Check it out!
Would you drink a beer if it had the potential to erase a prior cringey memory? The collection of past regret sits in the hopper like coffee beans waiting to be ground. You’ll be folding laundry and then a twinge from your cervical spine: BAM now you’re thinking about that person you ghosted, the time you embarrassed yourself at a dinner party, a Facebook photo album titled ~ RaNdOm ~.
What if a beer could reconcile the past? With enough civet feces anything is possible. You could be sipping a light kopi luwak roast, the drying toast of lightly burned wheat crust, dunking a Nutella scone into the glabrous foam, but the past isn’t done with you. The hawk of noradrenaline grips upon the whale of the amygdala and the two shouldn’t be interacting. You feel shame. With some stouts, it’s time itself that repairs that deficiency.
The present imparts a strong sickly-sweet memory of present circumstances. Sipping the haptic enamel cup and feeling the waves of warming caramel crepe broth wash over you is helpful, but you were still cringe for so many years. Barrel aging fixes this dread. The complexity imparted is the distance of passing days. Fresh coffee becomes faded, and beans are ground anew. Chipped nail polish, spiked belts, eye liner, hidden folders of fan fiction, lip sync videos, filming prank videos at the mall, visiting a crush at work; it all integrates within the staves.
It takes a Noah Baumbach hand to unite the Hawk with the Whale. The Hawk, rooted in the Oceanside sky of excess, the whale, lapping in the delicate Flushing River. Suddenly with a little barrel- none of sensitivities of the past matter. Your present failings overshadow your past ones so substantially that you are reeking of espresso, peanut brittle, and Three Musketeers, cutting your own bangs, thrifting, saying things like “we need to normalize crying on the bus-” And suddenly it clicks.
All existence is cringe.
Stouts only help to shellac the imperfections. The world has a creamy warm swallow that drags on and even after the bitterness structures the sweetness on the frontend. Life is just a series of coffees and beers until the café is closed.
The drone of the drupe generators sent vibrations across the sticky alpine white sands of what was formerly the republic of Oceanside. The air redolent with Hawaiian Tropic, the tides long receded, it would be more appropriate to call this place CocoSide. At first the idea of rendering coconut oils into a power source seemed novel. Eventually it caused what the remaining locals deemed “the Coconut Convergence.”
“We got Coconut Candy, Coconut Syrup, Coconut Water, Desiccated Coconut, Shredded Coconut, and Toasted Coconut-“ the vendor barked out under the scorching Diego Salt Flats sun. What once seemed so confectionary, now produced an industrial smell. Coconut excesses, paying the price of their father’s pride. “Two rations of desi coco, one splasher of c-syrup” the miner replied, reeking of macaroons and mounds bars.
After a few shifts in the cocomines, you had to throw the Carhartt overalls away. It was so excessive. The hubris it takes to power the world on tropical oil alone. “After the G-modded/no husk C’s came about, we saw a spike in heavy mineral sands” a coco water surveyor explained, “so then you got deposits of titanium and zirconium as waste, water table recedes, and then all you can plant is, you guessed it, more coconut.”
That flaky almond joy sword of Damacles that drained all of our husks. Harvest the water, use the oil, the tides recede, plant where the tides once left. Everywhere was now a dystopian tropical industrial wasteland. They compost the workers’ bodies using the husks and splintered fragments, going out of this world the same way they came in rubbed down in slick tanning solution.
Pure luxury, the constant wafts of Macaroon, angelfood cake, every waking meal burnt brownie edge pieces, a long drag of lipids, coconut blondies, protein powder and lava cake. And nothing else, forever.
This was the fate of the world. So obsessed with the flaky flesh, they couldn’t see it was they themselves that were being split wide open for their milk. Some things are so good, that they become your undoing.
The miner strapped on his Shellmet and descended back into the root system, to serve the fields of Coco-verlords.
Fresno is a weird place. It is a sprawling city of over 600,000 souls with no real public transit system, unchecked by local governance, and carved up by freeways to reinforce the haves from the have-nots. People are relegated to their economic districts like central valley Hunger Games. But beer is a universal unifier.
The downtown Fresno area looks like something out of Fallout 4 with slightly less debris. Always eerily silent, even when a plague isn’t present. This raygun nostalgia is maintained by nonuse. This is where you find Tioga Sequoia Brewing. They are the best brewery for a hundred miles and they unite this diverse population with amazing beers across their entire catalog. Good beer doesn’t care where you drove in from.
Mint stouts don’t have a great track record. Perennial BA 17 is the high water mark, and you get into Aquadent and Tootsie Rolls from there out. The absolute best you can hope for, in merging these two flavor profiles is either 1. Andes mints or 2. Girl Scout Cookie thin mints. Both sound like weed strains. This beer manages to hit both, but lamentably, no weed.
Not unlike Megaman’s Dr. Light, the RUSH program is highly overlooked. This beer is agile enough to remain beer beer (cf. not a lactose tank) but substantial enough to support the ambitious FIVE GUM aspirations. The breakfast stout base provides roast and acidity from the coffee to reign in the alkaline aspects of the mint. Like a libertarian with an empathetic wife, one keeps the other in check.
The vanilla is lost in the chaos and the rum barrel lends a unifying caramel aspect, but, it lacks focus due to all the ensemble plot threads. The unified product tastes like flourless cake and after dinner mint. The black forest frosting still on your gum line as you swagger and grab a complimentary mint on the way out, nodding to the underage hostess to confirm YOU STILL GOT IT, swinging a chocolate stained khaki pant leg into your GMC Acadia. Crisp, clean, decadent, smooth, mildly unsettling but harmless: This is mocha mint.
In a city lousy with inequality, beer brings everyone to the same outdoor picnic tables. Tioga sequoia is doing the Lord’s work in the 559.
Buffalo is a hard place to live, with some of the nicest people around. This frozen land north of the wall has tolerant Bills fans, a populace sustained on garbage plates, sponge candy, and vinegar wings, and home to the elusive “year round shorts guy” trudging around Dyngus day kicking snow off his bare calves. Buffalo is love.
Thin Man Brewing is headed by a craft beer legend, Mike Shatzel. He is a publican who changed the scope of New York beer culture, was once stabbed, and is the reason that Zwanze day appears in that snowy tundra every year. TMB employs a shotgun approach of both leaning into and deriding hype beer culture. They will both do a collab with Other Half, and then release an American brown ale.
Imagine the audacity of a brewery releasing an export lager in 2020. In the year of smoothies, peach rings, quad dry hopped riwaka, purees and vanilla caviar, we have floor malted pilsner and hallertau. Unsurprisingly, this has a 3.8 on Untappd which is to say: it is absolutely excellent.
The hard water profile of a dortmunder merges with toasted breadiness of a Vienna lager, with the crisp white pepper and biscuit aspect of a helles overseeing it all. This is a garbage plate of german lagers in the best way. The closer is terse and imparts heart of palm and agapanthus. This is a beer for Edwardian blue collar workers, made in a town that invented the electric chair and once lovingly cheered for O.J. It has a ton of character and is refreshing without sacrificing depth or perspective.
If you’ve ever taken a piece of challah or potato bread and toasted it beyond soft into that crunch zone, you can see what happens to export lagers like this. They took a Czech pilsner and gave it more roast and breadiness, the result is extremely satisfying. The best part is: no one cares. Thin Man Brewing will make pastryhype to confuse and satiate the locals, their furrowed bellies pressing hard against the Kirkland jeans dam, spilling into a North Face fleece like a public works overflow project. This is all the flavor, without the cultural and physiological stigma.
It’s good, just like the people in Buffalo. Someone bodyslam me through a folding table.
When I initially tried @foxfarmbeer , I thought that they were a Connecticut brewery that made a fascinating barleywine. What I have come to realize since then is that they are an extremely competent clean brewery, that also happens to have a weird barleywine.
The gestalt of what FFB does lies in crispness. There’s a degree of refreshment and precision to all of their beers. The altbier is eerily historically accurate, their hopgame is gentle and errs on the side of delicacy, their pilsner, as expected is a lithe water cracker and Bermuda grass affair tailored for guys in Sperrys and women in Free People sun dresses with floppy hats doling out microagressions at brunch. They transplanted, still imbibe. It’s clean cut, toe to tip.
If OEC is the wacky experimental vampire laboratory, Fox Farm is a Salem witch traditionalist executing things like a refreshing classic recipe pressed in the pages of a timeworn cookbook your grandmother handed down to you. Pebble is endemic of this. Table bier, bier du pays, petite saison: call it what you want, it is crushable WLP 565 juice. Like the frictionless spotwelds on an aircraft, the lines between saccharomyces and brett are tightly wound.
One part lime Perrier, another part Lemon Powerade, it has the crispness of fresh semianiline leather in a BMW X5, but you know it is generational wealth. Connecticut things. The swallow is succinct and offers a terse casaba melon with honeydew. The acidity is almost non-existent for a mixed ferm beer and I imagine them having difficulty outright dumbing this down as a “sour” for the ruby-joweled boomers in Titleist hats darkening their doorway.
You can kill the entire bottle, you can share it, it is inoffensive, it is $10, you can waste it, with elegant packaging you can gift it to Crystal in accounts receivable whose hair always appears to be wet for some reason. In being so approachable, it can be loved by all and overlooked in turn for the same reasons. It is a farmhouse Rachel Leigh Cook with paintsplattered saison overalls, hair in a messy bun. OH NO WAY WAIT TABLE BEERS ARE LOW KEY HOT.
Well @standardmeadery has skyrocketed up the honeyphlle ranks since we reviewed them last year. Most of the ‘comb bros leverage homebrew tier meadery projects to pad their own pockets, predicated on inaccessiblity, but sometimes the buzz is justified.
If @schrammsmead is the Hill Farmstead of the mead world, taking classic expressions with novel interpretations on form, then Standard is the Wakefield. For Grace is an exaggeration of all pre-existing melomel models and ramps everything up. At 11.5% abv you wouldn’t expect that sheer Grape Fanta soda syrup sheeting and legs, or the intensely sweet grenadine/Torani vanilla pump to it. It needs to exist as a threshold indicator.
With a 4.7 on Untappd, this mead is well received and shared liberally. The vanilla is so present that it becomes a parody of vanilla in a waxy, sheetcake, dollop of fondant sort of way. Does it need to be present? That’s like asking whether cobbler improves the fruits it contains. It is dependent on context. The sticky currant feels like a massive napa cab meets a dessert wine, blackberry preserves, italian sodas with the mixtures heavily favoring the syrup additions.
I prefer drier meads. This reminds me a lot of Schramm’s The Duel. Same black currant, similar abv, similar format, similar untapped rating, but the Duel felt so delicate, and this feels like a glucose heel strike to the temple from Jon Jones. I’m dazed, but in awe.
The tiny cologne bottle format is perfect and perhaps lends itself to sharing. It is dripping in complexity and layers, but like a Charlie Kaufman movie, maybe that’s not what some people want. The saccharine aspects are lightly tempered by the black cherry, but they are folded into this glucose origami so tightly that the intricacy feels needlessly ornate. This melomel is undoubtedly well made. It pushes the “too much” for me, but I also couldn’t stop drinking it. It’s like when you stumble upon some deep link that arrouses some segment of the internet, it’s not for you, but you cannot look away. It is sticky and enveloping, and over time, bad for you. For some, it may not be deviant enough.
So @creaturecomfortsbeer has silently clipped along expanding, thriving, capturing Georgian markets and threatening Los Angelenos with a new brewery next year: but to what end? When they first popped it was all See the Stars and Existence drama. Then for a half decade it’s consistent top tier bangers in styles people overlook. But now, the single barrel saison renaissance is here.
American saisons in the mid 2010’s just became rebranded wild ales. Now people just expect bracing acidity and monoculture pageantry. if you give them something saccharomyces driven, let alone Duponty or Fantomey they will be pissed. Pedio and lacto is the name of the farmhouse game for many, because nuance is hard.
You ever see that guy at an open mic who is like “I’m pretty edgy, I like to push limits.” That’s a dude who doesn’t know how to write with any subtlety. They can’t create art without being offputting. Breweries like Floodland, Sante, Upright: all softness. It isn’t that other breweries lack the skill, it often is that they have some fresh out of the vial monoculture that doesnt have any cultural generational permutations or complexity to it. That New White Labs smell. Creature Comforts has nestled into this top tier pigpen with this ultra pillowy gem Single Barrel Saison no 64.
This beer is a masterpiece for the genre and the pinnacle of what I have seen CC accomplish to date. The nose is honeydew, lemon verbena, twine, construction paper, taste has such subtle acidity like a Julianne Moore supporting role. There’s a faintly herbal eucalyptus swallow, key lime pie filling, and this carb that is softer than the insides of a Canada Goose gilet. It’s truly 600 thread count, comfort a single male beer nerd will simply never purchase.
This beer shines as brightly as the heritage series from Hill Farmstead and hits almost within striking range of the Art/Samuel realm. Hyper focused simplicity masking the depth. It’s that good. I don’t know what 2021 holds but this will live rent free in my mind as a contender for one of the best of recent memory. Best part, dudes who drive Tacomas with Punisher stickers and wear Red Wings absolutely wont want this. It is our rustic secret.
This week we have some very special patreon exclusive content for the malt mavens: double barrel Anabasis pie review, with special guest pie analyst @cory_king_ from @sideprojectbrew ! I baked a DBA pie and shipped it on ice in a tiny cooler to Cory and he tried it and provided constructive criticism. We all learned something and we were left with a cliffhanger ending that asks more questions than it answers. It is a pie de force. Stay high gravity and DSOTMT.
There is a performative aspect in all things. Slipping on Tory Burch flats over kitten heels. The elongation of the calf has intentionality to presentation. Expectation can shape the performance. Pulpit Rock is a chestnut buried in the nitrogen rich Iowa soil, in the expansive shade of a goliath neighbor. So what is the celebration when a brewery turns five, carved by the undulating Hawkeye winds.
This release had a botched email system, with frantically scrambling employees attempting in a pandemic to right the perceived wrongs from an entitled fan base. For their liberties they prize and stouts they will maintain. 150 bottles of Five were raffled off. Each tiny party hat, a unilateral RSVP to a maskless share somewhere distant.
Reviews of the soiree roll in, laconic and dripping in coffee. It is a debutant ball for men with early onset diabetes complaining about the lack of sweetness in the sweet thing they savored for hardly a moment. This beer is coffee driven in a fantastic way. Hazelnut is the supportive mother who supports her son’s participation in color guard. It is shaped by the performance.
The barrel is there and buttresses the espresso and crisp brownie corners, like a pair of shearling boots with a slight wobble to the heel. Present, but not unfitting. Focusing on the vanilla is like parsing out background vocals in an Ariana Grande song. The organism dies under malty scrutiny.
The birthday was a rousing success. Distant recipients rested their bulbous chins on screen print tees and navigated prepaid data plans on android phones chortling “NOT WORTH THE HYPE.” For some, nullification is the performance. The denial of greatness is their contribution. A walking heckling North Face vest stuffed with insecurity. This beer is exceptional albeit unrefined. It’s unrestrained coffee slap chops to the clavicle.
If you enjoy extremely coffee forward beers that demonstrate the pinnacle of the genre, this is for you. If you enjoy validating your sense of self worth deconstructing your own expectations, then this is for you. The contoured cheekbones were a choice, smoky eyed Urban Decay, the performance of entirely avoiding a bottleshare. Happy belated birthday Pulpit Rock.