“Arabesque” is a ballet posture where you stand on one leg and extend the other one horizontally backwards. It is extremely common in Lake Zurich to see dudes in New Balances and Carhartt gear limbering up before DMV style line releases. It is graceful and poised.
But not this time. The helicopters for this barleywine must remain grounded as this is an online lottery. The days of leveraging customer desire to get the news vans out may be a thing of the past. Shaun Berns and the crew are evolving.
In a way, Arabesque is perfect representation of the next sub-phase within the Phase Three canon. Like flowing lines and interwoven patterns on the design that shares the namesake, Arabesque is extremely detailed and expansive.
Think of your favorite “fourth album” from an artist and how hard it hits. This is P3’s fourth album. A refinement, the narrative shifting into maturity. If the sophomore jinx was cured with mallow and maple and peanut butter, this is a softer, moodier malt. It is Transatlanticism in a cask. Kid A on bourbon. This is probably the best beer that I have ever had from Shaun Berns, a malty coming of age screenplay in a glass.
The beer manages residual sugar in such a deft way, it is hard to align it with the Shaun that was at More just a few years ago. The degree of currant, prune, fig newton is outright responsible. It is decadent in the way that a $$$$ restaurant on Yelp will entirely avoid Tiramisu and Lava Cake as wholly pedestrian. The mouthfeel is spicy with the 18 month cask rest, but ties together a Syrah meets Graham Cracker swallow. Carb retention hangs on like you, in your Notes app, writing down all the people you’ve had sex with, but using strange abbreviations because you never know.
Closer of this beer lingers long and runs a double helix of Cracker Jacks and grape Hi Chews. The entire thing does what you do not expect, especially not from Phase Three. It’s like when she asks you on a first date “what time were you born” and you know it’s gonna be rough sailing ahead. But you stick it out.
Bourbon make out sessions to the fourth album just hits different.