1

Upper Pass Beer Company Creation’s Shadow is a Warming Nonic of Vermont Hospitality

SWEATER

The bucolic hills of South Royalton, Vermont are home to some 700 souls. This little village is home to Vermont Law School, a notorious party school renowned for Wizard’s staff, King’s Cup, and barleywines. In this bustling hamlet is Upper Pass Beer Company nestled in a farm building, near Tunbridge, famous of course for its coveted THREE covered bridges. How many covered bridges does your terrible city have? That’s what I thought.

With the exception of A-A-Ron, Vermont isn’t exactly a barleywine powerhouse.  So how does Creation’s Shadow fare? At 11% abv it has restraint, the 6 hour boil is notable and reasonable, the 18 months maturation in casks is commendable: the end result is some raisinettes to your whoppers. 

This beer expresses the malt character nicely providing a bit of prune, date, fig, but also delivering a multigrain bread heel for the spirit profile to adhere to. The cask doesn’t dominate and it leans more towards the dark fruit than the melanoidins that you expect. It does nothing in excess and feels like the genial roadside directions from a Lebanon, NH native. The grace of artisan birdhouses at a Monpelier farmer’s market. Sure we can scoot over, we will share this table, hey can you watch my dog, ill be just a minute, I am heading into the syrup outlet, not a problem, the warm squeak of Arcteryx jackets, travelworn transplants seeking the final powder of the season. It’s that.

Listen are you gonna have the craziest time of your life in St. Johnsbury? Maybe, but probably not and if you do it’s like due to you and not some 11% abv barleywine. However, in being gracious and providing a warming old fashioned and a plate of pecan sandies there’s a certain awshucks “use the mud room” type of charm to this. 

This barleywine has that rural charm of scratchy air bnb blankets, a pellet fireplace, critters on the deck. Sure it isn’t luxurious, there’s no triple barrels, double wax, sky high abv, or even a component blend. But this here malty Subaru Forester has seen us through two recessions, countless mud seasons, and creemees with the kids. Those prunes live on as stains on our Columbia fleeces and that’s just fine.

0

Westbound and Down/Bierstadt Collab Chicago Peaks Kolsch is Liquid Online Anonymity

Bicken back bein kolsch

To many people, it is now a desirable trait to date someone with minimal online presence. The excesses of the past generation in dopamine craving, notification harvesting, eValidation, stranger approval scrumming have now come to a head and we are now full circle. Simplicity reigns supreme. No one wants to court someone who has 100k followers in liabilities.

In beer, the reductivist approach is back in vogue as well. The lowly Kolsch, top fermenting placeholder in many production schedules, destined for mediocre scores and ho hum profit margins. There’s difficulty in that simplicity. Try finding a single guy who somehow doesn’t have the tendrils of some internet hollows wrapped around his neck. It’s hard to break free and return to content this is clinically, socially, “unremarkable.” 

Bierstadt and Westbound aren’t exactly on the Rhine and Colorado isn’t exactly Cologne (pronounce it KOHN if you want big PP linguistic energy.) But Kolsch is a cheater style piggybacking on legit pilsners that demands a weird STANGE glass to make up for its historical hemming and hawing. The Brut IPA of German Beer history.

The taste is clean, like lavender handsoap, extremely floral, and this dandelion closer. At first I thought it was my glass, so I opened another can, and it is biscuits, water crackers, and BOOM Method Foaming Hand wash. It seems a new rocky mountain Sur La Table riff on the model. 

The nose is grainy, some Anjou, and again that jasmine. Incredible mouthfeel, flawless retention and lacing, gorgeous clarity, but are you content to have your mouth washed out by a deacon for singing Drake lyrics? How deep in the Bath and Body works hole will you tolerate?

At the 1986 Kolsch Convention I can’t imagine they foresaw Colorado being a hotbed for the best clear beers in the world, so maybe artistic license is warranted. I let it warm and it’s more grand’s biscuit and less of the floral aspects. A return to online anonymity.

Date mysterious people who post PJ Harvey, minimalist white Etsy home aesthetics with ferns, quote Donnie Darko, wear cropped pants, and reference Durkheim in passing. Who cares. If they aren’t online, does the Kolsch even exist?

Smol.
0

Moonlight Brewing: Death, Taxes and the Inevitability of National Beer Day

Come face my schwarzbier you cowards

When I was in undergrad at Berkeley, is a subordinate clause I try to never use, but we used to go to this place Jupiter and order the craziest things we could find on the taplist. Over and over, it was Moonlight Brewing. Gruit brewed with spruce tips, A BLACK PILSNER, and the iconic Death and Taxes. Tasting Arrogant Bastard or Hop Rod Rye or HOP STOOPID next to Brian’s beers felt so different for that time period.

Beer persists and now Moonlight is in cans. You don’t have to go across the bay bridge to Zeitgiest and sit with techbros in Patagonia microfleece vests complain about how there are bikes stacked everywhere. Now Moonlight itself feels as consistent as lunar beams. They’ll ship Reality Czech to your doorstep and it will land on top of your case of Kern Citra. What even is life right now.

On National Beer Day I think back on old Death and Taxes and what an insane marketing strategy pushing a schwarzbier is/was. There simply isn’t a higher flavor :: abv :: calorie ratio in the game, with Edmund Fitzgerald looking onward balefully. The clean wash of a tight lager, the roast and pumpkernickle of a porter, UK tier sessionability, and somehow a black beer that feels refreshing.

There will be many more National Beer Days, and beer honestly has never been better.  The main takeaway of the past year is how much beer is dependent on the forum, manner, and people it is consumed with. A context free black lager is just something to drill while watching Vanderpump Rules and pinning high waisted culottes and cropped equestrian jackets to your Pintrest. Add people, missions, nighttime walks, open containers, then beer allays the inevitability of Death and Taxes, instead of just numbing them.

Whatever your Death and Taxes is, crack one today, because public negligence and crying and bad right swipes and lost security deposits and black out Mexican food and everything else is on the horizon. Beer has been patiently waiting for an entire year to return to the people and places that give it meaning.

0

Wren House Brewing Barrel Select 1: a Riposte to Stout Excess

“How do I do portrait mode but like in video”

Modern harbors continue to be dredged deeper. To accommodate larger cargo vessels packed with more disposable garbage, the seafloor is scraped to boost TEU units, ultimately the excess is the undoing. All the ships end up larger and coming from like ten places, because packing in weight is job one.

If you didn’t already see the opaque parallels to stout production, welcome aboard. Toot toot. Like a choose your own adventure novel for someone who is about to get stretch marks, stouts can go two ways: first, a reversion to simplicity letting the casks express the intent or second, fight for confectionary additive dominance. Wren chose to exit the glucose matrix.

Stout quality is increasing and the demand for god tier casking is driving demand. The most successful Bourbon County in a decade is double barrel, BBT, TWCP Maman, none of these grind or bisect any beans.

Barrel select 1 is the phenomenal Kingsnake base, but cask only. No wafflecone or exotic bean sourcing, just malt and staves. The result is a stout that expresses waves of red fruit, Malbec, cherry cordial, currant, dried cranberry, black and milds, black patent malt, a silky chocolate rayon with tightly woven seams.

After you are long gone, the excesses from a Chinese cargo ship will live on, terrible Tory Burch flats that will never biodegrade. An infinitely scrolling timeline with adaptive ads. Four single women in their late 20s screaming the lyrics to Poker Face with a half empty bottle of birthday cake Ciroc in a 740sf apartment. The La Brea tar pit of excess. It swallows extremely dry with the wood imparting a weird toasted pecan thing that mixed with the fruit leather like a summer salad without the beets. In what can only be an accounting error: you can drink the entire bottle yourself and there isn’t any oily coconut eczema, so you can tell they skimped.

Cargo ships will push dredging to complete muck. It is untenable and the brownie batter dredge spoil is bad for everyone. Silt, shells, floppy disks, fathead posters, broken barrel staves, box wine bags, anthropogenic land masses made by mouthbreathing chocolate gurglers who constantly need more.

Learn to swim see you down in Arizona bay
0

Private Press Brewing Electric Roads is Fantastically Excessive Like Gated Reverb

Prepare for normal people to not be as excited about Private Press as you are

Phil Collins accidentally discovered gated reverb while mixing down a Peter Gabriel track in 1979. This inorganic drum sound infected pop music for years to come. The compression took what people were used to and amplified it with infectious results.

With Private Press, some often still try to compare these bottles to old Jackie O’s offerings. This double barrel barleywine exhibits the difference in approach between both notably good products. It seems as though some are reticent to believe a society only beer as the impressions can be gated reverb themselves, echoing the quality to affirm their own financial decisions.

This isn’t Phil Collins, take a look at me now, when I tell you this is such a cask driven novel spin on the style. You get the toffee and Skor bar, sure. But when this opens up to 62 degrees it starts to unfold like a cherry cordial/raisinette/Dr. Pepper prune aspect that blurs the genre of almost a non-acetic oud Bruin with thise waves of black cherry.

It’s a degree of luxury that begins to feel like that irritating friend who has gotten deep into home theater. You nod trying to embrace hearing about Cardas Clear optical cables that cost $1,500 for optimal physical media fidelity. It’s costly but you feel the difference.

It doesn’t mask this elegance and the marketing materials are knowingly over the top, that friend at a karaoke bar who clear wants to sing but feigns resistance “ok FINE, I’ll sing Evanesence, omg you guys-“ Its worth it for the swallow that is all fig Newton and Oh Henry, a drag longer than the Zach Snyder cut of Justice League.

This isn’t mobile or accessible. It’s hard to open this in any context where you won’t be able to talk about it, so you can’t go opening this with your girlfriend’s friends boyfriend who is all into Trager pellet grills and talking about “now they cancelled Pepe Lepew and Dr Seuss!”

Know your audience is what I’m saying. If you don’t care about a double barrel blend with a 7 barrel liner sheet outlining the threads blended, then just imagine you try talking about it to a woman wearing a three finger ring and a swoopy sun hat.

Your excess is their Phil Collins and your gated reverb will embarass yourself in the wrong context.

0

Little Bit: Sante Adairius Seeks to Dominate the Lager Game

Named after the dog on 1000lbs Sisters

@rusticales is perhaps tied with HF as the best saison purveyor in the US, top 3 at the very least. The ultra hard water profile had this minerality that made me never love their hop game because it was perfunctory and felt almost too succinct. They improved that and, now suddenly the mixed ferm Capitola kids are fermenting from the bottom up.

HELLES. On one hand, they are so precise in executing such a sloppy farmhouse style with intent that lagers make sense. On the other, the pinpoint accuracy of a helles seems too minimalist for their attention. The contrast between the two is often the difference between “gym lighting” and thinking you have triceps and “natural lighting” where the world sees you in direct sunlight. A disparity can exist.

If you grab your FC Bayern jersey and expect pure Munich, let me temper your traditional leanings: this is a SARA style helles. It is better in many ways, but it’s not that “4A BJCP” entry straight outta south Bavaria.

This has such a vibrant, solar, lemon, challah bread, jasmine with Chanel Allure Homme citrus to it that it almost feels like a lager table bier. It knowingly breaks convention but uses a bone dry finish to provide a knowing nod to their deviance. It’s like when someone gets in your car and points out your check engine light is on, like “OH REALLY? Thanks for that, I only sit here every day seeing that, wow, maybe I do have a C70 oxygen sensor I need to take care of, good job pointing that out.” But the whip still pulls sick burnouts.

The swallow is terse but radioactive, irradiating the palate with sourdough, raked fescue, Bermuda, and key limes. Part of the Saharan swallow even feels like a Sancerre. It has the haysweet smell of your vegan ex girlfriend’s sweat, haunting that Sublime hoodie. The grassiness is a little Altoids tin of secrets, maybe a furtive object you stole from his car after you lost your virginity, a physical bauble to ground the experience, add meaning to the milestone, until reeking of Helles you realize that stylistic objectivity is a social construct, like virginity itself. And ritz cracker is there too.

It’s very well done. No one should be surprised at this point.

0

Woodford Reserve Masters Collection “VERY FINE RARE BOURBON” Series no. 16 is the real and actual name of this bourbon

Scanning for age in progress

In writing the term Ab Ovo refers to the concept that the story begins at the start of the narrative. With bourbon, what you are purchasing is often in media res within a series of casks that have been laying around a rickhouse for years. The synthesis is in the bourbon collector, who finds that everything revolves around them.

It is protagonist syndrome for corn juice and everyone else is a supporting character in these guys’ lives. Enter Woodford Reserve Masters Collection “VERY FINE RARE BOURBON” [that is the real name] Series no. 16.

The label says 16th release, but this is the fifteenth. The press release says that this has 17 year juice in it, but not how much. The proofing is 90, but this looks darker than Sun Tea made in Scottsdale. The retail is $130 but I paid $199. So many questions.

At first I was like why does this cost exponentially more than the Distiller’s Select, which is like $40. Then I realized it’s that teenage bathwater in there. The Belle Delphine modifier making middle management insurance adjusters just pine to put this on an IKEA Kallax book case and never open it. The original NFT. Adult action figures never to be played with, possession is the joy itself.

But is it $150+ good? It’s very enjoyable. Nose is sugar babies, solid split lumber waft, sandalwood, musk like Maison Margiele Replica cologne, closes with Graham Cracker. The age is present and accounted for like an Only Fans account, commanding a premium without any feet.

The taste provides layers of horsehide leather, allspice, cream of wheat with brown sugar, and a peanut brittle swallow. It is extremely dry and you know where all that extra money went, the wildly long, old, refined swallow. It is Eagle Rare 17 if you ordered it off of Wish.com.

Is this “overpriced?” Ok it doesn’t state the percentage of teen liquid attendant here, but the taste is there. If this was age stated 17, it would be like $500 so, fine step on me a bit daddy. If you’ve ever dropped your date off and then basked in the long clapping fart billowing warm into car seat leather, held for hours on end, you know the relief and pleasure of deferred enjoyment. This is really satisfying

0

Ambitious Ales Lelu is Well Qualified to Represent the LBC

You can finish the whole thing and get your kids from their stepmoms house

Whenever I see heavily fruited golden sours in clear glass with clean white labels, I can practically envision the marketing director pleading with the brunch casual consumer. HEY YOU LIKE ORANGE WINE, what about uh, ITS JUST LIKE PET NAT. It feels targeted. I fabricate ideas about the intent of the product and it feels like it is beer aimed at the natural wine segment, men wearing more than 4 rings, long sloping stetson hats, knit cardigans, the clackity clack of French tips with nail art awaiting the belini refill.

However, I am often wrong. Sometimes these beers are fantastic and serve a less cynical purpose, they are just good. Ambitious ales is a place I knew about for hazy IPAs, not this Tired Handsy type of stuff.

The high abv/high sugar market is usually flooded with the type of beer consumer who doesn’t own a bed frame and has that one plaid pillow. Austere and sad, purpose driven existence. This beer feels more like one of those black felt boards with white letters pushed into them. Esty nectarines incarnate, a low abv dream journal with “MANIFEST PEDIO” underlined several times. It’s extremely dry but somehow with almost zero body doesn’t let either the fruit pith or the acidity dominate. It is Kerns meets Powerade, electrolytes and Sancerre.

How is this happening in Long Beach? Perhaps I am not well qualified to represent the LBC.

This beer ends up being exceptional at spinning the red wine barrel thread for dryness, fruit for sweetness, and a pedio/canned brett drei for a wisp of brie rind complexity. It is the beer equivalent of “THE BAR IS IN HELL” and “This triggered my fight or flight” and other canned responses in the comment section.

This furthers my agenda of getting people to drink grisettes and also wards off scurvy from ochre mouthed dudes who still shop at Tilly’s as an adult. This brings everyone to the table. It’s simple and comforting in a disturbing way like Youtube ASMR videos of fishnets tearing or pushing a red hot knife through objects.

The world is reopening slowly, and these are the beers that will structure those coveted first gatherings. I am here for 3.5% adventures.

0

Newground sent me a chai cardamom nitro hard latte. I am forever changed.

Newground sent me this hard Dutch chai tea cardamom nitro latte. I sat looking at this for a few weeks trying to figure out when this is for? Before a hike when you want to get 5% drunk? After church services where they are reading the Book of Ruth? When do I want the refreshing lavender cardamom punch of dryer sheets but also the crackle of Lake Havasu seltzers?

It pours with a Yoo-hoo meets Muscle Milk body, the black tea has this dryness like steeped Earl grey lines of adderrall crushed on the back of a Chainsmokers cd case. There’s a lot going on and I wish I had more of these for when pandemic is over so I can stonefaced pour this for a friend and solemnly tell them “I’m super into craft beer, this is what we are into now.” And imagine how many people they talk about me to. Fine, it isn’t beer but it’s strangely good. It’s got that amount of alcohol where your ex is picking your kids up and he’s brought Taylinn a girl he met doing motocross. Just a little drunk.

Sipping some sun tea and being like “what if this had half and half and body lotion added?” Again, but in this whimsical fun way where you have this as your first drink and wonder what manner of mischief the night holds.

Your friends leaning in asking “you got any more of that gravy tea?” And you give them a knowing wink and loudly crack the nitro can and you already know you’re not getting that security deposit back and honestly being a landlord isn’t a real job, sure use the sled on the stairs. Hard chai lattes are a hell of a drug, bro she has a middle part and wears cropped jeans and doesn’t know who Tool is. Yeah I met her at Dutch Bros and started showing her my NON FUNGIBLE TOKEN COLLECTION-

0

Firestone Walker Released Their First Pastry Stout, Dark Ray. It is Released.

You can buy extras if you are a member and so desire them.

Firestone Walker has a $600 cellarmaster society that you can join and this is the first member exclusive beer. Duvel exhaled and set forth this perfectly adequate beer, years too late.

This beer is 11.6% abv, watch out. But it is not bigger than my head. Impossible standard, I realize. Brewmaster Matt Brynildson noted “this is the closest thing to a pastry stout Firestone Walker has made,” and that statement is saying more than they realize. Firestone is part of the old guard, decades established, rabid casual fanbase, who excel at classic beer and riffs on English styles. A pastry stout simply doesn’t align with their history or skillset to embrace the entitlement and excess of the modern F5’ing degenerate.

This beer, like the Cellarmaster society, should have come out a decade ago in the nascent whipped batter period of pastry pubescence. The body is a halfway house between Parabola and Velvet Merkin, which when VM came out in 2014 was deemed way too thin, let alone in the modern 19 plato Finishing Gravity Weldwerks era. The beer feels reluctant and compelled.

There’s much hemming and hawing with coconut, vanilla, cocoa nibs. Like it was a Court order for stout community service that isn’t performed with zeal for the roadside cleanup. It’s extremely well made, flawless carb and retention, subtle balance of tootsie roll, Kit Kat bar, Nougat with the coconut in more of a lipid support role. It’s pretty okay. Globally, to all stouts, it fails the task successfully. The Kirkland “BA STOUT” that excels in nebulous quality

FW sells 75% within the state of CA, which makes for some of the worst entry tier enthusiasts ever. Costco ballers don’t know any better. They will absolutely love this and talk about it at their Rotary meetings. When one of their friend’s kids gets into an exclusive Montessori school, this is what they pop. Opening the restaurant bill and saying WHAT’S THE DAMAGE. That type of consumer believes that FW makes the absolute best saisons and relative to their world, yes, this is the best pastry stout they’ve ever had. It is as delicious as it needs to be, concise, clinical, perfunctory it feels like deep down Firestone didn’t really want to make this