I was first introduced to the character of Mephistopheles when I was a Freshman in college. I was extremely undecided, and I really had no clue what I wanted to do for a major. I decided I would take an English course for some easy credits that could later count to some other course that I would have to take. Little did I know I would become an English major after taking this course. Even though I took many other courses in the English curriculum throughout my time in college, my first English course stuck out in my mind for many different reason. It was taught by my eventual advisor in the English department, I planned to take it with a girl I thought I liked at the time (who I am now married to), and it introduced me to a lot of literature that has really stuck with me throughout my actual adult life.
One of the more significant texts we read in this class, British Lit, was Paradise Lost. However, another text we read was Dr. Faustus. If you aren’t aware of the story, the lead character sells his soul to the devil for knowledge and power. Although Mephistopheles is first just there for the purpose of serving Faust during the years he essentially buys from the devil, Mephistopheles is eventually used to drag Faust into hell. A little background only helps to make this beer seem even more demonic.
This is yet another release in the Avery Demon of Ales series. As I stated in my last review of a beer found in this category, Avery has blown up the ABV in this category, and in turn, exceeded some of the expectations when it comes to flavors of normal styles as well. Mephistopheles is billed as a stout, which of course is perfect for what people tell me is stout month. Although most stouts tend to be a little high in ABV, this one rings in at 16.45%. So it is definitely a strong stout at that. Additionally, one thing I didn’t realize is that this beer contains 107 IBUs. If you don’t realize it, this is certainly a little surprising when you eventually take your first sip of this beer.
This one pours out a super ridiculous coal black color. I really wasn’t expecting anything less. If your drinking stouts, I think you’ll be more surprised if it didn’t pour out a really dark black color. There is a moderate espresso brown head that develops on top of the beer. I thought it might turn out slightly more substantial, but I guess I was wrong. Of course due to the dark nature of the beer, it is virtually impossible to see any clarity at all in the beer. You also really can’t see any carbonation in the beer either. I’m sure it’s there, but you wouldn’t be able to tell by looking at it. Swirling the beer does bring about some nice ample lacing and long-lasting sticky residue.
The biggest aroma to come off the scent is large amounts of roasted notes. You can really pull out a lot of the coffee and chocolate scents as well. I would have to say the coffee dominates the chocolate scent, but you can certainly pull out some of that chocolatey sweetness as well. The sweetness is rather mild and not too overpowering, but you also get a lot of oaky woody quality to it as well. The bitterness from the hops gets a little hidden in the aroma of the roasted qualities, but there is definitely hops here as well.
The first sip of the beer brings all of those huge stout qualities to the forefront right away. There is definitely a sweet malty introduction to the beer that immediately invades your palate. The rich roasted and coffee flavors come in and really linger in the taste all the way to the end. The dark chocolate quality enters in and has a lot of oak wood qualities that really help transition into the ample amount of hops here. I always find hops in stouts interesting because you already expect bitterness to accompany coffee. So, hops really bring that quality even more to the forefront. As the hops begin to taper off, the roasted qualities combine with a lot of creamy richness.
I was really surprised by the ample amount of creaminess found in the mouthfeel here. There definitely is some syrupy feel to the beer in places as well, and the carbonation helps mellow that out, but in the end you’re left with a ton of creamy texture. It is definitely more bitter than I had realized it would be at the start, but there are a ton of rich dark roasted malts to balance that out as well. It has a huge warming quality to it as well.
Stouts really aren’t for everyone, but it is stout month, and I’m reviewing more than a few of them this month. If you want to try a huge stout that comes in at 16.43% ABV, you really won’t be disappointed. A lot of beers that have this much alcohol in them hurt to drink a little bit, but I found this one to be almost smooth. Check it out if you can find it!
Teacher Grade: A