September 1 2009, 11:08 AM
It's official: The season is changing. Though the first day of fall is still a few weeks away, breweries are flipping their offerings and releasing more dark, complex beers into the market. Case in point: Avery Brewing just bottled its Beast Grand Cru, a dark, potent brew with flavors of dates, plums, and raisins. When I first had the beer in 2004 it was weighing in at close to 19 percent ABV, and I reported that it almost tasted like vodka. Over the years Avery has toned down the Beast. It's now a lighter 14.9 percent ABV, and the flavors are more balanced, with the rich malts and fruit rising above the high alcohol content. Note: Drinking the Beast is a sipper's game. Be sure to share the bottle with someone, and know that this powerful beer goes down best when it's imbibed slowly. I recommend pairing it with rich bread pudding.