Firestone Walker Royal Street: a beer like nothing you have ever tried, there’s a reason for that


I want you to imagine a beer that so thoroughly accomplishes its goal, that each sip is worse than the last. Suppose you wanted to replicate a Sazerac cocktail so badly that you would sacrifice the customer in the process. Welcome to Royal Street.

I promised myself that I would leave these cocktail beers well enough alone. When I tasted this absinthe, floral, anise bomb, I simply could not. This tastes like nothing you have ever tried and perhaps there is a reason for that. In their Icarian quest to turn strong ales into speakeasy drinks, the wax wings don’t even drip the bottle. I imagine this started out as maybe Helldorado, who knows, maybe even Stickee Monkee. It really doesn’t matter for it was impressed into a life of cocktail servitude.

It is ambitious to take casks of cognac, rye, bitters, and absinthe and age strong ales in them. If Dogfish head has taught us anything, ambition doesn’t equate with deliciousness.

This beer is so singularly bizarre and confounding it is difficult to describe. The first sip is absolutely magical if only for how perplexing it is to drink Tommy Girl perfume. It is both herbaceous, dripping in peanut brittle and lemon pledge, and Pine Sol. It certainly doesn’t taste like beer, but the novelty becomes increasingly difficult to tolerate as you trudge forward.

The more you sip, you pull this good and plenty thread and things begin to quickly unwravel. This is the beer your coworkers try and go “this? This is what you like right?” And you stammer and explain no, things kinda like this, I mean, just not conifer fusel body wash. They nod and judge you.

The swallow is hot and clinical. It feels like a prescribed tonic or something to ward off “the vapors.” It feels like a cocktail, but certainly not a Sazerac. It is akin to some eastern European health serum made with Ararat and Ouzo spiked with Yuzu. Casual friends will cough and strike their chest with a closed fist after tasting this and wonder if you have taken your hobby too far because you obviously have.

I did not renew the $600 Firestone Walker reserve society but I am not here to tell you how to live your life. Go enjoy these herbal Mykonos kisses.


Ology Brewing Irrefutable Logic Macaroon Joy: Excessive Joy


London has a problem. The ultra rich keep digging deeper and deeper to create opulent mega-basements. The basement, a place for the shunned, disaster shelter seeking, celibate, who seek to poop in Pittsburg toilets in plain view, now the British have ruined that as well.

When you drill deeper into a subculture, the surrounding walls crumble, shooting muck and sewage up through everyone else’s property. In pushing the limits, your actions have consequences.

Ology is from Tallahassee, Florida so already I knew what I was in for. Add Macaroons into the mix and I braced my core for an underattenuated axe kick to the body.

I can handle adjuncts, I can handle Florida panhandling, but when you ramp both up to the absolute max, my pancreas wheels fall off. This is absolutely the thickest, undulating, intense semisolid beer I have had in a long time. There used to be this old yarn that Bruery beers were diabeeetus when they were actually more of a “Belgian strain high abv not a ton of sugar left” beetus.

This is like thinned pudding, or a mildly diluted center of a Boston Cream pie. It doesn’t pour so much as gurgles like BTs in Death Stranding. If the excesses of Mexican baked goods dabbled in Almonds, vanilla and coconut, this would be the Bimbo filling we would get.

To some, the center of a chocolate home run pie sounds amazing. For me, it was like 90 minutes of Godspeed You! Black Emperor. That’s too much. No one needs that much.

The barrel feels like those Dawn commercials where there’s some sad confused puffin just caked in the depravities of modern industrial disasters. You scrub and scrub and you can faintly read “Bu—lo” but it’s just so much batter to press through.

Hypnagogia is the transitional state between wake and sleep and this feels like a beer someone would make in that liminal space. Delightful, scary, unreasonable, completely involuntary. There’s dudes in Florida who think “Let’s Go Brandon” triggers people. It’s the simple excess that makes you wonder who enjoys it. To others, the ramped up overuse is the sweet spot they crave. This was way too much macaroon for my Nascar pit stop

Some excess makes no sense

Trillium 2021 three year blend 01: German Romanticism in a Glass

Dat green glass shows they mean business

Caspar David Friedrich was a German Romanticist who sought to bring the passion of nature back into modern life. He did this with stark landscapes of cold, austere portrayals of bleak places. It is a series of destroyed cathedrals, wrecked ships, and frigid frozen trees. Basically Dark Souls in painted form. It puts you in your place.

It’s that cold distorted sense of place that provides perspective. Trillium sits dotted across Boston in these icy areas, emulating bucolic Belgian ales, and it provides a stark contrast of seasons. You pop Habitat 2021 3 year blend 01 and immediately inhale with that American wild ale expectancy. The whiff of lacto or loss. Scents of brett trois and regret, like drinking on acutane, lips splitting from internal acidity.

But it doesn’t come this time, youre in the Romantic painting alone in a field. There’s a frothy riparian cap, insane cling and sustain like morning sky in sheets of celadon. Sure you get meyer lemon, tart sancerre, and a granny smith apple that hits the mandible. But it’s not acid, it’s like a simpler time, when you would drop your phone and the battery would fly out. Taking fake lambic pics on a Nikon COOLPIX and titling the album “*-RaNdOm GuEuzE-*” It feels old in a fun way. 3 year blend and oh great your Bumble date is talking about Astral Projection. It feels deep but you recoil.

It has the structure of a mid tier geuze but remains firmly rooted in American wild ph profile. The age of enlightenment was obsessed with “the sublime.” This doesn’t approach that exactly, but the pear and brie swallow is evolving. This is the same brewery that brought me that complete nightmare brett stock ale THREADS.

The Ruckenfigur in these paintings is a person seen from behind. It’s a technique where you insert yourself via third person perspective. It’s a way to give a sense of perspective. I haven’t been to Massachussetts, but there’s a sense of place to this beer. It is both soft and domineering like the Mormon church, and rocks my stomach like an order of Taco Bell wings. I am stronger throughout, and even wild ale seminary can be enjoyable.


The Eighth State Brewing Reincarnate is a Hype Stage III Energy Source

Get the soda stream

There’s this theory called the Kardashev Scale that ranks how advanced a civilization is solely based on how well they can harness energy. South Carolinian @the8thstatebrewing is said to be fueled by Myrtle Beach jetskis, pecan sandies bakery exhaust, and the sighs of beer traders trying to resell Westbrook bottles. It is efficient.

8th state has confusing marketing, crazy bottles, and quality that swings from god tier to Caro syrup enthusiast. These guys are converting all hype energy possible. A Type I brewer is a planetary brewery, they can use and store all local hype energy. 8S has surpassed this with advanced Neck and Neck technology putting them on a stellar stage.

The problem with putting these guys on a strict Kardashev stage is how erratic things are. This beer is fantastic, but it is dead flat. It’s like some prime directive to not allow it to shine too brightly. I don’t need some jubilant Logsdon Bellagio fountain but, this is “fiancé at train museum” levels of enthusiasm.

What remains is this Weller fever dream of sugar daddies, dates, Sazerac dripping fig newtons, and a slick long hot mouthfeel. To invoke raisin descriptors makes it seem too wholesome, this is a society that made a Dyson sphere and then leveraged that energy to make ultra powerful gas station boner pills. You respect it and fear it at the same time.

Nose compounds things with Old Fashioned meets Payday bar. Maybe this barleywine is operating on a different level of decadent consciousness and like some kind of Fermi-ented Paradox, we cannot recognize it as life. It leans closer to spirits and cocktails in heat and execution than its beer underpinnings would suggest. REINCARNATE: It’s like they want to simulate the experience of pulling straight from the barrel.

A brewery in possession of energy at the scale of its own galaxy, with energy consumption at ≈4×1044 erg/sec would reach Hype Stage III. A brewery line so long that it is unending, folding chairs and Eventbrite Onzr reactors that replicate procedurally. This isn’t that good, but it is getting there.

This was my final beer of 2021 and this barleywine sent me into the god damn stars, while being dead flat


Fonta Flora Birthdaywine, A BlackBerry Meetcute

Side project doesn’t even have 8 candles

An exclave is a weird little piece of land completely surrounded by land owned by someone else. They’re strange and unique. There’s usually some bizarre conflict story behind them that leaves you asking questions as to how that little dot got there. And sometimes farmhouse breweries brew blackberry wine barrel birthdaywines.

You see this bourbon, fruity, oaky, North Carolinian barleywine just hanging out there, surrounded by the other wild, saison offerings from Fonta Flora and it’s like, what’s the story behind this guy. Turkey has the burial site of Suleyman Shah inside of Syria and they’ve moved it three times due to flooding and ISIS. That’s some barleywine maneuvers.

If you’ve ever seen that dude from your high school post complaining about using self check out, you know the conflict that occurs when tradition hits modernity. This isn’t what Fonta excels in traditionally, but can they adapt to stickier times? Yes and no. This beer is unquestionably well made and is ambitious. It seeks to wrangle the bourbon casks while concurrently sussing out the fruit notes of a secondary barrel.

Some movies have a C plot and a D plot. It feels overwrought at times with the peanut brittle and Payday getting cut off mid thought by a brassy juicy upstart. They both need equal floorspace because they are magnificently done, but she’s obsessed with her berry publishing career in new York, what could she ever see in that bourbon cask from her hometown when she visits home for the holidays? These barrels have a compelling meetcute.

If you have had Who Hit John Grand Cru, or other fruit adjacent (Blackberry Finn not StrawJack) barleywines, you know the drill. If you have that second trimester palate that eats Gardettos rye chips with Malbec then yes, here you go.

You can follow every page your crush does and like all the adjacent posts so they see your name as liking them. it’s legal, its just a strange forced interaction.

In the end there is passion in the ambition that is laudable and absolutely worth your time. These old farm ales sure found love where they barley expected it, presented by Hallmark. An exclave for your heart.


Cantillon Soleil Du Minuit 2013 and 2015, when slaying whales the Craft is destroyed


What can meaningfully be said about a beer that costs 1800 euros? From the outset, sure it’s not worth it. But this price isn’t something Cantillon whipped up, nor did Akkurat, nor did the Dickensian cloudberry farmers so steeped in acidic juices, mired in the bafeful acidic sadness of harvest. Beer nerds did. It’s me, I am bitches.

This is a cloudberry lambic whose value lies in inaccessibility. It is a dogwhistle to how deeply maladjusted and passionate someone can become, while singularly demonstrating a depth in a niche hobby. This is an Ahabesque pursuit in the strictest sense. In pursuing something so massive, the white whale itself destroys the organic love of whatever craft existed.

The #2 beer on the White Whale list is the extinct 1999 Akkurat bottle. Onsite only, decades old, lambic festishists oozed wild cultures through their collective coolnips. So what is it about a salmonberry, a Malka, a bakeberry that elevates simple lambic to ungodly levels: it’s a consumable NFT.

No one opens these so the bottle creates the experience. The 2013 is certainly delicious, intense musk, light acidity, muddled eucalyptus, canvas, jazz apple with honeydew. It feels older and, admittedly, I have never had a cloudberry so who can say how far it strays from its source material.

The 2015 is something else altogether. It is as radiant and intense as Zomer, but with a blast of tangerine flesh, pith attached. Sunlight along the bitter zones with a tingle on the bicuspids, It is extremely good and delivers on what I wanted Baie d’Argousier to be. But in opening it, the bottle need not perform, with Soleil the taste itself is performative.

It’s extremely good. But it becomes solipsistic and guilt addling when a trip to Sweden itself costs less. The true value is something more primitive than cloudberries, its dominion. For some walking into a garage and seeing a cherry red 3000GT is more fulfilling than the drive.

I suspect the price tag reflects wishful fillment. A promise granted of lambic striving deep in the Senne loins. We are all seeking some solace and validation on this tiny blue cloudberry.


Odd Breed Mezcal Bugs: As Good as High Abv Wild Ales Can Get

Decanted and slightly canted

Firestone dropped wave after wave of wince inducing 10%+ abv wild ales to the point where I said that high abv wild ales are almost universally disgusting. @oddbreedwildales , used to having to shirk tradition saw this as challenge accepted.

They reached out and told me that they had a 12% abv anejo mezcal barrel golden ale that was delicious. My bullshit alarms were ablaze. Thoughts of acetic “cocktail inspired” nightmares danced in my head.

This is really tasty though, despite having the most absurd prompt ever. This is like the Florida wild ale equivalent of when the Pope asked Giotto to draw a perfect circle. Odd Breed Wild Ales flicked their wrist and made a peerless high abv wild ale. Giotto did this over and over, to the dismay of the brownie-palate popes in central florida.

Sure we could compare this to Ale Apothecary but that would be like a Giottothon when my family celebrates Happy Goya Days. When you can massage the abv to enhance and fold into the acidity and cultures, it is like the effortless arc of 360 degree meeting its logical conclusion.

If you have had a $16 gin foam cocktail that takes 11 minutes made by a dude in Veja V 10s, then you know things can be boozy and herbal and refreshing. This pushes the body of a Paloma, with the middle fruit and refreshment of a Goombay smash, and this medicinal vick’s vapor rub swallow that has the comfort of a 5th grade sick day.

Chablis meets a Penicillin. It is strange but not unwelcome. But is the safety of this cocktail emulation a flaw in itself?

Some people hate on Vermeer alleging that he cribbed his design, traced his aesthetic, but if the Girl with the Pearl Earring gets you hammered in the classiest way possible, can HR really write you up? It’s a family beer is what I am saying.

Vermeer died age 43 and in debt, never draw a perfect circle, didn’t even tick any wakefield beers, basically a failure. Odd Breed gives me hope for these Florida mouths.


Urban Roots Amburana Demons Run is Disliked by People Who You Dont Want to Share Opinions With

It’s tasty and weird

I always love finding beers that I love that also have rock bottom Untappd scores. I love the opposite as well. It feels good for your palate to be wrong.

Amburana wood made parabola return to its incredible complexity and elevates @urbanrootssmokehouse Demon’s Run to fascinating heights. So imagine my delight and awe to see that a bunch of dudes with the palate equivalent of chelsea boots didn’t like it. This beer is good, and I’m content to not be lumped in with the FOBAB single ounce mouthers.

Against the Grain [or maybe Alexandra Nowell?] pioneered these exotic staves. It’s that mix of exotic Andes wood and intense spice profile that it imparts that makes the finish long and gingerbread with spice drops. A little bit goes a long way and mixed with the sinewy body of this relatively lithe Demons Run you get a fantastic snickerdoodle meets gingersnap waft that screams holiday domestic disturbances.

If you’ve ever seen those dudes who nonironically wear a turtleneck and a chain but aren’t old enough to realize that they are literally the dick in a box guy, you’ll see that elegance takes self awareness. This is aware of what it is doing and plays a long roll across the bitter and sweet zones. This isn’t for the type of person who argues with a landlord to get their deposit back. It’s the lacquer and cinnamon enjoyer who commits mortgage fraud by renting out their primary residence as a spice air bnb.

The swallow is clean and Peter Hoey refuses to play the enhanced residual sugar game or capitulate to glucosephiles, the 3.8 on untappd is almost a pilsneresque “reverse badge.” Amburana is good and if you don’t enjoy it, maybe your mouth is the problem.


Wichita Brewing Co – Barrel Aged Chris Barley in a Little Coat GABF GOLD MEDAL WINNER

Focus on the barley

GABF awards are a dicey mix. Sometimes you can use them to find tiny breweries you have never heard of, other times it’s someone winning a “BRETT PUMPKIN WILD ALE” category with like 9 entries. Other times, it’s a hoppy beer category so saturated with entries that the most milquetoast, c20 malt, no-name combatants get moved on round after round.

Sometimes people win Best Barleywine, and then you have my attention.

Kansas has a proud pedigree of old school barleywines from the likes of Free State, Old Backus, heralding the silent drunken spirit of the great plains. Wichita is known for “air” and being the birthplace of Pizza Hut, so you gotta make your own fun. You can only visit Kirstie Alley’s childhood home so many times is what I’m saying.

This barleywine delivers much the way that Wichita State’s mascot does, it is a Shocker. This is such a fantastic dance of muddle fig newton, port and iced wine, tight lines with a silky fun ovaltine and raisin swallow, the cask doesn’t scream bourbon and instead leans more into a grapey Cognac realm that is complex for seemingly how light this is.

The swallow is long and oaky, peppering you with dryness and Gale Sayers currant tones. The abv is incredible well hidden and I am sure someone has ended up in the Wichita emergency room trying to climb that big ass Keeper of the Plains statue and shattered their kneecaps.

It’s a recreational beer is what I am getting at.

Everything doesn’t need to have some $300+ secondary price tag with $5 extra added WOM. Sometimes there’s just great beer made furtively in nice places with nicer people and you just exhale and throw rocks into the Arkansas river. You don’t need some good medal to tell you @wichitabrewing is good, tap the plains for white mana and set aside some money for couples counseling and go at it Kansas style


Revolution Brewing BlackBerry Finn, their best fruited strong ale to date

I swear it’s not dgm

Verdaccio is this Renissance painting technique where you apply so many thin layers that the end result is crazy complex and lifelike. This beer is a series of malt fruit layers applied endlessly.

In general, I think that “less is more” the higher the abv travels. You are granted a larger malt stage for greater expression and you can suss out nuanced flavors. An old ale doesn’t NEED peaches or oreos.

Sometimes more is just, more. When Revolution digs into the produce bin the results can be polarizing. On one hand, I often wonder what the bone dry barleywine and rye ales taste like before being fruited. Code Switch was strange but it was jammy and as thin as a wild ale. That is bonkers. Strawberry jacket and the fruited Deths were just inferior to the base beer, but more ambitious.

Then we get Blackberry Finn.

This is the best fruit beer Revolution has ever done. It maintains the underlying Saharan dry structure of a barleywine and almost “fixes” the emaciated malty ribcage with a winter coat of jammy preserves. Like wrapping a barley ultrarunner in a giant fruit rollup post marathon, it warms and sweetens in a sticky Syrah and dry Grenache way. Imagine dipping a Skor bar into an Uncrustable. It doesn’t need to exist, but some people do hit dab rigs.

Capitalism rewards innovation but does this novelty need to exist? Yes. It is squarely in the middle when ranked against the other Rev strong ale offerings, which is a solid place to be. It has more punchy fun, a juicy Welch’s quality, purple fruit snacks mixed with barely complimentary butterscotch and it somehow works.

So maybe BF is more like sfumato, blending lines as thin as smoke to melt into one another so that can’t perceive the layers. The result is a haunting eerie look into the multiverse of fruited strong ales that could have been. It makes things come both into and out of focus as you taste toasted pumpernickel and diner grape jelly.

Just reeking of smuckers at 3am trying to ride your child’s sleeping bag down a flight of stairs.