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.


Bardstown Bourbon Company Discovery Six: Pay a Premium to Avoid Dealing with Bourbon Bros

You can’t do a neck review come on man here let me show you

Bardstown Discovery Six, I can already heard the cracking of soft, effete, middle manager knuckles and jowls clapping against Titleist polo shirts ready to complain about GEORGE DICKEL COMPONENTS. With Discovery 5 being a huge let down due to Tennessee Dickel blending, will 6 follow this trend?

Like the dude in high school who leaves his truck covered in mud for weeks, the Kentucky roots are evident here, 68% specifically. The mineral rich Dickel clocks in at only 16% of this blend but you can still taste it. It isn’t enough to derail the experience but chewable Tylenol and pencil graphite is up in the mix.

For $130 retail, I can already see guys who use their deodorant down to the hard plastic honeycomb talking about “I CAN JUST DRINK KNOB CREEK ITS BASICALLY THE SAME” then venmo request’ing a date for half the cost of the bird scooter they split. It’s worth the money in the current terrible bourbon climate.

You aren’t paying Bardstown to distill this liquid, you are paying them a premium to avoid grown men who predicate their self-esteem on bottles they will never open. You get the age statement, the quality, the transparency, and zero dealing with TRAVIS: manager at Enterprise Rent a Car who is IN WITH ALL THE DISTRIBUTORS, state raffle master, who enjoys going to Barcades and complaining when OWA sells for less than $90.

It is difficult to get bourbon in the solid teens at this price and this isn’t even the questionable age-over-all-else Diageo barrels that are lost/saturated to hell. It’s a solid mix of pecan sandies, dark fruit, Sugar Babies, maple oatmeal, and a touch oakier than expected. Finish is long but drying akin to Earl Grey tea.

Somewhere there’s someone in a backwards new era hat and an Express for Men button down going CINNAMON BRO while secretly knowing they could have bought a Blanton’s for this price.

Bardstown is NDP but up front about it enough that it isn’t some terrible Peyton Manning cashgrab. D6 is on par with 4 but not as good as 2, but all are worth the cost of entry. For now. I’m sure these will be ruined soon enough too and we will be drinking Kessler by 2024


Firestone Walker Brandy Barrel Barleywine: Sip Your Grape Juice

Downward curve

Let’s talk about Veblen Goods. These are items where the demand increases as the price increases. This is usually irrespective of increasing quality, the premium is in possession itself. Most of the time we are talking about Rolexes, boats, rare handbags: today we are talking about Firestone Walker.

Rare bourbon or sought after beers are weird in that they have an upward sloping curve: when dudes in cargo shorts see the price rise, their hearts beat in those North Face fleeces. Veblen items usually cover themselves by 1. Being accessible to only to people who spend a ton on a brand or 2. Being inaccessible for other reasons.

Firestone Walker has a $600.00 reserve society, it’s basically a bet, in exchange you get some rare goods. Some of these beers people want simply because they are not available. Nike Dunks tell people that you are a renter even if they’re in a rare colorway.

When the hype planets align, you get a beer that is both underwhelming, expensive and inaccessible, that people want. Astrologists call this Veblen in Gatorade.

I was so excited for a Brandy Barrel Barleywine. I had dreams of single cask Sucaba, the majesty of such luxury. Surely I wouldn’t once again get something worse than Bravo still sitting on shelves? Then I read the label.

Two winemakers were involved in the anniversary beer. Why? Oh because the barleywine was made with 48% fermentable grape must. Who asked for this? The winemakers. You get a free olive oil in the box. Oh. Then find out that the GM of barrelworks spent 15 years in the olive oil industry.

The barleywine is wiped out, has a body that is absolutely drilled down to an Altbier consistency. Hey don’t worry, it’s still 13% abv so it’s bone dry, wafty, fusel, and we got residual fermented grape flavor to balance out ::checks notes:: leather and graham crackers.

For that consumer who wants something both too big and insubstantial at the same time, weird fruit stripe gum merged with a Skor bar. I can only assume this merged lovingly in FW25 with the tequila barrel aged Velvet Merkin [I am not making this up.]

I wanted this so badly, but this is one veblen good that sent my curve straight downward.

Don’t bother showing up to my bottleshare unless you look like you were gored by a Castilian bull

Alvarado Street Brewing Naturally Aspirated Exhibits High Compression No Boost

Wastegate not needed

I have had a push/pull relationship with Alvarado Street. At the outset I felt like they made nothing but safe moves. The haze was unremarkable, the canned stouts were fine, it was a series of grounders for people just getting into craft beer. That’s fine. Bay Area Bottleshop owners had to field wince inducing calls, but the rest of us could go about our lives.

Then they started taking huge swings in crazy areas. Yeast of Eden started putting out absolute consistent fire. They made a smoothie seltzer that should have straight up won the cup. And now we get this absolute insanity: Imperial stout aged in cognac & brandy barrels for 47 months.

This is intensely ambitious and I almost feel like the name itself was cribbed from DDB parlance, but I don’t want to be that gauche. This beer is overwhelmingly complex and was a blast to unpack, peeling the layers back like a grand’s biscuit.

Without any additives, they have presented everything from blackberry tart, to fig jam, prune chocolate fondue and diner grape jelly. The cask as it warms goes from ensemble to full heated monologue, overtaking the overripe fruits, soliloquizing cocoa and almond to the back rafters.

The swallow has intense sheeting not with residual sugar, those have been stretched and tanned over 4 years in a barrel, instead it is waves of fusel heat that break against a bulwark in the back palate providing an odd Godiva dipped date. It is “she doing too much” in the best way.

I love that a beer like this, hypercasked into absurdity will inevitably draw comments of “too hot, needs age to mellow” “this will be better in a couple years” thereby undercutting the project itself. It’s like watching a Charlie Kaufman film and being like “Synecdoche New York tries too hard.”

Breweries actively are punished for taking these risks, incurring these costs, and there aren’t enough DDB dipshits yet to affirm this grand undertaking. This is that Pugachev 25year anniversary, that HOTD spirit, and I am here for it.

This is uncompromising and sacrifices nothing to secure its funding. If you enjoy brewer-as-auteur projects unfettered by front of house or marketing, this is the amazing/bonkers result.


Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Barrel Proof is the Worst Whiskey I Have Had This Year

“Don’t review the neck pour” I tried this many times and even proofed it down. It remains malignant.

Parasocial relationships are unilateral affairs where one side extends interest, emotional investment, and the recipient is unaware of the other. You will see this with simps pouring cash into Onlyfans accounts, tipping twitch streamers, or responding audibly to a pre-recorded podcast. It’s a fascinating phenomenon.

For all the gruff, potstilling, whiskey running, outlaw branding, tough as nails marketing: bourbon dudes are a sensitive lot. Insecurities are a Sarlac pit for parasocial relationships so it’s no surprise you’ll see these same middle managers going senpai and siding with Heaven Hill despite labor issues, or wringing their Merona flannels when someone is undervaluing their precious Blanton’s with a horsie letter they want. Unreciprocated allegiance is rampant.

So when Jack Daniels announced all of the hype words strung together: cask strength, single barrel, store pick, the charcoal filtered fetishists showed up to defend Brown-Forman, a company that doesn’t give a single shit about them. MM LINCOLN COUNTY PROCESS MY WOOD MOMMY.

You should never meet your heroes. Jack Daniels may have this amorous tone when mixed with Pepsi in some sweaty leaky undergrad basement, but like a date with a guy who does improv comedy: a little bit goes a long yes and’ing way. You don’t need full strength JD.

This isn’t an ad.

This bottle is shitty. Wait, if you enjoy that sick sweet meets aspiring taste of Advil coating, then you will enjoy this 130pf hateswallow. Come in expecting Shasta Stagg, leave with turpentine Barq’s root beer in your shame hole. The nose is fine, brown banana with sandalwood. The sip shows true Jack, the one coke is made for. The abusive fusel wave that needs to be tempered with fizzy sugary therapy.

If you love oversteeped tea, black pepper, acrid popsicle sticks, and walnuts soaked in Absolut, then step right up. Jack doesn’t care about you. In 1911 he kicked his safe out of anger injuring his foot, contracted gangrene and died. Perhaps that iodine and toffee is the “extra blessing” charcoal embrace you seek. Maybe you Venmo your discord admin. Either way, it is harsh one sided love that will never be reciprocated


Cellarmaker Edge of Time is a Svelte Spicy Blantons Barley Bomb

Dog bowl for scale

Social Proof is a psychological concept where people make value judgments based upon their overall impression of something, the halo effect. Master Chiefs aside, Cellarmaker would like us to believe that their well done hazy beer and lowkey banging saison program somehow makes them experts in barleywine.


Straight out the gates a $24 375ml is gonna rankle some jameses. These small format barleywines keep costing more and more, but if TG is out here selling $50 bombers of non BA stout then anything is possible.

The key complaint I already see coming a mile away is that this barleywine is “too thin.” If you’re the type of person whose main social presence is on LinkedIn, then you’re the insufferable character we can imagine saying this with that air of judgment and hustle culture. It isn’t too thin. The shift in palates toward glucosephillic tendencies is notable lately.

It is as “thin” as Sucaba, BB4d, Aftw, Segbago and everything in that realm. If you don’t know any of those, you are probably safe returning to your IP theft hypecans of hollandaise. Gatekeeping aside, it is spirit driven and presents that lack of balance I almost appreciate in these exaggerated offerings. I will bow to this spicy fusel mistreatment because it feels good. Out of ten friends only one of them has a printer, but it is out of indigo so you cant print your stupid black and white resume to get a job that already requires an online application. You deal with the nonsense because of what is in store.

It is bitter, oaky, goes a walnut/pecan sandie route for a moment and it’s back to the booze. The thighgap in the tiny frame somehow dual wields Skor bar and a graphite aspect. The finish is exceptionally clean, leaving a napalm strike across the gumline of peanut brittle drizzled with Willett.

Like your friend who is super into their adult dodgeball league, yes it is pushy and kinda irresponsible but charming in its own way. You crave the heat and avoid the sugar. Sometimes you continue an unpleasant relationship with your therapist because dumping them is more painful than therapy itself. The cask here is your therapist, and it is served barrel Social Proof.


Eighth State Brewing Pepper and MIVII, One is amazing, the other isn’t even a barleywine

Everyone just wants the cat label tbh

The FCC used to mandate bumpers during children’s cartoons to save them from deceptive advertising. It helped young minds differentiate between what was content and what was manipulative. IG doesn’t have that so instead we have pithy 26 word reviews with more hashtags and Tavour link promotion than actual writing.

Transparency matters. It isn’t that Pepper is a disappointing barleywine, it is, it’s that it isn’t a barleywine at all. When I saw the vanilla, my Madagascar alerts starting going off. When I heard the comparisons to Anabasis, I was wary. Kill confirmed: Pepper is an very good vanilla stout and nothing more.

If you heard the flavor descriptors: kit kat bar, Drumstick ice cream cone, burned s’more and robusto cigar your first question would not be “oh so was this an American or English barleywine?” Because it isn’t. Usually we have coward breweries calling barleywines anything but that to avoid perceived marketing pitfalls, this is a weird reverse alignment. The thing is though, it is a well done stout.

The apple brandy contributes this candy apple sweetness, bourbon lending complexity, cask is well managed. What did this beer even taste like before being Frankensteined with Peruvian vanilla beans? If someone drops $200 on this are they disappointed or happy that they got a solid, albeit completely different beer?

A new challenger appears

Here’s the rub: Microcosm I Volume II is the best beer that 8th state has made since Neck and Neck b2. It rights all the confusing wrongs that Pepper sets forth. If you wanted port complexity, here it is in all its raisin and fig newton glory. It is tighter, more nimble, and doesn’t have the messy vanilla distraction present. The two beers seem similar but MIVII is vastly superior in every way.

MIVII is a masterclass in managing waves of currant, prune, reconciling the intense sherry/cracker jack aspects, and closing with an impossible dry topgrain leather finish. It is a malty marvel to behold.

Style guidelines are amorphous, as long as the beer is good, I guess it isn’t fatal. But holy shit if I open one more can labeled “IPA” and it is default hazy I’m going to lose my god damn mind.


Firestone Walker Vine Minded: a bizarre fusel society exclusive no one asked for.

It’s bc I didn’t use the glass they provided me with.

Whenever I see a 10%+ abv American wild ale it is already like “god damnit, here we go.” However, this is Firestone and a club exclusive, it’s not like they going to just release a bone dry, fusel, acetone bomb on their fans after joining a $600 society right? Anakin.reaction RIGHT?

Well enjoy your new gel tips and the wafty solvent bliss of weird phenolic tripel base and Jura must. This thing is all over the place like an insecure dude who cant stand that his girlfriend has a “work husband.” It needs some grounding.

In the long tradition of taking strong ale bases and pulverizing them into something acidic and bizarre (Dark and Stormy, Old Manhattan et al.) comes this thing. The wheatwine and bourbon profile is drilled into deep obscurity and youd have to dig to find it like that one Note in the Notes App where she has a list of all her bodies. She has one trust me.

It makes you question the intent. Usually when I see a beer like this, it’s a salvage mission. Firestone has those sweet Duvel bucks, they don’t need to be retrofitting wild ales into strong ale chassis. This isn’t poorly made, it’s just conceptually bonkers. I don’t know if that helps or makes it worse. If you see a dude in salmon 5” inseam shorts and no show socks, he meant to look like that. You cover your drink and walk away when he brings up Wolf of Wallstreet. But this makes me wonder why Firestone wanted to hit such a devious lick.

They aren’t like the Paul Arney’s where this needed to occupy a market segment. We want single barrel sucaba and gin grisettes, instead we get this. It’s the palate equivalent of call 811 before you dig, this is an easily avoidable tragedy.

Firestone also has this fiercely loyal, Dave Matthews Bandesque following that will be like AH YES THANK YOU ACID MOMMY DOES KITTEN NEED MORE ALLOWANCE. So this will be like 4.4 on Untappd otherwise you have to deal with the sunk cost fallacy that is your life. The idea of Transaction Utility in economics makes these beers sell and you get addicted to the mistreatment. Hey at the end of the day, if you want Curieux’s gaslighting gatekeeping brother, here you go. Society exclusive, Riesling hairspray for all 1pp.