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2011 Pappy Van Winkle Dark Lord is a masterpiece that defies time itself

Every year I engage in this Sisyphean, self-flagellating task of acquiring the new barrel aged Dark Lord variants, and then feeling the inevitable sting of being misled by Indiana hypemasters. Like Persephone falling to the deep and eating a soy sauce pomegranate, it never fails. Sometimes you get phenomenal standouts like Chemtrail Mix or Bourbon Dark Lord, but the overwhelming majority of them are punitive syrup. I get so tired.

In 2011, I was laboring to complete the Beer Advocate top 100 Beers of Fame for DDB. This list had some exceedingly hard gems to find, and was constantly changing. It was like trying to change the 13″ rim on your PT Cruiser, while it was driving in the Arby’s parking lot. Depressing, impressive, but challenging. It was in this year 2011 anno domini year of our [Dark] Lord that the first bottled deviants hit the scene. The varying skulls and yellow wax created a fervor on the trade boards unlike anything the ISO world had seen. It was simply above my weight class, plus I was busy trying to lock down things like 2009 Southampton Berlinerweiss, a huge 150 bottle release. As a result, I missed out on the crushing whale that was Pappy Van Winkle Dark Lord. It immediately was the standout and, at the outset, it traded higher than the now wallet-shattering Brandy Vanilla Dark Lord.

Don’t get me wrong, this bottle still moves for ~$700.00 secondary and it is still well outside of my striking range. It would take a laughable number of Monkish cans and Bottle Logic stouts to cobble together that leviathan. The point is, I had written it off as a ghostwhale. Furthermore, I contented myself with a dismissal that it WAS PROLLLY JUST SOY SAUCE ANYWAY LOL!!2!!. Sour Kikkoman Syndrome. I was completely wrong.

Let me say this now, this beer is phenomenal. It has aged beautifully and is easily one of the best beers that Three Floyds has ever made. Every aspect of it seems wholly divergent from the SPACE FORCE and French Vanilla Contrition to which I am accustomed. It never feels flabby, the residual sugar profile has actually served as a bulwark against oxidation. The entire experience eschews the brownie batter excesses and leans hard into the magnificent casking. The barrel is the true belle of the ball. It sheets with clear windex legs that strip downward leaving no khaki streaking on the glass. The taste has a dance of red fruits, figs, currant, this intense lacquer and peanut brittle that closes with a woody plum aspect. The swallow has an incredible sustain and parts of it remind me of those stout/barleywine line steppers like Anabasis that have blurred lines with extreme staving. The entire profile just commands your attention and it is well earned. There is no salinity or tobacco aspects to detract from the flawless balance. In sum, you can scarcely believe that the oft-troubled base Dark Lord was involved at all.

It would have been magnificent if this beer was bad, but it is an enduring masterpiece from an era of Megalodons unlike today’s Mariana trench depths of beer culture. I realize that giving a glowing recommendation to a 484 bottle one-off release from seven years ago is dumb. It is latently antagonistic, even. I get it. I would be remiss to not praise those Munster boys for making not only the best Dark Lord I have ever had, but an entry that is a dazzler in the global canon of barrel aged stouts at large. It’s simply that good.

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Ridiculous Facebook Algorithm Beer Shirt Now On Sale

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This beer shirt makes no god damn sense. After I wrote the Henson Brewing review joking around about how some brewers marketing materials look procedurally generated, a few people asked me to make this insane shirt. If you buy this, please tell me what types of comments you get because this apparel is kookoobananas.

DDB assumes no liability if someone tries to mess with your Prilosec.

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LGVLABTOKF: Henson Brewing Company

Henson Brewing feels like one of those PS1 or N64 era games where you walk in and none of the assets have loaded. There are like four NPCs, stark white walls, angular geometry, all of the objects exist as polygons. Located in a, YOU GUESSED IT, leaky industrial area of Burbank near a massive mall and some odd little studios, this hamlet bubbles away. The branding reminds me of those Facebook shirts that are procedurally generated with algorithmic text “SEPTEMBER dads Love BEER so dont mess with my PRILOSEC im a CAPRICORN” with some wheat and hops flashart.

There’s a half built old car, a huge amount of space that is roped off, with a tiny tiny (5bbl?) system. Perhaps anticipating some massive buildout. To be fair, they opened like 6 months ago, but if not for Yelp, I would have no idea this place existed. The brewery has signs noting such activities as Fresh Brewed Small Batch Comedy Night and Beer Yoga (?!) with a pleasant, relaxing atmosphere. The servers are genial and the taplist has a cheat sheet on the back to keep the staff on its toes. That’s not a slam, I wish more places did that.

There’s a big Connect Four game and a toddler running and screaming about something. The most notable thing about this brewery was the plywood table pre-set for a game of beer pong. Not just tolerating but actively encouraging a carnival game of Red Cup dexterity. I really enjoy that. I am not being wry, I would legit go to a brewery just to play beer pong, that sounds amazing and perhaps illegal. The beers themselves are, ehh. The pale could be placed in a six pack lineup and you wouldn’t be able to identify which Two Row Chinook criminal assaulted you. It’s textbook to the point of feeling like a reference chart, light pine, mid 2000s panache of clean swallow and mild honey and arugula. It’s pretty solid and it is their best beer. I only tried three of the six beers on tap.

The saison was dubiously lemon pledge driven, but serviceable. Anomalously this spot is yet ANOTHER place making saison Micheladas [Sundays only.] I have so many questions. The IPA compelled an Irish goodbye. I had just finished a 4 mile hike in 93 degree heat so I wanted badly to drink an IPA and the lacquer and pine solvent in that hateful taster checked every warning box. Henson is a brewery that exists and will sell you items that are identified as beer. That’s essentially all I can drum up to say about this placeholding local grain steeper. It’s a touch below “fine.”

You undoubtedly have three of these breweries local to you no matter where you live:

So where do they rank in the LGVLABTOKF hierarchy?

1. Verdugo West Brewing

2. Dry River Brewing

3. Strand Brewing

4. Boomtown Brewery

5. Scholb Brewing

6. Cosmic Brewing

7. Brewyard Beer Company

8. Henson Brewing

9. Indie Brewing Company

The mission continues, I am told I have a mere 75 more Los Angeles breweries to go.

Great.

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LGVLABTOKF: Cosmic Brewing

LETS GO VISIT LA BREWERIES TODAY OK FINE: Cosmic Brewing is yet another Torrance brewery that shares the unique problem of being equidistant between two of LA’s best breweries: Smog City and Monkish. The taproom is festive and unassuming, filled with beercasual patrons who seem to genuinely enjoy the beers and the taco truck without focusing too intently on the fermented wares themselves.

The taproom reminds me of an afterschool program where latch key kids can hang with a youth pastor. It has a free arcade cabinet that is legitimately bad ass with old school beatemups and probably a Raspberry Pi emulator with a bazillion games on it. They also have a touch Jukebox which proudly welcomed me with HAPPY BIRTHDAY AVICI and my ducts began to well up.

There are murals with astronauts and robots, laser lights and a second room which despite looking like a lasertag arena, disallowed children. I was stoked for this until I realized kids weren’t allowed only because it was a serve yourself tap station. This is a novel spin for a tasting room and sharply contrasts the ONE POUR PER PERSON culture of monkish, presumably because rival hop gangs have never fought in this Astronomy driven taproom. Heavy is the head that wears the rhizome crown.

The beer has a huge focus on saving dogs in every way: charity drives, cages for people to adopt dogs, fundraisers. They got me in the feels and it shows intent and this mom and pop flair to a business that could otherwise get sucked under the Torrance vorlauf. You may have noticed that I have been pussyfooting and burying the lede about their actual beers: they are a touch below mediocre. I didn’t want to strike them with an orbital strike, but here we are. The blondes were both lightly fruited and forgettable. The brown had a fine roastiness and a strange acidity to the swallow which gave me PTSD reminding me of another Torrance problem child, Dude’s Brewing. Cosmonaut was pretty fine. The porter was probably my favorite offering but it was miles away from something like Smog City coffee porter, which sadly was only hundreds of feet away. I applaud them for sticking to it for two years, but the type of degenerate who is already reading DDB really doesn’t have any business here unless it is for completionist goals. They have ALIENS VS PREDATOR IN AN ARCADE CABINET COME ON.

 

Ranking this one is like pushing a three of clubs into a deck:

So where do they rank in the LGVLABTOKF hierarchy?

1. Verdugo West Brewing

2. Dry River Brewing

3. Strand Brewing

4. Boomtown Brewery

5. Scholb Brewing

6. Cosmic Brewing

7. Brewyard Beer Company

8. Indie Brewing Company

The mission continues, I am told I have a mere 76 more Los Angeles breweries to go.

Great.

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Three Chiefs Faha is Phenomenal, and This is a Huge Problem for Southern California Beer Nerds

Before we discuss Three Chiefs let’s address two things: 1. This beer is phenomenal and 2. Tomorrow’s release is probably going to be a complete disaster. The pastry god giveth and he taketh in equal measure. If you haven’t been following underground StoutCloud artists, you might not know about these three dudes from Guam who have been dropping bars on insane collabs across the country. Three Chiefs collaborated with J. Wakefield on Antique Coco and Antique Blue, two beers that immediately were flipped and resold for $600+ each. So the pedigree is already assumed.

The odd thing about this entire affair is that Three Chiefs isn’t even really open yet. Tomorrow they are doing a sneak peek sort of thing and selling 100 bottles of FAHA, but their doors aren’t open yet. This is an inversion of the 3Sons model where you are pumping stouts in the streets but without a brick and mortar facility. They are brewing out of the now-defunct Reubens Brewery/R6 distillery literally across the street from the Chevron refinery. That El Segundo Mako reactor looms in the background so you can sip stouts and enjoy the Midgar terroir of diesel fuel, but I digress.

People in the know are already going to ruin this beer and this brewery for everyone else and turn this into the Supreme HypeStout: CA Edition. The chief aim of these profiteers is 1. exercise initial flexfuel and 2. maximize and deconstruct the bottle into other wares. In a way, it feels latently retributive for SoCal to have fanfare syrup again. After years of cobbling countless Bottlelogic stouts and Monkish cans together to land overhyped Florida wares, I don’t know if CA can even handle having something on this level. It will ruin people. It will be spectacular to witness.

One dude messaged me and asked if he got to the release [the night before] at 10pm, if that would be sufficient to land one of these 100 bottles being sold. Another guy nonironically asked me if there was parking by the brewery where he could sleep in his car. This is what we are looking at for the FIRST RELEASE. This isn’t even a full release, they are holding back and archiving most of the bottles. This is a very Shaun Hill/Wakefield point of retail execution. In short, I assume tomorrow will be the rebirth of 2011 BA Speedway catastrophes. The 2013 Churchills Finest Hour line. Pick your favorite insane point-of-sale meltdown by grown men with khaki teeth and entitlement complexes. That sort of badinage.

Is this beer even good?

No, it really isn’t. It is magnificent. This beer on paper seems like a baby Antique Coco: 2 types of coconut, candied and toasted, bourbon barrel (albeit not Weller 107) and 12% versus 17%. Oddly, as a result of the body and less heat drying the mouthfeel, it feels like a more substantial beer. It’s like when you see a shredded dude chalking up his palms and you are ‘mirin but then you realize he is 5’5″. Almost every aspect of this beer is so well done and fantastic straight out of the gates it is TOO good and draws inquiries. You ever turn in an essay and it makes your teacher question whether you actually know what “Keynesian economics” even is? I am suspicious because I care. It feels almost identical to the lux-tier Wakefield stouts in coating, mouthfeel, presentation, and even down to the coagulated coconut lipids that dudes love to go

“OH SHIT NO FAKE EXTRACTS HERE LOOK AT THE FLAKES OF COCONUT I AM MASTER PALATE MASTER EYESIGHT 10/10 OBJECT RECOGNITION”

Except brewers and non-idiots are like “those aren’t coconut flakes, rub them together, stop talking.” The heft is massive and on par, again, with It Was All A Dream and drinks exceedingly similar to that lineup to the point where I cannot separate the experience. You can pull from this that this new upstart somehow skipped the line and jumped to god tier stout status and I am remiss to speculate how they pulled this off.

The body is syrupy and extremely viscous, on par with Angry Chair and Fremont AO Kentucky Dark Star. It clings and provides an exceptional lightly roasty, faintly oaky dryness for the long drag of this oily monster to impart its Hawaiian Tropic goodness. It isn’t Mounds Bar because that is basically an Untappd reductivist bon mot at this point. The strangest part of what should be an unbalanced novelty tick, is that it is entirely drinkable. Sometimes I open something on the podcast and immediately regret not being a covetous ticker and solo doming a bottle.

I don’t want to laud any more superlatives on this beer, for its marketing and hype shall be its undoing. Writing this, I am ironically doing a terrible DISSERVICE to the beer itself and only tossing brownie batter onto the conflagration, then stepping back with some pithy discourse about how this fire is completely out of pocket. We get it. Three Chiefs gets it. Now we turn the reigns over to the beer consumer to ruin everything, as is tradition.