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Can Zymarium Make a Mead So Weird Even They Can’t Lift It?

JJ and the crew posted up

Usually when something is ambitious, it has to also be good. Like if you throw on 1916 classic silent film, INTOLERANCE, as we do, you might be like “wow an entire set of a Babylon palace” while also saying “holy shit this movie sucks and is kinda…boring?”

Sometimes things are just ambitious, full stop. Zymarium runs at such a small scale that they can attempt weird things, fail, dust the Sauv Blanc pomace off of their Carhartt t shirts and keep on pressing those honeycombs.

Crucible of Worlds III was not delicious, not in the strictest sense. Maybe doing a 51% honey and 49% mead/wine hybrid is for the type of person whose favorite dish is Cioppino. I’m sure they exist but, do we really need to do all this to cater to those weirdos?

Take a musky funky Sancerre, and beat it up with Febreeze floral linen blasts. Then pump out the body of a usually svelte pouilly fuisse, and give it that flabby skinny fat aesthetic, tucking your lower “abs” into your leggings. It’s all honey knees and elbows.

If we view this as 49% wine, it is 49% a complete failure. If a Somm served you this bizarre fortified experiment, you would do that hemming and hawing windup to asking for “literally anything else im so sorry I never do this. House white even.” But because this is ostensibly a mead, it is judged within the framework of people who wear Warby Parkers and sigh loudly when you change the YouTube video they showed you too quickly. Finnicky sensitive cross body bag types. Scribbling away their Chardonnay affirmations before drinking a 32oz glass of water and intermittent fasting.

At a certain point you have to be successful enough to justify your eccentricities otherwise you’re just the friend people have to explain before you show up in a swoopy hat. This doesn’t justify all the bonkers madness it presents. It is both extremely dry but also with a creamy strange dustiness to it, like if you ate a Pineapple scented car air freshener. There’s probably no calories, but at what cost?

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Can Zymarium Make a Mead So Weird Even They Can’t Lift It?

JJ and the crew posted up

Usually when something is ambitious, it has to also be good. Like if you throw on 1916 classic silent film, INTOLERANCE, as we do, you might be like “wow an entire set of a Babylon palace” while also saying “holy shit this movie sucks and is kinda…boring?”

Sometimes things are just ambitious, full stop. Zymarium runs at such a small scale that they can attempt weird things, fail, dust the Sauv Blanc pomace off of their Carhartt t shirts and keep on pressing those honeycombs.

Crucible of Worlds III was not delicious, not in the strictest sense. Maybe doing a 51% honey and 49% mead/wine hybrid is for the type of person whose favorite dish is Cioppino. I’m sure they exist but, do we really need to do all this to cater to those weirdos?

Take a musky funky Sancerre, and beat it up with Febreeze floral linen blasts. Then pump out the body of a usually svelte pouilly fuisse, and give it that flabby skinny fat aesthetic, tucking your lower “abs” into your leggings. It’s all honey knees and elbows.

If we view this as 49% wine, it is 49% a complete failure. If a Somm served you this bizarre fortified experiment, you would do that hemming and hawing windup to asking for “literally anything else im so sorry I never do this. House white even.” But because this is ostensibly a mead, it is judged within the framework of people who wear Warby Parkers and sigh loudly when you change the YouTube video they showed you too quickly. Finnicky sensitive cross body bag types. Scribbling away their Chardonnay affirmations before drinking a 32oz glass of water and intermittent fasting.

At a certain point you have to be successful enough to justify your eccentricities otherwise you’re just the friend people have to explain before you show up in a swoopy hat. This doesn’t justify all the bonkers madness it presents. It is both extremely dry but also with a creamy strange dustiness to it, like if you ate a Pineapple scented car air freshener. There’s probably no calories, but at what cost?

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Barrell Seagrass is pushing the limits of finishing casks

Just make sure my rye don’t taste like rye

There’s this old bromide that goes “never yuck someone else’s yum” and if you like Seagrass Rye, please, don’t let me yuck on your yum. In most cases, secondary or finishing casking sets my bullshit alarms off. Four different types of finishing casks shoots me into the suspicion stratosphere.

This looks like a very young rye from undisclosed distilleries in Indiana, Tennessee, Canada, anywhere but Kentucky. The chin scratching intensifies. I am a huge fan of Barrell and since they dropped they offer some high age statements without hype, no allocation, just good stuff at a reasonable [ relative to secondary ] price.

With rye, I usually just want transparency and age. I almost never want finishing in both Martinique Rhum Agricole casks, apricot brandy casks, and Madeira barrels as a rule of thumb. But is it good?

First you will need to sift through so many piles of hard candies, dots, geriatric red raspberry dollars, spun sugar, and an almost saltwater taffy aspect. It doesn’t feel like rye, it aligns like that sweet corn pops waft from the shiny aluminum bag.

The rye is present in the taste but the crisp mint and eucalyptus is weirdly covered in confectioner’s sugar. Try chewing Wrigley’s wintergreen and juicy fruit at the same time. People who like this listen to The Antlers and Mount Eerie and brag about not owning a TV.

This feels novel and strange for a strictly wheelie sense. If E.H. Taylor released this it would come with a 14 page PDF explaining some nonsense mythology about how an antebellum past distillery owner was sipping apricot brandy and madeira or something and it would sell for $3200. The end result feels cloying and strange, like when people Snapchat themselves going through the car wash. Who is the intended audience here.

If you like that sticky sweet airhead flavor with your herbal disgestif, here you go. It’s thin, it’s young, it has #wanderlust in its IG bio with city > codes > like anyone cares where you used to live.

At least it feels novel and classy, but maybe not to the usual bourbon bro who looks like he was just released from spending time inside of a Jumanji board game.

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Cellarmaker db brew 1000, the next in a proud b1000 barley lineage

Rasinette extract

In “Sunday in the Park with George” Stephen Sondheim sets forth a tragic song Finishing the Hat, in which an artist, George Seurat, becomes so obsessed with his art that he loses touch with other aspects of his life.

Barleywine can be gripping and powerful, waking up to a cold Doordash order you fell asleep and never retrieved. Art can be all consuming.

The thing about pointillism is that small distinct dots are meticulously applied. It takes forever, and in the process you create a larger work. This works for lagers and main line beers but the barleywine world needs a cohesive whole. When I heard that Cellarmaker was throwing its hat into the ring, I immediately wondered if they could finish the hat.

The name Batch 1000 tips the brim to the likes of Midnight Sun M, for their 1000th batch, but also echoes Fremont’s B1k which set the barleyworld ablaze in more modernity. It’s a loaded beer name. It’s like naming an album “Self-Titled” or “The White Album” people are gonna have some expectations.

Thankfully, this doesn’t get mired on Seurat pointillism and presents a cohesive whole. At points, too much a whole. This is a collaboration with Anchorage Brewing, but it feels leaner and more spirit driven than the Devil line, despite the 17% abv callback. The fig jam is dolloped on rye bread, burned bagel chips provide the structure for the absolutely intense sheeting in the form of bruised plum, overripe peach, butterscotch, with a wafty Madeira meets fortified wine finish.

Finishing the Hat involves sacrificing experience to finish your art. You may be unable to finish this beer. The taste is sinewy and firey like DOMS, rye Manhattan crackling in your veins like speakeasy C4 pre-workout. The swallow provides a wave of fruit leather and slight unagi sauce.

It’s a beer for people who pretentiously back into parking spots. For dudes who take hoodies off overhead and slovenly show their entire abdomen. The bottle equivalent of the Fight Club assignment to start a fight and then lose on purpose. It is fantastic, but a loose cannon.

[drunk, to MS Paint] “Look, I made a hat. Where there was never was a hat. I called my ex nine times.”

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Calusa Brewing Ignorant Clod Hits Florida with a Barleywine Slider

No coffee this time thank god

Calusa is a brewery that is decidedly “non-floridian” in execution. They aren’t on tap at Daytona, none of their beers taste like escort spit, and none of them feel like a trip to Nickelodeon Studios. They peddle in gentleness.

This has both strengths and weaknesses in such a strange market. Their “fringe” styles become amazing, English milds, table beers, Kolschs all end up being so refreshing that it feels out of step with their everglades pedigree. But what about their strong ales?

The same canvas that they splash highly attenuative sugars onto suddenly feels less severe. The barleywine begins to tell another tale. Without crushing residual sugars to float the typical MELANOIDIN-MAILLARD REACTIONS BRO that you usually hear nonstop from toffeemouths, interesting things happen.

Oak volatiles end up going rogue. That heavy toast from the bourbon barrels doesn’t just present the bromidic VANILLINININ that makes men in one-size-too-small screen print tees nod with wafflecone abandon. Things go tannic in a different direction. The bottom hem doesn’t even touch the belt line.

Ignorant Clod 2022 has this remarkable dryness. The oak lactone takes it to a coconut zone at the outset. But without the saccharine body, it hits an old ale meets European presentation akin to HOTD/Lervig Paragon. I hope you like wet prune and sticky Syrah. Things tweak just a little bit, like when Julia Fox says UNCAHT JAHMS.

This is a stylistic decision unquestionably since the prior coffee Clods were unlike this. I foresee people who want a strictly butterscotch affair will be all confused, like when you tell a Boomer to scan a QR code to see the menu and they lose their minds. The swallow holds the barleywine ship together and reminds you of the sweetness while imparting a port/Madeira aspect.

This isn’t like when you tell yourself you will “get gas in the morning” and wake up hating life. This is properly planned and imparts an effortlessness that draws Sarasota Florida closer to the UK. The opposite of this would be terrifying: dudes in XXXL Dolphins jerseys dipping Skoal stealing catalytic converters off of Astras in Shaftesbury.

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Vennture Brew Co The Night Crew – Midwest Nice in stout form

LET ME SCOOTCH PAST YA

My account is shadowbanned and I almost got nuked for that Threes Brewing post, so let’s get back to some friendly midwest stout reviews.

Let’s head to Wauwatosa with Vennture Brrew Co. and see what America’s drunkest state is up to. The co-founder Rob Gustafson was running for alderman, and they are making J. Henry Bourbon barrel stouts. So far so good.

Four years in this weird little coffee roaster/brewery/café in Milwaukee continues to turn out hyperlocal offerings. Using J Henry barrels so it’s WI wood on WI juices is a nice touch but if we could have had the brewer mascot leave his tiny chalet in Lakefront and take a tip in the barrel covered in curds, the cliché trifecta would have been complete.

The beer itself is Midwest nice. Shovels your walkway with light whoppers and faint heat. As it warms, the genial snow capped plains of Wisconsin come into chocolatey focus. The long horizon level Kurasawa shot shows that this is serious but approachable. It has a sense of place with never being over bearing or presenting too much residual sugar, firmly in that Central Water pocket of modern “thin” execution. The amiable thigh slapping of a “WELP GUESS THAT’S IT” signaling a Milwaukee goodbye.

Swallow is succinct and deliberate, a hint of swiss miss and Ovaltine with a roasty drag that feels honestly more like a Baltic porter in its laconic, respectful tenancy in your mouth. So much of the modern stout world are total sugarbomb attention seekers. Oh good, that stout is wearing a captain’s hat nowhere near water, I am sure nothing completely irritating is about to happen.

I miss these softer outings, where a tightly wound stout is a single serving and not a sticky batter covered mastodon for the entire glucose cavetasting group to fell. So kick off your Wolverines, have some booyah stew, and drink an entirely calm and enjoyable stout with no resale value, only inherent taste value.

OPE, busted, I have never been to Wisconsin, but if it is anything like the little @vennturebrewco stout, I sure would like to visit and go around apologizing to everyone.

Battle ropes.

Cripes.

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Hirsch Single Barrel Bourbon, would a purple top by another label smell any less sweet

DoNt dO neCk pOuR rEviewS

Hirsch Single Barrel caused a huge buzz in the cornwater streets last month after it was rumored to be Shasta Willet purple top. This is precisely the rampant speculation that the bourbon world thrives on.

It’s not like the marketing for Hirsch has ever made sense. Most bourbon marketing is just finding a random antebellum Southern dude and mythologizing them for holding keys or securing a bank loan. So much of modern bourbon is taking money from other people, made in other industries, to buy distillate made by other anonymous people, hiding the source, relabeled by a PR team, fictionalizing a historical figure, to “release” to the backroom of a store that somehow sold enough terrible VEEV vodka, to be able to earn one of these bottles that the underpaid employees then sell on Facebook as a de facto wage stipend to a guy in middle management who will never enjoy it and end up losing it in a divorce proceeding. SWEET BARDSTOWN LIQUIDS.

Hirsch is now made by the household name HOTALING: who we all buy our Luxardo cherries from, Nikka and Old Potrero fame. Anchor is just clipping right along. At least it isn’t another godless Buffalo Trace product. The transparency of 7 years, 7 months, dark as dehydrated trucker piss, and what appears to be cask strength.

Nose is cracker jacks, boston baked beans, and dried apricots. The waft doesn’t scream Willett to me, but the palate brings things closer to that realm. At 125 pf it doesn’t feel as abusive as you would expect, more like breadcrumbing love bombing ex-bf who loves the movie DRIVE, and you can wrangle this without a watery proofback. It has a lot of Darjeeling tea meets Sees candy butterscotch sucker, dry but with a lively saccharine quality showing its youth. The finish is warm but not excoriating, it crackles with a churro and Boot Barn energy. Industrial grade confectionary solvent.

So is this dollar store Willett? If you’re a dude who wears TravisMathew and has the new Ford Bronco as your desktop wallpaper, then sure. Those purple tops never get opened anyway so it’s like Fox’s Joe Millionaire, it is the trashy fun we had along the way cashing in.

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Solemn oath seer of visions rewrites the hazy triple playbook

Vision no Scarlett

In February we find ourselves smack in the midst of Triple IPA season. The cascading crystal malts of loneliness washing upon the shores of Valentines Day dry hopping creates the aserose riptide of this resinous season. He gave you “the ick” and I blame Pliny the Younger.

Every February breweries all roll out with the Shasta Youngers so locals can polish an apple on their lapels and opine “well you know what’s ACTALLY BETTER than Pliny-“ and Triple IPAs see a spike in sales. The pumpkin beers of dry January’s conclusion. The screenshot of your vaccine card is six left swipes away from your nudes.

What bout HAZY triple IPAs? Sure Other Half and Monkish used to butter their oat croissants with them but that’s a polarizing orange Julius beast to wrangle. They either turn out too sweet like Theraflu and orange fun dip, or far too resinous and soapy. The body can swing all over the place from dried out egg drop soup to flabby almond milk.

Solemn Oath does a very good but not excellent iteration of this wildly challenging style. The chief virtue of a hazy triple is usually “IT TASTES LIKE A SINGLE.” The same way excellent Vodka tastes like, well nothing. The grapefruit pith, creamy froth of lemon meringue in a food processor, swallow that imparts wateriness and gristy goodness. It is all calculated. It has that “golden retriever pick me energy” that people born in the 2000s love to pathologize.

The nose gives you a smack of that citrus pixie stick mixed with hanging tree car freshener. The carb and sustain which is insanely hard to nail on these is done so exceedingly well here. If your hazy turns instantly tepid with no retention, just lying there like broth, it is about to be a zesty trudge.

Naperville was voted the second best place to live by Money magazine, which probably means wealthy, white middle upper class with “affordable” homes if I am taking a wild guess since I have never been to the Napes. You live here wear Arcteryx tell people about your night at Nomi and have a hydroflask with NPR donor stickers on it. But the edge is you love hazy triple IPAs. U so bad. Sometimes you ride the L and put it on your IG stories. Ur dangerous.

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Bookers Little Book 5: a two year old and a 15 year old try to make it work

Baby monitor is peepin

I have drank more Bookers in my life than any other bourbon and Little Book 5 makes no god damn sense to me. The label states that this $160 ($125 MSRP) bourbon was aged for two years. The liner notes indicate it is a blend of 2, 3, 5 and… FIFTEEN year old whiskey. So Jim Beam is just blending gas station white label Beam with anniversary Knob Creek. Beam is making bourbon the way that Chrysler made K cars in the 1980s, just hitting the parts bin and throwing things together.

Unlike Teen Mom, saddling a 15 year old with a 2 year old has some fascinating implications here.

“The Invitation” is 116.8 proof and looks like you took the Martinellis pale white lightning and stepped on it with that deep sun tea of the teenage stocks. Trying to reconcile the two is like having an annoying friend who “double texts” for emphasis. It enters with sweet corn flakes, banana taffy, then hard shifts to apple fritter, McDonalds baked pie, semianiline leather. These two profiles just battle it out like some negligent Kentucky Day Care.

The aged aspects have the loving notes of B25/B30 for a fleeting moment. If you have the misfortune of knowing someone who posts about “SONDER” and being the main character, you know the illusion of depth that falls apart upon the slightest examination. That person was listening to David Guetta just a few years ago.

The young aspects are whimsical and taste like mature Basil Haydens coupled with a guy who knows exactly how much Sudafed you’re allowed to buy at Walgreens. It is refined but trashy. Swallow is long and provides pepper, baking spices, way more approachable than regular Bookers, but more nuanced than Bakers.

The sum is something that feels elegant or thoughtful but comes across more like a white person doing Ukele covers of hip hop songs. Why am I not just enjoying the real version of this? For $160 you can just drink the 15 year stocks, go get the 15 year knob creek or pay half as much and have 12 year knob creek.

Nothing in bourbon is about taste at this point. We will all be drinking Jim Beam white label store picks by 2026.

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Revolution VSOR is back and it is bigger than ever, in every way

Daddy fat stacks BIG VSOR BOY

There’s a new segment of fashion called Gorpcore for dudes who don’t hike but overpay for expensive hiking clothes. In emphasizing the rugged aspects, a weird refinement emerges. VSOR is “good old raisins and peanuts” core.

But is GORP authentic?

I was sternly admonished by Ashleigh Carter from Bierstadt Lagerhaus for throwing around the word “thin.” Let’s talk about “perceived viscosity” then. For a solid three decades in beer, hitting efficient terminal gravities was seen as a virtue. Now breweries will get nuked on Untappd by a guy who has never tried Celebrator for “SKIMPING” and having a beer that is tHiN.

You would do well do not listen to redfaced dudes who rock Nike ACG and Arcteryx but hate the outdoors. The intent has to match the execution. VSOR is big but is this a stylistic choice?

The perceived virtues have changed. Now the glucophiles want that pancreas running at full clip with every bottle popped.

Ryeway has traditionally been on the more shredded, lean malt to abv ratio. Lengthy casking can further strip down the perception of THICC values. You’ll often watch maladjusted men overpay for a double barrel stout and then complain that its “thinner” and “hotter” and “needs more time to mellow” when they paid a premium for this.

Now enter VSOR. The R was the less sung hero to VSOJ and true gourmands recognized its value. The prior iteration was phenomenal within striking distance of VSOJ’s near perfection. This batch is still exceptional, extremely well done. However it is wildly different in character.

The heft and slick slide to the mouthfeel is very out of comport with other Deep Woods entries, not in a bad way. There is a sheeting and chewiness to VSORb2 that aligns more with Side Project or Aslin barleywines.

Marty at Revolution almost loves to intentionally strip down the body of these beers to let the expensive casks and patient blending shine. This works in an interesting way. This has a heftier coat, but it doesn’t pang of unfermented sugars. The body gives more surface skin for the cherry cordial, gingerbread, honey roasted peanuts, and caramel pretzels aspects to shine. I will hike for this.