On average, I will review around 500 new beers each year. Many are just good, some are comically flawed, but only a choice few are truly exceptional. It’s like your Waldorf salad of oddball coworkers. @southerngristbrewing Wooden Teeth bites down in that masterpiece category.
I drink a lot of barleywines and eventually the qualities themselves become parodied. You wince when you see “BOURBON SOAKED RAISINS” or the bromidic “ROLOS” but some beers can transcend these descriptors with malty innovation. The wheated Weller barrel accomplishes some incredible tumescent feats of wood not by sheer time (14 months) but contact. Like living with your boyfriend during quarantine, sometimes too much contact can be embittering. Why is he constantly shouting about the gulag?
The cask is the true star in this dental adventure. Any hop presence is as absent as an Epstein cell guard as malt and booze run the roost. The custard and bananas fosters sweetness is tempered with a lightly bitter aspect from the grain bill that combine to form a pralines and caramel voltron. Some experiences hit so hard that they send you backwards in time like Billy Pilgrim to review the nuance, like some kind of Ghost of Skor Bar Past making you reflect upon barleywines you loved and lost.
LIke most experiences that you pine for, it is rare and fleeting. 1 per person, 300 bottles, the first time she lays her head on your shoulder while watching The Good Shepherd: it’s tough to replicate. The finish lingers and imparts a Sazerac charm and you end up feeling like one of those weird weeds in Ursula’s cave, craving that touch again. Like the past, I wonder if Southern Grist can even recreate this magic. Tony Rich Project just hits different.
I would be surprised if this does not land on the DDB top 10 of 2020. The entire endeavor has me flipping through Tick Yearbooks ruminating on old barleywine crushes, Wet Seal pants and gristy Tommy overalls with bare bourbon obliques showing.
It’s weird to open a 1967 wild turkey airplane mini. The immutable distillation of past experience just sitting there, under a tax strip. We have wild turkey 101 now, and protests, and riots, wealth inequality, and dudes seeking out vintage Campari and it feels weird to taste something sitting in stasis for over half a century. It’s still wild turkey but a callback to a deceptively gentle Don Draper era.
The consumers were bored of the bottled in bond protections and low proof Bourbon was made for a very particular customer. Now we get Basil Hayden’s to make people who don’t actually like bourbon feel special and alive. You can watch your coworker who loves HGTV pour it over a ton of ice and declare he recently found out he likes NEGRONIS have you had one? These people existed in 1967.
To sip this now it feels like a strong chardonnay by contrast. It has a ton of Jazz apple, candy corn, honeycomb and feels like you are polishing off the bottom of cask strength previously served on melted ice. It’s simple and, in a way unremarkable. The fact that some liquid can sit for decades and produce this effect is in itself highly remarkable.
Fifty years from now my stretch marks will be bionic and I’ll be asking Cyberdine why my transferred sentience also has a big forehead and the engineer will guffaw and take a sip from 161 proof bookers and explain to the intern that people previously had a Cartesian sense of entitlement to their self and that the term “my” is an old tymie slur before universal consciousness uploads came into vogue. And I will have cyber stretch marks.
Peyton Manning made a bourbon and it is $200 and it is pretty not great. When I saw a 13 year aged aged Tennessee bourbon at 102 proof, I braced myself to overpaying for some celebrity Dickel in my mouth. The initial numbers said that there are 1500 bottles of this, then like a month later oh wait its 14,000 bottles. Even worse, when I closed this sale I got like 19 laugh reacts from dudes who fetishize brown liquid. Being negged by bourbon bros is a different kind of pain. Imagine being laughed at by middle aged stretchmarked dudes with recliner couches who wear Titleist hats and New Balances who covet unopened bottles of corn ethanol they will never open.
This is the public humiliation I had to endure for your amusement. Master Distiller Marianna Eaves is touted in every press review you read about this, but here’s the thing, if you’re literally blending BevMo barrels of George Dickel, the composition fallacy sets in real fast. You could give Armand the most choice casks from Cascade Brewing and ask him to blend the next Malvasia Rosso and you will get enamel destroying Portland lacto solvent. One can only do so much. WAIT WHO ELSE IS IN ON THIS SPICY OVERPRICED COLLAB: uh ever heard of ANDY RODDICK, no how about musician Drew Holcomb; Tom Nolan, former president of Ralph Lauren golf; course architect Rob Collins; and real estate developers Mark Rivers and Skip Bronson. Bro SKIP FUCKING BRONSON. HOLD UP, we are talking titans of the distilled spirits world here. This tastes closer to 9 year single barrel Dickel than the ($39!) 13 year bottled in bond Dickel but let’s just put it out there: you stand to waste a shitload of money. Nose is inoffensive, McDonalds apple pie, red hots, torched custard. The palate shows its age with planed lumber, lemon pledge, lacquer, and a limoncello aspect. The finish is long but loaded with iced tea and leathery oak, this part is actually really enjoyable. I feel like Andy Roddick really had some input with the sustained oak in the oily mouthfeel. What is Brooklyn Decker even up to these days. It is not bad by any stretch of the stave, but at $200 retail this bottle is swinging on some insane competition, hell even by $200 secondary it would be taking jabs at regular ass Blantons. If you are straight up obsessed with Peyton Manning or SKIP FUCKING BRONSON, then sure, buy this overpriced juice before you hit the links. Go talk about how wow raising an 11 year old is such a hard age, when even is the right age to give them a phone and hey did you see the new mid engine Corvette and hey when’s NHL coming back, yeah orthodontics sure do hit you right in the old wallet. Who cares. You’re turning 13 year old oak juice into piss and you read books after you’ve seen the film adaption of them. You don’t deserve true happiness.
Prepping to record an absolutely insane episode of malt couture. The Pilsner calm before the storm with @enegrenbrewing and @bierstadtlager crushable challah juice. It usually takes a stand up comedian a solid decade to build that first hour of bulletproof material, to make it seem effortless, universally engaging, poised and so clean in execution.
It’s that type of economical Mulaney-esque delivery that makes it seem like anyone can do this. This is that. Beer that’s so refined and cleanly presented that it makes people feel like they could do this too. It takes an incredible degree of nuance and precision to craft someone universally loved, that bottom fermenting JK Rowling that gets dunked on by excessive post-modernist barleywine boyz and is taken for granted by neophyte young adult palates, the perpetual Pilsner plight.
It’s for that reason that I respect the incredible frothy sustain of the carb, the sheeting, the light herbal fescue like verdant stains on bugle boy jeans. It’s the best version of your old memories but improved upon. That nascent “first beer” thrill, maligning the detachable showerhead for Eros purposes in middle school. It’s so good and simple that you feel latent shame.
There is often a divide between “wanting” and “obtaining.” Any fifth grader can articulate how the week leading up a birthday party is better than the actual toys. The desire is the commodity that craft beer trades in. This is the reason a brewery’s value is so heavily stacked in their good will and not just the tanks and triclamps and hoses inside of it. The capacity to make someone value something is the transmutation of need fulfillment. Brewers turn people into 5th graders again, hopped up on pizza IPAs and cake stouts and milkshake hazies.
Coconut assassin is the converse of the anticipation/actualization paradigm. I wanted this beer to be not as good as it is. I want to subvert a $50 12oz retail price. I want to undermine the $450 resale price. I want to undercut a 162 bottle release. And then I tried it. Frustratingly the beer is just crushingly well done. Writing a review loaded with praise doesn’t exactly drip with levity. The hyperbolic highs are fueled by failures, those classic knee slappers attendant to failed art. This is too fucking good though.
The coconut aspect has faded and integrated lovingly and seamlessly into the barrel character. It is so much carmelized brown sugar, and that honeycomb Willetesque cask profile, Scotch kisses, flourless lavacake. It defies all the current stout benchmarks of excess: not flabby, solid retention, barrel driven with fusel aspects masked, no smegma coconut lipids coagulating on the top, no sheen of excessive oil, no Yankee Candle wafts of greasy waterpark bodies. It is a beer first and foremost and through excess it finds nuance. It’s super fucking annoying in that regard.
This would be way better if it were worse. It isn’t though, it is world class. I am worse off having had this beer because it sets the rubric for how much a Hawaiian tropic stout can accomplish, and here I am, actively reinforcing this behavior, and the store is all sold out of hand sanitizer for my soul, @tgbrews has dropped a depressing masterpiece.
L-O-L-O-L, I’m glad you find this shit amusin’. Ah yes. Finally the Wheatwine from @gooseisland the darling from last year makes a notorious return, to disappointed fanfare, but is it warranted? In a laconic word, no. In five words: Mon Cherie was way shittier.
Ok last year was better and had a fantastic peanut brittle and creme brulee shell, and this is far more oaky and planed pine. The entire canon in 2019 is more cask focused and less sweet but this will really step on your Caramel Cubes because it’s intensely tannic like American oak but has a fun redeeming bit o’ honey swallow that I really enjoy. The same dudes who hated the @perennialbeer Randall’s Devils Hearts of Gold will also dislike the barrel forward character of this lean, scotchkisses and see’s candy lollipop affair.
We didn’t get barleywine this year so we have to content ourselves with this oddly bitter malty stepdad. He reads Breitbart and sucks on sugar babies and reeks of entry level wheated bourbon, muttering angrily about all the smut and Spanish songs in the super bowl halftime show. Despite these shortcomings it is a lovable albeit woodsy endeavor that I enjoy, but we long for real maltdad who bought me barley heelies and let me drive his trans am. The 2019 is still a proper guardian tho.
Finally, Malt Couture comes to the East Coast! Yes 3/9 a MONDAY SHOW, kicking off Tampa Bay Beer Week we will descend upon Sarasota and Calusa Brewing leaving its residents dripping in malty discharge. Vip is sold out, general admission tickets are on sale now!
The taplist is going to be incredible and we have some special tricks up our sleeves. Get your tickets now, this event will sell out. And yes, we eventually do an east coast show that isn’t on the Gulf of Mexico.
This week’s batch of @maltcoutureddb is straight up insane. We previously had @crainsberry on the show and made him drink a @thebruery Black Tuesday horizontal, including 22% abv heaters like BT grand reserve. He didn’t die so we invited him back for more pastry punishment. In batch 83 we have a Bean Grinder Cagematch: three stouts with 1. Coffee and vanilla 2. Bourbon barrel aging 3. An Untappd score of 4.7 or higher and 4. Have sold for $500 or more.
The results are mind boggling. Will @foragerbrewery dethrone the inimitable @3floydsbrewing Handjee? Or will the DDB favorite @moderntimesbeer Monster Tones bisect our beans? We kick everything off with a phenomenal Dunkel from @heaterallenbeer . It’s a lot to process.
You already know that Rev has arguably one of the best barrel programs in the nation right now, so let’s figure out if it is worth standing in line in 30 degree weather on some Kedzie loading dock. There are two new releases: Cuvee De Grace and Ten Year Beer.
Cuvee de Grace is a fantastic gateway drug for your friends who are malt-curious. The problem with this beer is that it wont get out of its own way in lending that sticky chocolate malt hand out to the uninitiated. Two thirds of this beer is fantastic underlying strong ale/barleywine roots. Then oh shit, here comes that one overbearing guy in every improve scene, dripping in bakers chocolate and fudge “NOW WE ARE ON THE MOON” and like god now we have to play out the reality of a cocoa barleywine. The underpinnings of this beer is such a delicate blend of caramel and prailines, planed boards and old fashioneds. It is tasty crème brulee that has chocolate fondant applied to it, gilding the dessert lily. I am not saying every ba beer needs to just be an old ale. I enjoy playful reliance on different profiles. The issue here is that this good beer leans on oatmeal and rye stouts and it’s what a freshman English professor would call “tonally inconsistent” albeit extremely well made.
Ten Year Beer shows that X is indeed gon give it to you. Don’t let this cherry poppin daddy fool you, it is a completely ensemble role. Rev has such a deft hand in nuance and never his the fruited center divider the way say, Goose Island will, in not trusting its consumers to taste the fruit, but not be cardholding GUSHERs party members. The cherry is delicate and this is that same Saharan-dry body we found in Code Switch. It’s exceptionally tight, dripping with cordial, sucrets, Sazerac notes, and some Willett meets Sucrets interplay. I would bet that some people wouldn’t even know that cherry was outright present if they weren’t outright searching for it. It is that restraint that Marty shows consistently in the blending. This is “The Favourite” for people who maybe wont dive deep into Yorgos Lanthimos catalogue, but you toss some saccharine Emma Stone cherries on the bill and suddenly you got a resale market.
Neither hit the fantastic heights of VSOJ or VSOR but Rev is in the unenviably coveted position of being contrasted against its own catalog. Their “pretty good” beers still destroy almost everything else. These are the type of crosses that Shaun Hill must bear, and no one feels sorry for them.
Also come see us at SF Sketchfest on Saturday 1/25/20 at the punchline, tickets still available
(Or is this all just twilight beyond Atlantic Highlands) and @cartonbrewing enters a bold segment of high abv, high risk brandy barrels, high esters, Belgian strains, and somehow some way they sticky the caramelized banana raisin landing. This is nothing like the rest of their casual canon, whimsical coffee cans, imperial cream ales and XXYXXYX001 ales. This is serious genie bottle antics.
Candidly yes this is a touch Fusel and lights up your chest like ET, and there is a degree of brandy interplay that has a solvent character, but as it warms the sacchro takes over and it’s like peeling back the layers of grands biscuit. The malt is ribboned with figs and dates, the swallow is almost cloyingly long and drags resonates with muddled prunes and raisinettes. And you’re like “who smashed my old plums?” Augie Carton that’s who.
Carton stays gripping them plums with a sugar baby twist. I can’t finish the whole bottle but the complexity at higher temps alone sells the fantastic experience. This is big brain mode and I hope people take the gamble on a ba quad, this degree of risk and innovation is that type of brandy capitalism that deserves to be rewarded.