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The Czar | Avery Brewing Company

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very good
936 Reviews
The CzarThe Czar

Brewed by:
Avery Brewing Company
Colorado, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.10%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Wildman on 01-05-2003

For Trade:
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Reviews: 936 | Ratings: 2,052
Photo of Bouleboubier
4.27/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

(batch no. 14, Nov 2015 - poured into a Chouffe tulip, 22 oz bottle to myself)

L: extremely dark crimson colored liquid... light, heavily-milky coffee colored foam... head doesn't hold high, though a steady thin cap is kept

S: rather mellow scent... some chocolate mint and fresh coffee roast... tiny bit vinous, or cherry... maybe a very faint hint of booze, but not all that 'boozy'... I like how the malt and grain aromas are a bit rough and earthy

T: wow! the balance is lovely... assertive, yet not overly bitter - bitterness and flavor elements from both the hops and the roasted malts ... very tasty lingering coffee, bitter chocolate, and a touch of wine and toffee in the aftertaste... the booze seems way too mellow - really 10%? (maybe 8.5-9.0 on this one)... sort of a molasses-type sweet flavor at its core, but it seems drier than it should be... overall taste, though with fantastic rich depth, seems restrained

F: rich, medium (bordering med-full), silky body that stays dry on its bottom... could almost drink another after this... quiet storm in a glass

O: rather impressed... this, in my mind, is in the vein of a true English-style imperial stout - dynamic malt flavors with just enough hop bitterness to give it edge... I ammm going back to get another bottle or two, though I'm worried this won't age to my liking considering it's already smooth - don't want it to get too malty - a little sour on it might not be bad...

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
3.86/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

On tap at Stoneyard Brewing Company in Brockport, NY.

This one pours a dark deep black, with a small head, and a little bit of lacing.

Smells like molasses, chocolate, honey, and dark fruits.

This is a fairly sweet imperial stout- I'm left wishing for a bit more roasty bitterness or hop bitterness to balance it out. It certainly tastes good- but the molasses tastes leaves the proceedings a little bit syrupy sweet. There's some sweet chocolate, raisins, and figs, with a bit of honey too.

This is medium bodied, a little bit syrupy, with a lower level of carbonation.

This is pretty solid, but not entirely the set of flavors I tend to look for in a RIS. I'd love some more roasted malt here.

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Photo of Czequershuus
3.86/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

This beer pours silky black with a solid mocha head. The aroma leads instantly with coffee and milk chocolate, as we as a strong presences of bubblegum. The flavor has little of the aromatic coffee, leading instead with silky sweet chocolate, bubblegum, toffee and blackstrap molasses cookies. The mouthfeel is very full and rich. Overall this is a nice stout, but one that becomes tiresome rather quickly.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
3.36/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark black. No moon dark, used motor oil, whatever you like cliche wise for a stout description in the appearance. 1/2" of head. This is oily as F.

Aroma was strong alcohol, roast, bitterness.

Damn, this is like all Russian Imperial Stout dark fruit bitterness and roast. Toffee, prunes and raisin with a smidge of metallic bitterness. This one doesn't cover the alcohol, as it warms, it takes on a bitter licorice vibe even harder. Thick viscosity. Milder carbonation. This one is a chore to get through, but if you're all about that old school RIS, hit it up.

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Photo of gmoneyproductions
4.18/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

had this on tap at the brewery in a 10 oz glass
pours brown to black with a decent off white head that faded quickly
smell of chocoate, cocoa and slightly smoky as it warmed up in the glass
taste of smoke and chocolate
feel dry
a very solid higher alcohol stout (10% abv)
very enjoyable

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Photo of cookedw
4.09/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

Had the 2014 and 2015 on tap, and I preferred the aged version's mellowed flavor. I also thought the 2015's slightly higher ABV overwhelmed through the aroma and flavor. But this is a nice perfect winter beer. I love the toasted oatmeal and cocoa notes... Some dark fruit, too. But I think this is one that is better a year later after the heavier boozier notes subside.

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Photo of Vixie
3.98/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours a deep black with a small tan head. The head is quick to dissipate, leaving lacing on the top of the beer and the sides of my snifter.

The smell is a bit on the sweet side. Quite a bit of chocolate there, some fruit, and caramel or toffee. Reminds me a bit of the smell of chocolate cake batter.

Starts out with a hit of chocolate. There are also hints of fruit, and maybe a touch of coconut. It has a spicy back end to it, with a good bit of warming.

Feel is a touch on the thin side, although it makes it go down a little easier.

Definitely a dessert beer here. Really reminds me of chocolate cake or chocolate and cherries. It is a bit on the hot side, I do wonder what a year or two of aging would do for it. One of the easier drinking versions of the style.

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Photo of Jjski
4.27/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Rated on a trajectory, as this bottle is at least 3.5 years old. Holds well with a strong alcohol presence, not sweet, but a little oxidized. I should have drank this last year. Found it in the corner of my beer cellar. Very nice flavor profile, and will drink the next one at 2 years. I went through a period in2012 when I bought WAY too much, and didn't drink them. Avery is in my top 10 of high ABV breweries. I would say nothing is bad and everything is at least very good. A beer from 2012 that suffered the same fate was Southern Tier Oat Imperial stout. I have learned since 2012 to let the barleywines ride longer, and get the RIS drank @2 years unless> 13% like World Wide or Mephistopheles. Try Samael's or 5Monks if you want an Avery high octane hammer blows to the frontal lobe.

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Photo of JamesBondGA
3.91/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured a dark chocolate brown with about an inch head that goes away quickly leaving a slight lacing. I get notes of toffee, molasses and chocolate on the nose. Same for the taste except add dark fruit booze on the back end. Overall, enjoyable brew.

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Photo of ryan1788a5
4.3/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle poured into a snifter. Bottle dated November 2012; nearly three years of cellar time upon consumption.

A: Dark brown in color. Tough to tell in low light, but it seems to have a slight haze to it. Coffee colored head retains at a half inch. Wispy, pencil thin lines of lacing.

S: Fudge bars and German chocolate cake pop out immediately. Iced coffee with one cream and mocha undertones. Chocolate covered cherries and raspberries. Just the faintest whiffs of wet paper bag oxidation.

T: Fudge. Dense malt flavors of German chocolate cake wrap the palate in a blanket of decadence. Brownie batter. Iced coffee with cream, mocha. Molasses. Roasty malt backing. Chocolate covered cherry and stone fruit nestled tightly in the middle. Faint earthy hop notes. Alcohol brings a good deal of spicy character. Roasty and chocolatey finish with some lingering alcohol spice.

M: Big, full malt body. Rich, hefty, chewy. Slightly coating like Irish cream. Silky and decadent. Big alcohol warmth. Low carbonation.

O: Holy Jesus is this beer great with some good age on it. I always get nervous with imperial stouts once they get around that 2-3 year mark. In my experience most have already peaked or started to go downhill at that point. I opened this bottle not knowing what to expect, but not only did it hold up, it improved considerably. I don't even know that it has peaked yet. When fresh the alcohol in this beer kicked like a mule, from what I remember. Now it's perfect. Definitely still present, but it has mellowed perfectly so that it now adds to the complexity without overwhelming. The malt flavors have all smoothed and melded together as well, and in the best possible way. Hops have largely faded, but still contribute soft earthy tones. Cellaring is all about trial and error and requires patience, time, and money. In the end it's still a gamble that doesn't always pay off. But man is it rewarding when it does.

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Photo of Electros
4.64/5  rDev +19%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Format: 650 ml Bottle.

Appearance - Black.

Smell - Caramelized sugar, mild hops.

Taste - Chocolate, burnt tobacco, malt, hops.

Mouth-feel - Full-bodied.

Overall - Amazing. Great beer.

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Photo of HopsAreDaMan
3.03/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

22OZ bomber. The date on the bottle is Oct. 2013. Drank it after putting it in the freezer for about 10 mins. (after having it at room temp ~70-75F), so I am guessing it was barely at cellar temp. Decent amount of fizz when opened, poured rich chocolaty brown, with a head that fizzled out relatively quickly; there was a little lacing. It seemed a little better (less harsh) when tried from a small glass that was in freezer (thus lowering the temp of the beer itself). The consistency didn't impress me: when aggressively swilled in the glass, there was little head I was able to induce--as I am able to do with other beers.

The aroma is largely of burnt toast (not my favorite aroma). Clearly some bitterness in the flavor. True, I get some complexity in the flavor, but it's too harsh for me (even keeping in mind that I tend to like a good bang of flavor in my beer).

Overall: a little disappointed, especially as the beer has almost 2 years age on it. It's the first go-around with this particular beer, but I've had a number of other imperial stouts, and this one stands below the rest. However, I have read this beer can handle up to 8 years of being cellared, so I plan to get another bottle and sit on it for a few more years. UPDATE: I bought another bottle, hoping to wait a least another year.

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Photo of Tone
4.25/5  rDev +9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours a black color. 1/5 inch head of an off-tan color. Slight retention and decent lacing. Smells of hops, alcohol, sweet malt, slight roasted malt, hint of yeast, slight wood, and a hint of liquor. Fits the style of a Russian Imperial Stout. Mouth feel is sharp and clean, with an average carbonation level. Tastes of strong alcohol, slight hop, strong sweet malt, roasted malt, wood, hint of liquor, hint of hop, and a hint of yeast. Overall, weak appearance, but strong aroma, body, good blend, and complexity, and feel.

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Photo of biboergosum
3.69/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

22oz, gold foil capped bottle, October 2014 version, @8.5% ABV - a surprise find in one of the better grocery stores in Ponderay, Idaho, after my having tried to secure it on two separate trips to Colorado the past two autumns for you-know-what. Will wonders never cease?

This beer pours a fairly solid black, but for the prominent red cola basal highlights, visible even sans backlighting, and one skimpy finger of weakly puffy, loosely foamy, and mostly bubbly beige head, which leaves some minor instances of mitochondrial lace around the glass as it quickly blows off.

It smells of sharp black licorice, bittersweet chocolate, indistinct black and red orchard fruit, a lesser roasted caramel malt sweetness, free-range reduced dark sugars, and a sidling, almost metallic booziness. The taste is grainy, bready caramel malt, medium-sweet cocoa powder, thinned-out molasses, a lessened earthy anise essence, still muddled dark berry fruit, pretty tame citrus and pine resin bitters, and a weirdly hovering and brashly young-seeming alcohol measure.

The bubbles are mostly absent in their otherwise shadowy and frothy support effort for the cause, the body a wavering medium weight for the purported style, and generally smooth, even with you-know-who lurking about. It finishes semi-sweet, the cocoa, licorice, and caramel tentatively agreeing to work together to iron out the lingering wrinkles.

While I'm glad that I've finally completed the Dictator Series from Avery, it feels like I've somehow been cheated, what with the barely up-there ABV (on paper, yet strangely not in real life), and the overall lower than usual fullness of being that one might expect from an American, nay, a Boulder-located brewer of an RIS! A bit disappointing, but really not, ya know?

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Photo of South2NW
3.9/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

poured nearly jet black with a thin chocolate head that disappeared quickly. smells of dark roast coffee with something close to a chocolate caramel candy. Taste is again dark roast coffee and chocolate, but with quite a bit of booze. Alcohol isn't masked in this beer. However, it is still quite drinkable. A year in the cellar may do this some good.

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Photo of Cylinsier
4.43/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5


Pours jet black, bit of tan lacing.

Smells of caramel, brown sugar, coffee, vanilla, and cocoa.

Tastes of roasted coffe beans, chocolate, vanilla, licorice, and oak.

Full viscous body with tingly carbonation on the roof of the mouth. Slight warmth going down.

Superb stout, great across the board. Definitely a top shelf stout.

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Photo of SerialTicker
4.25/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

14304B6 on the bottle... bottled 304th day of '14? Batch 6? Not sure. Not a big fan of these sorts of codes... I'm not sure what's wrong with simply putting 103114 on the bottle if that's when it was bottled. Anyway...

Appearance: Poured this into an over-sized Perfect Pint glass. Almost got the whole bottle in the glass, but then the head nearly overflowed. Two finger head goes away pretty quickly, leaving some lacing behind. Nothing but a beige colored ring is left on top. (4.25/5)

Smell: Kind of almost cocoa hoppy... there's a sort of gritty roast aroma with chocolate and earthy and grassy sort of hops. It definitely doesn't smell like some self-proclaimed hoppy stouts out there, and it also doesn't smell like a typical roast-forward imperial stout either. As it warms, a little booziness comes out as well as the usual suspect dark fruits like raisins/dates/etc. Additionally, there is a very slight soy sauce vibe that I get occasionally in the style. (4.25/5)

Taste/feel: Very similar to the smell... a pretty unique imperial stout. Dark fruit sweetness at the front, a slight booziness and roasted malt flavor in the middle, and then a slightly warming, bittersweet, and very dry finish. While the alcohol doesn't taste particularly strong or warm a whole lot, my tongue feels like it's getting hit with a beer that has a much higher amount of alcohol. On some sips I can really taste the hops -- they seem to come through as a little earthy or grassy like in the aroma, but they also seem to have a faint citrus flavor that accents the dark fruits. I mean I could be one of those people who makes things up to make for a more interesting review, but regardless, this is a beer that I feel I could easily pick out of a line-up, it's that different for the style. The feel is a silky-ish with a moderate body and slightly prickly carbonation -- that makes no sense, but the body seems to change every other sip. Either way, it has a very nice feel to it. (4.25/5, 4.25/5)

Interesting. I wasn't sure what I thought at first sip. It's not at all hoppy enough to taste like a mislabeled black IPA or even a hoppy stout, but The Czar has hop accents that tend to not be found in the style. A bottle of this was $8.99, and I'd definitely say the intrigue factor of this beer would have me coming back to it again at some point.


EDIT: This beer shines a stupid amount once it's approximately room temperature. Ridiculous. The 8.5% (per the label) feels more like 12% so there's a massive warmth, the flavors meld exceptionally well, and The Czar comes together in spectacular fashion. Even the aroma takes a big turn -- I actually really enjoy the huge alcohol presence. There's also a caramel malt and, strangely, an almost doughiness that comes through that I really enjoy. I'm tempted to bump my ratings up, but I'll keep them where they are because, you know, intoxication influence.

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Photo of Jeffreysan
4.91/5  rDev +25.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

22 oz bottle, poured into a goblet

Appearance: Pours a beautiful, completely opaque, pitch-black color, with a half of a finger of oatmeal-colored head that quickly dissolved away into a thin lacing of foam that completely covered the top of the beer.

Aroma: Very aromatic with strong notes of rich, earthy, bready, roasted malt, which imparted aromas of freshly toasted dark bread, freshly roasted coffee beans, dark chocolate, a touch of licorice, lots of brown sugar and a touch of lactose. Inviting and delicious!

Taste: Wow! Absolutely delicious! Strong flavors of rich, earthy, bready, roasted malt up front, imparting notes of espresso, dark chocolate, a touch of licorice, followed by lots of brown sugar and dark molasses-like sweetness. At the finish, there is just a hint of slightly bitter hops, a kiss really. This is a delicious stout!

Mouthfeel: Chewy and extremely smooth and creamy, as there is no carbonation what-so-ever and a lactose-like, creaminess. With an ABV of 8.5%, there is just a slight hint of alcohol warmth on the palate.

Overall: This is a spectacular Russian Imperial Stout! Earthy, rich, complex, roasty, malty, slightly sweet, and absolutely delicious! The Czar is one of the best non-barrel-aged stouts I’ve had, certainly up there with Avery’s Out of Bounds Stout, Dogfish Head’s World Wide Stout, Evil Twin’s Love You with My Stout, Sierra Nevada’s Stout, Founders’ Imperial Stout, Great Lakes’ Blackout Stout, Oskar Blues Ten-Fiddy, etc. Another stellar beer from Avery! I love this brewery!

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Photo of TheSixthRing
3.65/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - Pours near black with cola brown edging where light can penetrate. Tan, finger width head that fizzes away rather quickly, leaving behind a thin, broken layer of suds across the top.

Smell - Toffee, chocolate and a bit of darkened grain. Faint booziness.

Taste - Prominently toffee and chocolate flavors upfront. Earth and a touch of raisin hits mid-taste. Distant coffee roast character. Caramel hits near the finish, then booze-laden astringency in the finish.

Mouthfeel - Full in body with low to moderate carbonation. Lightly syrupy, then a dry finish.

Overall - Decent RIS. Not quite as approachable as Old Raspy, as the boozy finish can feel a bit taxing; it also fails to deliver anything special. I'll finish the bottle and probably won't look back.

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Photo of Beer-Revelry
4.53/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a Duvel snifter glass.

A - 4.5 - Pours to an extremely dark brown color, (pitch black if not held to light), forms a finger and a half of extremely dark tan colored head. Medium head potential, low head retention, spotty lacing.
S - 4.5 - Classic. Heavy on the roasty malt bill, lightly smoked, lots of medium sweet chocolate and coffee mingle together and create a distinct "mocha" aroma, slightly medicinal licorice, fennel and star anise.
T - 4.75 - Sweet malt and chocolate, fades into a light cherry-almond-marzipan flavor, finishes on a medium sweet medium bitter coffee end. Bitterness lingers in the after taste which helps to balance out that initial upfront sweetness.
F - 4.25 - Decent medium body, the only aspect that is lacking a bit. Claims to gain density with age, but a beer as "supremely limited" as this should perhaps have a more luxurious mouthfeel even fresh.
O - 4.25 - Overall, I think this is a great representation of the standard, american double stout style and I recommend it to fans of the style.

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Photo of Brutaltruth
4.19/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

An absolute favorite----this RIS pours a pitch black with a firm tan head of foam that dies down to a moderate layer of tight beaded foam and FANTASTIC lacing. Nose of bakers chocolate, raisins, hints of smoke, a touch of coffee, deeply roasted malts, and strong booze. Flavors exceed the nose with strong dark chocolate and deeply roasted malts that mingle with a toffee like sweetness on the middle and sides. A mildly smoked malt note comes through on the aftertaste with near burnt malts and strong booze on the aftertaste. Creamy yet abrasive mouth feel is lightly lifted by goodly amounts of carbonation. Begs for a cigar and a fire----OR a hot summer day. A near perfect imperial.


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Photo of KevChiTown
3.67/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

I'm so posses that I sat on this for a couple months. Drink it when you buy it. Perfect example of a beer not meant to be aged. Weird tin flavor. A little sweet, very thin no burn.

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Photo of alarmclock314
4.25/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

22oz bottle, batch #13, dated Oct 2014. The label also lists: 22.8 deg Plato, 55 IBUs, and 8.5% ABV. Pours brownish black with a somewhat small tan head which leaves some good lacing. Smells of slightly floral hops, roasted malt, cocoa, and espresso. Taste follows in the same order; floral, roast, cocoa, and espresso bitterness. Slightly sweet. The carbonation is low-medium and the body is average for the style. Overall, I enjoyed the bold flavors and felt they worked well together.

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Photo of Flounder57
4.02/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle was poured into a snifter. Oct 2014 bottle date and 8.5% ABV.

Appearance: A two finger mocha head was poured that reduced to a thin layer. It is a pitch black color with no vision of anything. Spotty lacing down the glass as the beer was drank.

Smell: Smoke, toffee, caramel, molasses, bittersweet chocolate, and toasted malts. Some earthiness and dark fruits too.

Taste: Flavors more noticeable as it warmed. Very similar to the aromas. Nice maltbill, some warm booze, slight bitterness, and dark fruit characteristics. A bit more sweetness could make this beer tastier.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, full bodied, medium carbonation, char bitterness, and warm boozy alcohol.

Overall: Not as sweet as I normally like them, but still a good one. Definitely a sipped that hot better as it warmed.

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Photo of larryarms847
3.54/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Aged almost two years, this pours a very thin dark brown with a thin dark brown that quickly dissipates and leaves a razor thin layer of foam.

Huge aroma of toasted (nearing burnt) malts, a whiff of chocolate, and then a very peculiar and unexpected pummeling of nutmeg, cinnamon, and other random spices. Rather off-putting.

I dug the aroma in a sort of air freshener sort of way, but at first sip, the initially off-putting bouquet of spices really expands once it hits the tongue. Very spiced, chocolate, roasted nuts, and more spice. and more spice.

Heavy bodied, light carbonation, thin, spiced, grainy.

Folks, take it from me, either this is meant to be enjoyed fresh or not at all.

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The Czar from Avery Brewing Company
3.9 out of 5 based on 2,052 ratings.
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