I. manuel Kant. Even.
I. manuel Kant. Even.
Where in the name of AmLam Gods did Primitive Brewing come from? Colorado is up to their usual tricks: not letting any of arguably the best beer in the nation leave their borders, secretly enjoying god tier Methoede Traditionale in hemp Patagonia microfleeces and Vibrams. Before we did our live show at Amalgam I had never even heard of Primitive. Eric the owner of Amalgam hands me a cardboard box of still AmLam and slaps the bag. It was really good, like Brett C martinellis, dead flat.
This beer is on a new level, just bought a new shovel. I had no idea that my casual Wednesday would involve something that reshaped the American Wild paradigm. “And Now We Sparkle” is a single barrel carbonated version of their regular, Michael Shannon flat perfomances. It is painfully good. This joins the canon of Floodland and Speciation and Odd Breed And Dweller on the Threshold that redefines what American “imitation” wilds are capable of.
The nose is a blast of canvas, thrift store boot section, garage twine, cut cardboard paper and popsicle sticks. It’s brett B and Drie for days. The taste has such fantastic integration of tangelo zest, orange pith, mealy overripe plum and soft Honeydew. The acidity has the restraint of a male ExCoGi performer. The drag is long and ropey but not in a sick pedio way, like nautical bindings. I killed the entire 750 instantly and wanted more which almost never happens, with anything.
I don’t have anything else to say, it’s that good. No need to hit the character limit. God damn, I hate you Colorado.
Also this goes live tomorrow and it is insane:
In the wake of GABF, some people scramble to seek out the 300+ medal winning beers to check the pulse of respective styles. Often the confluence of hypewater and award winners are two separate academic tracks, resulting in two different diplomas and educational bodies. Some winners are straight up confusing. There are times when I try medal winning beers and have no idea how a relic of history made it past so many palates to take home serious hardware in light of modern advances and changing customer demands. If you remember in 2012 when TAP IT brewing won gold for IPA, you know exactly what I am talking about. The styles least subject to the weathervane of capricious flatbrimmed palates tend to shine the brightest. Barelywine and oak aged beers in general are indestructible with a lineage miles long, so when Great Heights took home bronze for bourbon legend, I wanted to dip in that caramel Houston fondue.
Ok it’s time to play another round of Let’s Go Visit LA Breweries Today Ok, Fine (LGVLABTOKF). Today’s brewery is only ten days old so let’s put this newborn through its baby legged paces: Surfridge Brewing Company Brewing in El Segundo. Laying foundation, El Segundo has become this Shasta Manhattan Beach of sorts, expensive as hell, nestled in between the airport and the Chevron refinery. A wealthy beach community dripping in Shimano clip in pedal shoes and triple wide strollers, lacking the pure selfishness of the ultra luxury seaside hamlets that LA can provide. It is against this backdrop that this new brewery emerges.
Upon entering you are draped in several interlocking Etsy boards worth of inspiration. The black velvet text boards, wood carved HOP BAR complete with swingtop apothecary jars, innumerable tap handles carved from jade and every surface gleaming in whites or lacquered wood. It feels like the hotel lobby of some gaudy Miami SLS endeavor. The fermenters are inexplicably lined up in this arctic linen fever dream along the wall, outside of the brewing space.
The beer is fine. Really what type of morphological originality can we expect from a brewery that still has the new brewer smell? The kolsch is clean, the pale ale is their best beer and feels like a benchmarked Sierra Nevada pale, everything is as it should be. Then you see it, out of the corner of your eye, you can’t even process what tiny residence of reclaimed wood has been set before you: a child’s seaside cabin playset. This brewery not only has a full on child’s area with affirming posters like YOU ARE LOVED, but a no fooling tiny shack to play in. This is truly next level Maidisynn maneuvers.
While still reeling from the insanity of this industrial day care facility, you look at the carrera tile wall, when is it not subway tiles. When is it not ripped straight from Magnolia Journal: Hop hottles. That’s right, here for the usurious sum of two american dollars you are provided with a steeping cage, a pinch of simcoe, and careless abandon. They let you dryhop your own beer. To what end, it is hard to say. Maybe someone likes the ultra faint olfactory presence of old dry hops in their beer for what amounts to a negligible rest.
Maybe this place was designed for that crescent blade of receding hairlines and Under Armor shirts, the nostalgia of fading virility transferred into tap recitals and Dodge Hellcats and pop warner. Perhaps it isn’t even about the beer at all, the 30 empty draft lines each a dry reality untapped, beers to come, experiences that may never fill your glass. It is a place to slide slowly into comfortable track home mediocrity, Sonos speakers, various smoking and grilling components, green eggs and oiled baseball mitts tucked under mahogany Ethan Allen twin beds.
It sure isn’t about beer at this point.
It’s time to play another round of: Was This A Colossal Waste of Money? In the case of Basil Hayden’s 10 year, oh god yes, this money was practically lit on fire. Basil Hayden’s normal edition is already a pretty dumb purchase unless you have the toddlerest of palates. If you love the Beam Suntori catalog, for the same money you could buy knob creek or Bakers or for a little more, Booker’s.
This is for someone who is in a Brewster’s Millions situation who needs to waste money. Who really wants a watery 80 proof bourbon diluted down into suntea? Basil Hayden’s is for your coworker who reads Men’s Health magazine and enjoys Quiznos. The type of person who reads a column written 3 years too late about the types of fall bourbons they just have to try. This is the training wheels of even the most gentle bourbons like Eagle Rare 10, so much so that its is unclear whether the person who buys Basil even likes bourbon at all. The man who nods and grips a Michelob Ultra until it is half full and room temp. It’s fine we get it: you don’t enjoy drinking.
The nose is ethereal and almost nonexistent, nestea and the ghost of discarded Marlboro reds dropped into a wounded soldier. This is the high rye recipe that they use in Old Grand Dad, but it costs like three times as much. I overpaid at $75 but everyone overpays for this, really. The age statement does nothing for this beer and borderline makes it worse by way of shattered watery flowerbomb expectations.
The taste is completely watery and two oaky pumps of disappointment before it dribbles tepid and weak down your throat into leathery completion. This is your ambitious friend who drinks all their water a mile into your hike and ruins the rest of your pace with perpetual rests. If there was a lemon pledge flavored la croix well here it is. It’s so short and fleeting. BH10 is the “planed lumber” scented Yankee Candle that can barely fill the seedy basement you live in but it’s basically your own apartment because it has its own access and your nana never goes down there.
Basil Hayden’s used to be 8 years age stated and then went NAS in 2014. Now it’s supposedly 6-7 years so it amounts to papa watering down the Booker’s in your baba so the spicy spice doesn’t ruin naptime. It’s not that this is a waste compared to other bottles in its segment, it’s so god damn boring and diluted and pointless that even savage white label Jim Beam has a more compelling presence. This is the bourbon world taxing preexisting consumers to court Condé Nast neophyte palates who write about how “authentic” ethnic food is in Yelp
reviews so white that they reek of OxyClean. The ten year version amounts to a stupid bottle you buy your boss because it’s exactly how much you feel comfortable spending and the guy at BevMo makes $11.00 an hour and doesn’t drink this shit either so here you go the guy said it was good you like bourbon do you like this he said it’s rare supposed to be smooth happy holidays, do you use that frosted mug I got you last year? God damn this Basil Hayden’s ten year is trash.
Forager Brewing is one of those actors who takes AAA roles in Pastry feature films strictly to fuel their indie arthouse love of saisons and weird strong ales. For every Augustus Gloop craving MILLERZZZZZ, there’s a true gentlewoman of class coveting the lowkey gems. Kitten Treats is one such purring delight climbing up the scratch pole of public relevance. It is good, but not in the way you would expect. The first Kitten Treats was this weird almost Oud Bruin meets blueberry affair. The name of this beer feels like those pandering unoaked Chardonnays you see in the grocery store being marketed to stepmoms in Chrysler Pacificas, angular choppy hair feathering at the nape of their necks, each gripping a phone case that opens like a book.
The taste is anything but. Kitten Treats b2 is a return to standard form in Forager’s nonstandard way. This is a massive VSOJ meets Anabasis in execution. Instead of if you removed all the linestepping chocolate stout aspects and subbed into robust rye barrel character and vibrant red fruit. You have 24 months in FEW barrels, so ultracask and scoop your liverbox.
While technically a wheatwine, there is so much barrel character this feels almost like an overoaked/longboil barleywine. It is wildly saturated and more concentrated than ice wine. There’s none of that playful caramel, this absolutely explodes with clusterbombs of figs, prunes, dried tannins of forgotten harvests. The nose is so much Sazerac and rye spice, it feels in the 15%+ realm and you have to let this warm to 60 to really unlock the experience. Otherwise it’s like only getting the first ending in barley Symphony of the Night.
The swallow seats even experienced drinkers in how layered and long it is. This beer has the warm comfort of holding a pet, running your fingers over the small sternum grooves, memorizing the tiny frame until it is gone and you are left with a small marble of grief rolling around in the cigarbox of your mind that sometimes clips the edges and reminds you of the compliant embrace of that small friend who is gone forever. You want
more of this, but it is too much all the same. Flambeed raisins might be something you take for granted, until the $40 bottle is gone. This will be too intense for many, but lean forward into the incredible heat, it’s worth it. The alternative is a life of wholly mediocre experiences, being locked into a long term lease with a former lover because neither of you can afford a new security deposit
If you’ve ever rolled a Dodge Stratus into the curb reeking of Underberg on the way to your 8am sociology class, finally a beer has arrived for you. This unlikely merger of Jagerbomb preacher curl bros and grocery store Cascade hop stepdads was a long time coming. Those nascent seeds that later turn into cocktail fetishists and homebrewers are tucked into this bizarre digestif soil. No one asked for this beer but it was willed into existence. The nose is one part Jager spice: anise, orange rind, juniper and saffron. The other part is a militant overextracted all boil C hop chaperone, WARRIOR resin, wax shatter pieces and high school gym coach aspirations.
It’s weird and not in the quirky “I matched with a life coach on Bumble, should I do it?” Way. It feels medicinal in this holistic essential oils way, residual cling like patrouli and burning sage. Ironically the prescription counter notes make this feel worse for you. The taste is like some good and plenties left rolling around the floorboards of a Pontiac Sunfire. Most p90x bros won’t know that neither Jager nor Arrogant Bastard are barrel aged, they are focusing on vascularity and whether the colts will cover the spread. You don’t need to focus on the lack of a barrel or the fact that this is a “hello fellow kids” marketing move that no one demanded but the current beer scene embraces in herbaceous novelty. It’s not good, but it’s such an insane eucalyptus meets sticky crystal hops mouth kiss from your aunt that you’re almost onboard for that offputting embrace.
This beer is made for a middle manager who clips his Nextel phone onto his woven JC Penney belt confident in his beer knowledge and Merona cargo shorts. To everyone else his eccentricity is a character trait, each wacky bottle he brings to cookouts a personality supplement. If you want juniper juice and the faded Malty underpinnings of chinook handjobs under the craft beer bleachers, the Pangs oF alpha acid past degrading the foreseeable future. You never leave this town, you marry the Cascade homecoming queen and both slide in bilateral domestic resentment and success. But you’re everyone else’s “beer friend” and you let the stretch marks show it.