Enter The Czar, an oppressive imperial stout from Avery Brewing Co. in Boulder.
The Czar is brewed with plentiful Hallertau hops, English yeast and imported malted barley.
This beer’s massive profile (11.7 percent ABV, 70 IBUs) puts it in league with The Abyss (11 percent ABV, 65 IBUs), a stout from Deschutes Brewery in Oregon that is among the best beers ever to have passed Soggy Coaster’s lips.
Soggy Coaster found a 22-oz. bottle of The Czar at Liquor World for $6.79. Star Liquors also stocks it.
The Czar pours an inky black. A small head recedes quickly. This beer’s aroma asserts itself before the first taste. A lot of coffee and something toasted dominate the smell.
At first taste, one notices The Czar’s carbonation, much more present than in other imperial stouts. The coffee taste jumps to the front, followed by a little hop bitterness at finish. The hops seem to outweigh the malt.
The last sip tastes much as the first. This beer lacks the complexity to develop different flavors during the course of a session. A nice red tinge does develop, however.
Soggy Coaster found this beer to be disappointing. Imperial stouts should be fantastic. They should be complex, flavorful and decadent. Given Avery’s successes with other beers, The Czar’s substantial price and Soggy Coaster’s personal inclination toward imperial stouts, he expected to be wowed. He was not.
The brewery promises complexity comes to The Czar with age. Yet some of us don’t want to age our beers. Some of us want to drink them. Other imperial stouts are born with more complexity than The Czar would accrue after years stowed away in a cellar.
Judged by the standards of all beer styles, The Czar is still impressive. But it would not take the imperial stout slot on Soggy Coaster’s brewing all-star team. B+