Dogfish Head Fort: The world’s strongest fruit beer, brewed with a ton of Delaware and Oregon raspberries. Alcohol is in your face (and lingers through a finish deep in the back of your throat), but does not mask glorious raspberry character or underlying flavors that hint this will be more complex if the alcohol asserts less personality over time. 18% ABV.
Port Brewing Cuvee de Tomme: Starts with The Mother of All Beers at the base and goes from there—with traditional barley malts, sugar, raisin and sour cherries all giving a combination of yeast strains plenty to work with. Spends nine months in bourbon barrels with wild yeast continuing to add character and a subdued sourness. When talking about the political/social challenges beer sometimes faces, Tomme Arthur likes to say wine celebrates and beer apologizes. This beer never apologizes. 11% ABV.
Port Brewing SPF 45 Saison: Gives a nod to its San Diego home with the sun tan lotion number in its name (SPF 8 is the dark version) and let’s you know this is a modern interpretation, featuring a wide range of fresh spices the virtually jump out of the glass. Spicy character continues through the finish, balanced by tartness that makes this a summer drinker. 6.7% ABV.
Avery The Beast Grand Cru: A muscular as the name suggests, with dark and citrusy fruits from the start (at one moment you’re thinking pineapples and figs, at another plums and apples). Plenty of alcohol, with rum and port qualities, although not as strong as past vintages. Several brewers called a decision to match The Beast and chocolate mousse at one of the group’s beer dinners the pairing of the trip. 14.9% ABV.
Avery Salvation: Subtitled a “Belgian Golden Ale,” so there’s no doubt about the inspiration. Fleshy fruits, particularly apricots, mingle with sweet spicy aromas and flavors, a surprising hint of honey and alcohol that isn’t altogether hidden. A lingering impression of perfume, where Damnation offers pepper. Maintains complexity despite a properly dry finish. 9% ABV.