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LA BEER WEEK BONUS REVIEW: @smogcitybeer Cuddlebug, Compelled Cuddling is Really Just Pinning Someone Down

Alright before we jump right back into the fray with another brewery review, might as well address this stone fruit prodigy that people have been mentioning with regularity on the trade boards. The Smog City barrel program seemingly has blind sided consumers and top tier tickers alike with monthly releases spitting hot rounds, dropping mad 16s on the South Bay. Even crusty kids with Pennywise shirts are peeping the BAL game.

So what’s the deal with this shit? OH GREAT YET ANOTHER STONEFRUIT SOURED BLONDE WOW SUCH ORIGINAL MANY INSPIRE. I thought the same thing and furrowed my brow, knowing that hard as nails lineage it would need to compete with: Persica, Fen Tao, La Fosse, Veritas 15, Fuzzy, the list goes on and fucking on.  Even making a 4.5% AWA with peaches and apricots already puts a red dot on a brewer’s head like Rodman.

Let’s go through the standard checklist that gets level 2 cicerones tumescent:

– Stonefruit

– 2000 bottle release

– brewery only

And then they need to clean the trub from those And1 basketball shorts because that’s all it takes these days. Except this beer is actually good, it’s really fucking tasty.

squeeze that peach until the juice runs down your leg

squeeze that peach until the juice runs down your leg

The pour looks a touch watery but leaves subtle cling before that carb crackles off and belies that potentially acidic affair waiting underneathe.  It looks clean and radiant, glowing like a Super Mario Galaxy Star.

The nose is intense pithy apricot flesh, cut nectarine, less peach and more farmers market clementines and satsuma almost.  The bouquet seems so representative of the fruits in question is feels supra-real, like when that yellow smelling marker smelled more like lemons than real lemons do.  This goes over the top and the acidity isn’t really anywhere to be found.  There isn’t much brett C or musky funk interplay and this is one of those “squeaky clean” sours that boost crushability in lieu of cheesy gristiness.

WHOA WAIT THIS IS NOT THE PEACHES I WAS SEEKING. i will accept this willingly.

WHOA WAIT THIS IS NOT THE PEACHES I WAS SEEKING. i will accept this willingly.

The taste is endlessly balanced, a fruit profile that never becomes cloying or artificial.  It has moderate acidity but you could easily crush a 500ml without a second thought. There is a touch of drying along the gumline but it never feels like they are learning on the fruit as a crutch.  With some fruited wilds, you toss 2 lbs per gallon of anything and YOU WIN THE GAME THIS TASTES LIKE FRUIT, but that isn’t the case here.  The fruit tannins serve to compliment rather than outshine the delicate drinkability of this beer, it’s like an ultra competent Steve Buscemi performance that makes everyone else appear even better as a whole.

A complaint that perhaps isn’t even a valid gripe is that it is TOO easy to drink and unless you actively contemplate this beer, it will be gone.  One phone call from your ex wife pestering you about DID YOU BORROW MY STEPLADDER and boom the entire beer is gone. THANKS A LOT, JANET, YOU STOLE YET ANOTHER THING FROM MY LIFE.  It isn’t insubstantial like some of the Bu’s, and it isn’t over the top like some nameless Floridian offerings, it his this perfect inner wall of satisfaction you want to rock upon until you crack your pit and juice it hard.

WAIT WUT.

how long been on them stone fruits? ALL DAY TICKER

how long been on them stone fruits? ALL DAY TICKER

In sum, yet another fucking great beer without a clear parallel, that is absolutely worth putting in and around your face.

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GHOSTS IN THE WHIP: DDB takes a ride to @phntmcarriage Brewing, LA Beer Week Cant Stop Wont Stop

Oh shit the LA Beer week reviews continue after yesterday’s Absolution write up gave people srs feels. Today we focus that malt soaked gaze upon some oddly charming macabre upstarts: Phantom Carriage.

So what is the deal with these Carson ballers whipping up american wilds, leveraging in equal measure macabre golden age Horror films and South Bay oil refinery microflora? Their business model at the outset appears to be a “Rare Barrel from the South” of sorts, with an emphasis on barrels, blending, bats and Black Lagoons.

Even in night mode, it is difficult to demonstrate how fucking dark this taproom is. Snaggletooth nightbeasts can get mad love here.

Even in night mode, it is difficult to demonstrate how fucking dark this taproom is. Snaggletooth nightbeasts can get mad love here.

The tasting room is the typical industrial park complex but when you enter the pitch black tasting room it feels like a cross between Disney Thunder Mountain and the Haunted Mansion. There are chalk murals of Boris Karloff and Vincent Price and it looks like it needs one of those dry ice machines and fake cobwebs to nail down the “Horror Section” milieu of a VHS rental store.

The taplist doesn’t offer a incredible variety but that is like going to Kuhnhenn and complaining about the multitude of massive beers. They maintain a decidedly Awa verve and even when they set out into the farmhouse realm it still feels lactic and acidic throughout.

Would you like a tart saison, a sour wild, an acidic american wild, or a sour berliner? SUCH CHOICE TO BE MAKE.

Would you like a tart saison, a sour wild, an acidic american wild, or a sour berliner? SUCH CHOICE TO BE MAKE.

So is their beer any fucking good, or should it be buried in a graveyard with some Troma DVDs?

Broadacres: Their berliner was refreshing, watery, Gatorade with a touch of salinity akin to De Garde Petite Mosaic. Pretty deece.

Ambler: not really farmhouse so much as it was just a straight up sour golden ale you have encountered a billion times before.  Nothing exceptionally deficient, but given the layout of most mediocre breweries, this would be top tier for the average brewery, if they had a single sour at all.

Cushing: this is syrupy, acetic, with a cloying abrasiveness in the vein of a less attenuated Upland “lambic.”  Shit was WNBA 100% not bitches.

These photos are even shittier than the usual DDB photos because the brewery is about as well lit as a 8th grade makeout party with nothing but bandos

These photos are even shittier than the usual DDB photos because the brewery is about as well lit as a 8th grade makeout party with nothing but bandos

Leapwood with Brett: The special offering of Leapwood with Brett was easily the best beer on draft and was so good that it seemed out of place amongst some of the the forgettable sours padding out the ranks. When placing it against the serviceable but decent Muis, Leapwood seemed like it was from a completely different brewery, this would be legitimately worth seeking out to purposefully avail yourself of this phenomenal beer.

Muis: like a more watery version of Cushing, this was basically all Brett Lambicus, kinda one dimensional, dry, but with a nice lemongrass finish that lingers. 6 nugs on the dro scale.
Their bottle list was on point with a wide array of bottles from local breweries, other Saisons, wilds, Shelton brothers items, and even limited beer from the “would be” competitor, Smog City brewing. You would have to be a persnickety complainer to not be able to find something to enjoy, even if you don’t find Phantom Carriages lineup completely compelling, the guest taps, the variety in the bottles, the collaboration with other breweries like Cascade and LA locals make it a pretty tough spot to really talk shit on.

My main complain is the sheer redundancy of some of their sour blonde iterations OVER and OVER and OVER, like a lesbian who gets her tubes tied: WHAT IS THE POINT OF THIS.

AH YES SOME SYRUPY ROBITUSSIN SUCRETS GOODNESS TO BREAK UP THE SOUR BLONDES

AH YES SOME SYRUPY ROBITUSSIN SUCRETS GOODNESS TO BREAK UP THE SOUR BLONDES

The brewery appears to have its voice dropping with some glimmers of pure athleticism and greatness, with the barrel aged stretch marks of awkward development as an undercurrent at this time. There are some great beers, and a bunch of mediocre barrel fillers. The aphotic movie room with a Vincent Price film on was a magnificent touch if only because I have never seen a brewery with enough balls to go beyond the tragically trite “BARRELS AS TABLES, grain sacks for seats, HEY LOOK A FOOD TRUCK” bit.

While this may be a nonissue to some, I ordered the hummus and baguette and it was really fucking good. The pairing was completely shitty with a flight of Casacade lactic bombs as a sidecar, but that is largely my own negligence.

So what is in store for these guys? I can see them weathering the craft beer storm because they are decidedly focused with intent, branding, and a lineup that seems to be perpetually evolving. When I first tried this brewery at the Beachwood sour fest, it seemed like a few meh Brett trois strains and a sour golden with potential DMS issues. It was initially some Junior Varsity Monkish-tier shit. In a single year they have already improved incredibly and the glints of their best far outweigh their worst at this juncture.

I opened a bottle of Kuhnhenn Raspberry Eisbock with the staff and they all were conversant, really friendly and self aware. While the beers themselves sometimes are not consistent enough to carry the day, the overall experience makes this place a must visit.

They absolutely will need to field a million tired ass Dany Prignon/Fantome Carriage jokes tho, that shit will NEVR get ode.

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DDB went to @absolutionbrewing and the facepalms were not insubstantial – LA BEER WEEK EXPOSE

With the craft beer bubble reaching the saturation point, the real fun these days lies in finding Johnny Come Latelies to the scene, or breweries that maybe are doing things in a highly questionable manner, jumping from plastic carboy to a 10bbl system because his father in law BELIEVES IN HIM.

Los Angeles has long had an anomalous relationship of being a second class citizen to San Diego and San Francisco.  Despite the massive population, Beachwood BBQ has largely been tasked with pulling the cart for the past half decade.  However, in the past 3 years we have seen several pop-ups in the South Bay from the rising star, Smog City, to the ultra-shitty Dude’s Brewing Company.

A large part of this culture is the gladhanding and backslapping that occurs from the local beer publications that massage the palms of some of the weakest new breweries, for the sake of reciprocal support.  OC Weekly and LA Weekly will regularly launder praise with amorphous “OLD WORLD STYLE WITH EXCITING NEW EXECUTION” and shit like that.  The fact is, some breweries are simply not that fucking good.  If every new brewery is exceptional, then nothing is exceptional.

I can unequivocally note that Absolution Brewing, while it may have an exceptional intent, donate to charity, and serve as a watering hole for Torrance residents: their beer is simply sub-par.

No taster glasses? I guess just serve me 3 ounces...in a pilsner glass?

No taster glasses? I guess just serve me 3 ounces…in a pilsner glass?

The facility reminds me of a mix between Lost Abbey and TAPOUT CLOTHING. It has some odd religious underpinning and then old script and A FUKN NAIL BRO IN THE LOGO.  But plenty of breweries have shitty marketing and exceptional beers, look at the fonts on Russian RIver bottles for God’s sake.

They have 18 beers on tap but HOLY FUCK WAIT not one, but TWO barrel aged IPAs? Fully triggered.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the eight beers that I tried:

Penance Pale Ale: this was a dark, flabby, sappy, resinous pale malt that feels like it came from the Michael Jackson era of crystal malt and oversaturated vegetal cones from excessive dry hopping. Trifling, sticky malty kicks to the nutsack, not refreshing.

Guilt? What is this, i dont even

Guilt? What is this, i dont even

Trespasser Saison: this is a page straight from the predictable, wyeast, zero modification Dupont playbook.  Fermented a touch colder than you would want, a grainy boring closer.

STRAWBERRY TRESPASSER: oh wait, i hope you dont enjoy strawberries because this has none. It tastes almost identical to regular Trespasser. That grainy boring saison, but with an oily plastic “strawberry” aspect?

Purgatory Hef: this was their least shitty beer because, how do you fuck a hef up? It was fine, nothing to write home about but everyone in the tasting room seemed to be having a good time, a mixed demographic and my wincing reminded me how I am a huge asshole and beer is no longer fun to me.  In sum I have no business reviewing their beers because it simply isn’t designed for DDB.

Angel’s Demise: this was essentially a ramped up version of the mediocre Penance pale.  None of the offerings are clean and there is a bitter, coniferous bite like if you proofed down an American Barleywine.  I had the bourbon barrel aged version and it was not enjoyable, butterscotch greasiness and the clash of old hops and toffee was dissonant.

Pictured above: every. single. brewery's business model.

Pictured above: every. single. brewery’s business model.

Are there worse breweries in LA? Sure.  Dude’s Brewing just straight up sells beers riddled with diacetyl and tosses blood orange into them.  This isn’t quite like that, it is just not worthy of your precious beerbuxxx. This place unabashedly asks $40 for a two liter growler fill of 8% Abv dipa. That shit was funny when Societe pulled it with awesome beer and stainless growlers but here it is straight up laughable.

But this is endemic of the surge of new breweries opening left and right.  Very few are inspired beyond the scope of “I JUST GOT $250,000 TIME TO UPGRADE MY BLICHMAN AND START PUMPIN OUT SOME RED ALES!!!!”

It is L.A. Beer week, go see them for yourself.  Maybe I am just a curmudgeonous prick, not fit to comment on beer at this point.

Typical ddb shit, hyping up LA beers to trade