I would be hard pressed to recall a brewery that has more pre-release fanfare than Private Press Brewing. If you have your AARP card you might say Rare Barrel, or if you paid your Joliet mortgage reselling MoRE bottles, youll say PHASE THREE with cake batter on your goatee. This is something else entirety.
Private Press is the brainchild and product of former Jackie O’s maven Brad Clark. This brewery is not a company with a reserve society, it is ONLY a reserve society. It functions in the way that many Napa hype wineries have squeezed max profits out of divorcees in Free People sundresses and mid-50s GenXers who wear Titleist hats. But who are the easy marks for Private Press? In a strange turn of events, it appears to be people who want to actually drink the beer.
I have been repeatedly asked “Can we get more tasting notes about those PP bottles, your podcast is terrible?” “When is the Brad Clark interview, is there a version where you don’t talk?” etc.
So here goes. Out the gate, the bourbon barrel aged vanilla stout, Beyond Forever, aims for balance and complexity over a gauche wafflecone wheelie. “IS IT THIN THO” will be the chief refrain amongst the type of people who need “Fight Club” explained to them. If your palate is so demanding for glucose that you thought Appervation, or Parabola, or BCBS Vanilla was too thin, then yet, this 12 plato stout is “too thin” and hopefully they just bottle wort for you to enjoy. Instead the emphasis is on a tootsie roll, ganache, flourless cake that never feels excessive. The cask for a component blended beer isn’t intrusive and structures the sweeter aspects with some oaky underpinnings.
The barleywine, Life is Round, is even better. Like crushingly good. It has this disjointed first taste, intermission, swallow format that covers the spread with deft precision. The first taste is almost THE OBSCURE sweet with burnt brown sugar, chick O stick, See’s scotch kisses, the mid palate rests the game with a dry oaky presence that zambonis all the c6h12o6, to set the stage for the incredibly complex swallow of port sherry, ice wine, dried cranberry, prune and resonant dry Sazerac closer entreating the next air to ground combo of sip swallow.
Private Press is doing something ambitious and remarkable, time will tell if the current beer palates fetishsizing excess are ready to actually enjoy beer again.