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.


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-


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


Suarez Cabana, Your Own Adolescent Pilsner Shack in the Sun

In 12 angry men the director leverages a low angle to imply dominance, here the viewer is forced to acknowledge the granite

When I was little I was obsessed with forts. I wanted that autonomy of having a place that was my own, even if it meant basically sitting outside in Clovis heat. I would steal materials from construction projects. My husky elementary school frame lugging sheets of plywood, boxes of plaster, the evergreen spool table. A clubhouse has a juvenile sense of being that reconciles youth with adulthood. Baby’s first mortgage.

Suarez masterfully bridges the gap between inexperience and disinterest. Each sip of Cabana pils feels effortless like a sleight of hand magician. It exists both as the first beer you ever had and the final beer you would ever need. It’s like pressing two bookends against one another and closing the lager library.

This has a 4.2 on Untappd, which is the bottom fermented equivalent of winning the Palme D’Or. It isn’t as strictly clean as a german pils should be, and it’s better for it. The light haze has this pillowy grace, like the clean moves of a fencer, gripping a biscuit epee.

My favorite Pils of all time is Reality Czech. BJCPhiles knock that beer for having too much of a floral bite. Cabana leans heavy into key lime, arugula, Cara Cara, with an angsty Tommy Girl finish. The wheaty body of this beer also makes it super approachable to baby palates and jaded stretchmarked bros in stout splattered New Balances.

This beer takes things you already know and clicks the + on PalateMaps. It goes granular on the forgettable. THERE’S MY OLD DAY CARE. The sweet cornbread aspect is like those linguistic shibboleths kids all know. SAVE SOME WATER FOR THE WHALES! Slapping you on the back as you crush these cans. There’s an enduring place for beer that can be present for any occasion, weddings and wakes.

There’s that interlacing of fingers as she tells you that he isn’t just an office friend and you begin calculating how many months are left in your lease. It refreshes in a chilling way. In making the old new, you finally earn your clubhouse, that crushable freedom. Four pieces of plywood stacked against one another in a Fresno field. The Cabana simplicity is amazing and you are want for nothing.

“Too green, I wait eleven days before cracking”

1965 Antique Bourbon six year, the only redeeming attribute is time.

No one cares. I just want to get vaccinated.

Here’s a Don Draper airplane mini of 1965 Antique six year. People love to fetishize and retcon old bourbon quality like somehow over time producers forgot how or make worse bourbon now. It’s that spice of inaccessibility that gets any hobbyist nipples lactating because it validates all the stupid money and time spent finding purpose in a futile endeavor.

Eagle Rare is better than most things from the past and it sits at grocery stores. Case in point, some Seagrams juice from the LBJ era. The nose is heavy on the iodine and children’s aspirin. A touch of printer toner cartridge and menthol comes through. The taste has none of that and drinks like a watery, tame, completely forgettable mixer bourbon like Ancient Age.

But what did you expect? Time in the glass to transmogrify this? Imagine being on a boring commuter flight in 1965 and some guy tucks some Janky bourbon away declaring he will savor this 56 years later. You’d probably put out your cigarette in the arm ashtray immediately. It’s fine. It feels like eating a vintage comic book. No one else can enjoy it now and the only novel aspect of time has been consumed, as time consumes us all. The turbines spin endlessly, jet lagging us all until we reach our final destination.


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.