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American Solera Old Bendmaster Cannot Be Bargained with, Cannot Be Reasoned With

It’s liberating to lean against the cold shower tile and pop tiny imperfections on your thighs, that confirmation that you’re the aggregate of so many imperfect attributes. American Solera doesn’t relate to these moments of Toni Braxton vulnerability. Old Bendmaster, even less so. Chase Healey is the transmogrified sum of BANG energy drink, carved mahogany, and a garage stockpiled with 7.62x39mm ammo “just in case things get hairy.” There’s nothing gentle about this beer.

A barleywine from the fermenAutuer who rocked us half a decade ago with Bomb is not elegant. I like it for that reason. Modern beer marketing is elegant script labels and pithy attempts to stripmine the wine world for all its decades of making Gen X dipshits feel relevant with soaring prices. American Solera leans towards Rothko labels and 750cc fuel injectors. It’s oddly refreshing.

The beer is hefty and drinks akin to those 15+ thicccboiz, not a gentle DPS Tank with sea foam floors. It reminds me of Cream of Wheat with way too much middle brown sugar, comforting on sick days when you were going to do disposable things to the the dial up internet connection. The viscous body hammers hard like a Compaq keyboard, sheeting in decadent shame. It’s raisin and Sazerac to the swallow, smacking of pecan pie filling. Every aspect is so overdone that it is harmonious. It’s like how every dude with a terrible high school GPA bought a Dodge Challenger and you’re ok with that because there’s balance even in nature.

I killed the entire bottle and despite my cheeks flushing with Sugar Baby residue, I wanted more. It’s fascinating to watch American Solera continue to cover the spread and put Malty spirals into numbers when other companies are consolidating or taking consistent L’s. Let’s hope their success lends to widespread availability so they can submarine the secondary markets and change palates like the Fremonts and Revolutions in the past two years.

Here’s to life.

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Primitive Beer “And Now We Sparkle” is a compelling reason to hate Colorado

Where in the name of AmLam Gods did Primitive Brewing come from? Colorado is up to their usual tricks: not letting any of arguably the best beer in the nation leave their borders, secretly enjoying god tier Methoede Traditionale in hemp Patagonia microfleeces and Vibrams. Before we did our live show at Amalgam I had never even heard of Primitive. Eric the owner of Amalgam hands me a cardboard box of still AmLam and slaps the bag. It was really good, like Brett C martinellis, dead flat.

This beer is on a new level, just bought a new shovel. I had no idea that my casual Wednesday would involve something that reshaped the American Wild paradigm. “And Now We Sparkle” is a single barrel carbonated version of their regular, Michael Shannon flat perfomances. It is painfully good. This joins the canon of Floodland and Speciation and Odd Breed And Dweller on the Threshold that redefines what American “imitation” wilds are capable of.

The nose is a blast of canvas, thrift store boot section, garage twine, cut cardboard paper and popsicle sticks. It’s brett B and Drie for days. The taste has such fantastic integration of tangelo zest, orange pith, mealy overripe plum and soft Honeydew. The acidity has the restraint of a male ExCoGi performer. The drag is long and ropey but not in a sick pedio way, like nautical bindings. I killed the entire 750 instantly and wanted more which almost never happens, with anything.

I don’t have anything else to say, it’s that good. No need to hit the character limit. God damn, I hate you Colorado.

Also this goes live tomorrow and it is insane:

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Great Heights Brewing Bourbon Legend is a GABF Winner Worth Seeking Out

In the wake of GABF, some people scramble to seek out the 300+ medal winning beers to check the pulse of respective styles. Often the confluence of hypewater and award winners are two separate academic tracks, resulting in two different diplomas and educational bodies. Some winners are straight up confusing. There are times when I try medal winning beers and have no idea how a relic of history made it past so many palates to take home serious hardware in light of modern advances and changing customer demands. If you remember in 2012 when TAP IT brewing won gold for IPA, you know exactly what I am talking about. The styles least subject to the weathervane of capricious flatbrimmed palates tend to shine the brightest. Barelywine and oak aged beers in general are indestructible with a lineage miles long, so when Great Heights took home bronze for bourbon legend, I wanted to dip in that caramel Houston fondue. 

The beer itself is both historically on style and adds a flourish of modern casking to make it still feel relevant and delicious. This isn’t some tired BA Bigfoot hat trick, from which the children have long since moved on. It balances the year long Woodford Reserve cask with a clean, dialed in body with moderate carb so this silky Skor bar aspect at the outset. GABF medal winners usually excel in restraint and this beer is no exception. Instead of going super casked, or relying heavily on the English malts to massage out some creme brulee shell, it provides dark fruit leather and dates. It is very good and immune to the secondary market. 
The most impressive feat is that this feels lithe and nimble despite the ABV and complexity. A can is totally fitting for taking some blackout adventures out and about to punish the town with your presence, dripping in bourbon Rolos. Houstonjuice to the fullest. It could have a longer finish, the cask could be more pronounced, it is a touch almost too attenuated, but these are minor complaints. Boohoo my Civic Type R doesn’t come with a full sized spare.
This is excellent and a testament to the nuanced ability to merge old world precision with the American modern predilection for excess. Scrape those sticky pegs, pump the brown sugar NOS fogger system, crack my barleyblock wide open, but make it a daily driver. Finish a beer with 16 platos and youll have a festival hit that no one wants to drink outside of thimble format. Make it too hoppy and dry or “thin” and you will buck the instarone crowd who are as dismissive as the line for Austin BBQ is long. 
Bourbon Legend is the beer for your coworker obsessed with talking about how many Audible books he “read” this year, classically letting you know how if he could, he would not even own a car, hubris leaking while clutching resuable bags striding into Whole Foods confectionary aisle listening to non-fiction on Airpods. A person of taste and decorum that can be offputting in the subtelest way but the alternatives are far worse.
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LGVLABTOKF: Surfridge Brewing In El Segundo

Ok it’s time to play another round of Let’s Go Visit LA Breweries Today Ok, Fine (LGVLABTOKF). Today’s brewery is only ten days old so let’s put this newborn through its baby legged paces: Surfridge Brewing Company Brewing in El Segundo. Laying foundation, El Segundo has become this Shasta Manhattan Beach of sorts, expensive as hell, nestled in between the airport and the Chevron refinery. A wealthy beach community dripping in Shimano clip in pedal shoes and triple wide strollers, lacking the pure selfishness of the ultra luxury seaside hamlets that LA can provide. It is against this backdrop that this new brewery emerges.

Upon entering you are draped in several interlocking Etsy boards worth of inspiration. The black velvet text boards, wood carved HOP BAR complete with swingtop apothecary jars, innumerable tap handles carved from jade and every surface gleaming in whites or lacquered wood. It feels like the hotel lobby of some gaudy Miami SLS endeavor. The fermenters are inexplicably lined up in this arctic linen fever dream along the wall, outside of the brewing space.

The beer is fine. Really what type of morphological originality can we expect from a brewery that still has the new brewer smell? The kolsch is clean, the pale ale is their best beer and feels like a benchmarked Sierra Nevada pale, everything is as it should be. Then you see it, out of the corner of your eye, you can’t even process what tiny residence of reclaimed wood has been set before you: a child’s seaside cabin playset. This brewery not only has a full on child’s area with affirming posters like YOU ARE LOVED, but a no fooling tiny shack to play in. This is truly next level Maidisynn maneuvers.

While still reeling from the insanity of this industrial day care facility, you look at the carrera tile wall, when is it not subway tiles. When is it not ripped straight from Magnolia Journal: Hop hottles. That’s right, here for the usurious sum of two american dollars you are provided with a steeping cage, a pinch of simcoe, and careless abandon. They let you dryhop your own beer. To what end, it is hard to say. Maybe someone likes the ultra faint olfactory presence of old dry hops in their beer for what amounts to a negligible rest.

Maybe this place was designed for that crescent blade of receding hairlines and Under Armor shirts, the nostalgia of fading virility transferred into tap recitals and Dodge Hellcats and pop warner. Perhaps it isn’t even about the beer at all, the 30 empty draft lines each a dry reality untapped, beers to come, experiences that may never fill your glass. It is a place to slide slowly into comfortable track home mediocrity, Sonos speakers, various smoking and grilling components, green eggs and oiled baseball mitts tucked under mahogany Ethan Allen twin beds.

It sure isn’t about beer at this point.

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Basil Hayden’s Ten Year Is the Most Underwhelming Thing I’ve Ever Put in My Body

It’s time to play another round of: Was This A Colossal Waste of Money? In the case of Basil Hayden’s 10 year, oh god yes, this money was practically lit on fire. Basil Hayden’s normal edition is already a pretty dumb purchase unless you have the toddlerest of palates. If you love the Beam Suntori catalog, for the same money you could buy knob creek or Bakers or for a little more, Booker’s.

This is for someone who is in a Brewster’s Millions situation who needs to waste money. Who really wants a watery 80 proof bourbon diluted down into suntea? Basil Hayden’s is for your coworker who reads Men’s Health magazine and enjoys Quiznos. The type of person who reads a column written 3 years too late about the types of fall bourbons they just have to try. This is the training wheels of even the most gentle bourbons like Eagle Rare 10, so much so that its is unclear whether the person who buys Basil even likes bourbon at all. The man who nods and grips a Michelob Ultra until it is half full and room temp. It’s fine we get it: you don’t enjoy drinking.

The nose is ethereal and almost nonexistent, nestea and the ghost of discarded Marlboro reds dropped into a wounded soldier. This is the high rye recipe that they use in Old Grand Dad, but it costs like three times as much. I overpaid at $75 but everyone overpays for this, really. The age statement does nothing for this beer and borderline makes it worse by way of shattered watery flowerbomb expectations.

The taste is completely watery and two oaky pumps of disappointment before it dribbles tepid and weak down your throat into leathery completion. This is your ambitious friend who drinks all their water a mile into your hike and ruins the rest of your pace with perpetual rests. If there was a lemon pledge flavored la croix well here it is. It’s so short and fleeting. BH10 is the “planed lumber” scented Yankee Candle that can barely fill the seedy basement you live in but it’s basically your own apartment because it has its own access and your nana never goes down there.

Basil Hayden’s used to be 8 years age stated and then went NAS in 2014. Now it’s supposedly 6-7 years so it amounts to papa watering down the Booker’s in your baba so the spicy spice doesn’t ruin naptime. It’s not that this is a waste compared to other bottles in its segment, it’s so god damn boring and diluted and pointless that even savage white label Jim Beam has a more compelling presence. This is the bourbon world taxing preexisting consumers to court Condé Nast neophyte palates who write about how “authentic” ethnic food is in Yelp

reviews so white that they reek of OxyClean. The ten year version amounts to a stupid bottle you buy your boss because it’s exactly how much you feel comfortable spending and the guy at BevMo makes $11.00 an hour and doesn’t drink this shit either so here you go the guy said it was good you like bourbon do you like this he said it’s rare supposed to be smooth happy holidays, do you use that frosted mug I got you last year? God damn this Basil Hayden’s ten year is trash.

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Forager Brewing Kitten Treats is too vibrant when it is here, and saddening when gone.

Forager Brewing is one of those actors who takes AAA roles in Pastry feature films strictly to fuel their indie arthouse love of saisons and weird strong ales. For every Augustus Gloop craving MILLERZZZZZ, there’s a true gentlewoman of class coveting the lowkey gems. Kitten Treats is one such purring delight climbing up the scratch pole of public relevance. It is good, but not in the way you would expect. The first Kitten Treats was this weird almost Oud Bruin meets blueberry affair. The name of this beer feels like those pandering unoaked Chardonnays you see in the grocery store being marketed to stepmoms in Chrysler Pacificas, angular choppy hair feathering at the nape of their necks, each gripping a phone case that opens like a book.

The taste is anything but. Kitten Treats b2 is a return to standard form in Forager’s nonstandard way. This is a massive VSOJ meets Anabasis in execution. Instead of if you removed all the linestepping chocolate stout aspects and subbed into robust rye barrel character and vibrant red fruit. You have 24 months in FEW barrels, so ultracask and scoop your liverbox.

While technically a wheatwine, there is so much barrel character this feels almost like an overoaked/longboil barleywine. It is wildly saturated and more concentrated than ice wine. There’s none of that playful caramel, this absolutely explodes with clusterbombs of figs, prunes, dried tannins of forgotten harvests. The nose is so much Sazerac and rye spice, it feels in the 15%+ realm and you have to let this warm to 60 to really unlock the experience. Otherwise it’s like only getting the first ending in barley Symphony of the Night.  

The swallow seats even experienced drinkers in how layered and long it is. This beer has the warm comfort of holding a pet, running your fingers over the small sternum grooves, memorizing the tiny frame until it is gone and you are left with a small marble of grief rolling around in the cigarbox of your mind that sometimes clips the edges and reminds you of the compliant embrace of that small friend who is gone forever. You want

more of this, but it is too much all the same. Flambeed raisins might be something you take for granted, until the $40 bottle is gone. This will be too intense for many, but lean forward into the incredible heat, it’s worth it.  The alternative is a life of wholly mediocre experiences, being locked into a long term lease with a former lover because neither of you can afford a new security deposit