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Thirteen to Lyfe: Barrique Takes a Rougher Tone

We ain’t drip we drying, there’s Kevlar in that Balenciaga jacket lining

The Japanese philosophy of “kaizen” is an idea of perpetual gradual improvement through small efficiencies. Each segment is encouraged to constantly review and improve. This works fantastic when you are putting together GTRs or crunching to get the newest 200 hour Persona game out, but what about in art, or brewing, the merger of business and art?

Improvement in brewing has this teleological twang to it. Sure you can measure efficiency, BBLs, line goes up, but how do you measure improvements to the beer itself. Barrique will intentionally sacrifice kaizen efficiency for artful ends.

No one needs their lagers barrel aged. It is more time-consuming, expensive, and arguably hurts the bottom line, so why do these Nashville hucksters even bother? The end experience is unique. Perhaps sheer enjoyment is “elimination of waste” or the composite experience becomes more than the segments of the brewing process. Go crack a can of Wasioto and report back.

However, we are here to talk today about the nadir of efficiency, barleywines, the destroyer of Kaizen. They take time, tons of materials, normal people don’t order them, they derail your day with the abv, and your average angsty white dude will be rolo-mouthed telling you how he “WISHES HE COULD FIND HIS OWN RAMONA FLOWERS.”


It’s tough to reconcile the lager finesse with intense excess. Like posting your boyfriend on main: expect to lose some followers. This is above-average to well done, but it doesn’t represent what Barrique excels at. The barrel character is pronounced and punches with wafty bananas fosters, gingerbread, taste follows with imbalanced casky dryness, a long graham cracker meets Sazerac swallow, and those E.L. Fudge cookies without the center frosting.

Lager people are like Firefly fans or people who wont shut up about JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. We get it, this is your identity. But barleywine fans are more like Eve Online players intent on slowly ruining their lives. I simply wouldn’t ruin my life with Barrique knowing their gentler touch is more comforting. I crave bottom fermented calf rubs.

Me on lagers vs me on barleywine
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Sideward brewing proposition: you get a mediocre barleywine, but also receive an incredible west coast ipa

I’m listening to O town

When you are craving sticky decadent toffee pudding, I am sure you dab your brow and imagine yourself crushing it in humid Orlando. Standing in the stoic slate grey remains of the Nickelodeon studios, the butterscotch past is haunting.

With Heir of Kings I wanted to get coated in caramel ropes, instead it was I who was slimed. This beer parodizes the things you usually look for. The excesses of style do not integrate with the excesses of execution here. It has a massive cask profile, but also massive fusel waft, with no lying malt structure to reconcile these two Scorpios and wow such a rising Taurus tasting note.

With 11% abv, the niceties are dispensed with and you are dealing with a weirdly port/noble rot astringency. Then that subsides and it’s tasty dates for a bit before it goes oversaturated oak on the swallow. The Heir compacts a Sword and Sandal epic into this weird package, but loses the scope. The Cinecitta of barley gems. I am left caught between these hot, fusel, chariot spokes.

I find myself both wanting it to be more expressive in depth but also being afraid of what a more imperial version of this Nero liquid would entail.

Ontological reductionism is the idea that all of reality is broken down by a minimal number of parts. You combine X component flavors as an aggregate you get a barleywine composite. Sometimes there’s something more than just the barley monads, the items on paper that make something work. This barleywine has all the atomistic elements of a barleywine but no chaperone to stop these Catholic school kids from mutual manual eroticism on the prom dancefloor. The wood is threadbare.

However, their west coast IPA is phenomenal. So maybe trying to reduce the phenomenon of barleywine to a fingerbanging joke misses the point of brewing. It’s a good enough BABW but with a resinous hoppy insurance policy, enjoying a brewery’s beer as a canon and not in a vacuum.

Ultimately if you live your life seeking out absolute truth in fermented sugar water, you’ll end up granular and predictable, complaining about gas prices and tired Johnny Depp commentary. Drink more, opine less.

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Moonlight Brewing Made an American Barleywine, inequality intensifies

Bro listen to my noise band on SoundCloud it’s literally rhythmic chaos

In economics there is this theory called Kuznet’s curve that states basically that as a market develops things will get super unequal but then level out to being more equal. It makes this curve like a sad mouth of a beer bro who had it in his cart but Eventbrite hates locals.

Basically, once things get up and running, there’s more capital and efficiency and even the poor hicks get to enjoy the spoils of an advanced economy. Trickle down beeronomics.

In the beginning craft beer was expensive, hard to find, a niche product that you’d have to bust your ass to locate or dedicate a segment of your personality to pursuing. Then 9000 breweries open making mostly fine beers, a few exceptional producers, but thousands of “local-location name + 5 CA ale strain tap handle” spots. It’s fine.

The result is a weird egalitarianism meets stark inequality. Everyone can have a Weihenstephan and have the best most ubiquitous hef in the world. By the same token, if you want a rare, marginally better stout, be prepared to pay someone in St Louis exponentially more for the “best” stout.

So yeah craft beer is everywhere, but is the best craft beer everywhere? Ehh. Kinda?

Moonlight makes arguably one of the best pilsners in the world, but it’s far from everywhere. But what about when these same hucksters make a barleywine? Will that automatically also be the best and reduce inequality? Ehh. Kinda?

If by the best, you want a completely old school, resinous, chickory root, allspice and sandalwood sort of barleywine then yes. Moonlight has captured the past and improved upon it. But is has done so in a vacuum without the forces of modern palates. Most people don’t know to “want” barleywines like this, even if it is well done. The abv is “too low” the sweetness is “dialed down” and the old school Old Foghorn meets Bigfoot cum de Gratitude aserose profile is a relic. American barleywine is an unfinished barrel aged beer in modern parlance.

This is a good beer that most people wont recognize as reducing the inequality of what they seek. Kuznet didn’t account for tradebros and flippers who don’t actually want to experience new things. Palates remain unequal in perpetuity.

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Faisan Brewing Out Here Soaking Detroit in Clean Dark Lagers

Man your own czech-hammer

After two nightmarish years, it is little surprise that 2022 is shaping up to be the year of Czech dark lagers. People crave robust, dark succor, and with rising temps the clean lager salvation strains extend a hand like a sporty porter. A Sp-orter.

Faisan, a new upstart from Detroit, is providing this malty toasted goodness. If Death and Taxes is the standard by which all of these are inevitably judged, this makes a strong gambit.

The squaw bread and pumpernickel is present and there’s a clean simplicity like how watching a hibachi chef make an onion volcano never stops being entertaining. It just works. The same people gearing up for sun dress smashing season are also amenable to these lean lagers with waves of gardettos rye chips and diner wheat toast.

The carb has fantastic sustain and the can looks like some Coheed and Cambria fan art. It has a universal appeal to both dudes who idolize Elon Musk and for people who watch Below Deck on Bravo. These dark lagers can cover that much ground because they both present with a subtle aw shucks simplicity, but deliver depth with the dark chocolate goodness.

Another benefit: for some reason breweries never charge that much for these despite being a total pain in the ass to make. If you walk into a tasting room and hear Father John Misty, you’re about to pay $9 for a pint of helles. But I think this four pack is like $14. It’s jarring and refreshing like when a car with low bolstering throws you around. It’s so much return on a bottom fermented investment.

Oddly though, no one orders these on draft, so breweries often don’t make them. A grocery store tier consumer sees a 5% lager but OH WAIT IT IS DARK HANG ON TOO STRONG I GOTTA DRIVE HOME. But like people who wear Stone Island, someone is buying these, I just never have never seem them.

This beer is extremely drinkable and provides enduring lasting depth. Like how has Hayley Williams been 18 for two decades? We may never know. While this falls short of the god tier Cohesion/Moonlight/Suarez syndicate of DCL’s but I am stoked to see what these plucky newcomers have up their Mittens.

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Temporal Artisan Ales Cosmic Syzygy: a barleywine you aren’t meant to understand or complete

Wait so am I the narrator. Who was even the, ok

There exists this strange Gift of the Magi pecking order in breweries that seemingly keeps each from having everything they want. Haze brewers secretly want to be saison masters. Stout blenders will curse the lack of lagers on draft. Lager powerhouses will often release “big ales” that are ironically fermented far too clean to appeal to the glucophile palates of the modern era. If you have a hit barleywine, often that’s the most remarkable thing you do at that brewery.

I love these cross-discipline attempts. Moonlight making a barleywine. Angry Chair making lagers. It’s that ambition that shirks expectation.

Temporal is a weird brewery north of the wall that makes fascinating gentle wild ales. But what happens when they re-spec their character to wield a massive opal malty club? Things get out of hand.

COSMIC SYZYGY was boiled for 8 hours then incarcerated in a hateful 12 year Caribbean rum cask for long time. One barrel, zero blending, 500 bottles, no margin for error.

Rum casks already are a huge gamble. They can become decadent bananas fosters, or pure astringent punitive juice siphoned from the stills of hell. Like freestyle rapping in mixed company, this can go only one of two ways.

Like Temporal, this beer is strange as hell. If the cliché hallmarks are a series of English brown sugar candy comparisons, this leans more towards Papa’s port cellar liquidation in a will execution. It both feels older and untamed than it should be.

It has muddled prune, but with a phenolic oddness to it, permanent marker, but then delicious iced wine. The swallow gives you a touch of unagi and then wait-it’s back to Fig Newton. The net experience feels intensely experimental, unique, and shredding sections of the fretboard with key signatures my liver was not ready for. Perhaps I am the outdated person still buying Leg Avenue Halloween costumes, illadapted to the swiftly modernizing sensibilities.

The execution feels layered, confusing and intentional, like I am the only one not understanding House of Leaves. I did not love this, but everyone else does: so I feel deficient. You should try this, just don’t expect a clear conclusion.

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Untitled Art NA Hazy IIPA, get it, it’s April fools day. Do you get it. Because. NA.

How can it be an imperial ipa if it is 0% abv

After much reflection on my contributions to the beer world over the past 12 years, I have decided that from this point onward, Don’t Drink Beer will now be a Non-Alcoholic Beer Blog. DDB has done nothing but harm people and encourage excess. In glorifying and damning the best and worst beers ever made, people have been enabled to become their worst selves.

On the surface it seems like pithy jokes about late night raviolis and unsolicited cyber sex, but who is laughing when 14 maladjusted people get together in a backyard and drink thimbleful pours of coconut caro syrup? Who laughs then? Uncle Ben once said, ”With great power comes a trade for Great Responsibility b2, but they need to add.” DDB needs to add some ethics to this entire endeavor.

In addition to NA beers, I will be providing episode recaps for The Black List, decoupage tips, golf swing assistance, and methods to ensure your souffles don’t collapse. Everyone will be better off.

Untitled Art is a project owned by Octopi Brewing who has thankfully disassembled the beer world with seltzers and now are finishing the job with NA beers. Levi Funk is overseeing the Latter Day Saintification of the fermented world and I place the utmost trust in the man who revolutionized American Lambic to now ensure our sobriety at family functions.

The issue I usually ran into with hazy IPAs was, wow this is great I sure would love to have five of these, but then who is gonna do all this precise data entry? Is anyone else in the household even forklift certified? Problem solved, now intoxication is a thing of the past. Even children can line up in Torrance and breath in refinery fumes wearing baby Bapes, toddler Etnies, with little infant Yeti coolers.

The beer has a watery body but a nice sustain on the swallow that prevents it from feeling like seltzer, there’s a fantastic replication of the hop profile like Stetson cologne, tangelo and satsuma, with a noticeably Dasani drag that doesn’t sustain the hop oils like real beer. This is as good as NA can get. Jokes aside, it is honestly extremely well done and Levi Funk will usher my blog into a bold new era of consciousness.

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Vision Quest Brewing is Making Czech Amber Lagers Cool [again?]

Slow pour stepdad

If you are a white man over the age of 59 you are legally required to start being interested in military history. That piquant mix of self-entitlement coupled with erudition, it’s universal.

There’s a beer version of that. This solipsistic regression to old things, WHAT I KNEW WAS BEST. If most of your touchstones are prescriptive instead descriptive statements, you might be turning into a boomer. Sometimes, through a natural progression, old things just organically become cool again, and not just to guys who drive orthopedic Dodge Challengers.

Watching dark Czech lagers become the 2022 hotness has been strange. So imagine my jaw dropping when the amber versions now started to take hold. It is like when the school collectively rejects the popularity caste system and votes a nice person as homecoming king. Making amber lagers popular undermines the reserve society based, raffle driven, waxed bottle, marginally different lambic, fruit puree smoothie enthusiast side of current beer.

I am here for it. Every taproom should have a LUKR faucet and mliko should be actively encouraged. Start stocking Underberg bandoliers while you are at it. They added Czech ambers to the BJCP style guides in 2015 and homebrew nerds chortled in that “listening to an audiobook isn’t the same as READING a book” way that jowly entitlement feels. They are here to stay.

This beer is like an altbier with water added to it, or a heftier Vienna lager, a breadier ESB? If any of that is in your wheelhouse, then you had a CD cassette adapter in your car and downloaded things off of limewire. It’s a barmat shot of the mid-malt offerings in the lager world. Hops have mild hallertau/Mount Hood zing. The can really doesn’t do it justice but like the Wayfinder example or the insanely good Cohesion variant, this style is a hidden gem.

Insouciantly declaring people SHOULD drink this style is that same self-centered dude rattling off Seven Years War facts unprompted. I merely suggest you try it. Like how you lightly suggest to the guy with the cauliflowered ear that he is uh standing on your jacket. Just please, like im sorry, this is probably my fault, just uh, Czech amber? No? Ok.

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Humble Sea DD HELLES, misleading hazy palates seeking ddh

BRIGHT

With the ice melting on soil and hazy palates, Helles season is upon us. Just tell someone this Double Decocted Helles is DDH and they will immediately start guessing RIWAKA and single digit IBUs. The recent surge of pilsner popularity has seen a rise in crispy-adjacents like Helles and Kolsch. What a time for Bavarian hypebeasts.

The surefire way mediocre breweries ruin all their lagers these days is by “italianizing” the hell out of them with resinous dry hops. That awe shucks rolling the toe in the sand, unconfident in that naked malty approach, we see breweries consistently turn things into IPLs out of insecurity. It is the palate equivalent of all these companies turning to simplified logos. People want the complexity of a biscuity bright helles.

This beer has as the soft nuance and subtle range. The challah bread and clean water cracker is front and center with a touch of Ritz on the swallow complimenting the whisper of itchy fescue in your pastoriAnus. It is focused, direct, and less distracting than people who just took a Myers-Briggs personality test. You just enjoy lagers, you aren’t an empath.

The carbonation is good but could use some residual body to the mouthfeel. It provides increased crushability but loses complexity in the swallow. The result is this watery sort of nothingness that you forget until you chain your next sip. It’s very enjoyable and the sheer volume that you can put away speaks volumes.

If you’re a dude who predicates his self esteem on his Spotify Wrapped, then this simple joy isn’t for you. Oh wow Da Baby and IDLES, a true renaissance man. Those people are too performative, seek validation from external sources. The simple helles is clean and drillable. It presents the actual stylistic reduction that people who wear Aime Leon Dore claim they want, but without the logos. It is post-minimalism in a glass.

If you have ever gone to a Hinge date’s apartment and seen the same Scandinavian wood and lack of possessions, that’s this helles. It is always uniquely the same. Oh look one small fern for a splash of color. A jar with sticks in it. Interior design is my passion. In reducing the clutter, the clean soft bucolic tones are emphasized. This lager doesn’t have a tapestry over its bed though because that would be corny

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Firestone Hopnosis updates the old with the new

Cones leaking

irestone Walker is ambitious and sometimes their cocktail wax wings fly too close to the sun. Thankfully, their core lineup remains solid, dynamic, and accessible. Out the gates I will say seeing a fresh new west coast IPA during the dark days of creamy French dressing IPAs is already amazing.

Firestone is big enough, with a wide enough shadow of influence to change hearts and minds based solely on what they decide to stamp with SKUs, so seeing Hopnosis, an old school beer with new school innovation is refreshing. Some grocery store stepdad may very well have his cryo seal busted wide open and fall backwards into his Living Spaces sectional, Tommy Bahama shirt just dripping in alpha acids. I am here for it.

Being huge means you can cut insane contracts with Yakima. Buy massive BELL printed can orders, use pricey trendy cryo hops like talus, Idaho 7, cashmere, riwaka. These are the Supreme Hoodies of hops that you see industry people scrambling in facebook groups to swap. Heavy is the head that wears the rhizome crown.

But how does it taste? Firestone has to thread the needle with cryo of not overdoing it and going so resinous that it alienates dudes in Nike Dunks and Filson Mackinaw jackets who think IPAs should taste like push pops. It also cant make it so soft that homebrew nerds with Moleskins complain about the “LYCHEE dominant pear affronted swallow.” They do both masterfully. Aserose merged with clementine.

The dry hopping secures the aromatics: melon, cantaloupe, opaque life savers. The body with a snap of carapils/munich almost feels like watery crystal but is so clean and drilled in, it sticks the landing like OG San Diego offerings from the 2000s. THANKS BIDEN NO ONE WANTS TO WORKS NOW MY IPA HAS TWO JOBS.

Boomers can leave the house for six hours without their phones. This old school rugged character seems out of place, but they also cant add a signature to a PDF. This beer is that tech savy grandpa who quips with old radio era bromides and current “NOT ME” tiktok witticisms. It not only tastes good but will be a net benefit to palates due to their insane reach and budget. Nitrofreeze my glands daddy.

Show up in the tasting room like Solid Cryo Snake
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Buried Acorn is like drinking beer in a time machine: Porter Hill Porter

HILL FARMSTEAD C AND D INCOMING

Brendan Fraser movies used to always be the same: some fish out of water guy has to adapt to modern life. He’s a caveman, he’s from the jungle, he’s…Canadian? The entirety of Buried Acorn has a Blast From the Past simplicity to it. Our collective palates are Alicia Silverstone’s onlooking support.

A few years ago, an “old fashioned brewery” would be pejorative. In the wake of drinking literal aseptic 2% abv fruit puree from frosted $190 borosilicate bowls, simple sounds good. Buried Acorn makes beer like if you pulled a 2004 tome off the shelf and looked up the style guidelines during the G W Bush administration.

That coy naivety of flip phones and Myspace RaNdOmNesS feels winsome. Sure, many of the beers will feel so standard that you can almost overlook an over the plate Belgian single, but one stood out.

This porter is so well done, and a call back to ::commences whittling:: simpler times. The mocha carb and frothy sustain is there. The toasty roast of overcooked flapjacks is present. The creamy clean mouthfeel nodding lovingly to Edmund Fitz practically pulls you into the CRT television era.

It’s a weird zone to be praising a relatively low alcohol dark beer that tastes lightly scorched, but it beats drinking Caro syrup. It seems to lean closer to black patent than chocolate malt, but the important thing is that it doesn’t beg for barrel treatment, it isn’t distracting, you can drink this in a movie theater and if you don’t take a photo of this or check it into your portermon database your life will go on.

Alexander Wang designed for Balenciaga and no one wanted his clothes because they were all either extreme or monochrome. This porter is a return to the luxurious simplicity of Debna, a chocolate courduroy thrift store jacket you enjoy for years no one asks you about. Sometimes the best pleasures are those secret throwback pleasures, the furtive judgmental glances from strangers as you eat a Filet O Fish during lent.

If you haven’t visited this robust style in a while, crack one of these in a Balenciaga store and watch them just let you drink it. Kardashians are heavy into porters now.