Odell Avant Pêche
When I first started tasting beer and was discovering new breweries and flavors, I never thought about keeping beer for longer than a week, as I would never buy more than I could drink. Times have definitely changed for me since I started this little blog just about a year ago, and I now have beer that I’ve been “cellaring” and aging in my closet as well as the darkest corners of my refrigerator. I’ve learned that some brews just need more time in the bottle to reach their full potential, and while I am certainly no expert on when that might be, I figure it can’t hurt to experiment with different times depending on what others have said. It’s a huge learning curve, but I’ll figure it out eventually. Until then, I’ve decided the time has come to pull my Odell Avant Pêche from the back of my “cellar” and pop it open for a taste.
Like many Avant Garde artists before us, we wanted to push the boundaries of mainstream style by challenging traditional brewing techniques and ingredients. We aged a classic Imperial Porter in oak barrels with Colorado peaches and wild yeasts. The blend marries a bold roasted chocolate malt flavor with a subtle peach essence, and the wild yeasts create slightly tart complexities. Nonconforming and intriguing, Avant Peche entertains the palate, and inspires creative drinking.
Poured into my snifter, it appears a thick, murky, opaque inky black. When held to the light, and watching the stream of liquid as it falls from the bottle, it fades to a matte coffee bean brown with hints of auburn peeking out just beneath the foam. Avant Pêche builds a rather mediocre two-finger thick head of a wheat-colored bubbly cream that falls in on itself from the inside out, leaving some thin lacing on the glass while dollops of foam gather in patches throughout the middle.
The nose carries nothing overwhelming, everything in the aroma is presented in a pretty soft harmony. It begins with a delicious subtle peach, sour cherry and pear, followed by very faint hints of tart citrus, light roasted coffee and bits of chocolate. Damp oak and wet leaves begin to proliferate soon after, and carry warm notes of spiced molasses and toasted bready malts. Some mild wild yeast aromas pepper the scent overall, but are hidden fairly well along with the alcohol, which is hardly discernible over the fruit and roasts.
Finally dipping my tongue into the brew, it opens with an initial tart, juicy, natural peach flavor enveloped in a smooth oak. It continues with thin toasted malts; then the sweetness of the peach rises, and it finishes with chocolate and a slight bitter pinch of roasted coffee right at the end. There was a small wave of heat from the alcohol as it warmly washed over my throat and into my belly as I finished the swallow. The peaches in this seem to be a combination of fruit that has dropped from the tree and has begun to ferment, as well as fruit that has just turned ripe and is ready to pick. It was easy to imagine I was in the middle of an orchard right as summer faded into fall, which is the image I was absolutely hoping for when I picked this bottle up 6 months ago.
In conclusion, the feel is fairly crisp in the first few tastes, and it smooths to an airy, creamy velvet as my taste buds acclimate to the flavors. It presents itself with a medium body and soft carbonation, while a warming alcohol sensation grows through my chest. Finishes clean and dry, leaving my mouth watering for more. Definitely a delicious beer that is perfect for summer or fall, as it’s not a heavy porter, and it’s not a light fruit beer, it’s the perfect combination of both.