What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear “The Reverend?” If it is church you are incorrect. This Reverend isn’t here to preach law and gospel, only the gospel of Belgian Ales. The Reverend is a product of the venerable Avery Brewing Company out of Boulder, CO. Depending on what your tastes are Belgians may not be for you. The Belgians have been brewing beer since at least 2800 BC. That means for 5,000 years they have been brewing their own styles of beer, especially at the local monasteries for centuries. There is a 16th century proverb that says “Wine is but single broth, ale is meat, drink and cloth.” Essentially the early beer drinkers were deriding wine and hailing the attributes of their Ales. With beer you have a substantial liquid that not only quells your appetite, but it also provides drink and warmth. Beer was celebrated in this region, much like most of the northern parts of the Roman Empire. And like wine, the geography and availability of ingredients has a large effect on the beer that is produced.
Belgian beers are interesting because over half of them do not fit into the traditional styles we are so used to. As a great merchant nation in the 17th and 18th centuries their beer taste shifted to include exotic spices that were brought back from the far away places in the indies. This added to the fact that they pretty much used whatever they could get their hands on to brew means that we wind up with many different flavors that don’t conform to traditional styles. But perhaps the most interesting, and defining ingredient used in their beers is their Belgian yeast strains. The brewers in Belgium tend to ferment their beers at higher temperatures which gives more fruity and spicy aromas. Combine this with the peculiarity of Belgian hops and you have distinct and crazy beers. Belgium is a very interesting place for beer drinkers. Belgian hops don’t add very much in the way of bittering to their beers, but they do add some very nice aromatics. Now that your history and brewing lesson are over I will get to the beer.
Appearance: Pours ruby caramel with a thin head that leaves thin lacing.
Aroma: Belgian candied sugar, some fruits like pears and apricots, toasted malt and light alcohol. Very balanced and subtle.
Taste: Candied sugar, pears, caramel malty sweetness is contrasted with some spices like cloves. Darker fruit is present as well such as cherries and fruit cake. No real hop bitterness is present but the overall taste is balanced which leads me to believe that they are there. The brew isn’t overly sweet to the point that you just want to stop drinking it so there is a frame of bitterness in there somewhere, and the crispness of these “phantom hops” keeps the palate clear for another sip.
Mouthfeel: Lightly carbonated and full bodied. A little on the oily side, but this doesn’t detract from the beer at all. Definitely a sipper.
Overall I would recommend this as a good introduction to Quads, but I would not recommend it for people just getting into Belgian beers. If you want to start a foray into Belgians I would suggest starting with Ommegang’s Abbey Ale or Allagash’s Dubbel Reserve. If you think you are ready for a quad though, please do try this as it is a great expression of the style and a fantastic drink to enjoy on a night like tonight, when the Hawks are destroying the Oilers. The Reverend is available year round and and has an ABV of 10%.
Rating: 3.5 stars