Dark Sky Brewing Destruction by Definition will Challenge Pastryphiles, to Do Better


Some people are worse off when they try to improve things. There’s always a dietary hallpass right after you work out. Or perhaps you know the type of person who goes to therapy once and then psychodiagnoses all their personal relationships, damaging them. Power and self-responsibility.

Dark Sky Brewing has earned one of the top spots in the quickly evolving Arizona beer market. But do they have the control to push those Flagstaff sands to greatness?

Arizona Wilderness had that wow power, but then slowly nuked their fanbase and now serve expensive eccentric beers to GoDaddy employees in Gilbert. Power without control. DSB is not that, and this beer is proof. If you want a safe barrel aged English barleywine, just aim for the same UK desserts that get the pastry boys BMI addled frames a pumpin. This beer takes a different route.

The less common, less popular, more complex road in barleywine is that tanned leather, tobacco, dried fruit, and canvas realm. If people have to work for it, they usually Untapp out. This folds its arms and deals hot, cask driven, lightly oxidized slap chops right in your brulee hole. In pushing for a port soaked, pruney, oaky experience it will alienate middle-tier drinkers who just want Werthers.

It is liquid gatekeeping. If you’ve ever seen one of your most selfish Facebook friends confidently announce that they are “cutting out all the toxic people” with zero self-awareness, then you know this degree of improvement by substraction. Destruction By Definition has mild to low carb, dried apricot, dates, and closes with a wafty fig newton interior. It is your extremely erudite dinner guest who asks questions instead of drawing focus. That knowing control improves everything else.

Millennials can’t afford homes so they vent through pets. Now dogs are children and plants are pets. With the fast validation of smoothie seltzers, GenZ will fold inward to spend every dollar on themselves and travel. Barleywine will be the victim. Why commit when you can smash a three hop TDH hazy with a new label every week? It’s the haze for me, go off, PERIOD, no cap, because DSB woke up and chose MALTS, not me checking in 2 ounces.


Stillwater Premium Deconstructs the Postmodern Saison Narrative


Filling out a greeting card is the hardest bit of writing you can be tasked with. Too much space for simple congratulations, never enough room for actual thought. The medium itself is a constriction.

Table biers have similar restrictions. The low abv and bone dry character ensures that you’re always cramming the brett profile against the edges, trying to cram in yeasty sentiment illegibly. If you say too little, you are a callous farmhand.

Postmodern Beer would imply that this has a metanarrative, a deconstructive purpose unto itself. I don’t feel like a pillowy soft crushable Biere du Pays really turns the focal lens on fermentation as a platform. This is Georgian at best.

The beer provides a soft enamel gloss over the edges of more complex, acidic saisons, but affords a mixed ferm profile that pulls it from the bubblegum hefzone of American westmalle strains. Maybe in the reconciliation it is that breathing space of beer prose, an E.M. Forster of sorts. Aviator Nation Divorcees in grating Tesla X’s and condescending tweedjacket bros can enjoy this alike.

Maybe the pivot from the previous gaudy “post-prohibition era” version of this beer is nod to the changing palates. It feels lagered, but saison forward. Brett, but with a lake-vibe to it. It brazenly spins the macrolager into bold places with cracked pepper, lemon meringue, construction paper, and minneola. If you’ve ever seen a woman who carries an iphone with no case, you know this recklessness. That rawdog disregard for peril, luxury by way of destruction. It is the truest flex.

So by giving us less, the greeting card connotes more. The saison jazz notes that aren’t played are the most important. You will feel firmly rooted in terrible baseball park beers, but pulled into a zone of deeper green glass appreciation.

If you’ve ever had a friend who shares album screenshots as Instagram stories, you know how concerning this can be. No one wants that, why are you doing this to us. But once in a while it hits, and now you listen to Father John Misty, or Behemoth, or drink grisettes. Let this be the irritation that pulls them into the fields.


Eighth State Brewing Cypher Just Reverse Engineered Stouts into Cybernetic Quad Implants

You reach a certain point in life when every friend is obsessed with either air fryers, weighted blankets or instapots. It’s harrowing. With a sip of heavily casked stout, you can sit in gentle repose and rest assured they think your interests are equally lame if not vice-addled and shameful.

8th state had that masterpiece Neck and Neck, some other fantastic barrel aged gems, and then an innumerable lineup of procedurally generated non-ba pastry ales that were assembled at random with the same six adjuncts being pulled like balls out of the hopper. Finally, the BALs are back. The staves aren’t just back, they are completely saturated. These rings are ready to bust.

This beer flips their catalog on its head and shows pure unstepped on skills. This is a single barrel of Lot D buffalo trace, and this massive stout sat in it for 2 years. 230 bottles is a bold gambit and it paid off in a huge way.

To some this might even seem regressive, quadlike with the bonkers oak interplay. Those aren’t your daddy’s esters. This has an IED of prune, fig newtons, something Suarez would probably call “MACERATED CURRANT” and waves of black cherry fruit leather.

The taste is so far from pastry I can’t even believe that this is the same brewery that spins sugar for all the carnival palates. It is so delicate and dark fruit is sused out of the seams. It is wholly unique and I don’t think they could replicate this if they tried.

Dessert flavor mapping is pastiche, but taking a massive stout and reverse engineering old ale and Pannepot tones from it, that’s like using Heelies to slide into intercourse. Who is doing that. Common to most ultra casking you get this briny “green olive” taste that Napa Cab techbros like to throw around right before they say “A U S T E R E.” But it is all that.

Carb is dead still. Like from the barrel itself even. It is ugly and lets you run a Techdeck over its ample stout teddies, tolerant with the disrespect. It remains poised and mature.

To the rest of the world, you are a joke for caring about a 230 bottle ultra casked stout. But do you want the respect of people who own a Nescafe and treat going to Bed Bath and Beyond like an erotic experience?


Side Project/Weldwerks DM Is Equal Parts Excessive and Phenomenal

It’s difficult to manage excess during isolation. Every swing of the pendulum is either binging or some austere course correction, neither can last. Side Project doesn’t need any cajoling to roll out massive beers. When Weldwerks is involved, it’s like that friend who constantly quotes David Goggins but cant do a pull up and always offers to buy blow at 1am when no one else is on board. You like the guy but, things get out of hand.

With Mamanoche, I saw a glimmer of restraint. Perennial, that calm chaperone telling those Colorado boys to not release peanut butter discharge onto some guy’s Croft and Barrow flannel. This time there was no oversight. If you have two toxic people who both recently read “Girl Wash Your Face” and some buttery Chard then things can spiral quickly.

This beer is messy, but in a fantastically entertaining way. The carb has zero chance of crackling through the waves of lipids, oils, floaties, coagulated protein, and lip balm. The white tufts bob silently in the quay of a jet black Pyongyang pond. Imagine how good the beer has to taste to warrant a 4.9 on Untappd despite this insane presentation.

It is crushingly good, despite its excesses. You can be self-harming with self-help just as easily. This pushes so many benefits that it feels like that guy who recently discovered Robin Hood, talks about his silent time at 5am, sleep monitor, Kombucha detoxes, and ever shortening IF window. It’s grating to be that good. This beer is that good and it is painful to be around.

The beer thankfully isn’t as thick or heavyhanded as Starry Noche and maintains the Derivation roots which should be on the upper registry of THICC for most. Viscosity sheets in opaque mahogany, the nose is Macaroons, Samoas, burnt Tollhouse cookies, and a long boozy pull of drying oak akin to PHC8 or Makers cask. The taste is lipgloss waxiness, Baskin Robbins thigh gripping, Sno Balls, and a greasy coating on the bicuspids.

It’s so bad for you that the odometer rolls over into “worth it.” If your hipster boyfriend takes you thrifting all day, somehow, his selfishness turns into empathy. The excess is worth it because the end result is a singular, irreplaceable experience. At $600 a bottle, it better be.


Forager Brewing Fans Allowed them to Release Riffs and Filters, Thank God

Hitman3 is much harder with this difficulty setting

Deep down most haze brewers really want to brew Saisons. Ask Jean, ask Henry, ask the Bissells: they’ll tell you. When they drop elegant, soft farmhouse ales with a careful attention to water profiles they release them to Tampico enthusiasts almost apologetically. Everything in beer is a compromise.

If you want to release a focused, evocative stout that focuses on casking interplay IT BETTER HAVE VANILLA IN IT. I imagine Brewers feel like musicians courting fans with hits, secretly dying the moment everyone gets a drink when they play new stuff they care about.

If you doubt this, listen to any Side Project bro complain about how they are “forced” to buy a graceful Grisette with their massive stout. Brewers have to pay fealty to these dudes in Arcteryx jackets and Merona cargo shorts watching the Untappd scores light up what they care about most.

@foragerbrewery wants to brew saisons, but to set the hook they have to brew wafflecones. After a run of innumerable coldstone creamery bean bisecting, they “get” to release a phenomenal rawdog no adjuncts stout. Finally.

This is a weller CBR wheelie of focused barrel selection and has more sections than a Toblerone. There’s a praline caramel Drumstick woven through the center of extremely dry oaky casks, bakers chocolate and warming butter rum raisin life savers to the swallow.

The carb and retention is laughable but that’s par for the execution. 1.2 units. There’s a slick oily aspect to the mouthfeel that dries with a sweet Frangelico to the swallow.

This is the cask driven clemency i love. I only hope that the fan base stops seeing beers like this as “lacking cookies” or “unfinished.” Blank stouts are better than the heavy handed exposition of cake batter, here is your proof.


Phase Three Brewing Minutiae is Fantastic, Their Fans Will Hate It

Put a bird on it

Pastry purveyors are tired of getting dunked on and the result is course-correction in their tanks. Breweries that want the superstout clout initially drop the predictable See’s candylingus of vanilla, coconut, cacoa nibs. It sells. It gets maladjusted dudes emotional as they refresh the cart. Candy is high drama in the beer world

Eventually, glucose monitors become your brewery’s legacy, so they drop stripped down grunge albums to show they still TRIPLE DECOCT ROCK. This services the elitist palates as well, because they can go “Yeah sure, but have you ever had Main and Mill’s Weizenbock?” and pretend their palates are above the trifling reindeer games of 200 calorie 1 ounce pours

Phase Three was getting pegged as Wonkaphiles, but the Minutiae is in the details. The result is extremely well done, far better than their dessert lineup. This is a “Shasta BBT” of sorts. Excellent casks, extended aging, component blending. The result is nothing like their other stouts and something I don’t think the public was ready for

This tastes like an imperial Scandinavian style stout. Like a massive KAGGEN! With all the black licorice, molasses, star anise, Good and Plentys, and a long herbal vanilla grip on the inner thigh to let you know that you are safe. This massive stout texts you when you wake up and imparts layers of burnt brownie edges, grape hookah, Black and Mild kisses on the neck at an EDM show. Scorch the pan and leave the flourless cake in there, this is what you get. Guys who shop at Kohl’s don’t like stuff like this

If you have to work to suss out the intent, the 18 month beer palate gives up. Just put pictographs of what they should taste right on the label. Make it like a Denny’s menu, just point and confirm “YES, ALMOND JOY” like some gesticulate batter obsessed Silverback. The pivot is too hard and I can see the people who love excess rolling their ankles in New Balances trying to field this strange, delightful beer that checks so many of my prurient maltboxes


Revolution Brewing Apple Brandy Ryeway is Your Sticky Apple Fritter Meetcute

Right to the core

Scarcity can be mistaken for value in collectors’ markets. Misprinted Pokemon cards, unpainted prototype action figures: unintentional variants all are sought after not because of their inherent utility, but merely because no one else has them.

In beer, variants can create this fervor. There are innumerable terrible Dark Lord variants whose sole virtue is, ironically, fewer people have to drink them. Sometimes, the variant itself IS the quality. Swap out bourbon barrels for rye, or apple brandy, and watch dudes trip over their Grateful Dead Dunks to clasp the hem of Revolution’s strong ale populism.

Revolution continues its revolt by releasing the sought-after variant, Apple Brandy Ryeway in cans, in four packs, without wax, no membership, no raffle, just putting barleywine fentanyl in the streets. Ryeway can sometimes run a touch dry, the past two years were attempting to catch the majesty of the 2017 cans and apple brandy has a new routine entirely.

In lieu of herbaceous, leathery goodness, this leans towards butterscotch kisses, candied apple, cinnamon red hots, fritter, and molasses. It feels more viscous. Revolution prides itself on the leaner, sinewy offerings, but this is a “winter coat” variant that can serve as big spoon or little spoon with that squishy BMI

The swallow is warming and has a home run pie meets Hot Tamales aspect. It is agile enough, but masks a lot of the crackly rye with a sweet orange marmalade drag. If you press hard enough on anyone’s love handles, you will feel a hipbone eventually.

If you have ever been in a relationship with someone who smells like Parliament menthols just hoping someday they would do the bare minimum, then apple brandy is the act III romcom meetcute to your beer palate. Sweet, unassuming, there the whole time, warm embrace of mama’s lattice crust and cobbler kisses on the neckline. This is the one you were meant to be with, not that jilted beer who was original for original sake. What even is Noise Music? Doing ketamine isn’t a personality trait.

Forget the wax pull tabs, wrap yourself in the scratchy apple wool of this comforting filling. Variation in itself, is not value, but value can be sussed out through variants


Eurisko Beer Company Dropped a Dunkel and Asheville is Not Ready

Dunkels? In this economy?

When I receive a box from a brewery, they usually come in two flavors: those from the front of the house, and those from the production side. The former is usually from a 30bbl+ brewery with a budget and a plucky PR person clutching a communications degree and follow up emails “circling back around” to see what I thought of their core BevMo lineup.

You can tell when a brewer sends a box. It is usually busting at the seams with that overpacked, flighty efficiency that buzzes in the mind of a grain steeper. A brewer will send things they HAVE to send, whatever they are sick of seeing, that IPA that occupies their tanks for 70% of their lives. They will sometimes send things they SHOULD send, the hype release, the vanilla and coconut barrel aged release that they hang their hat on. The flex offerings.

What interests me most are the beers brewers send strictly because they WANT to send them. You can spot them instantly. Some bizarre biere de garde that is draft only. A crowler of a zwickelbier with a crude note explaining the water chemistry. The Baltic porter that absolutely no one orders and it sits on draft to the dismay of the CFO and is brewed strictly to appease the guys pulling hoses, making $10.65 an hour.

This is a “WANT” beer. Asheville’s Eurisko Brewing is a brewer’s brewery. Who sends a gigantic crowler of Dunkel? These guys. I pushed aside the BA stout because this immediately expressed purpose, and it is extremely well done. The nose is almond skins, slightly estery fig, scorched wheat toast, just drillable. The flavor skews bitter from a malt structure, not the hops, has amazing retention especially in crowler format, smattering of zucchini bread and poppyseed muffin. The beer closes dry, toasted rye loaf, munich malt, and baby’s first Melanoidins.

I respect when a brewery takes a swing and sends something like this, I love it even more when it is this well done. Dunkels top out at like a 3.9 on Untappd, so this amazing example sits in that fantastic realm of “mediocrity.”

It’s incredible when people fight a pandemic to make something this classic, to put it in hands and livers, North Carolina juice silently getting us through this tedious plague.


Finback and Horus Unite to Reconcile the Hawk and the Whale

My online MFT refuses to engage in dialectical materialism so ive gotten a second life coach instead

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.