I’ve grown to love this time of year, at least for beer. I wasn’t much of a pumpkin beer fan, but having options like Good Gourd, Almanac Heirloom Pumpkin, and now TREAT, I’m coming around. This one is a sort of a cross between a pumpkin ale and a chocolate porter (I know, you probably already knew that from the damned label).
Lots of pumpkin pie spice in the nose, not much in the way of chocolate. But the chocolate comes through in the flavor, and not in that shitty metallic way that I get from a lot of cheap chocolate stouts. More of a milk chocolate covered pumpkin candy way. Plenty of fall spices in the finish; nutmeg, cinnamon, some clove. It’s a bit thinner than I remember from last year, but still solid.
If this was cheaper (and if I didn’t have to get it from the other side of the country) I’d probably get this by the case. I think I like Good Gourd more, but this is a nice change of pace.
Style: English Barleywine
Bottled: June 2013
Size: 22oz bottle
Bottle Count: 480
Pretty awesome barleywine from Olde Hickory, made for a local beer/liquor store, Peabody’s. OH is usually hit-or-miss for me, and some of the misses have been pretty bad. But I’ve heard great things about this beer.
The aroma and flavor hit all the same high notes – toffee, caramelized sugars, molasses, and vanilla. Big barrel flavors. Long sweet finish, and almost no heat for a reasonably strong beer. Easy to drink even in the midday heat of our tasting. Opinion of the group seemed to be pretty consistently high.
I love it, and I wish I had more.
From what I’ve heard, this surprisingly hung around for a couple of weeks after release. I guess things move slower up there in NC; 40 cases would barely last a day down here in Tampa (case in point: Life Is Like, which was yet another in a long line of release clusterfucks around here).
Style: American Strong Ale (whatever)
Growlered: Sep 2013
Size: 500ml flip-top growler
Price: n/a (see below)
Bottle Count: ~800
So yeah, the Rare DOS release turned into quite the clusterfuck. More than a few growlers turned up infected, likely due to the beer gun used to fill them. I opened seven here without issue, but almost all of the ones I sent out (a dozen or so) turned out bad. I think it was being exposed to room temp or above during shipping that did it. So this is a beer that Doug did to make up for it, sending them out to anyone who reported an issue within a set timeframe.
I had a prior version of this a couple years ago, and this is really close. It’s sort of an barrel-aged English Barleywine-American Strong Ale-Imperial Stout hybrid, and it’s damned good. Reminds me a lot of Mother of All Storms. Lots of toffee and caramelized brown sugar, and the barrel gives it a pumpernickel quality that works really well with this beer, similar to the way it did with Nooner batch 3. It’s not as sticky and thick as the DOS twins (triplets?) so it goes down pretty quickly. Good stuff as always from the talented crew at Cycle.
Lots of people have talked about the original Justin Blabaer, which is a blueberry berliner from Evil Twin. This one is a Brunello Wine Barrel BA version, made in conjunction with CBX, Westbrook, and Fano. It’s a little pricier and a little smaller, but packs more of a punch. The label is pretty damned funny, with Beiber jokes a-plenty.
The pour is a nice purple-ish blue, with a decent head that stuck around for a long time. Smells like… well, not as much like Blabaer as I’d like, but still pretty nice. Some sweet-tart-ness, not much fruit, and a little wheat. Flavor is more of the same, although the blueberry shines a little brighter. As it warms, it gets a lot better, with more blueberry skin and a lot more tartness. Maybe this would’ve been better poolside in the sun (no, I don’t own a fucking pool).
Is it worth the price? Well, it’s not much higher than the base beer, but it’s smaller but a bit (500ml vs. 22oz). Not sure I’d order it again, but it’s definitely pleasant and worth trying at least once.
Yesterday we finally had a tasting that we’ve been planning for a while. Five of us had some big bottles that we wanted to open, so we put together a little get-together at a townhouse in Ybor. It grew into something pretty ridiculous, as you can see above (and below). The pic above is part one of just the highlights — I didn’t even include about half of the bottles in the pics. Here’s the other half of the highlights:
What was supposed to be six people turned into about fifteen — too many people just started inviting friends, regardless of whether they had beers to share, so some pours ended up being midwest-style thimble servings — but everyone was friendly and it turned out really well. And our host went way above & beyond with the food, serving roasted marrow bones and beef barbaçoa, plus Rob brought a bunch of cheeses and I made roasted red pepper hummus.
I’ll be posting some mini-reviews of the beers that we tried over the next few weeks. Can’t wait to do it again.
Style: American Wild Ale
Bottled: Spring 2013
Size: 750ml C&C bottle
Bottle Count: Unknown
Awesome sour from Cascade, one of their tasting-room-only bottles. Lots of bourbon barrel to go with a cherry-based sour. Not usually my bag, but this pressed all the right buttons with me. Big lacto sour, like almost everything they do, paired with vanilla and marshmallow from the barrel. I want more, but it’s probably not worth the money or the chase.
Had a small-ish tasting on Saturday night (and the following morning). Highlights were Manhattan NW, BA Framingham, Cosmos, and Mash. I think Manhattan NW and Mash were the ones that did us in. I wish I’d gotten a picture of the destruction caused by Dave when I tried to wake him up off the couch. RIP some of my favorite old snifters.
If that wasn’t enough, the Mango Magnifico and Mash & Grind that we led off with the next morning were enough to wipe clean most of my memory of breakfast (not that I’m complaining, eating anything from a Village Inn isn’t something that I want to remember). Took me a five-hour recovery nap afterwards. I must be getting old.
Style: Berliner Weisse
Bottled: Spring 2013
Size: 750ml C&C bottle
Bottle Count: Unknown
Okay, I’m from Florida, so I’m a total slut for the Berliner/Florida-Weisse/London Sour/whatever style. Give me something low-octane with plenty of tartness and I’m always on board, especially when I’m poolside. SC isn’t exactly a hotbed of sour activity, and Westbrook is definitely hit-or-miss, but I’m willing to give this one a shot.
Pour is nice enough — you can’t tell from the pic, but it’s light and effervescent, if a little cloudy. Smells like lemon rind and wheat, and not much else. But it’s supposed to be light, correct? And damn if it doesn’t hit the spot when I’m laying in the sun. I’d had a pretty lackluster bottle of Aroma Coma before this and WWB really hit me right. Plenty of tart lemony goodness, a touch of sweetness to even it out, with a little bit of biscuit on the back end. And light, really light. I could drink this all day. Makes me wish I had more of it.
This may never quite measure up to the best examples in the style, and it’s definitely not one of the fruity Florida-Weisse that I love, but I’d be happy to drink another one.
Ah, yes. The Huna variant that had me racing up to CCB over and over just to find that I was either too late, too early, or just plain there on the wrong day. Six trips and I came away with nothing. It was pretty frustrating to find out that people were walking with a case or more when I couldn’t seem to score a single fucking bottle. And finally I got lucky and got some on the last day that they were releasing them to Tampa peeps. So was it worth all that? Let’s find out.
The pour is… well, it’s Hunahpu. Huge mocha head, I’ll throw in the obligatory cliched motor oil comparison, and it looks like you could stand a spoon straight up in this bastard. Smells like barrel — or at least some barrel, I wouldn’t have guessed brandy, maybe whiskey of some sort. The cinnamon and spice of the base beer are nowhere to be found in the nose. The flavor has a bit of that upfront, but now the barrel is strangely muted. Plenty of vanilla and some peppery heat, and lots of cinnamon in the finish. It’s definitely a big beer, but doesn’t quite dominate your palate like previous Huna variants did.
Okay, it’s good. But other variants are better. I’d have to put this one below the ’11 and ’12 variants but better than regular Hunahpu. Specifically, ’12 Apple Brandy > Rum > Bourbon > Whiskey > Cali Brandy > regular Huna. Worth trading a bunch of shit for? Yes, without a doubt. It’s still better than 90% of the BA beers I’ve had. Go get you some.