Avery Brewing Company out of Boulder, Colorado brought a lavish selection of beerwares to the Blind Tiger Ale House last night, and there was much rejoicing. Outside there was glowering, there was thunder, there was drenching rain and an etched lightning sky; inside there was all that and more, in liquid form.
My first brush with Avery beer was at a Blind Tiger barleywine tasting a few months back (it may have been a general strong beer tasting rather than just barleywines – sometimes it’s tricky remember the details of beer events). Their brews were among the high points of that go-round, and I was happy to taste more. And, as it turned out, more and more.
We took a break to zip across the street for dinner and a slice of the bi-weekly songwriters’ circle in the upstairs space at the lauded lesbian joint Rubyfruit Bar and Grill, where guitarslinger Natalia Zukerman was playing as promised and star-in-the-making Jennifer Marks, who starts her West Coast tour this evening, was not (you should be listening to Jennifer Marks. No, really, stop it, you should. She’s all that and more). Natalia is a formidable musician whose twisty songs take their tastes from jazz more than pop, and I like catching her when I can. Her mini-set was feline, complete with claws and sure sharp teeth.
Back at the Blind Tiger we’re telling awful jokes, including the new one about the Ever-Interrupting Cow, which cracks me up at every opportunity. But you can’t go up against a bartender in joke-telling, and Dermot’s got five for every one of mine. There are tulip glasses and half-size tasters jovially set here and there, and the best of the batch by acclaim (i.e., the ones I liked most) are Hog Heaven, a gorgeously-balanced barleywine (ABV 9.2%) garnished, on the bottle at least, with winged pigs, and The Reverend, a Belgian-style quadrupel (ABV 10.0%), which tickles with candi sugar and a bevy of fruity notes. Salvation, a Belgian strong golden ale (ABV 9.0%), and Old Jubilation, an English strong ale (ABV 8.0%), follow close on behind, and I haven’t got the palate left to even begin the hop assault of their anniversary Double IPA, Eleven (ABV 9.0%, and the brewery promises that “Describing this double IPA as ‘aggressively hopped’ is an understatement”). Pierre is quite partial to the mighty Russian imperial stout seasonal Czar (ABV 12.2%), which ultimately gets all feudal on him as the night wears on.
Overall an evening of splendid brewing: Avery’s beers are vital and winningly overdone, stomping where many might walk a finer line. Just like I like it.
On the train back to Brooklyn a deranged but clean man is orating, making a mashup of knee-jerk urban liberal mush and paranoid ramblings. He’s trying hard to convince us about something that involves soldiers in Iraq, teachers in schools, and fathers in homes. Neither we nor he can make out just what the point of it is. His voice is beautiful, resonant and deep and utterly lacking the sort of cultured tones you expect to hear in such a voice. As the doors open at Franklin Street, he calls out with clarity and commitment. “Two words,” he says. “I got two words to tell you what we need: neighborhood.”