The association between church and brewer goes back over millennia, as the Abbeys and Monasteries of the past  were always acknowledged as seats of learning and scientific innovation.

Indeed the link still exists with the Trappists Monasteries of Belgium who produce an eclectic array of ales, be it on a commercial level today.

One aspect of beer production that arouses great interest is 'strength'. Brews that weigh in at heady alcoholic  levels cause a certain fascination, not least because some have the potential to age like fine wines.

Strangely perhaps for the commercial brewers who produce such beers the temptation seems to be to evoke another side of the religious equation, and associate their wares not so much with piety and benevolence, but with darker forces - and satanic leanings.

This could be because such heady brews leave such a warming alcoholic burn when drunk that it leads all the way to the soul!  But, this would be doing some brews a disservice that are made as true craft beers worthy of respect through their care of manufacture.

Brands such as Belzebuth, Lucifer, Old Nick and Satan show such brewers toying  with the dark side, but one beer in particular stands out from the rest purely in quality terms - Avery Breweries Mephistopheles.  

The brewery is based in Boulder, Colorado in the USA and this particular beer is modestly described purely as a 'stout'.  Given its strength however it could easily be classed as 'Imperial' or perhaps 'Double Imperial' if such designation existed! 



                                                     Mephistopheles on night ops.

 The aroma has enveloping tones of deep mocha coffee, warmed brown sugar, and gentle roast bean. All are clean and well balanced. 

The flavour has powerful dark fig, black berry, and molasses notes, with a delicious driven licorice flavour. These are all bold and rounded but at the same time not overpowering, making it remarkably harmonious given the strength. 

The finish is long and lingering and the hop flavours come through noticeably, but not aggressively, to complete a wonderfully complex brew.  

Judging by the carbonation the beer appears not to be bottle conditioned, and the beer sampled had matured for over three years, being bottled in December 2010, and known as batch 6. Clearly it had the potential to age for many more years to come.

At an alcoholic level of a very specific 15.96%Alc/vol. you could see why this beer was a force to be recon with!

Legend has it that Mephistopheles is the second fallen angel after Satan, and the fact that this beer is as black as night (since he shuns daylight) was the inspiration for the name. Each batch is brewed once annually and is of varying strengths - but all are formidable!

On this showing Satan ought to watch out as Mephistopheles could easily take the top slot - a remarkable brew where dabbling in the dark arts has never been so rewarding!


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