Neophytes in the beer game love adjectives to justify their cravings. A well made saison by itself is pretty uninteresting since where’s the talking points for your tabletop gaming friends, no adjuncts what even is the point. Not unlike the bourbon segment, with equally blunted/rarity-driven palates, beer experts love anything with concrete aging descriptors. These same people may not know dog dick about what profiles they actually ENJOY, but TWNEY THREE YEAR PAPPIES has to be the best, bc most years amirite.
As a parallel, if you put a stout in an ZOMG 35 YEAR HEAVEN HILL BARREL, it immediately sets off a dirty bomb of ISOs flocculating the trade boards. What does a 35 year old barrel impart? I HAVE NO IDEA BUT THE MOST YEARS I NEED IT. The other component to the barrel age is the time spent in the barrel, and saturation concerns are thrown to the wind because longer aging = most best result.
Here’s what always happens, you look at the Untappd reviews for these beers that everyone sought out and then are unable to extricate the palm from face when you read the reactions. “So much wood, why” “its like pickels” “wow so hot, needs more time to cool down” “super boozy, dang, crazy to be drinking.” It inevitably becomes this hilarious recursive situation where the same dip shits who want something, don’t know they they want it, and then neg the same thing they wanted without understanding why they are dissatisfied. The aphasia across the board is staggering. If you require further laughs at this situation go check out reviews for Pugachev 25, Rare15, Omega Point, or any of the other hilarious examples of ultra-aging/ultra-casking. C.f. anyone who bought Old Blowhard from Diageo and was super proud of their 26 year old conquest.
Alright, now that I have denigrated the entirety of the readerbase, let’s get down to why Fremont has made arguably two of the absolute best beers of 2016. These beers are both complete stunners toe to tip.
Even the casual DDB reader will know that barleywine is life. Regular ass BBOMB started out phenomenal and has gotten better in every passing vintage and the Coffee Cinnamon BBOMB remains unparalleled in scope and execution. So where can you even go to improve upon that model? You gotta get geriatric as fuck:
time for some C&P for that benthic Saison Man:
“Ancient One B-Bomb is a blend of 18 and 30-month B-Bomb aged in 12 and 35-year old bourbon barrels. When we happened upon these rare, 35-year old bourbon barrels, we knew they would add an extra layer of intensity and complexity to B-bomb’s bourbon, oak, cacao, leather, and dark coffee notes. Each barrel contributes a different note and combining each barrel to create a coherent tone is a distinct art and true pleasure.”
They married the lively “young” 18 month casks with the AARP 30 month cask and the blend is a composite masterpiece. It has smatterings of the old, that leather, lacquer, shop class, varnish, caramel lumber, toffee barn framing, and industrial brown sugar power sanders are put to expert use. However, it still retains those extremely nimble old ale roots akin to Adam from the Wood, another cask champion, without feeling too depleted or thin.
The swallow is cream of wheat with heft doses of bananas fosters and a blonde coffee roast bitterness to the extremely long closer. It just resonates for days like arguing w ur GF in your marble foyer. Holy fuck the cost of entry though. Retail a 12oz bottle is $35, and secondary is, well start doing anal kegel drills right now. Does it justify this insane asking price? The two hearted, six pack contingency will pull out a dusty Powerpoint presentation on $ per ounce value rules and burn this in effigy as some testament to “beer culture is changing for the worse.” The cadre of beer dipshits with limitless pockets, tweed jackets and threadbare leather patches on the elbow from intently leaning forward, will examine their protests in that eyebrow-raised condescending manner that you would expect from two equally lamentable positions.
This is a genuine pinnacle of this style and genre. If trying something that constitutes the logical pinnacle is of little importance to you, then go obtain a comparable 30 month component barrel aged old ale off the shelf for cheaper. However, it bears noting, unless you have a trashfire wordpress site, you can drink regular/world class BBOMB and you likely won’t regret your circumstances. This beer is like scientists who invested all their R&D into “CAN” they didn’t examine the “SHOULD” knowing that this would set the bar for new imitations and pushing the barleywine game into borderline weaponized territory.
It is absolutely a crowning achievement and, get this, Ancient one Kentucky Dark Star IS EVEN BETTER.
No adjuncts, no additives, no bullshit horizontal marketing, just balls to the staves intensity. I will say at the outset that this beer will likely fall in the DDB top 10 for 2016 because it leaves almost nothing to be desired. The anise and black and mild tobacco profile adds depth to the insane tootsie roll and nougat swallow. The nose presents waves of cola, vanilla, a depth of roast and age like a well worn baseball mitt, with a residual sweetness like Kit Kats draped like a sticky tarp to preserve the experience.
With that much age, my main concern is always about the heft of the body. This is absolutely massive and chewy to the point of being a fermentative masterpiece. For this beer to exceed BCBS/Huna tiers of viscosity just gives a massive canvas for the all barrel treatment to do it’s athletic woody floor routine. It performs with a frothy wisp of popsicle stick crafts and woodiness but an underlying black licorice, the swallow is unyielding and remains present and reconstructs itself for reflection, like a Grand’s biscuit, each layer is pulled back and it recedes from sweetness into the cask experience that you are actually paying for.
One thing that needs to be understated with both of these beers is the mind blowing integration that is present. At 14.5%, the chewiness and complexity fully wraps the fusel notes in bubble wrap and lays them down for nighnight. You never feel that heat because there’s a prog rock 15 piece band completely overshadowing those muted tones. The trappings of other “ultracaskers” are not at all present here, in my estimation. No salinity, no wood overdose, no heat lighting up your chest like ET.
Unlike the KDS, or even the incredible Coffee KDS, this is in a whole different realm. It would be like comparing Rare Dos to the staggering Cycle DBR. It just performs on every level. There are not any analogues to something this expertly done and you know you are in some Mariana trench depths when you say that Goose Island Rare would be the “less good, more accessible, less expensive” version of the masterpiece that they have set forth here.
As a rider, let’s just assume that we already had that timeworn discussion of “BCBS is much cheaper and is world class” and we can toss in Parabola or whatever succor gets you through the day. That’s fine, but it also doesn’t make this magnum opus any less jaw dropping.