Joe Six-Pack

Adam Avery, king of brewers.

By Rock and Ice | December 4th, 2009

keith

In some ways, Adam Avery is your typical Everyman. The Boulder-based brewmaster works a fulltime job at his Colorado microbrewery, relegating him to weekend-warrior status. Saturday morning he drives three hours out to Rifle Mountain Park to project 5.12s on which less-employed climbers warm up.

Avery is far from your average Joe Six-Pack, however. Though he may only climb 5.12, he is a solid 5.14 brewmaster. Avery is the president and, with his father, co-owner of Avery Brewing, which produces an award-winning range of big, bold, full-flavored English- and Belgian-style ales. Last year, Avery Brewing had its biggest year yet, taking in $5 million in sales, and producing 17,000 barrels (approximately 5.6 million bottles) of beer. The 15-year-old company wasn’t always so successful, however.

“I didn’t want to make another American-style ale, just because that was what most people were used to drinking,” says Avery. “We weren’t making money and so I just said, ‘Screw it, if we’re going down anyway, I’m going to make the kind of beers I want to drink because then, you know, at least I’ll have something.’”

Avery introduced Colorado to its first India Pale Ale (IPA) in 1996—a time when only a couple of breweries in California were producing this hoppy ale. Then, in 1998, the company’s fifth year, Avery produced a beer called Hog’s Heaven, which many have called “before its time.” Super hoppy and with a high alcohol content, Hog’s Heaven was so unique that word spread in brewer circles, and Avery Brewing officially launched onto the national scene. Avery remains sentimental over Hog’s Heaven, which is why he chose to launch it out of his glass in this portrait. We went through about 12 22-ounce bottles of it to get this shot (not all of it was spilled).

Avery, 42 and originally from the flatlands of Decatur, Illinois, started climbing 23 years ago. He says his favorite climbing area is the Red River Gorge because of its “steep, crimpy, juggy and mindless climbing, where even dolts such as myself can climb.”

Most weekends Avery frequents Rifle, which he has been visiting since 1991.

“The fact that I can walk through that canyon and drink beer all day, for me, is the best thing. It’s the most beautiful place—you lose perspective on that. The creek running through it. It’s perfect.”

Avery is also known to many climbers for his Redpoint Ale and for his generosity in sponsoring climber slideshows with kegs, and climbers in general with beer. But, in addition to “sponsoring” climbers, such as those “elite climbing drinkers” on “Team Avery,” Avery Brewing has an annual summer party that raises over $5,000 for women’s shelters, the Humane Society and the YMCA Strong Kids program. Avery still has goals on the rock.

“I would like to try and climb hard. I’ve never climbed 5.13, and that’s something I’d like to do, though it would take a lot of effort. Really, the main goal is always to have more fun.” nIn some ways, Adam Avery is your typical Everyman. The Boulder-based brewmaster works a fulltime job at his Colorado microbrewery, relegating him to weekend-warrior status. Saturday morning he drives three hours out to Rifle Mountain Park to project 5.12s on which less-employed climbers warm up.

Avery is far from your average Joe Six-Pack, however. Though he may only climb 5.12, he is a solid 5.14 brewmaster. Avery is the president and, with his father, co-owner of Avery Brewing, which produces an award-winning range of big, bold, full-flavored English- and Belgian-style ales. Last year, Avery Brewing had its biggest year yet, taking in $5 million in sales, and producing 17,000 barrels (approximately 5.6 million bottles) of beer. The 15-year-old company wasn’t always so successful, however.

“I didn’t want to make another American-style ale, just because that was what most people were used to drinking,” says Avery. “We weren’t making money and so I just said, ‘Screw it, if we’re going down anyway, I’m going to make the kind of beers I want to drink because then, you know, at least I’ll have something.’”

Avery introduced Colorado to its first India Pale Ale (IPA) in 1996—a time when only a couple of breweries in California were producing this hoppy ale. Then, in 1998, the company’s fifth year, Avery produced a beer called Hog’s Heaven, which many have called “before its time.” Super hoppy and with a high alcohol content, Hog’s Heaven was so unique that word spread in brewer circles, and Avery Brewing officially launched onto the national scene. Avery remains sentimental over Hog’s Heaven, which is why he chose to launch it out of his glass in this portrait. We went through about 12 22-ounce bottles of it to get this shot (not all of it was spilled).

Avery, 42 and originally from the flatlands of Decatur, Illinois, started climbing 23 years ago. He says his favorite climbing area is the Red River Gorge because of its “steep, crimpy, juggy and mindless climbing, where even dolts such as myself can climb.”

Most weekends Avery frequents Rifle, which he has been visiting since 1991.

“The fact that I can walk through that canyon and drink beer all day, for me, is the best thing. It’s the most beautiful place—you lose perspective on that. The creek running through it. It’s perfect.”

Avery is also known to many climbers for his Redpoint Ale and for his generosity in sponsoring climber slideshows with kegs, and climbers in general with beer. But, in addition to “sponsoring” climbers, such as those “elite climbing drinkers” on “Team Avery,” Avery Brewing has an annual summer party that raises over $5,000 for women’s shelters, the Humane Society and the YMCA Strong Kids program. Avery still has goals on the rock.

“I would like to try and climb hard. I’ve never climbed 5.13, and that’s something I’d like to do, though it would take a lot of effort. Really, the main goal is always to have more fun.”

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