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The Eighth State Ember Just Rekindled The S’Mores Flame for the Ashen Ones

Then reach out and touch my strength

When designing EMBER, Eighth State loaded up a kiddie ball pit with hype orbs and pulled these out:

1. Peruvian Cocoa Nibs

2. Vanilla Beans

3. Graham Crackers (Honeymade?)

4. Old Forester Single Barrel

5. Boneflower

6. Michigan Star Thistle Honey

7. Charity (?)

8. aged 2+ years

9. less than 180 bottles

10. small format

And the collective wheezing of South Carolina beer bros was sufficient to divert a Myrtle Beach tropical storm. This is toxic behavior to make a beer like this.

So what is the ontological “goal” with all of that as the framework? I guess from the jump it is going to be nocturnal emissions and syrupy jowels a-salivating. But what’s the aesthetic goal? Near as I can tell: make s’mores. If they set out to make $250 campfire treats, then mission accomplished.

This is a glorious Zero bar melted over a slice of lowcountry buttermilk pie. Hell, even Pecan Sandies get in the mix. I feel terrible drinking it. First, it’s like an hour of cardio to offset these 12 ounces. Second, the gatekeeping and exclusionary wheelie of this type of review is inherent. You can declare anything if only 300 other people will hear it and nod approvingly.

The problem of beer consumption, unlike other arts that it is finite, discrete, and fleeting. Imagine one of the most decadent, sumptuously chocolatey fondue films was released and only 271 arthouse critics got to see it. The films ignite after the reel is spun. In those conditions did this sticky SnoBall confectionary delight really help anyone? Yes. It all boils down to context.

Let’s say you later get a peasant 8th State tick, a massive 1200 bottle run. You are diving into that collective August Gloomp chocolate fountain. The fact that the R8 exists reinforces the quality of the A4. The real takeaway is that no one NEEDS an R8. It is a loss leader.


No one needs this beer, but damn is it good. Unless you’re one of those “Bowties, suspenders, mason jars and Converse wedding” type of dudes with no identity, you can get by without this. The backhanded boasts “I DID A THING” “SO THIS HAPPENED” “JUST GONNA LEAVE THIS HERE” is the twinge of craving validation. This beer is valid on its own.

Burger King pairings.

Back to the chocolate ballpit

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Sante Adairius Effects of Change Redefines the Fruited Saison Paradigm

Shoulda used the ceramic Chope

I struggle to think who handles fruit additions better than @rusticales . At every iteration, the acidity on fruited saison and wilds is impeccably handled.

The instances where it is aggressive, like Appreciation, are done so in an intentional way where you see the scope of what they set out to do. The result is like a delicate hand painted balayage, wisps of summer highlights, stonefruit abandon of a toddler dropping pits on the ground.

Also, this beer is not just taste but it is oral and tactile. The carbonation has structure and surface tension to it. It isn’t the wispy latte art, it’s massive chunky mid 2000s foam party. Malfunctioning farmhouse dishwasher.

You bite through the meringue and the cap coalesces with the home run pie below. It reminds of the high-spelt offerings from Blaugies where you are carving through froth like some erotic tide pool anemone fetishist.

Finally, the tangerines: their supporting role is their strength. They don’t dominate and almost provide the citrus oil on the rim the enhance without distracting. A flawless old fashion will have a carmelized bunny ear peel, but it’s subtle. You can and will drink this entire bottle.

As a result, your life is worse off having tried it because you no longer just clunk through life expecting fruit to make Saisons intensely low in the ph realm. A realm of zest and skin and pith is opened. You can exist in calm repose of saisons changing around, you like a Yasujirō Ozu vase. You’re going to date women who stole their personality from Aubrey Plaza, but you won’t let the bracing acidity impart a lasting impression.

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Phase Three Brewing Arabesque is Their Fourth Album Masterpiece

Lithe

“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.

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Voodoo Brewing Empty Calories, A Beer for the Forgotten Moments

Calorically, You can have this or a Truly. None of this matters.

At first I didn’t understand the gestalt of this @voodoobrewery offering. It’s like an ultra clarified helles base to reduce the calories down to nothing. Then I started playing Nier and just chain crushing these.

Like products from Yum foods, this beer is vaporous, you can drill an entire bag of Munchies and you don’t feel great about it but you certainly aren’t full. It’s a way to occupy the passing moments in discrete ounces. The carb has zero retention because the beer should just be gone instantly. No single sip is definining but it’s the crisp dry unassuming series of legos that draws focus to the final product.

Cans littered everywhere, risky texts sent, a save file hours from where you last remembered. Also you agreed to go hiking the next morning for some reason. It’s not the most compelling beer of the year, but it’s the mod podge gloss for your decoupage that sets the passing moments of your life. A quick sip of corn chips and lemongrass before tossing a half empty can into the bushes in front of your AirBnb.

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Old Nation Brewing Pret: Wit Is Happening

Wrevity is the soul of Brett

If you’re in any form of beer media you always get the Hackiest question ever, every year, until forever: what’s the next big beer style?

We see two sharp seemingly divergent trends, low abv bottom fermented crushers and gristy funky juice. But what if. Now hold onto your fukn orange slices, we merged them. What if we tread in the top fermenting desert for 40 years of SKUs and nothing came of the conflict. No theological fermentation insights, just blistered feet returning to the first GW administration beleaguered and spent.

Maybe witbiers are back. Ah yes that shocktoppy grist, the original hazy slurry. This style is the ultimate whipping boy. Everyone points and laughs and it’s the punchline equivalent of people who dunk on imagine dragons, truly the lowest of effort. But witbier itself deserves cold contemplation as the ska/guy fieri/ICP fall guy of all beer.

With @radiantbeerco and @oldnationbrewing both putting stellar versions of this style into the market I want you to examine what pushed you away from witbier. Maybe your heel turn had less to do with the style and your own sense of development pivoting from the past in that delusion of ontology, like someone who folds their arms to System of a Down like the music was the problem and not your own latent insecurities.

This beer is so tasty. Valencia zest, burrata water, graham cracker, fancy jasmine water at an overpriced barre gym. Relatable. The frothy sustain is all the things people fetishize about London ale III but not $22 a four pack, and no experimental hops.

Leave your Hoegaarden notions in the past and return to twin pines mall Marty, we have clovey Libyans to fight.

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Angry Chair Brewing Double Barrel Dave Adds Refinement to Excess

Hair of the Dog Dave? UH TRY DOUBLE DAVE BRO

Angry Chair has long held the dripping pastry crown, mallow fondue streaming into the furrowed brow of its Tampa consumers. In an odd change of events, there is now poise and grace to the excess. Like someone with microbangs and a septum piercing who secretly shops at Kooples, it’s a soft indulgence.

Barrel aged Dave’s barleywine was too much for me. It was in congruence with everything Angry Chair does and that “dipping skoal while riding a Yamaha YZ250X dirtbike on the highway helmetless with your underaged girlfriend on the back” sort of Floridian panache. It’s bold but unapologetic.

The double barrel Dave’s is something more empathetic. It has this haunting cask depth that shies away from a residual glucose and leans in to topgrain leather, currant, date, and roasted sweet potato.

If regular Dave’s barleywine is a guy with a SALT LIFE sticker on his 4Runner, then double barrel Dave’s is that person who has a LetterBoxd account whose favorite podcast is Cumtown. It can be elegant or a red flag depending on your level of appreciation.

The carb is flawless and silky with sustain. The mouthfeel provides a casky dryness and mild heat that feels thinner for the better compared to the single Dave. The swallow is long and provides this sneaky link Snickerdoodle that you don’t keep in the house but that cinnamon cookie goodness is there for your moments of liver loneliness.

And yet, there is a sort of darkness to this beer. It has a sort of unsettling evil that not even post-modernism can explain away. If Angry Chair can ratchet things back, if Vodnik can exist, then why is their oeuvre always catering to dudes who bash on MLMs and constantly post about their minor crypto gains? Because platos sell baby.

The same guy who asks to have his bagels “scooped” will toil flipping BAIGCCS and damage everyone else. Furtively, the gems like this and Fionn go under the radar. Then a strange meritocracy of taste is established, a shibboleth for those who know.

Let the awful HGTV House Flipping Sect destroy both the housing and building materials economy. You can sip casky barleywine and watch it burn.

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Anchorage Brewing Triple Oak A Deal With the Devil is the Anti-Cheug

Faustian

There is a new pejorative term, “cheugy” that is used to describe wonky Millennials. It’s a descriptive neg that needles basic millennial girlboss grindculture energy. Some beers are good enough to exist beyond the scope of Generational disputes. Triple Oak is so fantastic, it supercedes GenZ criticism.

In a world devoid of inherent meaning, some people define themselves by what they are not. I might have LED lights in my ceiling, FILAs, and terrible thrifted clothing but I am not a craft beer cheugy. If something is inherently delicious, it is invulernable to these barbs. A barleywine aged in three different casks, sold in Alaska, with almost perfect oaky depth, intense prune and date heat, with an elegant Skor bar swallow doesn’t care when you were born.

Given the price, bottle count, small format, style, and all the factors surrounding TO, people are right to suspect it to be cheugy. When you have beer this good, with waves of Riesin, pumpernickel bread, and Sazerac crackle, it makes you question if you yourself are outdated.

Unlike the girl who boasts that she does coke “but has never bought it” and the dude who wears Allbirds and brags about his $41 crypto gains, Triple Oak is a radiant example of a stylistic pinnacle. It is likely in the DDB top 10 beers of 2021 if only because making fun of it is like playing ping pong against someone who went to summer camp every year as a kid. I can’t get out from under it. Each neg turns itself into a virtue.

The beer is overwhelming, but that’s where the malty coating and heat comes from. You may roll your eyes when they do a flashmob dance at a wedding, but Triple Oak is a throbbing radiant evening destroyer. There are no trends or fads than can contain it.

The 12oz experience is both concentrated and elongated, like people painted by El Greco. It’s scary but you keep returning to hit those Raisinettes.

To a generation obsessed with Van Life, a 12oz beer that sells for over $400 is peak cheugy. But intensity without compromise is the furthest thing from décor bought at Home Goods. Triple Oak seeks to destroy all generations equally, the anti-Cheug.

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Slice Turbo Nectar: WHERE’S MY SLICE, I want more than hazy rights.

Bro went and literally set a ring light wow

Somehow, due to my extreme negligence, I have been sleeping on Slice. Sure we know Moonraker, Zack Frasher, LINCOLN and the NorCal HellaHop squad. But I failed to ADDRESS SLICE.

A couple years ago people kept telling me BRO SLICE BEAT PLINY THE YOUNGLING. But I have a hard time taking dudes with orange juice IG accounts seriously, every square looking like Donald Duck concentrate fan fiction. I review hazy ipas only when extremely warranted.

Most hazy IPAs have this inherent aspirational hubris like a guy who wears a Ferrari polo shirt: “someday I will be known as the best.” Brewers candidly mumble to themselves cleaning oat slop out of the mash tun that IF ONLY PEOPLE KNEW we would be as big as Treehouse, NO. BIGGER. Than Monkish. It’s the kids who are out of touch.

Then sometimes a hazy IPA comes along that does do that. Oh sure it’s rare, but like your friend who only owns one outfit, it needs to be called out, Kyle.

Turbo Nectar really rewrites the hazy playbook with Galaxy and Citra hops. Apply ice to that hip since you likely just fell out of your chair. Sure, it has cold pressed satsuma, sumo oranges, some tangelo, and a creamy 50/50 bar middle but, like Anthony Hopkins in the Father, it’s the END that really tears you up.

Slice has mastered the art of maintaining resin, pine, conifer, the realm of evergreen Mendocino county illegal growhouses of yore, and binding that with the orange Julius mall walking pleasantries that trubmouthed masses crave. Bicameral legishazetion. The swallow is similar to those condom colored gummy bears and vibrant, but it has loads of split kindling. The result is fantastic.

Most NEIPAs have this goldilocks issue where it is either orange flintstones vitamins or pure Hugo Boss cologne and nothing to mitigate the two. Slice is like giving medication to a tiny Greek child dripping in Aqua Di Gio. So elegant, but so adorable.

Does this mean you need to fire up Fedex labels to get beer that’s like 22% better than you local options? I mean obviously. What else are you going to put on your one dimensional IG account that rotates 11 adjectives infinitum with the same 32 hashtags in the comments.

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Hill Farmstead Marie, A Helles So Crushable, It is Crushing

Those are water droplets on the nucleation sites, please take your spicy online certified beer server trash elsewhere.

If you really want to get film nerds cranking their hogs, start talking about Planimetric Composition vs. Naturalism. This is their “active vs passive pickups” type of debate that all niche hobbies have. PC shoots things in a deliberately mug-shot, theatrical, entertaining way. Purists will wipe the combos dust on their Michael Haneke t shirt and bluster that naturalism is the only way to create true art.

Beer is the same. The pastry world has this performative aspect that exists in a demonstrative way that knowingly goes outside the scope of “actual” beer. It’s for entertainment, not integration. No one drinks these for nuance or careful reflection, but they serve a purpose. Similarly, we have @hillfarmstead Marie, a beer so rooted in naturalism that it is the ambient noise of lagers. It is so soft and delicate, you feel like you are impressed upon so deftly that beer itself is modifying the situation in careful ways.

You sip and it isn’t enough. It isn’t distracting but Marie is fueling the evening, speeding it along. By not drawing focus it enhances the crisp, clear, floral biscuit world that you are inhabiting. Marie makes no demands to change, it just makes everything else, better.

It makes you wonder about the highest function of a beer: is it sheer drinkability? This may be the most drinkable beer I have ever had. Even Live Oak Hef has a lemon banana quality that can slow things in a minor way. Marie is baked madeleine frictionless lubricant. The ethereal carb is endless and breaking through the pillow decimates the beer below. It is a perpetual motion machine of your own consumption, with no energy loss.

Marie transfers the intent and challah/fescue underpinnings of what you are doing and naturally amplifies it. No one will stop what they are doing to irritate you with a lengthy story about the boil, the type of vanilla bean, the casks, the reserve society, the cryo. It is the most oppressively utilitarian, disappearing beer ever. For that, it is flawed. A beer that is this crushable, is depressing.

Marie is a helles summer camp of bucolic intensity where the romance has a natural termination point, yet you sign up every year.

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Oakshire Brewing Somehow a Life Beyond the Dream is a Faustian Gamble

Why’s it clear hang on

There’s a sort of Faustian gamble with IPAs these days. With every can you never know if IPA means west coast, or if the Orange Julius food court palates have so firmly dominated the style that NEIPA is just the standard designation. I often get a flood of relief when the pour hits the glass radiant and coniferous.

Oakshire is in Eugene Oregon and has the (mis)fortune of being surrounded by some of the most insane hoppy competition in any market. I remember Hellshire from back in the Blockbuster video days, when you could call into LiveLinks on your Blackberry. We have to go back, by moving forward.

Triple IPAs aren’t refreshing and can more often end a night than start one. “Somehow A Life Beyond the Dream” strikes a scaled up balance to this excess. The name sounds like a cross between a Rise Records band and a Tired Hands ESB. The nose delivers waves of the interior of a time machine with split pine, satsuma pith, raked underbrush, scorched grapefruit garnish on a $18 cocktail that took 11 minutes to make by a guy named Hyacinth who just bought a van.

The hops are about as predictable as dudes obsessed with crypto who don’t own a bed frame: simcoe mosaic citra Columbus. We get it. It doesn’t counterbalance with a fistful of crystal so by being even less structured it is somehow more polished. It has this niche loveable quality, sandalwood and POG juice. People embrace these offerings the same way that people in their mid 20s become obsessed with Trader Joes. We get it, you’re lonely and cooking for one. Leave us out of it.

Jesslyn will recoile and reveal those American Girl doll teeth when you make her take a sip and nod at how unhinged your beverage choices have become. TIPAs quickly become a solitary journey. In bathing yourself in the waves of aserose and oils, you are the lonely vape salesmen waiting for high school to get out, sitting among your glass cases and the danky torpor of nugs, grinders, and solipsism.

WC TIPAs take us back to the past and it’s in those quiet moments that Doordash orders just hit different. I’m here for it, but people will judge you if you eat a bisected grapefruit for breakfast.