On average, I will review around 500 new beers each year. Many are just good, some are comically flawed, but only a choice few are truly exceptional. It’s like your Waldorf salad of oddball coworkers. @southerngristbrewing Wooden Teeth bites down in that masterpiece category.
I drink a lot of barleywines and eventually the qualities themselves become parodied. You wince when you see “BOURBON SOAKED RAISINS” or the bromidic “ROLOS” but some beers can transcend these descriptors with malty innovation. The wheated Weller barrel accomplishes some incredible tumescent feats of wood not by sheer time (14 months) but contact. Like living with your boyfriend during quarantine, sometimes too much contact can be embittering. Why is he constantly shouting about the gulag?
The cask is the true star in this dental adventure. Any hop presence is as absent as an Epstein cell guard as malt and booze run the roost. The custard and bananas fosters sweetness is tempered with a lightly bitter aspect from the grain bill that combine to form a pralines and caramel voltron. Some experiences hit so hard that they send you backwards in time like Billy Pilgrim to review the nuance, like some kind of Ghost of Skor Bar Past making you reflect upon barleywines you loved and lost.
LIke most experiences that you pine for, it is rare and fleeting. 1 per person, 300 bottles, the first time she lays her head on your shoulder while watching The Good Shepherd: it’s tough to replicate. The finish lingers and imparts a Sazerac charm and you end up feeling like one of those weird weeds in Ursula’s cave, craving that touch again. Like the past, I wonder if Southern Grist can even recreate this magic. Tony Rich Project just hits different.
I would be surprised if this does not land on the DDB top 10 of 2020. The entire endeavor has me flipping through Tick Yearbooks ruminating on old barleywine crushes, Wet Seal pants and gristy Tommy overalls with bare bourbon obliques showing.