Fremont Brew 1000 and Holy Mountain Midnight Still Coffee/Vanilla: The PNW Strikes Back

When you unite Oregon and Washington as a disjointed, rainy Voltron, those verdant expanses provide a compelling argument for cancelling your Fedex account outright.  From Boneyard’s hoppy offerings, Ale Apothecary and Upright running the saison game, Engine 9 and De Garde pumpin out tart AWAs and Hair of the Dog and Fremont are left playing cleanup on every strong ale: their bases are covered.


Today I wanted to give Washington some love in the form of two breweries that I have already embraced lovingly, middles touching serenely in the soft Puget Sound mist.  In many ways these two breweries represent a sort of one-two Gemini of the Bye and Bye state.  Holy Mountain has solid hoppy offerings and saisons that are silently becoming beyond reproach.  Fremont, while not knocking it out of the park in that regard, has unquestionably cornered the game for stout/babw/strong ale/old ales, if not other spheres of influence.

Let’s run our hands over these uncut gems, appraise their inner value.  Like when Chrysler made that one car that looked just like a Bentley, I always saw these breweries for what they really was.


At first I had a degree of trepidation in embracing Holy Mountain’s capacity to dance in the haymaker swinging realm of barrel aged stouts.  They are more like Nightcrawler, delicate, teleporting saisons and gentle subtle jabs that leave lasting marks.  It is like when Florida announces that they have a new saison that you just have to try, you smile knowingly and pat them on the shoulder like the parent of tiny child with MMA aspirations.

That being said, this defied expectations and put it right over the plate in every way, without discernible fault or noteworthy gripes to be had. The viscosity, my greatest nail chewing point of agitation, was hefty and syrupy.  In fact the body of this coats and paints in a way that can be expressed as “pharmacy grade BCBS.”  It’s like dating a mormon girl who secretly has been into muy thai for years, silent power from a winsome exterior.

The taste has very little vanilla, but that is reconciled by a fantastic marshmallow and espresso body to the swallow.  The barrel unites that sweet and the roasted in a s’mores type of unity candle that results in a delicious Parabolaesque variant that feels more complex than the one two punch of the threadbare COFFEE AND VANILLA execution that we see so often.  Tootsie rolls in your first rated-R film, sweet and melty in the front row. The caffeine in your veins on a first date, coffee compelling cross-legged foot joggling.

This is unquestionably tasty, albeit not in the realm of the absolute best vanilla bangers in the game. This is a well executed warning shot in the sand from a high powered barrel rifle at 1000m.  Holy Mountain has its target set.


This beer however, Fremont pulled out all the stops for this one.  When I first entered the ring, I expected a noteworth interlocutor like the previously incomparable Old Bridge Rider.

This beer not only takes all of the direction from OBR, but improves upon that model with more heft, ramped up barrel presence and method acting malt profiles that immerse you in the experience.  While I realize DDB has sensory bias favoring the babw genre, this is top tier and amongst the best in the game.  My only regret is that I was too young for Aaliyah, similarly this beer was too young for the Blind Barrel Aged Barleywine tasting.

It certainly would have performing fulgent roundhouses on the top 10 contenders in that bracket.  The way that this exhibits lissome poise and still has the power of the barrel build therein is a paradox.  If you have ever been in an AMG SLK, you’ll know the irresponsibility of pairing two incongruous elements for extreme oomph.


The nose is all toasted coconut, macaroon, and fig jam.  It is English but seems so saturated that the oak brings it into this tannic resinous American handshake across the aisle.  When a barleywine can execute a transatlantic bipartisanship, incredible results ensue.  The taste is hefty spoonfulls of brown sugar mixed into cream of wheat, rye bread, pumpernickle with a prune and plum jam spread across.  It has a long bitter oaky finish like Wooden Hell amped up with Bane serum.


This section is usally reserved for some hemming and hawwing, some value appraisal that brings the prior praise under some scrutiny, perhaps some jabs at the culture which my outfit is fully immersed.  I cannot in this instance, you simply cannot find a comparable analogue, even dusting off the typical JUST BUY STRAIGHT JACKET apothegm seems disingenuous.  Honestly, if you can summon a “better” barleywine of recent memory, BA Vermillion notwithstanding, then place it in direct parity.

This beer towers over other entries in such a way that it eclipses bottles in a cross-genre global manner.  When you climb the highest tower in the city, Etzio gains the further vision.  This barleywine reveals the map in an illuminating way before swan diving into a pile of malty hay.



Funk Factory Roundup: Bosbes and a Fleet of Trading Ships

I don’t envy the position that Levi Funk has been put in, that archetypical “sophmore jinx” ideation that surrounds any initial success.  The whole crux of the contrast is that people expect you not only to compete in a closed system against all other brewers, but also against your prior accomplishments creates this dual coil reverb chamber of cognitive dissonance.

For the people who validate and succor their own sense of self image by supplanting other people’s wares, this is dicey territory.  If this bottle is better, then am I inherently “giving in” and thereby less valuable for liking it? These are the pitfalls of the modern beer dipshit and that complex trappings of their psychology predicated on the brewing accomplishments of others vis a vis by way of mere consumption, is voluminous and need not sustain a full DSM-IV analysis herein.

So what’s a brewer to do, for every million they make, another cicerone sues. In the obsidian, cavey aphotic blackness of Frampaars, FF has to move forward.  But to what degree has FF maintained that mien of cool countenance and poise? Is the funk still present in them BALs?  We shall see:


Dry Hopped Tradeship: alright so first and foremost, this was my favorite of the “ship” series and it showcases exactly what Funk Factory does best, that is holding a mirror to the transatlantic relationship of intercontinental microfloral kisses.  That’s not to say this is some Iris clone by any means, because it stands on its own in a decidedly AWA-esque execution with higher acidity, less grist, a “cleaner” mouthfeel without that resisual oaky drag attendant to the “AUTHENTIC” offerings across the pond.  Where this beer excels is marrying that Emmental curdy, creamy, rindy, bound rope sory of muskiness that belies a far older beer with a radiant lemon and tangelo swallow.  Usually wrangling those elements comes at the expense of one another, due to impatience, lack of brewing acumen or otherwise. This is absolutely a beer you should try, if you ignore the other Tradeships altogether. Very tasty stuff.


Inb4 “Glassware Proper” or some equally laudable attempts at yukyuks. I had this outside the realm of “Double Tree Stemware” so let’s table that sensory bias for the time being. This is a good american wild, but it shows a bit too much of the underpinnings of the continental american acidity that I eschew in less adept brewers.  Thankfully the base beer is so good that the addition of blood orange doesn’t really take it into an Uplandian acetic realm, nor does it get as overly dry as something say from Bruery or any of the innumerable Floridian cannonballs into wild ale grace. The pith and zest of the orange is there but it serves to dominate the gentle musty yearbook of the base beer that I loved.  If you drink this cold, or “enjoy” the standard dentist cup pour, you will probably pander out some tired ass complaints about it being acetic, and congratulations you just defeated the purpose of Funk Factory itself for the sake of a jaunty Untappd badge, your opinion is now validated, time to take the BJCP online multiple choice test.


Whenever I see a new wild ale with a novel type of produce addition, I rub my palms together in a miserly way because I can’t wait to hear impressions of “fruit execution” from a cadre of people who, by and large, do not interact with fruit in any meaningful way. So what SHOULD a prickly pear sour taste like? Let’s dust off all those classic benchmarks and view this in light of some Mikkeller one off from half a decade ago, or whatever. In sum this is better than the blood orange but not as good as the dry hop, FULL ON FUNKYLOCKS PORRIDGE.  So this is an odd but entirely enjoyable riff into prickly pear, which I can only assume is a shitload of insoluble fiber, and the result is an almost cantaloupe? Melon cup? There’s wafts of cut apple, and the taste has a tempered acidity that falls closer to “popsicle sticks” and minerality that accompany the funk like a wacky sidecar tacked onto a Vespa P200.  You can easily dispatch an entire 750ml without a dental grafting.  The long drag is mimosa-esque and that woody finish is like those butter chards that were relevant in the mid2000s and are now relegated to “post-Sorority” palates.  Somehow, all of those oddball items find a multivalent harmony and create this funky element, buzzing with a core of tart neutrons.


“my beer opinions are strong and proud, whereas the rest of my life is shameful and maladjusted”


I drank it but didn’t get a picture because, holy fuck it wasn’t situationally appropriate.  I will let some of the whizkids in creative writing try to imagine that nuanced situation.  It had all of the amazing qualities of the dry hopped version but lacked the little details that the hopping provided.  I am zero parts surprised by volume that the base beer is exceptional, candidly that is some of the best stuff that FF does. Or Casey does. Or Side Project does.  HOLY SHIT wait nevermind, forget I said that, go back to fruit pursuits. Leave the graceful nuanced beers alone.




Off the top: no this is not “as good” as Frampaars.  I can stack a series of qualifiers using relative terms, comparing fruits, expectation bias, or whatever; but this is still a very good beer and arguably ::ducks behind a bulwark of cannonade:: better than Blabaer.  Now any blueberry idol toppling must be tempered with the universal acknowledgement that Blabaer is not Cantillon’s finest offering and exists largely as a self-esteem spirit journey for a new money dumbfuck who doesn’t know what St. Lamvinus is. This beer however, goes toe to toe in much the same fighting style. First and foremost, the hue is staggering, and the degree of fruit massaging makes me imagine some white sand resort with azure skies and Levi is just rubbin them berries down gently to full completion.  A blueberry cabana boy waits attentively, a product of a tourist based juice economy.


The fruit is, simply overwhelming.  This cuts both ways in that it is the most intense blueberry profile I have ever experienced captured in a liquid medium.  Just short of freebasing the tannins themselves under a freeway overpass, things dont hit much harder.  Here’s the issue with that, if you have a clunky PT Cruiser tier palate, you will drink this at 45 degrees and lick the tip of your pen and rattle of the three adjectives that came with your homebrewing club materials “PHENOLICK, TIRES, AND PLASTIC.”  Ask any asshole who espouses knowledge with nuanced fruit profiles, the first thing they will say about literally every strawberry beer “KIWI HERMAN? OH PLASTIC” and at a certain point you have to grind these opinions up and place them in a suppository for slow and controlled release.

This is not ropey, or sick, or burnt, or melty, or PHENOL DRIVEN, despite what people who want to polish their top tier superlatives will tell you.  This beer is intensely tannic, bone dry to a fault almost, juicy at that 60 degree sweet spot, and has a degree of prickly heft to the swallow.  The juice is there, but so accompanies a blast of Merlot/Malbec/Napa Cab/Grenache oakiness that would indicate overcasking if the finish was so damn long and fulfilling.  If we are going to invoke the likes of Lil Sal and Flora Blueberry, it in questionably holds its ground and has more of an aggressive M. Bison attack stance by way of contrast.


This is better than all of the tradeships and third only to Frampaars and White Lodge, in my estimation.  I feel that Funk Factory is in this hilarious position where 1) users are logging in to try fruit beers to either validate expectations or validate themselves in denigration 2) no one is trying the exceptional base beers and 3) Casey can only look onward and nod knowingly at the trappings of servicing the biggest manchildren in any hobby.  Complaints fall from the sky like Amazonian rainfall, the crops of indignation are both amusing and sour.

I just wrote 1200 words and invariably some dude with a 9th grade reading level will parade out the typical thesaurus accusations and ad hominems about how DDB needs to boost his cellar trade value w/r/t a biased review.

Fuck, I should have gone into model trains.


Wren House Brewing, Barrel Aged Olmec, temple guards be grippin on my pendant

Ah these silent Arizona bubblers. From Superstition to Arizona Wildnerness, now Wren House seeks to arm the populace with wares from that state dripping with 2nd Amendment exceptionalism.  This is the bourbon barrel aged version of Olmec from Wren House which I previously reviewed back in the condo days.  Back then, my chief complaint was that is needed refinement from barrel aging and well here we are, BALs deep in treatment.

olmec 2

So since you already have a pretty good idea of what this Huna clone is up to, let’s discuss what has changed in the interim.  Thankfully, the body of this beer sustained over the long casking and didn’t pull a Michael Fassbender in HUNGER coming out lookin like Christian Bale prepping for the Machinist.

The coating is there, the residual cling has a heft to it akin to the likes of that Parabolic sweet spot.  The carb was muted but understated in a Kuhnhenn way, but didn’t lie flat like some Alan Sprints joint.  Mild liveliness, like a caffeinated student from one of the Seven Sisters colleges, with less bitterness. The nose is all barrel, nougat, caramello, macaroon, whipped brownie batter and a hint of roasty earthiness like toasted pumpernickel.  You’ll immediately notice the inherent flaw to this Faustian trade-off: the adjuncts are fucking gone.


If you have a blunt baby palate, that probably will be a deal breaker for you.  Who doesn’t like tasting an overstated adjunct bomb and then confirming those impressions by reading from the label of added ingredients? Well no such luck here because the chili and vanilla have been seamlessly integrated like latent racism in a Teaparty speech so you can barely separate the two.  To be clear, the trade off is certainly worth it, I will take a nuanced barrel profile and an exceptional BA stout over some Hispanic foray into barrio stout culture.

The real takeaway is that this parlor trick demonstrates that Arizona has a new barrel program to hang their Von Dutch trucker caps upon, that orange skin glowing cardinal in excitement.  Now all they need is a janky proxy system and a bunch of spineless CA tier vassals to ship them out and they will be all set.




Beers4me reached out to old Subbydoo on twitter and asked to write a guest post for the DDB fan base.  These guest writer submissions almost always turn into a flaming 43 car pileup due to the DDB reader base, but, without further ado, here is the guest post!

In a city with Samuel Adams and Harpoon Brewery, it can be hard for a new brewery to make a dent in a beer scene with over 30 years of history. So when Dorchester Brewing opened the doors of their tasting room to the public this past weekend, it was quite impressive to see a full bar of people eager to try their offerings. I was fortunate enough to be one of those people, and let me point out what makes this new place awesome, why you should go, and why I will be returning.

The Beers

Let’s clear the air here, I’m a hop head. If I’m not drinking an IPA, I’m drinking a Double IPA, and if I’m drinking anything other than an IPA, well you’ve found a hell of a beer to get me to drink that. If you ask me, the best beer at Dorchester Brewing is the V1 Double IPA. My number one complaint with IIPAs is the heavy malt flavors that come with the higher ABV and distract from the lightness and drinkability that I love about IPAs. V1 Double IPA clocks in at 8.3% ABV but couldn’t strike a better balance with a heavy hand of citrus forward Mosaic hops.

What’s really impressive about Dorchester Brewing though isn’t the fact that I loved a beer I knew I would love. I had a flight with Savin Summer Stout and the Clapp’s Cream Ale on Nitro in addition to Mass Ave IPA and V1 Double IPA and walked away loving all of them. The Savin Summer Stout is a low ABV cocoa summer stout with Chinook hops and is extremely drinkable. Meanwhile the Clapp’s Cream Ale is a warm fermented, smooth bodied cream ale, and the nitrogen makes this even smoother and adds an extra creamy finish to this beer.

The Space

Dorchester Brewing is a hub for all things beer and brewing. Seriously, it’s an awesome place with a state-of-the-art facility that will build the Dorchester community and bring business back to the area. Sounds like a sales pitch, I know, but the place is actually really cool with food trucks and food vendors out front on their picnic table communal patio and a big open tasting room inside centered around a multitude of taps.

Behind the bar lies the sign of a true brewery, brew kettles and mash tons with beer being made. As you’re ordering your beer and seeing it poured, you can see back into the brewery where the magic happens. Speaking of pouring the beer, the bartenders are extremely friendly and love talking about the brewery, the beer, and to provide recommendations. I had the pleasure of talking with Sean about Dorchester Brewing and he was happy to provide me with tastes of the beers and was excited to share what was on tap.

Learn More

Dorchester Brewing has some great events lined up that you can check out on their website http://www.dorchesterbrewing.com and they are open Wed-Sat from 11:30am-11pm and Sunday from 11:30am-9pm. They’re closed on Monday and Tuesday, but you can find them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to keep up with what’s going on.

Whether you’re a new beer drinker or a beer aficionado, if you’re looking to find the right beer for you visit www.beers4me.com to learn more about how a beer consultant may be an affordable way to start drinking beer that you love.”