It would be no understatement to decree that Toppling Goliath has demonstrated, to date, an almost untouchable barrel program. On top of this, their stout program is amongst the best if not the best in the entire world. I know some salty Scandinavian just choked on his Kaggen, but they have free health care so I dont give a shit about raising their blood pressure. The point is, TG has enjoyed an almost flawless track record to date.
Some would temper this statement with acknowledging that they haven’t stepped out of their comfort zone of hops and chocolate malts. There’s some legitimacy to that demurrer. We have yet to see a compelling wild ale or saison from them and they have yet to really execute a paradigm-shifting old ale/barleywine/strong ale. Today we will get back up to speed with their hoppy offerings and see if they have the capacity to dominate yet another segment of the market: barrel aged stark biers.
At the top, I will just reiterate that SOSUS remains one of the finest DIPAs in the game without resorting to gimmicks or bakery aisle pageantry. I have nothing to state that wasnt addressed in this SOSUS review of the inimitable Mosaic bomb. Golden Nugget remains pretty deece and a solid France44 scoop for those in the know.
What about the other new shit? As an overarching generalization: their hop game is silently and steadily improving in an organic and meaningful way.
This IPA is listed as an American Pale Wheat on BeerAdvocate, so it’s good to see that those Cicerones are still hard at work over there. Right when I poured this I was given pause at what seemed to be a reactionary caving to the tenants of Turbidism, a religion converting millions by the day. Thankfully, this wasn’t some carnival milk jug game set up to beguile you. This has a fantastic silky resinous creamy body, an eggwhite whipped whiskey sour swallow, that fine microcarb akin to hand pumped cask with a watery closer. There’s grapefruit and apricot that is tempered with a type of coniferous sandalwood like musty women’s perfume. Floral and juicy in equal measure, with what I can only assume is a degree of milled husks and wheat in the grain bill, so maybe BA wasn’t all wrong. Who gives a shit, really.
Double Dry Hopped Citra Pseudo Sue eked out a nice bunker of Pale Ale greatness in a foxhole next to the genre-defining Zombie dust. It is decidedly PALE ALE in character and never relies upon a wateriness or needless biscuit sweetness, and is “PA” in the that undefinable “imperial porterness” that is difficult to identify but you know obscenity when you see it. This has a touch more heft to the body and swallow than I recall but the blast of one dimensional citrus is enjoyable throughout, the bouquet is a massive blast of rhizomey pineapple goodness. I can see drunk caucasians husking that Iowa corn, reeking of alpha acids from their pores.
Sol Hunter. Get it? EQUINOX HOPS. Eventually some brewer will make an analogue named TROPIC OF CAN-cer and put it in tallboys. But that would necessitate a brewer besides Jean Broillet IV to read Miller. The taste of this is structured in the exact way that your expectations are framed. For a relatively svelte little offering, it has this lack of balance to it that makes the 70 ibus feel oppressive in a sticky oily way like clear cutting in the sierras. Smashed pine cones, french pressed christmas decorations, crushing up danky buds on nana’s coffee table bc she doesn’t get home from bridge until 4pm.
This beer is fine, and how many breweries make beer that are like “yeah, that’s cool, welp time to go work at STAPLES” and you go on with your life. This is one of those sandwich boards on a aserose sidewalk, a forgettable appellation that compels a mild smile.
Alright, lets get to the reason that you came here: RUE THE CROWN.
Most people are probably like “what in the fuck? Toppling Goliath released a barrel aged beer that ISN’T a stout?” Well, that might be a canard calling a $50 bottle lotteried to Mug Club members a “release” when the 150 bottles sold would make Upright Brewing nod in solemn reverence for the consumer vexing methods. And of course, right out of the gates, we have people offering up $450+ worth of beer for it, 8:1 trades, sight unseen. That is a testament to people’s faith in the sheer quality of TG barrel aged beers.
Their faith was misplaced in this false idol.
I love that TG released a starkbier in the first place, compelling so many cicerones to dust off their BJCP classifications and then reading “TG MAED A BARLEYWINE” and someone else stating that it is “THE THE NEXT KBBS.” Suffice it to say, TG did not make a barrel aged barleywine.
But I am remiss to gloss over the issue of objective prescriptivity: what SHOULD a barrel aged starkbier taste like? Can you name a single other example? Sure we can all have a malty bukkake fest of OLD ALES and list analogues. I can’t name a single example, but I went in with a buckler and scimitar held aloft ready to slay this ultra saturated beast.
One thing that sticks out is the fact that most Starkbiers are lager strains, and I don’t know that TG has some crazy Kuhnhenn strain that they leave lagering around. Secondly, this was aged 35 months in a 27 year old Heaven Hill barrel. If you know anything about casking, and the body of Starkbiers in general, tell me when you see the problems start to align: the body is way too fucking thin to support such an endeavor.
For these massive caskers, you need a ridiculous residual malt backbone for that lumbar lifting of prolonged captivity. On this realm RdC faceplants and Rob Dyrdek chuckles sardonically. The body is thinner than the cheese cloth pants you wear to the bottoms off Gentleman’s Club. It cannot support four plates on each sides, no matter how hard it engages that lagery core. The result is an flaming hot ethanol bomb that has little chance of cooling over time. The oak is so so integrated that it presents almost a fresh American Oak cask profile with duraflame, black and milds, intense cut lumber, and wafts of funny car exhaust.
The good thing about this beer is how seamlessly the massive notes are integrated, despite the insane alcohol profile. Under all of that flaming Archon exterior is a POWER OVERWHELMING that only a Dragoon could love. The core reminds me a ton of Adam from the Wood, that loveable rye type of herbaciousness, an almost Fernet meets caramel disgetif, a custom Prelude with plates that read FUSEL.
Some times you try a beer and feel that you aren’t leveled enough or maybe this guy will be more approachable later on in time with better post-storyline palate equips. NOPE. This will not calm down because there’s no order in this fracas and melee of fire and brimstone. Sadly, for a beer that I had unfairly high expectations, it failed to deliver.
Thankfully, most people have no clue what this beer was or why they were supposed to want it in the first place, so it’s old DDB left drinking beer SO YOU DONT HAVE TO.
On a pandering/self-fulfilling note, we hit the print goal for shirts and there’s only one day left to buy this repellent piece of fashion dissonance. So buy it now, so I can continue to dump money into beers that you shouldn’t be contemplating in the first place:
Great, 1300 words of bullshit. Here at DDB we just call that Tuesday and wait for the subsequent hate and ingratitude to cascade inward like a wave of manchild musk.