Lost Abbey Track #8

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So a couple years ago, the Lost Abbey started a series of beers inspired by rock music that was themed by heaven or hell (as befitting the Last Abbey's general brand). Each month, they released a new "track", a special edition beer available only at their tasting room and limited to just 450 bottles each. These are exactly the sort of beers that an east coast dork like myself could never dream of acquiring. But at the end of the year, Lost Abbey did a "Box Set" of all the beers, and some seemed popular enough to brew again.

As far as I'm aware, this is the only one that was made again, and it's received pretty broad distribution (so I'm guessing significantly more than 450 bottles this time around). This takes their Judgment Day, a Belgian Quad made with raisins, and ages it in Bourbon barrels along with cinnamon and chile peppers. The result was one of the more popular tracks in the series. Why it's got the subtitle of The Number of the Beast (why wouldn't that be track #6?), I don't know, but it's got a nice story about how Damien was tricked into writing the number of the beast onto his gradeschool chalk board. It's all for you, Damien. Or in this case, the beer is all for me:

Lost Abbey Track 8 - Number of the Beast

Lost Abbey Track #8 - Number Of The Beast - Pours a deep, dark brown color with half a finger of fizzy tan head. Smells of bourbon, oak, and vanilla along with some dark fruits, raisons and the like, and just a bit of Belgian yeast spice. As it warms up, you get more sorta Christmas spice character, cinnamon and the like. Taste is very sweet, with some nice fruity esters, dark fruits, raisins and the like, spicy phenols, maybe some of that cinnamon, rich caramel, bourbon, oak, and vanilla. As it warms, the spicy chile emerges a bit, but it's just enough to add complexity and never threatens to overwhelm or knock anything out of balance. Mouthfeel is highly carbonated, rich, full bodied, a little sticky as it warms up. I've found that Belgian styles have mixed success when barrel aged, but this works very well. Overall, this is among the better barrel aged Belgian quads I've ever had, rich and complex, well worth seeking out. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 13.7% ABV bottled (375 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a snifter on 8/23/14. Vintage: 2014.

Yet another winner from Lost Abbey. Someday, I'll need to get around to trying Cuvee De Tomme or Duck Duck Gooze, but until then... I'll just have to deal with all this other beer I have laying around.

Cimmerian Sabertooth Berzerker

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When it rains, it pours. No sooner than I got back from my trip to Vermont, a friend got back from her trip bearing tidings of Three Floyds, so now I find myself flush with amazing hoppy beers.

There's not much out there about this beer other than its 9% ABV, 100 IBU DIPA style. Cimmerians were a real ancient people, having flourished for a few hundred years around 600 BC. It's rumored that Robert Howard claimed his most famous creation, Conan the Barbarian, was descended from Cimmerians. This certainly fits the axe weilding maniacs and woolly mammoths on the label and is typical of Three Floyds' branding, so let's crush our enemies, see them driven before us, and hear the lamentations of their women. Oh, and drink their beer:

Three Floyds Cimmerian Sabertooth Berzerker

Three Floyds Cimmerian Sabertooth Berzerker - Pours a murky orange color with a finger of off white head that sticks around a while and leaves some lacing as I drink. Smells of big citrus and dank pine, with some sort of "green" hops as well, and even a little crystal malt caramel or maybe even toffee. Taste is very sweet, with that rich toffee and caramel from the nose coming through strongly. Dank, resinous hops with just a bit of citrus character come in the middle and balance out all that sweetness in the finish. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, medium bodied, a bit sticky. Overall, it's a big DIPA with enough malt presence to put this in strong ale or maybe even barleywine territory with just a few tweaks. Regardless, I'm enjoying it greatly. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 9% ABV bottled (22 oz bomber). Drank out of a Hill Farmstead Charente glass on 8/23/14. 100 IBU. Bottled 7/25/14.

Certainly not my favorite Three Floyds DIPA, but then, they apparently have a ton of them, and you'll be seeing some more of them in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.

Elmer T. Lee and Bonus Whiskey Reviews

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I'll take a break from relentlessly bragging on my Vermont beer trip* to bring you a few whiskey reviews. A pair of these are from the same samples sent to me by spirits compatriot Dimitri (the guy who sent me that Duvel Distilled), so many thanks need to, again, be showered upon him for his generousity. I'm also going to review what is possibly the best Bourbon I've had yet in my admittedly paltry tenure as a whiskey dork.

Elmer T. Lee was the master distiller responsible for Blanton's, the first single barrel expression of bourbon, released in 1984 and named after Albert B. Blanton, the man who hired Elmer many moons earlier. You'll know it by its grenade shaped bottle with the little horsey on top (and something I should probably try at some point). About a year later he retired from day-to-day operations, but stayed as Master Distiller Emeritus, and it wasn't long before someone was making a bourbon to honor him. His namesake bourbon is, of course, a single barrel bourbon. It uses Buffalo Trace's #2 mash bill, with more rye than the #1 bourbons (like, say, Eagle Rare), clocks in at 90 proof, and though it has no age statement, it is speculated to be in the 8-14 year range (which some would call the sweet spot for bourbon). Near as I can tell, it's not one of the sexy brands that'll show up in best-of lists, and yet it seems to be the sort of thing you'll find in a lot of bourbon lovers' bunkers. For a $30 bottle, it sure packs a pretty solid punch, and seems to drink well compared to much more expensive Bourbons. Alas it has become more limited of late, as bourbon continues to just fly off the shelves. Let's drink some, shall we:

Elmer T. Lee Bourbon

Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel - Pours a golden orange color, very standard Bourbon appearance. Smells very nice, caramel, booze, lots of pie spice (cinnamon, mint, etc...). Taste has a very nice balance between corn, caramel, rye spice, oak, vanilla, and alcohol. Mouthfeel is rich and full bodied, boozy but without a huge alcohol burn. Overall, among my favorite Bourbons, and definitely a gateway for newbies. I prefer this greatly to the comparably priced Eagle Rare (which is certainly fine in itself), and I think I'm starting to come down on the side of high rye recipes in Bourbon. A-

Whiskey Nerd Details: 90 proof, 45% ABV bottled (750 ml). Drank out of a glencairn glass, bottle nearly finished (but only a few months old).

Beer Nerd Musings: To my knowledge, there are no bourbon barrel beers that specifically call out Elmer T. Lee barrels, though naturally Buffalo Trace supplies many barrels to brewers for that purpose. I'm sure this has shown up in the blend for lots of beers, and I get the impression that higher spice works well with bourbon barrel beer. I could be talking out of my arse on that one though. For my part, I would consider using this in my next bourbon oaked homebrew (though I still need to figure out what to do with my barleywine, which is still having carbonation issues).

So these next two may be unfair to review at the same time, but I will note that I had these on separate occasions, so there is at least that. These are both thanks to Dimitri, so once again, thanks man!

Belgian Owl

Belgian Owl - This is a 3 year old single malt whiskey made in, you guessed it, Belgium. Pours a very light yellow color. The smell is of alcohol with very little malt, maybe some hints of herbal or grassy notes that I guess could be described as slightly gin-like, as sku suggests. The taste does not lead to much, it's just like the nose, with perhaps a bit more alcohol. Mouthfeel is very boozy, not much oak or malty richness at all. As with Duvel Distilled, the barrel character seems pretty tame here... and though 3 years isn't a ton of time, it still feels like there should be more here. Overall, it's an ok dram of boozy whiskey, slightly better than Duvel Distilled because of that gin-like juniper kick, but that didn't do a whole lot for me either. C+

Whiskey Nerd Details: 92 proof, 46% ABV bottled (sampler). Drank out of a glencairn glass.

Mystery Rye Whiskey

Mystery Rye - Dimitri shared very little about this one, only noting that it's a rye. Pours a very nice, deep orange color. I've only had a few rye whiskeys, but this one has a very strong rye component. Not quite as powerful as Dad's Hat, but then, this also has some oak to balance things out (at least, I think that's oak). So the nose is lots of rye and some oak and alcohol. The taste tweaks the proportions a bit, with the alcohol coming to the fore (but nowhere near as much as, say, that Duvel Distilled or Belgian Owl stuff), yet the spicy rye and oak character come through as well. Mouthfeel is a bit harsh, but it's certainly a worthy dram. I have no idea what the ABV on this is, but it feels like substantial ABV. Overall, this is decent stuff, so good work Dimitri. B

Whiskey Nerd Details: ? proof, ? ABV bottled (half sample). Drank out of a glencairn glass.

So there you have it, and don't worry, we'll get back to beer tomorrow. But I may mix things up in the coming months with some reviews of other stuff, as I've found it illuminating.

* Editor's Note: Is that really worth bragging about? My Response: I'm the worst. This has been established. But, you know, reviews on obscure Vermont beers coming soon, so don't change that dial.

Hill Farmstead Triple Feature

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We love Hill Farmstead here at Kaedrin, so when we took a slight, uh, 9 hour detour into Vermont to nab some of their prized beers, we availed ourselves of everything we possibly could. While I'm not a particularly huge fan of growlers, I absolutely had to fill up my limit whilst I could. Growlers are not known for their longevity but fortunately, these are beers that do not last long in this household. First up, Harlan, a beer I cracked open for a little scenic drinking just a few hours after returning from my trip.

Harlan IPA

Hill Farmstead Harlan IPA - A slightly bigger version of Edward Pale Ale that is dry hopped with additional Columbus hops. Pours a very pretty, cloudy pale orange color with a couple fingers of fluffy white head. Smells intensely of citrus hops, stone fruits, oranges, and your typical grapefruit notes along with a big dank note that isn't quite pine (I suspect the pine would be more prominent if this weren't so fresh). The taste follows the nose with tons of citrus hop flavors and that fresh dankness too. Light malt backbone, but not as bitter as you'd expect from such a hoppy beer. Mouthfeel is perfect, medium bodied, well carbonated, quaffable. Overall, this reminds me a lot of the type of stuff you see at Tired Hands, and I think that speaks well of both breweries. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 6.3% ABV from a growler (fancy 2L swing top). Drank out of a Hill Farmstead Charente glass on 8/14/14. Growler filled on 8/14/14.

Society and Solitude #5

Hill Farmstead Society & Solitude 5 - As of right now, this is the best received entry in this series of experimental DIPAs. This one features a rather fantastic blend of American and New Zealand hops. Pours a murky yellow color with a finger of white head that leaves lacing as I drink. Huge citrus aroma, oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, mangoes, the whole shebang. The taste is dominated by those citrusy hops, with that same melange of tropical fruit notes. It got a well balanced sweetness to it, evened out by hops, but not bitter. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, perfectly carbonated, absolutely quaffable. Overall, a spectacular IPA, the clear winner of this trip so far (and that's saying something!) A

Beer Nerd Details: 8.4% ABV from a growler (750 ml swing top). Drank out of a Hill Farmstead Charente glass on 8/16/14. Growler filled on 8/14/14.

Friendship and Devotion

Hill Farmstead Friendship & Devotion - Brewed in collaboration with Luc Bim Lafontaine, formerly of Dieu du Ciel! (and soon to be heading up some sort of special Japanese brewery), this is an IPA that is described as "citrusy, salty IPA with notes of grapefruit". Pours a very pale orange color with a finger of white head that leaves some lacing as I drink. Again with the big citrus hop aroma, tropical fruit, herbal and grassy notes, but also some sweetness... Taste goes along similar lines, lots of citrus hops, hints of pine in the background, and something else playing around in the middle. HF sez that it's salty, so maybe that's what I'm getting, but it's not like it's a gose or something - if its salty, it's tucked into the rest of the flavor profile pretty well. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, well carbonated, and yes, quaffable. Overall, another winner, though perhaps not quite as much as the above two... A-

Beer Nerd Details: 6.6% ABV from a growler (750 ml swing top). Drank out of a Hill Farmstead Charente glass on 8/16/14. Growler filled on 8/14/14.

So there you have it. I'm getting pretty close to exhausting Hill Farmstead's standard brews. Someday, I may have to fill a growler with something I've had before, like Abner. The horror! Already looking forward to it!

Billy's Pale Ale

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This is the first in a series of what I'll call "Vermont Roulette", wherein I purchase some random Vermont beer that I've never heard of off the shelf and see what happens. In this case, it turns out that the beer is from Massachusetts, but I bought it in Vermont, and it appears to be a rather obscure beer. I didn't take a picture of it, but the bottle caps were clearly those Brewery's Best thingies that homebrewers use. I suspect this is a rather small operation. Only 2 reviews on BA, and this Howler Brewery doesn't even have a website. All the bottle sez is that it's a pale ale brewed with Nugget and Cascade hops, which, you know, sploosh. But then I opened this sucker and bam, Belgian yeast. Unexpected, but cromulent enough, I suppose:

Howler Billys Pale Ale

Howler Billy's Pale Ale - Pours a golden orange color with a finger of white head. Smells... like Belgian yeast, lots of spicy, musty, estery yeast, maybe a hint of those advertised hops. That Belgian yeast follows into the taste, which has a nice spicy character, cloves and the like, and some citrus hop notes melding with the yeast character, some hop bitterness in the finish. Mouthfeel is highly carbonated, medium bodied, and relatively dry. Overall, it's an unexpected but pretty straightforward Belgian pale ale with just a hint of a hoppy kick. Worth trying, but don't let that label fool you - this ain't no straight pale ale. B-

Beer Nerd Details: ? ABV bottled (22 oz bomber). Drank out of a tulip glass on 8/18/14.

Not an entirely encouraging start to Vermont Roulette, but then, when your points of comparison are Hill Farmstead, The Alchemist, and Lawson's Finest Liquids, there's a pretty tough bar to clear. Stay tuned for some more obscure Vermont brews...

Black Butte XXVI

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Bend, Oregon brewers at Deschutes started their brewery off with a pretty standard porter for a flagship beer. In the current craft beer bonanza, this wouldn't be that unusual. Boring, even. But considering that Deschutes opened 26 years ago, this was actually a bold choice. Fast forward twenty years, and they could see that it was the right choice. That's when Deschutes started brewing up a special anniversary beer to celebrate their success. They took their old flagship, amped it up a few notches, chucked in some adjuncts (different every year, but usually including chocolate), and aged a portion in old Bourbon barrels.

This year's iteration (their 7th) is a complex blend of ales incorporating adjuncts like pomegranate molasses, cocoa nibs, and cranberries. 50% was aged in Bourbon barrels, and the final product clocks in at a hefty 10.8% ABV. So grab yourself a plate of mashed potatoes and start sculpting yourself a butte*:

Deschutes Black Butte XXVI

Deschutes Black Butte XXVI - Pours a very dark brown color with a finger of tan head. Smells of brown sugar, caramel, marshmallow, maybe a hint of roast and chocolate, with some of that bourbon, oak, and vanilla. The taste is very sweet, hints of roasted malt, chocolate, a light caramel, molasses, marshmallow character that intensifies as it warms up, maybe even some tart, fruity notes (presumably that cranberry peeking through, and that also gets more prominent as it warms). Mouthfeel is well carbonated, on the lighter end of full bodied, feels more attenuated than your typical BBA porter. It's certainly not thin, and not really dry, but it doesn't have that huge, chewy mouthfeel either. It is, however, very well balanced. Overall, this is an excellent, well crafted beer. It's not like a lot of BBA porters, but it's still really good. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 10.8% ABV bottled (22 oz waxed cap). Drank out of a snifter on 8/8/14. Best After 06/16/14.

I still can't help but wonder what a full BBA version of this (or their famous Abyss) would be like, but I guess that's not to be. As it is, this winds up being rather unique, so you can't fault them for that sort of thing. Also, someday I'll remember that Deschutes uses a "Best After" date on their big beers like this.

* If I actually knew what a butte was, I would have totally cooked up some mashed potatoes and gone all Richard Dreyfuss on that stuff. In fairness, a nice plate of meat and potatoes would probably be a decent pairing for this, so it's not a totally unrelated reference. Well, probably not, but work with me here.

Operation Cheddar II: Sharp Cheddar

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Last week was my now annual trip to Adirondacks to join family and friends for lakeside merriment and generalized fun (incidentally, this is why there were no posts last week). As with last year's Operation Cheddar, I took a little day trip over to Vermont to secure hallowed libations from the holy trinity of The Alchemist, Lawson's Finest Liquids, and Hill Farmstead.

The plan was pretty much the same as last year, except that The Alchemist was no longer distributing direct from their cannery, instead distributing to a variety of local Vermont establishments. Alas, this little switchup would prove to be my doom. Or, well, just make it so that I didn't manage to procure any precious Heady Topper. I suppose I could have, but I opted not to wait the extra two hours. I've had plenty of Heady in my day, including a recent fresh 4 pack, so I didn't judge this to be a huge loss. I could probably have found the odd 4 pack around somewhere, but this whole distribution situation makes this sort of day trip a little inconvenient. I'll need to do a more dedicated Vermont trip to make this work. No big whoop, onwards and upwards.

In any case, Operation Cheddar II: Sharp Cheddar commenced on Thursday morning. First stop was The Warren Store for some Lawson's Finest Liquids (see last year's operation for more on this great little store). Unlike last year where I basically walked in and picked a few bottles off the shelf, this year was a bit more of a production. There was a line of about 20 people ahead of me, and they sold out 34 cases in about an hour and half. Fortunately, I got there in time to secure my three bottles of Double Sunshine. On the one hand, it would have been nice to have gotten a hold of something I hadn't had before. On the other hand, Double Fucking Sunshine. These three bottles will not last long. Whilst there, I snagged a few other locals:

Warren Store Haul

So aside from Double Sunshine, I grabbed a Foley Brothers Native IPA (I enjoyed their brown ale from last year's sortie), a Bent Hill India Pale Ale (dude at the shop said they're brand new and at the time, no reviews on the internets), a Crop Bistro & Brewery Idletyme IPA as well as their Crop Weizen (another brand new brewery).

Also procured at The Warren Store was some Vermont Maple Syrup and a wonderful breakfast sandwich, which I ate in peace out on their deck that faces the little waterfall and creek on the side of the building. Good times.

Next stop, Hill Farmstead!

Hill Farmstead Sign

Hill Farmstead Construction

Construction and expansion efforts are moving along, and the line was actually indoors this year. They seemed to have streamlined some of their process, but there was a pretty steady line of folks looking to score their Hill Farmstead bottles and growlers. I have to admit, I spent wayyy too much money here, but it's totally worth it:

Hill Farmstead Haul

Hill Farmstead other beer haul

Once again, I ended up buying some of the same beer as last year. But when that beer is Vera Mae, I'm not going to complain. Plus, I got my hands on an ample bounty of Florence (more than pictured), and growlers of Harlan, Friendship & Devotion, and Society & Solitude #5, so there is that. Also snagged some Siren / Mikkeller / Hill Farmstead Limoncello IPA and Crooked Stave Surette and Vieille. Oh, and they had glassware this year too!

The last stop was Winooski Beverage, where I had hoped to score some Heady Topper. Alas, I got there at 4, there was already a few people waiting in line, and they weren't going to start selling until 6. I still had a three hour drive to get back home, so I opted to grab a few shelf turds (that happened to all be Massachusetts beers) and leave it at that.

Miscellaneous Haul

Let's see what we got here: Mystic Saison Renaud, Jack's Abby Hopstitution IPL and Session Rye IPL, and something that looks like homebrew (seriously dude, it's got those Brewer's Best caps) called Billy's Pale Ale.

And just for fun, some other stuff I procured on this trip, including some great tasting Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar, along with that Maple Syrup that I mentioned earlier.

Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar and Maple Syrup

So yes, despite the lack of Heady, I declare that this mission has been accomplished. Until next year (though fingers crossed for a more wintry excursion in a few months).

Duvel Distilled

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While beer is obviously my main squeeze, I do like to dip my toes into other realms of boozy glory. I'm far from an expert in these other worlds, but that's part of the fun, and it turns out that there are a lot of intersections between beer and other libations. Witness my near obsession with beer aged in wine or spirits barrels. But there are other intersections beyond that... one of which is distilled beer.

I read a fair amount of beer blogs, but I also check in on a fair amount of whiskey bloggers. One of my favorites is Sku's Recent Eats, and as it turns out, he has a penchant for distilled beer. This has always intrigued me, so when I saw his recent post on Duvel Distilled, I commented that I'd love to try the beer and the distilled version together, just as an experiment. Well it turns out that the fine gentleman who sent Sku his samples saw my post and arranged to send me some samples as well. A month later, and I get to partake in that experiment. Many thanks to Dimitri for sending me this sample (and a few others, which I'm sure I'll post about at some point as well).

I've had a somewhat rocky relationship with Duvel in the past. I was distinctly unimpressed the first few times I had it, but I've had it twice in the past year and in both cases, it turned my head. Perhaps I had gotten bad bottles before. Whatever you may think of this, Duvel is generally known as the quintessential ur-example of a Belgian Strong Pale Ale (this is a pretty generalized category, but that's Belgian beer for you).

I'm no expert on this aspect, but as fodder for distillation, Duvel doesn't seem particularly well suited. It's mostly pale barley malt and very lightly hopped with mild European hops (i.e. very little inherent flavor from those ingredients). Instead, Duvel gets its distinct character almost entirely from the Belgian yeast - huge fruity esters and spicy phenols, with a high attenuation (resulting in a highly carbonated, dry beer). So what we have here is distilled Duvel that is then aged for six years in bourbon and sherry barrels. It's apparently somewhat rare and highly sought after, so it seems extra thanks should be sent Dimitri's way.

I know from reading Sku's posts that heavily hopped beers retain their hoppy character in the finished product. So the question is whether or not Duvel's yeast character will survive the distillation and aging process. Alas, it appears the answer is "not really".

Duvel and Duvel Distilled
(Click for bigger image)

Duvel - Pours a slightly hazy straw yellow color with several fingers of fluffy white head. Smells fantastic, primarily a Belgian yeast joint with huge fruity esters and spicy clove in the nose. The taste follows the nose with big spicy yeast notes, clove and the like, with some fruitiness peeking through. Mouthfeel is highly carbonated and effervescent, but light bodied and dry, making it a good match for food. Overall, definitely better than my first few tastes, and clearly a classic Belgian Strong Pale. I keep upgrading this every time I have a bottle, and so we're up to a B+

Beer Nerd Details: 8.5% ABV bottled (11.2 oz). Drank out of a tulip glass on 8/6/14.

Duvel Distilled - Pours a very, very light yellow color. The nose smells pretty bland, definitely light on the fruity malt presence and heavy on the booze. I get none of the great fruity or spicy notes of the beer in the nose at all. It feels like that generic booze I first sampled as a teenager (not an entirely unpleasant memory, but then, not a particularly trustworthy one either). The taste doesn't change all that much, lots of general alcohol flavor, some grainy malt presence, but that's about it. None of the fruit or spice from the beer, nor any real discernible barrel character either (Sku's comment: "It's hard to believe this was aged in six years unless it was in seventh fill barrels or something like that."). Mouthfeel is actually pretty harsh and boozy, almost rougher than that 60%+ single barrel Four Roses stuff I got a hold of recently. Perhaps that's a bit unfair, but at least the Four Roses has some semblance of balance or at least an intensity of flavor that matches the booze level. Here, the balance is off... Overall, this is a bit of a disappointment. There's no way I'd peg this as being related to the beer at all, and even as a spirit in itself, it feels like a young, unrefined potion. There's nothing inhernently wrong with it, and it's certainly drinkable, but it's not something I'd recommend seeking out. This apparently has a cult following and fetches high prices on the secondary market, but I'm not entirely sure why... C

Spirit Nerd Details: 40% ABV bottled (sample size). Drank out of a glencairn glass on 8/6/14. 2013 vintage (I think?)

Despite not being in love with the actual Duvel Distilled product, I have to thank Dimitri yet again for the opportunity, as I love exploring these intersections between my potion of choice and the rest of the booze world. I felt a little bad about this until I realized that both Sku and Dimitri mentioned that they weren't the biggest fans of this stuff either...

Now if I can just get ahold of some of that Charbay whisky (distilled from Bear Republic's excellent flagship Racer 5 IPA), things might turn around. And some day, I really want to try New Holland's Beer Barrel Bourbon (which is bourbon finished on a third use barrel, with the first use being Bourbon and the second use being New Holland's Dragon's Milk Imperial Stout).

Forest & Main Lunaire

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I've been hitting the local brews pretty hard this past week or so, and I don't see any reason to stop now. Here we have another two year old local brewpub specializing in English and Belgian styles, with a particular focus on saisons. As I've mentioned before, they share a fair amount of DNA with what makes Tired Hands a Kaedrin favorite, so you know I'm interested when they do a bottle release. They're a bit further away from me, so I don't always get up there for bottle releases, but on the other hand, they tend to be low stress affairs, much like the laid back atmosphere they cultivate.

Here we have the second release of Lunaire, a saison aged in Chardonnay barrels for about six months. So strap in, it's time we take Le Lunaire Voyage*

Forest and Main Lunaire

Forest & Main Lunaire - Pours a cloudy golden orange color with a finger of tight white head that sticks around for a while as I drink. Beautiful nose, musty funk, bright citrus, wine, and lots of oak. The taste amps up that funk a bit, lots of earthiness, a little citrus tartness, vinous fruit, and tons of oak. I suspect there are some who'd say this is over oaked, but I'm not complaining at all. That being said, I'd be really curious to see what this does over time, perhaps that oak will mellow out some (fortunately, I have a few extra bottles to lay down). Mouthfeel is well carbonated, crisp, and effervescent, light bodied, tannic, with just a bit of acidity. Overall, this may be my favorite Forest & Main beer yet. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 6% ABV bottled (500 ml waxed cap). Drank out of a flute glass on 8/2/14. Batch 2 (I think... definitely the second bottling), bottled May 21, 2014.

I seem to be drowning in excellent, funky, local saisons aged in wine barrels of late. I'm not really complaining about that, I love me some farmhouse and I've been trying to live off my cellar for the past few months instead of continually buying more than I could even drink, but I also try to write about more diverse stuff. I'll have to see what I can do in the near future about that. Incidentally, I've got a line on some midwest Gold, and even a potential trip to Vermont next week, so I'll most likely be stocking up again in the near future. Stay tuned!

* For the non film nerds amongst you, I was trying to evoke the early cinematic classic Le Voyage dans la Lune (aka A Trip to the Moon)with that quip, but the fact that I'm even writing this footnote is probably a bad sign, no? I'll just stop then.

I Am The Emptiness

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Another in an ongoing series of saisons aged in wine barrels with various local fruits sourced from rockstar farmer Tom Culton, this is what happens when you add strawberries and your cellar is full, so you just release it on tap because there's no space for any bottles. This sort of thing will be remedied shortly once their new facility is up and running, but for now, I'll just have to suffer through drinking this excellent beer on tap and in a growler:

Tired Hands I Am The Emptiness

I Am The Emptiness - Pours a deep, dark orange color with a finger of off white head. Smells fantastic, strawberries, fruity funk, musty, just a hint of earthiness, some yeasty spice, a little oak and vanilla, did I mention strawberries? Taste has a more prominent oak character, lots of fruitiness with those tart strawberries really coming through well, but not dominating. Sour, but not overpoweringly so, because there's that typical saison backbone, a little spice, and even a little citrus hops poking through, with perhaps more bitterness than expected from this Emptiness series. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, reasonably well carbonated (less than the last couple bottles, which were perfect), only a bit of acidity from that sourness. Overall, though I may prefer the persimmon variant, this is still another winning entry into the Emptiness series. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 7% ABV from a growler (1L swingtop). Drank out of a flute glass on 7/26/14, growler filled earlier that day.

I had this on tap last week too (it kicked while I was sitting there finishing up a glass), and I found it slightly better than in the growler (but that's my general feeling with growlers). Up next in the Emptiness series are The Emptiness is Not Eternal bottles. Jean sez the bottle conditioned version is better than the one that was on tap during the Second Anniversary, which makes me wonder if I Am The Emptiness would similarly improve if bottled... Anyway, after that one comes You Are The Emptiness, which is made with peaches, and therefore represents some sort of beer nerd singularity that will draw quite a crowd when released.

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Hi, my name is Mark, and I like beer.

You might also want to check out my generalist blog, where I blather on about lots of things, but mostly movies, books, and technology.

Email me at mciocco at gmail dot com.

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  • Mark: I figured it had something to do with that, but read more
  • rymould: Apparently a brewery from Texas holds the trademark for "Punkel" read more
  • rich.on.beer: Pretty sure Neshaminy Creek got a cease and desist letter read more
  • Mark: It is pretty darn sweet and quite good, though not read more
  • beerbecue: This blows my mind. Why have we never seen this read more
  • beerbecue: They ran out of BA Everett right before the mule read more
  • Mark: I'm certainly pleased with it! I'm pretty sure I was read more
  • beerbecue: A nice haul indeed. It seems you and my mule read more
  • Mark: That's what I figured after the last release (which was read more
  • rich.on.beer: Also, freaking Lansdale is only kind of sort of a read more