Cellarmaker Unannounced Future is Too Hot to Handle Too Cold to Freeze

Gunz you never tasted malts like these

This beer has a crushing 4.76 Untappd score and has been lighting up the trade boards but maybe it’s all these malty antidepressants that keep me from being aroused.

Cellarmaker threw the entire dictionary of hype casking at this, triple barrel Willett -> Thomas H Handy -> 10 Year “Pappy” barrels ::ahem:: But sometimes more is less. The Cellarmaker barleywines have been crushingly good one after another but this one takes things a step too far for me.

It’s weird to ask for nuance from the absolute highest end of excess in the beer world. I need some soft poetic DMs not just full frontal out of the gates. There’s no pageantry here, it’s immediately six pics sent in vanish mode with a little bomb just letting you know the erotic undercurrent.

Yes, it is good, but it’s not as good as the heights that Cellarmaker is capable of. Most other breweries this would be a revelation, here it feels like Kobe shooting nonstop reckless FG. It presents the dead wispy crackle of baleful complexity, body laying there hauntingly staring up at you in mahogany darkness. The “it’s fine” text that ruins your night with its succinct power. But the rolos and graham crackers are stopped at the sheer crushing waves of alcohol and fusel wafts.

You look at this cologne bottle and it seems like hardly enough, but a spritz of this Tom Ford “Parfum Du Shared Custody” and the caramel is overpowering with a few pumps.

Gertrude Stein had a dialectic approach to identity, self and other, autobiography and photography. This CM beer is clearly art but is presenting itself through the lens in which a massive angry barleywine wants to be perceived. In a weird tell don’t show way the heat and burning rye meets eucalyptus literally distills the experience. You’re dating a Depop girl and she’s literally talking about thrifting. It’s so on the nose that it feels like Werther’s rhinoplasty.

Don’t get me wrong, I drank it. The entire time my chest had a Skor bar xenomorph pressing its way out. Exhaling the vapors of a New Orleans dive bar, a real sternum roaster.


2022 Thomas H Handy Sazerac, Schroedingers Perpetually Unopened Delicious Bottle

It’s potentially delicious who knows

Ah spring is upon us. The crisp sweet air redolent with bluebell that middle manager bourbon chasers love to inhale before asking “BUT SERIOUSLY WHATS IN THE BACK.”

The BTAC line is truly an evergreen product, unlike treasury bonds or Silicon Bank stocks, they remain unopened, unrealized and perpetually sough by dudes with thinning hairlines who tuck Underarmor polos into Merona shorts.

Thomas Handy is the youngest, the “cheapest”, the least approachable, and most importantly, looks the least important on some Living Spaces cabinet in a Man Cave. This is a cask rye for a guy whose friend “lets him use his cabin.” It is a blast of Sunmaid Raisin Bread for the entitled couple who gives you a house tour and mutters “they helped with the down” and then loudly “BUT WE PAY THE MORTGAGE.”

This is that Marvin Gardens of the BTAC lineup, not god tier, but quite the deal for what you receive. This is also the first year they implemented the anti-theft chip under the tiny Sazerac house, so 9 years from now when someone opens this, you didn’t sell them some stepped on rye. New Cask City, naked bourbon bros in aprons reapplying foil toppers, white powder on their pale alabaster butt cheeks.

This is presents a haymaker of nutmeg, the obligatory Hot Tamales, and a kiss of fennel on the collarbone. At $700 a bottle it’s not worth it, but it comes the closest that BTAC ever does.

Pomology is a disciplined obsessed with the reconstruction of fruits and nuts. That consistent Thomas Handy raisinette character is tucked in this type of compulsive behavior. Every year, at huge cost, Honeybee, Jazz, Opal, and THH always make their way to market, only to be overlooked.

The bottle this year is extremely good and provides more marble bread and spice than I remember, but it’s always the Yoshi of BTAC. Taking Ozempic, slimming down, vying for the WLW and GTS shred, casky vascularity, that ropey rye aesthetic.

YOU DON’T SEE THESE EVERY DAY, he quipped as he takes THH out of your hands, back on the sad landlocked shelf, HERE ENJOY THE GOOD STUFF, pours you some Willett Pot Still, IF JESSICA KNEW WHAT I SPEND ON SPORTS CARD BOX BREAKS WE WOULDN’T BE SITTING HERE NOW-


Maine Beer Co Dinner, Revisited 8 Years Later, The Collective Hoppy Unconscious

We are edified

I reviewed this beer back in 2015 and felt like traveling back to Maine to sip some Stephen King juices and see if this west coast gem holds up in the age of haze.

It more than holds up, it is absolutely stellar and an absolutely top tier example of the style. Some nay sayers feel this isn’t resinous enough, that it is too sweet, or it somehow is an embodiment of Midwest IPAs from a time past. This aint your daddies Oberon Ok.

You would be hard pressed to see this classified as English or even just plain old American IPA. For me it hits all those zones of pith, zest, foliage, and the peaceful petricor of early spring.

Carl Jung had this idea of the collective unconscious. These west coast IPAs are linked together and their ancestry through a shared set of experiences. This collective consciousness of hops gives meaning to the IPA world.

Sure we see the word grapefruit in label copy and roll our eyes so hard we become investment property owners. If that is the broad brush of alpha acid dynamics, the nuanced details keep my thighs aching. Lactic with the recognition of a past that was imperfect, but idealized. Delayed onset of muscle soreness gives you this blast from workouts ago that rattles your core in the present.

I still romanticize chasing bombers of hoppy crystal malt gems like the current offerings aren’t just repeated occurences of these archetypes. You just keep drinking IPAs and your discrimination goes up. On a long enough dating timeline you swipe until you reflect more about yourself in who you reject, than you who accept.

But somehow Maine Beer Co embraces our collective flaws. The risky 2am heart eyes reaction. The failure of purpose and sitting in your car in the driveway, not going in. The fantastic waves of cuties, meyer lemon, intense sweetness to the body like Bit O Honey, and this chick o stick meets Davidoff Coolwater. These scents and tastes linger within us, just hops in a boil waiting to be awakened.

Maine Beer Company has made Manchurian candidates of us all, hoppy sleeper cell agents horned up for that bitter eroticism that shakes the dust off the eros of our daily lives.


Fort George Triple Header: The Barleywine Redeems the Mediocre Banana Stout

Our redeemer

Fort George has just dropped a forgettable banana stout, a pretty solid black lager and a straight up exceptional barrel aged barleywine. These are the breweries that I love.

It is too tall an Order to expect one place to just crush it at everything. It’s like a game of Sid Meier’s Civilization and places that drop all their points into a saison tech tree fascinate me. That lack of “swiss army knife approach” is weirdly a symbol of quality to me. Kuhnhenn and Pelican brewing warm my heart because sometimes they will release the absolutely god tier example of a style, then youll try their scotch ale and be like what is even happening here.

I enjoy Fort George’s 3 Ways and their hoppy offerings, if that’s all they did, it would be a nice Joey Tribbiani flare that doesn’t hold up over time but you appreciate. Failing at a ba banana stout is almost a win for me. In crafting a boring, muted, pithy fleshy potassium stout it tells me you have other priorities.

Their priorities, like most, are shifting to lagers which seem to be improving notable. Their Dismal Nitch enters territory as treacherous as its namesake, drowning Lewis and Clark in riparian blackness. It leans a bit too hard into the specialty malts and ends up lightly burnt, and has a lingering bitterness on the finish that feels more robust porter in a way than Schwarzbier but I like where their submerged head is at. It’s like when your least interesting friend starts talking about “PASSIVE STREAMS OF INCOME” and you know their podcast playlist is an absolute hellscape.

Etymology is very good. It takes adept blending, amazing base beer, and cask management to merge the dark fruit aspects to temper the English sweetness in a boozywine. The black barleywine component leverages what I didn’t like about Dismal and uses it for good, adding crazy depth to the hoppy Ology. Both would be deficient alone but it’s like when Blow Friend meets Day Trader friend at a Bachelor party. The prune and port has a fusel grape tobacco aspect that is pulled in line by beta acids and brownie edge pieces.

The synthesis is substantial, fruit leather Clarissa is redeemed against caramel Lovelace. Such is Fort George’s catalo


Firestone Walker 2023 Parabola is a Black Licorice WMD

I cut the box opening the box

Oh man the new 2013 Parabola is a black licorice bomb and baby palates are about to be shook. In a world where glucophiles measure stout quality on the Robitussin scale, leaning hard into Good and Plenties is glorious.

To be clear, I really enjoyed this but I suspect A1C ballers will not. This is an icy page straight out of the Scandinavian playbook. Midwest and Floridian brewers hardly touch black patent malt and barely know what a sharpie smells like. Firestone pushes it so far English that is goes straight into Narke DUNDERSALT territory.

I like to imagine Matt Brynildson standing in front of the massive automated HAL brewsystem trying to input the parameters for what americans want out of a stout:

“Ok computer, the FG should be around 22 plato”

“ERROR: you have input the starting gravity”

“COMPUTER, remove pastry safety”

“ERROR: you will be creating batter not safe for human consumption”


Parabola since its inception has been on the lighter bodied side of things in the current climate. However, this is such an intense blast of roast, fennel, wormwood, and anise. Instead of the brownie and chocolate the label touts, we are whisked away into a land of tarragon and this minty chill of camphor. The cask is gentle and structures this all lovingly.

In the car industry there’s this idea of “homologation car” where you have to build 2,500 street legal examples for sale to make a race car version. Parabola increasingly feels like their homologation car. It isn’t chasing some hype, it is widespread, probably made in Missouri under some other Duvel brand, and can be blended to create any manner of profiles with the endless number of stocks they can pull from. But this, this is intentional.

For every Dreamwood and insane Firestone component blend, Parabola is the old standby ripe for crazy modification. The Corolla GR of the stout world. Not the craziest in the lineup but furtively waiting for enhancement.

Most baby palates will get rocked by this vintage but it is a true licorice canary in the coalmine for who truly has that UK palate.


Modist Brewing Danger Noodles is a Gloriously Unclassifiable Hoppy Gem

Send noods

Kansas City Chiefs kicker, Harrison Butker, missed a field goal before the end of the first quarter at Super Bowl 2023. An unenviable job, simple and succinct. Put it between the uprights so we can move on with our lives.

It’s the tasks where you “have one job” that are the most maligned. Show up, review some beers, provide adjectives, “bUt diD yOu liKe iT” and give a numerical score. The thing missing from simple tasks is context.

This straightforward beer from Modist seems, on paper, to be transparent. DDH New England IPA, the descriptors practically lining up in a perfunctory way. But in failing to do this “properly” Modist made something exceptional.

There is an inaccessibility to tastes. I don’t mean just subjective experience, the “thing in itself” or anything like that, I mean communicating how a thing is. This beer isn’t hazy. It doesn’t feel NE and leans into this liminal space of IPAs occupied by the likes of Bissel Swish and McIlhenny Muntz where, in failing to adhere to set guidelines, it exceeds the genre it occupies. It’s a shaded penumbra, a rhizomey venn diagram.

Just kick the ball. Just provide the adjectives. On a long enough timeline every descriptor will be reused and tumbled enough to be smoothed down by the endless waves of appraisal. How many times do we have to hear “JUICY” and esoteric citrus imagery until using those words is in itself performative. This beer isn’t that. It’s off-base and unknowable in the way that we no longer have a shared experience. Modist screwed this up in the best way.

It’s not green or resin driven, it isn’t orange gelato or belini, there’s no cribbed terms from Untappd. The average NEIPA fan is the type of guy who finds out about Jesus during a Superbowl commercial. The shared fetishism of pulpy tribalism. Modist instead here made some halfway house of silky oatmilk, Cuties, rosemary, Hi-C, split kindling and dried apricots. It finishes with sandalwood and lavender. In disappointing the vapid NEIPA enthusiast, they put it right in my uprights.

The only interpersonal access we have is context. I can barely contextualize this unique hybrid but it is delicious. We all use birth control on Valentine’s day to prevent polluting the world with more Scorpios


Revisiting PLIGHNEY THE YOUNGER: a decade later


PLIGHNEY SEASON IS UPON US. Once groundhog day hits, every bottleshop employee winces in pain as the Men’s Health and Esquire magazine shitdetorials come sliding down the ten-cents-per-word chute.

“No I’m sorry, we don’t have it. Yes it is on draft. No probably not here in Omaha. No we wont be getting bottles. Yes you did see a bottle. Oh Forbes told you it would be sold online, no we do not carry it. Have you ever shopped at this store before?” CLICK

A tale as old as time. Inaccessibility breeds eroticism. Your crush has a filthy apartment and nudes of their ex backed up to the cloud. Sometimes though, the hype shines through those sad clouds of hype and warms your heart like a Midwest mom with a Karen cut when she gets deep into extreme couponing. Pliny the Younger continues to impress.

My rose tinted goggles of the past remember more resin, more crystal, a pang of malty sweetness. The problem with false nostalgia is that it devalues the TIPAs of the present. Nipples were once erect for Avery Maharaja, now it is mandatory for a brewery to have a slushee machine. Reconciling the two is rough.

TIPAs are flawed from the inception. The increased fusel note has to be offset by ::checks notes:: increasingly resinous C-hop additions /turns page OR quad dry hopping. Ah the perfect springtime sipper. Pliny the Younger does this masterfully. Instead of amplifying Pliny the Younger, which is better, it feels like Super Soldier Serum Blind Pig, which is better than both.

You get the clean crushability of double digit abv negligence. The company car is revoked. Paternity tests are ordered. It’s like a evergreen scavenger hunt to make your life more difficult. But in the mid palate alcohol burn is this magical zested clementine, Polo Sport clean pine, a lit grapefruit peel garnish and this raked foliage aspect to the closer like a crisp rocket and mandarin summer salad. The merger is bad for you emotionally, socially, but edifying as a ritual.

You sit and press cntrl+shift+N and suddenly the rest of the clean lager beer world slips away into a furtive incognito mode of massive west coast desires. No one needs to know how the firewood is split. PTO is made to be used.


Jester King Gin Barrel Nocturn Chrysalis is a Stellar Accomplishment

It’s never enough

American wild ales are justifiably maligned as they currently stand. They are too god damn sour and even places that start out elegant push morphology to its limits and end up with absolute piss vinegar cultures after a few propagations.

Like Daisy’s dock, there are still a few incredible examples of hope pushing my boat towards that lead me to utter those binary, coronating words: I finished the entire bottle. With most AWAs you can’t get close to drilling a full bottle. The GERD and dyspeptic reflux hits and the gelid sting of retracting gumlines sets in well before you go back for seconds. Just blame the fruit, then release a double fruited version.

Jester King enjoys this calm hill country repose. The brim of a tattered trucker hat surveys an entire amusement park of Texas devilry and bemusement, goats and rock climbing walls and bachelorette parties and triple wide strollers, lifted Tundras, insufferable techie transplants regaling onlookers with tales of how much square footage they NOW enjoy and well once they got the renters out, I BOUGHT IT AND MOVED TO AUSTIN RIGHT AWAY. So there’s this bat bridge-

But god damn it, this beer is magnificent. I used to rail against regular Nocturn because it was slightly too puckering. This blast of cool mint and jasmine in the gin barrels polishes these berries like some gorgeous garnet stone. Six pounds per gallon is so absurd, but the JK cultures ferment to BELOW 1.00 so it never feels flabby or acetoney . They made 600 bottles of this and I shook my head when I saw it in a massive 750ml bottle for $40. Then I crushed the entire thing instantly.

I swear this is a typo but this was…11 bottles per person? Maybe they just knew how refreshing these sour patch kids mixed with raspberry mojito would be, it’s a spa day and preserves are pressed against your supple skin. Finish is Barrolo and rose petal with currant and English-comedy dry and lingers like your unemployed friend who starts her day at 3:30 p.m.

I used to prefer Grim Harvest and this blows that out of the water, a style defining accomplishment in a field I was losing faith in. Run over these Texas berries with your Bronco Raptor, Texas daddy.


Coppercraft 9 Year Single Barrel is a completely unexpected 9 year MGP stunner

That bottle can bludgeon someone

Normal Coppercraft is fairly trifling, NAS, forgettable huskwater. It’s fifty bucks and they take 4 year astringent corn solvent and add a teaspoon of 11 year bourbon, the classic Little Book 4 strategy. It’s not good and you can completely ignore it.

When I heard about the single barrel cask strength I was like oh good an even more powerful worse version that costs twice as much, sign me up, stomp on my stave.

I was completely wrong, this bottle goes off like a middle aged man when you add automatic gratuity to a table of 5. It’s MGP, but it’s not stepped on, 110 proof, and 9 years for $80.00.

There are 9 year picks that are far worse that cost more. Widow Jane is complete dogshit at this level and not remotely as good. Tiktok has been accused of “heating” and manually boosting mediocre content, well this is the opposite of that, taking things you thought were janky and are actually good.

The bottle for no reason at all weighs as much as a telecaster. You have to actively push to knock it over so don’t use it as a decanter in that Junior High stage play filled with iced tea. Branding is stock and as wince inducing as the “laugh” in Final Fantasy X. But the content itself is good and no one believes you. Like Chrono Cross.

This has so much Bit O Honey and round woodwind tones to the nose. You get Teddy Grahams and wafflecone with a touch of coriander. The taste has such a robust and loving embrace of honey biscuit, feeling on those sculpted warm black pepper and raspberry lats, the most neglected of muscle groups. There’s a reckless intensity to it like people who are legitimately mad about Splash Mountain closing, but you feel safe.

The swallow is a bit short but intense, crack of Dr. Pepper and latticed crust. It should cost more than this but who is actively seeking out some mid tier Michigan bourbon? The same type of person who thinks the interior of a Pagani is nice and fancy. It panders to ignorance but this time pounded out on every distilled cylinder.


Revolution Brewing Double Barrel VSOJ Bears the Burden of Its Own Legacy

Smoke em

One of the burdens of creating something amazing: you are fated to compete with your own work thereafter. Success is a gilded cage. There are 9100 breweries in the United States that would love to be held as the god tier standard for anything, let alone then be judged against their own catalog.

It’s a unique benefit and curse. Right when DBVSOJ was announced people were already pissed off. PROXIES ALLOWED BUT I LIVE RIGHT OFF KEDZIE IN AN INDUSTRIAL WAREHOUSE. This is a beer flipped by people who don’t even drink barleywine who are upset that other further away people will get barleywine. Then people were gobsmacked to learn it’s hard to buy something online competing against thousands of other people. Then they were mad they would sell it at the brewery itself. Then they were mad that a few ounces hit Tavour. It’s all sweaty palms being wiped on Tilly’s cargo shorts all the way down.

The real problem is sequelitis. How can you improve upon the masterpiece that is VSOJ? In this instance, we have a Godfather II/Empire Strikes Back/House Party II situation where the sequal somehow surpasses the original. One of the only flaws of VSOJ was its pure unwieldy cask profile that was fusel gatekeeping for baby palates.

If you are a casual haze enjoyer setting down your Fidens to see what this barleywine craze was about, you got sweet barrel chin music that floored you. I figured DB treatment would exacerbate this issue. I was wrong. The additional rye casking for ANOTHER 18 months imparted so much spice, fruitcake, Golden Grahams, Hot Tamales, and marble cake that is offset the fury of the bourbon casks.

The body usually feels thinner with extended casking and people complain. This isn’t the case, it breaks in Twizzlers PullnPeel waves of Sazerac Bananas Fosters, the intense heat tapering into a worn baseball mitt filled with Raisinettes. More is both more and less.

We have children and hope they surpass us and are ultimately humbled in all that they do. DBVSOJ has generational wealth but imparts a comforting rub on VSOJ’s leathery shoulders. He walked so DB could run and face all the complaints of entitled Chicago resellers, with dignity.

At least it wasn’t born Ann.