn't able to find Rodenbach anywhere, it was always out of stock or it just wasn't distributed to the area. All I really knew about this beer before I drank it was that it was held in very high regard by many people. It's name came up when talking about Flemish beers like Dutchess De Bourgogne but I wasn't sure just how similar they would be. I really enjoyed the Dutchess and I was hoping these two beers would be quite similar.
Great Divide's beers appeal to be on several levels, the least of which is flavor. It seems like, for a period of time, I was bringing these beers home from the liquor store and I was often disappointed with how they tasted. There's a lot of like about Great Divide and I really want to keep giving them chances, even if it doesn't always pan out... They've got a great label design, their beers are priced fairly and they're from Denver. Like I said, Great Divide has a lot going for it, unfortunately their beers aren't always on that list. It's not all bad though, there are some bright spots in their line up and those are the beers that keep me coming back to Great Divide.
I've always had nice things to say about Avery. Though admittedly, I haven't had too many of Avery's more "extreme" beers. I visited their brewery in Boulder last year and was about to try a couple of their bigger golden Belgian series beers and I was hooked. This is the first of the darker big beers I've gotten around to reviewing. The Beast is a bit intimidating, it's 15.07% after all... That's twice the alcohol content of Avery's anniversary Saison beers! I've had stronger beers, but there was always something about the Beast... Maybe it was the name, the menacing label or just the price tag. At $8 for 12 oz it isn't cheap, but it's worth every penny.