Holy Mountain has an unapproachable pedigree in the saison/fruit wild game, and I am told their hop harnessing is also on track like a pair of Pumas. I enjoyed the Midnight Still offerings, but I was curious to see what they were capable when it came to the massive, hulking toffee requirements attendant to the barleyworld. Like a low mileage lease, I wasn’t completely sold.
Things went from malt-chub to full alerection when I saw that it was casked for over a year in bourbon then racked for finishing in cognac barrels. Of course, a bunch of people showed up in Seattle and hung out in a rainy train yard and beer nerds entitlement pounded like some Roland 808 drums. But was it all worth it?
This beer is god damn delicious and to emerge on the scene with wares that have Joycean complexity coupled with brash succinct Hemingway toffee notes bridges the sweetness vs barrel paradigm that so many breweries stumble over.
The beer pours so god damn dark that is flirts with that Anabasis realm where you wonder if its just intense saturation from the staves or if they up and used fucking chocolate malt. Wispy carbonation crackles like some brown sugar eggfizz with Beyonce legs flexing. Like a fashion student girlfriend who just came home from Milan, there’s much to unpack.
The “wet horse blanket” or “ALMOND JOY IN A GLASS” phrases attendant to beer styles that make you wince with hack prose evokes the “BOURBON SOAKED RAISINS!!!1!” monicre that is inherently cringey, but true. The cognac provides sweetness on the waft and a touch of red berry and pralines. The bourbon profile seems more dominant with planed lumber, Skor bar, surprising degree of smokiness/terroir and mild char.
This beer has the misfortune of entering the fray and constantly being compared to a melee of God tier barleytitans due to the PnW proximity. Let’s address them in turn: the cognac is more refined and tacked on like a dual wing that actually exerts downforce and helps the power from the bourbon/wood get traction. In this way it’s very unlike b1/b2 of A Deal with the Devil, traction control is engaged. This is better than Ancient One BBOMB because it takes more risks, is more vibrant, has a longer caramel frap drag with shop class tones. It is inferior to Brew 1000 and Old Bridge Rider because it feels less integrated and nimble. Hand of Glory is more of a Zangief to their Vega. There’s too many subplots and B story going on and the main show is the English presences that should have the folds turned inward like elegant Maris Ottergami. You can detect the seams but it is a product of hazarding something unlike any of the “traditional” entries in this realm. If you want some affordable, predictable shit, go buy Clown Shoes Billionario and call it a day. This is blazing a totally different trail.
Barleywine is life and this is a laudable existence through and through. An examined life that embraces prescriptivity over descriptivity, get u sum.