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Pulpit Rock Brewing Five Defies Expectations, It’s Their Party They Can Coffee if They Want To

The coveted blue hat pink Pom variant is Pappy barrels

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.

They ode
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Pulpit Rock Brewing Barrel Aged Sticker Shock is Excessive in the Best Way

That teensy glass is flawless

This beer is a condensed experience. The flavors themselves are so compacted and concentrated that it exaggerates every aspect that it sets forth. New palates thrive on these experiences. The joy of having posted 14 types of Sunny D IPAs to your timeline and then hitting an eyedropper pour of something like this: it is an adolescent tongue shedding its husk.

Look at the uninhibited joy when they read the ingredients aloud to the disinterested masses. “COCONUT….I GET COCONUT!” waves of saccharine ochre coating the bicuspids, the air is redolent of the oft recited candy bars “ALMONDY JOY, MOUNDS, SAMOA COOKIES.”  The recitation is confirmation. The act is the ritual. 

The almond and cacao profile almost mute the barrel but it plays DPS support. New money thrives on these endeavors because it mirrors things that have already had. It is the familiar. The Brazzers tab left half finished, a coconut narrative unbusted. A director inserting shots to hold the audience’s hand. It is condensed discovery.

The people who create actual sticker shock thrive on this condensation. These beers are so rich, they are meant to be shared even in small format. The sharing is the ritual, the groupmind, the nodding and 4.8 being entered in untapped. The review is condensed, the pour is small, the experience is distilled into “THICC.”

Perceived viscosity is goal number one

I love this beer more than Caucasian boomers love tucking t-shirts into jeans. It delivers in an exaggerated way the fudgy, flaked macaroon and Nesquik promises it sets forth. The problem is restraint and intensity. There’s no “straight beer” to play off of. It is all coconut gags, almond pratfalls, shots to the cocoa nibs. Without resting the game, the intensity has the droning effect of listening to 160bpm Drum and Bass music that makes you tired. This is intentional. Drink less, distill the endeavor.

Look at the thimble pours on Untappd and the succinct reviews, everything about this beer is highly articulate chocolate shouting. People who don’t know beer will love this because it mirrors dessert, something they feel confident discussing. It’s a very well done beer that is best shared with 15 strangers in a backyard.

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Melvin Brewing Night Visions, A Throwback for the Modern Palate

Old and new, concurrently.

I have been a fan of Melvin since the way before times, the Wyoming times, the pre-Eureka era, the Thai Me Up days turning out classic clear IPA in a weird little Jackson restaurant. How rhizomes fly. In the interim they’ve press onward, had some PR gaffs, and now are widening their catalogue in the Stout realm.
This beer is both progressive and regressive. A canned, non-barrel aged, 10.5% imperial stout with Sump coffee. It gives and with each hand it takes away, like a Libertarian at Korean BBQ.
It isn’t excessively thiccc, nor does it have lactose, it doesn’t lean metallic or bell pepper, and it doesnt have a lingering depth of cask treatment. So in the modern era, what era we left with? You have an extremely well assembled beer that feels more like chocolate cake awaiting fondant.
If you have poured regular ass RYAN BROS Speedway stout for someone, you know this experience. You are giving the pinnacle of a previous gen. Like when a GenZ looks at the 200hp engine of an Integra Type R and you have to explain to them that this was very exciting in the late 90s.
There is something to be said for such a unified and focused approach, like the lost art of short stories, this hits the singular theme so considerably that it’s refreshing. You get floral Ethiopia grind, coffee cake, a nice whip of carbonation with sustain, bitter roast on the swallow without any needless milk sugar frapping things up. The swallow closes with a thin 85% bitter chocolate, then expensive TCHO bars at the Whole Foods register.
It won’t prolapse your espresso portafilter, but it’s also not 900 calories for a 12oz pour. It’s better than good, it’s like a very good free to play mobile game with no micro bean grinding transactions. Coffee crush, even your aunt cant feel relevant and alive, sharing QANON theories with khaki teeth jittering and watching I CAN SEE YOUR VOICE. Honestly her kids dont even miss school, they didn’t fit in there anyway, what’s the deal with everyone picking their pronouns these days, pass the stuffing.

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Preservation Distillery Revives Very Old St Nick 8 Year Bourbon, NDP Rises Again

The original VOSN line was an NDP brand that basically pioneered cashing in old ties to bourbon history in that speculative way that would make even Kentucky Owl lose plumage.  The LORE THO. Those original bottles were Stitzel-Weller and therefore they will remain unopened forever or priced at Michelin star spots for dudes in tech who read Conde Nast and know nothing about bourbon.

This is from Preservation/Rare Perfection. Last time I reviewed RP and everyone balked “NEVER REVIEW THE NECK POUR” like a bunch of corn shucking Armands. So this time I drank almost the entire bottle.

Marci Palatella is a super passionate and nice person who apparently used to source whiskey from Van Winkle, HH, Willett etc. So the connections with the past is there, but what about the juice itself? Again, this is Canadian kernelwater, but the old bottles were NDP so why is everyone pissed? I think people see what happened with Kentucky Owl and have PTS[toil]D, however, this is age stated, and it’s actually pretty tasty.

Pepper your angus for that $174.99 retail price, but this is the way of age stated allocated product these days. Thanks a lot middle management profiteers, but no go ahead tell me about your BUNKER, which package of the new Ford Bronco are you going to preorder. Oh no way those Cargo pants zip off into shorts? Wow its been a minute since I hit up a Kohl’s. 

Color has great saturation, dark caramel/Riesin candy on the nose with a hint of lacquer. The waft smells well into the double digits. Nice rye presence with the holiday gingerbread nose, aniline leather and nutmeg.

The taste has an untamed heat for 110 pf, light astringency akin to “spicy” spearmint gum, but I oddly enjoy that. The drag is long and dry, none of the Frosted flake milk of young casks, it goes into peanut brittle and canvas on the swallow. Its enjoyable.

If you want this to be cheap SW that doesn’t cash in on a pre-existing pedigree, then I suggest you exit bourbon because you have a misconception about that hobby. There’s cheaper things that are better, but don’t provide the same experience. If you have the money, then go for it, dudes are paying $200 for rawdog coconut stouts who cares.

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Destihl Brewing and Binnys Collaborated on a Barrel Aged Barleywine, Downstate Love, and It is Pretty Deece

This @destihlbrewery collab with @binnysbev is pretty deece, it’s not not deece. Please understand I mean this relative to other barrel aged barleywines, which is to say it is still better than almost every other thing you could buy at a big box alcohol retailer. Just by virtue of even deciding to make a bourbon aged barleywine you know Destihl gets it.

The issue arises because it’s a demanding style and you inevitably get compared globally to some of the most insane beers within the segment. It’s got some of the more expected bites, Riesin candy, prunes, fig Newton’s, but it has this crackly sharp astringency that become more pronounced at higher temps. It’s not like the full on twang of Sherry, but it’s on that route.

Ultimately it’s a pretty good but not great example of the most competitive segment you can seek to enter. With every passing can the public becomes more steeped in sticky malt runnings.

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Forager Brewing Kent the Otter is an Austere Concentrated Wild Malty Ride

In wine reviews, the only term more overused than “austere” is “concentrated.” With full bodied reds these fuschia-mouthed gourmands will always ejaculate things like “firm” and “muscular” and this is the first time that I found a firm, muscular, concentrated barleywine. Kent the Otter is a wild ride and it is sinewy and intense.


Like the IBU wars of the 2000s, the lactic acid wars of the mid 2010s, and the lactose wars that are currently ongoing, barleywine production has a weird badge of pride all its own: boil times. The more water you can pull out of the water to compress that flavor profile, the more lustily the nips of the malty consumer ache. SIXTEEN HOURS BRUH. This beer is all maris otter, all boil.


Oh there’s a strong cask presence, but that’s like the soft pillowy marshmallows in Rocky Road: mere set dressing for how expressive the malt is. The beer presents waves of Raisinettes, prunes, fig jam, grape otter pop [cf. Alexander the Grape], an ice wine finish and a loooooong Grenache closer. It’s malt concentrate.

I almost never say this but, you have to share this beer. The unassuming 10.4% abv seems reasonable but it’s the construction of the beer itself. Some people will cork Xyauyu to fight that battle another day, this is one of those end barleybosses. The low carb and fruit leather welcome you to take another pass when you’re prepared for this.


I don’t want to seem like a baby palate, but this pushes the limits of what my adolescent face hole can handle. It’s not the heat, it’s more like listening to the Mars Volta discography where the complexity is exhausting. This is a bold new market for barleywine, one seemingly made to be split many ways. The 4.8 on Untappd and $200 resale price all but seems to ensure that will occur.


Somewhere there’s a boring Gen X’er wearing a Titleist polo overpaying for bottles of Harlan talmbout “ugh so OPULENT, it’s stern, domineering, grippy and angular” and you know his incognito browser tabs have unspeakable content. We all laugh at those middle manager dipshits with teenage kids, cobbling together a personality predicated on luxury consumables. Beer is different. For we are scavengers, otters, trash people who boil malt water into syrup so decadent we have to part it out like a fresh caramel corpse among the pack, little webbed paws pulling at the drippy raisin bits. Concentration is life.
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DSSOLVR Brewing After Is Everything You Want in a Pastrywine, Assuming You Want a Pastrywine

NORTH CAROLINA FreeKaleek alert:
Ok so @dssolvr AFTER is a solidly made, conceptually ambitious pastrywine, but I don’t much care for it. By way of background, the Dssolvr kolsch is simple and refreshing so it’s not a lack of ability. Wooden teeth was arguably my favorite beer of 2020, so it’s not depth. The problem lies in conceptual execution. They added coconut and vanilla to a solid barleywine base and the result is subtraction by addition.

Pastry barleywine is almost never better than just the OG base. That’s one of the best things about barleywine, you never see minor variants artificially throttled for max profits. Barleywine usually just is, and it’s the palates that have to conform. It isn’t a malleable protean affair trying to mimic some dessert case offering. It’s first and foremost barleywine, and the consumer is the one that has to adapt. This is the reason confectionary Barleywines will never sell for $500, because they don’t court the disposable incomes that dudes wearing Chunky Dunks will drop.

The beer itself is snickerdoodle and sugar cookie, the vanilla has a waxy lipgloss aspect like cream soda. The coconut with the base beer unfolds like angel food cake if you poured a shot of jim beam on it. It’s a merger of worlds I am not ready for. Neophytes love the simplicity of desserts. The brain runs on glucose and no matter how full you are, base instinct will allow you to eat dessert. That’s the reason for its placement at the end of a meal. However, I want barleywine to be the entree.

I’m sure there are 14 year old girls who love Machine Gun Kelly playing a pink guitar with Blackbear. It’s sticky sweet. I would submit that I enjoy different things than some distance learning generation Z palate, despite being a tiktok attention seeking trash person myself. People will love this beer, I recommend sticking to the base and their fantastic clean offerings. Now let’s all unite and find that piece of garbage who punched Rick Moranis.

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Cigar City Brewing and Magnanimous Had a Barleybaby and Named it Charleywine

Strap in

Most people know @cigarcitybrewing for Hunahpu or Jai Alai, and that’s fine. It’s kinda like only knowing Nirvana for Nevermind and not listening to Unplugged in New York: you’re missing out on something amazing. Their barleywine program runs deep. Cigar City crushes the strong ale game and has had a resurgence in the malt game as of late that Catador Members have been secretly sucking down like teens polishing off champagne glasses at a wedding. We all know what you are up to.

Charleywine is a collab with @magnanimousbrewing brewing. The eponymous Charlie Meers rocks drug rugs, probably wears Vibrams and looks like he wants to discuss Phish phantasy tours from the mid-2000s with you. You can close your eyes, see the System of a Down blacklight poster and just know what that 8th grade bedroom smells like.

Magnanimous is right next to Garagiste and Hidden Springs, so you would assume they are dripping in residual sugar and epipens. Paradoxically, they pivot to make resinous haze and strong ales that have a drier finish. It’s sheer irony that Magnanimous is in the same state notorious for some of the greediest beer traders this side of St. Louis.

But is this real Life? Yes, it is so so well done. If you had CCB Cyclopaedia and hit those waves of caramel apple sucker, you know this boozey treat is warming up your clavicle. Sees butterscotch lolipops will cut your mouth, but its worth it. Apple brandy and rye barrels push/pull to add this peach fritter, floral, potpourri aspect to a tightly wound pumpernickle body. It’s waves of flavor in a compact package. The Jon Snow of barleywines.

It’s the type of barleywine for the dude who has consistent unprotected sex with bumble dates and says “not looking for anything serious” then orders a Deleuze and Guattari book he will never read. It’s the cool mom who lets kids get ripped on apple pie moonshine in the basement because “as long as they’re doing in under my roof it makes me feel better.” It’s complex but unrefined.

Beers like this demonstrate barleywine’s superiority over adjunct stouts in a way that almost makes you feel bad for people who haven’t gotten there yet. Barleywine is for us.

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Urban Roots Barrel Aged Summer Life Converts Hops Into Wagyu

This is a vast improvement.

When you’re a little kid you learn that cows have four stomachs. The largest stomach is the rumen and it serves as a living fermentation vat. This evolutionary advantage converts fibrous, husky, plant material into fatty acids. Cows turn worthless fescue in coveted thick mass. It’s the conversion that matters.
Urban Roots produced a base barely, Summer Life, that wasn’t as worthless as yard trimmings, but it needed to roll around in an oaky rumen. Sometimes that rest and depth that is added to a barleywine’s rich malty structure provides the incredible aesthetic value that converts it from bermuda to wagyu. This beer has been tramsuted into A5 by virtue of a barrel rumen.


Sure, the base beer was fine. However, the barrel aged version has elevated itself into that realm of accessible, unassuming, low cost, incredibly high quality barleywine in the same realm as Royal Oil, Straight Jacket, and Sucaba. The beer has this toasted sunflower seed and banana bread that is a touch bitter at first. It’s not astringent but it underscores a hoppybackend like your stepdad’s New Balances streaked with chlorophyll. The body is incredible carved and lean, pandoro with agave nectar drizzle, and a swallow that is honey roasted walnuts with a kiss of Bit O’ Honey, those terrible candies that still exist that no one buys but there they are, right next to the Circus Peanuts and the SNO CAPS.


This beer is particularly dangerous because you can mow through the complexity quickly due to the low residual sugar and oiled leather finish. It’s the barleywine you give to the guy who says “wont get far without these” and grabs his keys. It’s approachable enough for guys who have kept their wide leg Tommy carpenter jeans long enough to accidentally be in style again. It is summer ale in the way that a server nods and splits a check between five maskless pet nat drinking women at brunch, cumbersome but obliging.


So many barleywines that hit market are balls of cud. Most people think of grassy Bigfoot wads of pine and regurgitated malt when barleywines are offered. Beers like this transmute those palates into meat loving, grass fed, ruminant worshiping hindus of malty sacrifice. The conversion is the journey, and it is worth passing through the cicerones’ four stomachs.

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Phase Three Eunoia Two Cracks Your Drupe Wide Open

Coconuts are in the drupe family, from the Portugese word coco meaning “skull.” They are indigenous to Lake Zurich, Joliet, and the tropical neighborhood of Woodland in south Chicago. The coconut ripes and forms a surrounding husk to prevent wildlife from foraging its sweet interior juices.


Hype breweries have to endure a similar teleology. Ravenous shitlords can pound on the husk of the brewery, complain about Applepay not securing their cart, engaging in simple rituals to curse breweries for not paying fealty to the altar of the Locals. I feel for them. Shaun Berns was not stranger to these batter smeared savages. Helicopters were attendant at his first releases. He has single handedly provided much of the nutrition for growing west Chicago millennials in liquid sugar form. This time, it has coconut and cinnamon.


Phase Three and the prior lineage has always been solid, but like TOOL and climbing gyms, it’s the fanbase that sours the experience. Thankfully, this beer is so good that you merely tolerate the voracious locals hammering at the fleshy sweetwater inside.
The beer pours on the Derivationy/Wakefieldian viscosity with substantial sheeting. The legs wipe away the dark ecru tones from the glass with hateful clear legs. It’s a big boy in boy and literal fatness. There are residual lipids dancing on the surface like drunken Sea moneys, frothing up the chocolate. I imagine this beer was extremely expensive to make because there’s no slugs, no clumping, no artificiality, and more importantly, it doesn’t lean on lactose like some Coffeemate creamer extravaganza to achieve its goals.

I complained about prior wax issues so they made me a custom bottle with multiple tabs looking like Omega Red


The barrel is present and imparts a touch of dryness and complexity like a ribbon of caramel through the center of a dipper macaroon. Cinnamon can go chalky or metallic really quickly, or your end up with a dry Big Red performance. The cinnamon here pulls things into a Samoa cookie space and is more like an uncaring chaperone who lets the kids drink Goldschlager under the bleachers. They don’t pay him enough to care. His hair smells of Polo Sport and hawaiian tropic from water polo practice.


It is exceptionally well done and if anything they hit the mark so fully that it is like seeing a hypertechnical guitar performance where you want it to be a little messier in a way. It’s massive, but controlled, unapologetically pastry, but it pays for the duvet it threw up on. Take Goose Island prop14, let it wrestle an HGH regiment and it will give heartfelt hugs after the dripping lavacake pin is achieved. If you ever knew a kid who had rich parents who miraculously didnt end up reading Atlas Shrugged, you respect them more. This beer is really really good, climb way up there, and get inside that sweet fleshy interior.