Good Measure Tawny

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A couple of years ago, Alex from dontdrinkbeer.com noticed that while there was a Facebook group for seemingly every style of beer, there wasn't one for Barleywine. So he created Barleywine is Life (#BiL) and the group quickly became a wretched hive of scum and villainy. Seriously, it's a crazy little group of people and there's a surprising amount of drama. I know, it's the internets, what do you expect, but this is still a step above the usual dank memes and inappropriate comments (in, like, a good way).

Anywho, the date 8/17 has become something of a holiday to the group (817, like BIL, get it?) so I figured I'd break out the one VT barleywine I procured during during the most recent Operation Cheddar... Tawny is an English Style Barleywine (that's good) aged in maple syrup bourbon barrels (very good) with vermont table grapes (Um... I don't know what to think about that). Let's dig in:

Good Measure Tawny

Good Measure Tawny - Pours a copper amber color (dare I say, tawny?) with a finger of off white head. Smells sweet with a distinct vinous character, those grapes coming through, and maybe some of that syrupy goodness too. Taste starts sweet, malt and fruit, that distinct vinous character again, some caramel, toffee, oak, and vanilla, finishing with some dry grape notes (a tannic sort of dryness, like a dry red wine). Mouthfeel is rich, well carbonated, and full bodied, a bit of boozy heat, drying tannins in the finish. Overall, it's good, but I'd rather the grapes were left out of it. B

Beer Nerd Details: 14% ABV bottled (500 ml). Drank out of a snifter on 8/17/18.

It was certainly nice to break up the giant wave of IPAs I've been drowning in of late (it's the struggle, you know?) with something like this, and while I wasn't a huge fan of the grape addition, it was at least an interesting experiment. I'd be curious to try more Good Measure stuff next time I'm in VT. I'm going to have to plan a trip for cooler months of the year so I don't overload on IPAs and Saisons the way I tend to do during the summer months.

At this point, the annual sorty into Vermont for beer (codename: Operation Cheddar) has a consistent plan of attack: Warren Store, CBC in Waterbury, Alchemist Visitor's Center, Lost Nation for Lunch, Hill Farmstead, and Foam are always onboard, with the occasional target of opportunity presenting itself (this year: Fiddlehead came into our sights). It's a fun day trip for me (embedded as it is in a vacation rooted in upstate NY, which is like, totally closer to VT than PA), but since I do it every year, I'll try not to bore you with repetition. Again. Anywho, enjoy some pics from the trip, a recap of the haul, and a few quickie reviews (that are light on tasting notes and heavy on ruminations, so less skippable than usual).

Alchemist Artwork
Some artwork from the Alchemist Building, it's purty.

Lunch at Lost Nation
Lunch at Lost Nation, a smoked chicken sandwich thing that was great. If you're ever ripping through Vermont, it's worth stopping here for lunch, the food is excellent.

Fiddlehead Logo
A Fiddlehead sign

Hill Farmstead Poetica 2

Hill Farmstead Poetica 2 - Operation Cheddar involves a lot of driving, so I'm generally reticent to partake in actually drinking beer at all. The only exception is usually a 5 ounce pour of something at Lost Nation. But since it looked like I was going to be at Hill Farmstead for a while and they actually had this interesting sounding thing on tap, I figured I'd give it a swing. You see, Hill Farmstead was hosting their annual Festival of Farmhouse Ales in the coming weekend, so they were packed with newly arrived beer dorks. Alas, since they planned on releasing a bunch of limited stuff during the festival, I had to settle for their "normal" shelfies (which are still phenomenal, to be sure). This was a special DONG release though, so I figured I'd give it a shot. Poetica 2 is basically Hill Farmstead's Mary, a pilsner, but instead of simply lagering in stainless, they lagered in a single French oak puncheon in their cooler for three months. After that, they moved it to a stainless tank and krausened it with a new batch for carbonation (this is apparently a step they always do when lagering). Anywho, the result is a very good pilsner, much like Mary. Grassy, earthy hops, minerality, quaffable stuff. I was not detecting much in the way of oak and I didn't take detailed notes, but I do want to say that it had more complexity than I'm used to from a pilsner. This, of course, means that the beer was a placebo and Hill Farmstead is now experimenting with mind control and we should indeed be quite worried because they're good at everything so why not world domination? Ok, that got away from me there for a second, so I'll just say that the beer is very nice and fans of Pilsners should look for future iterations on this mind control potion oaked lager. Let's just say B+ and get on with it.

Beer Nerd Details: ~5.6% ABV on draft (10 ounce pour). Drank out of a charente glass on 8/2/18. Batch 2.

And so we come to the haul pics. For the record, some duplicate cans/bottles not pictured, nor did I hoard all these cans for myself. Indeed, I would say the majority of my purchases were passed along to (or shared with) friends. I'm not exactly a full time mule, but I enjoy spreading the wealth. So here goes:

Nice Cans

Can Haul - Part 1: Hill Farmstead Citra IPA (seems to have been rebranded as an IPA, and I'll say that these cans were straight fire, very nice), Hill Farmstead Works of Love: Earl Grey Tea & Lactose, Hill Farmstead Society & Solitude #4, Hill Farmstead Walden, Fiddlehead Mastermind.

Moar Cans. Mark likes cans.

Can Haul - Part 2: Lawson's Finest Liquids Sip of Sunshine, Alchemist Holy Cow IPA, Simple Roots New North End, Foam Built to Spill (many thanks to Kaedrin friend Eric for gifting this can and a few others to me when I met with him at Foam), 14th Star Make the Cut (not pictured, see below), Upper Pass First Drop, Alchemist Focal Banger, Alchemist Lightweight, Suarez Family Brewing Palatine Pils (not technically an Operation Cheddar acquisition, full explanation to come in a separate post), Alchemist Heady Topper, and Alchemist Hellbrook.

Funny observation: While Hill Farmstead was packed with long lines due to FoFA, Alchemist had a practically nonexistent line. Each year, the Alchemist gets less crowded. Plenty of people milling about, but I basically just walked up to the counter and got my beer. Go figure.

Haul of growlers

Growler Haul: Foam Galaxie 500, Hill Farmstead Abner (we will be talking more about Abner sometime in a separate post), Hill Farmstead Society & Solitude #9, Hill Farmstead Society & Solitude #4.

Haul of Hill Farmstead bottles that I want to lick

HF Bottle Haul: Hill Farmstead Arthur, Anna, Grassroots Brother Soigne, Florence, Dorothy, and Clara.

Miscellaneous Haul

Miscellaneous Haul: von Trapp Golden Helles Lager, von Trapp Dunkel, Jack's Abby Cordon Rouge Barrel-Aged Framinghammer, Good Measure Tawny (#BiL), Lost Nation The Wind Bretta (not to be confused with the "plain" Wind), Stone Corral Bad Rooster IPA, Rock Art Citra DIPA, Burlington Peak Nostalgia, and Lawson's Finest Liquids Super Session #7.

Moar Miscellaneous Haul

Moar Miscellaneous Haul: 3 Fonteinen Oude Geuze Cuvée Armand & Gaston 1.5 L Magnum, Suarez Family Brewing Postscript, Proclivity, and Call to Mind (again, not technically Operation Chowder, but we'll cover that in a separate post), and Crooked Stave Blueberry Origins.

The non-beer haul

Non-Beer Haul: Alchemist Red Heady hot sauce and Cheddy Topper cheddar cheese.

Phew, that's quite a bit of beer. Now let's take a closer look at a few of these that I drank:

Hill Farmstead Society and Solitude 9

Hill Farmstead Society & Solitude #9 - Pours a cloudy, golden yellow with a solid finger of white head that leaves plenty of lacing as I drink. Smells nice, sweet, lots of tropical fruit hops, mango, pineapple, and so on. Taste is also quite nice, sweet, citrusy, pine, balance in the finish. Mouthfeel is perfect, tight, soft carbonation, medium bodied, drinks like a dream. Overall, oh jeeze, another excellent HF IPA, stop the presses. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 8% ABV growlered (750 ml swing top). Drank out of a charente glass on 8/4/18. Growler filled on 8/2/18.

Foam Galaxie 500

Foam Galaxie 500 - Pours a very cloudy, milky looking straw yellow color with half a finger of white head that doesn't stick around too long. Smells of bright citrus, tropical fruit, stone fruit, and the like. Taste is very sweet, lots of those bright citrus hops, with a sharp edge to it, finishing sweet and juicy. Mouthfeel is a tad low on the carbonation, medium bodied, with a sharp alcohol note. Overall, this is a really nice Galaxy DIPA, a bit on the strong side, but no less delicious for it. B+ or A-

Beer Nerd Details: 9% ABV growlered (750 ml swing top). Drank out of a charente glass on 8/4/18. Growler filled on 8/2/18.

Alchemist Holy Cow - Apparently one of their staples during the halcyon days of the old Alchemist brewpub, it was a local favorite long before Heady became the hotness. Pours, well, I don't know, because I drank it from a can. I'm guessing pale. Smells citrusy, bright graprefruit. Taste is light and citrusy, finishing with a nice balancing bitterness. Mouthfeel is crisp, clean, and dry, good carbonation, light, quaffable stuff. Overall, it's not going to blow people away, but I could drill a four pack of these with ease. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 5.16% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of the can (like a man) on 8/5/18.

Alchemist Hellbrook

Alchemist Hellbrook - A pretty straightforward Amber ale, a style I can appreciate when done well (and when hopped to high heaven), this doesn't quite live up to the reputation of the Alchemist's best work. Indeed, I think the pattern is that after Heady and Focal, there's a distinct stairstep in quality to their other offerings. I don't know that I've had anything outright bad, to be sure, but all of these others are somewhat standard takes, if well executed. None are quite the style-defining heights of Heady or Focal... This one pours a dark amber, almost brown color with a couple fingers of off-white head. Smells of citrus and dank, resinous pine, with crystal malt lurking in the background, light caramel tonez. Taste hits that crystal malt character, with plenty of piney, resinous hops in the middle, finishing with a balancing bitterness and dank hop profile. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, well carbonated, and pretty well balanced. Overall, another solid brew here. Not going to make headlines, but it's better than your typical amber ale, if not quite at the top of the style. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 7% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 8/5/18.

Alchemist Lightweight - Look, I'm not sure what I was expecting from this American Blonde Ale, but what I got was an almost Kolsh-like easy drinker, earthy, grassy, and herbal. Nice lawnmower beer, but again, not going to set the world on fire like you might expect from the Alchemist. I feel like I'm bagging on Alchemist here, but in reality, these are all solid little beers. Sometimes they're disappointing due to the high bar set by Heady and Focal, but I will say that I'm still going to continually seek out additional varieties of Alchemist stuff. None of it is bad, and it sometimes approaches the sublime, so why not? B-

Beer Nerd Details: 4.4% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 8/5/18.

Frost Beer Works Lush - I had the Plush DIPA a while back, which is a variant of this beer, and heck, they're both really good DIPAs. Typical Northeast IPA type stuff, not going to replace the top tier, but certainly worth a flier if you're making your way through VT's hop laden waters. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 8% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 8/6/18.

Lawson's Finest Liquids Super Session #7 - If you've had any of the Super Session beers, you know what you're in for here (I haven't had them in close enough proximity to notice a major difference, but who knows...) Typical session IPA territory, but it doesn't quite feel like a "diet" IPA like some of them do, it's a really nice, quaffable, citrus IPA that is light and crisp. It may not stand out against a sea of DIPAs, but it's a nice summer beer. B

Beer Nerd Details: 4.8% ABV canned (12 ounce). Drank out of a tulip glass on 8/10/18.

Foam City Lights: Pineapple & Tangerine - A pretty straightforward kettle soured fruit beer, it reminds me a bit of Burley Oak's JREAM beers, though I think those are better. For whatever reason, this one didn't quite connect with me. C+

Beer Nerd Details: 5% ABV canned (12 ounce). Drank out of a flute glass on 8/11/18.

Simple Roots New North End IPA - Pretty straightforward NEIPA stuff, not top tier, but better than the last Simple Roots stuff I had on a previous Operation Cheddar mission. One thing about these non-hyped cans that always gives me pause is that they tend to be a bit less fresh, which will have an impact. This is not entirely their fault either, as I bought this on 8/2 (when it was already a couple weeks old), but didn't drink it until 8/17. Not a ton of time, to be sure, but this wasn't the can I was rushing to try either, and you can see that the highest rated stuff in this post tends to be the freshest as well. Freshness isn't the only lever here, but that's probably a part of it. Regardless, this is a fine beer, worth a flier if you're in VT. B

Beer Nerd Details: 7% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 8/17/18.

Burlington Peak Nostalgia - This is a Strawberry Milkshake IPA with Vanilla & Milk Sugar, a style that is hyped to high heaven thanks in large part to Kaedrin's local Tired Hands, who make a whole series of Milkshake beers that are awesome. This Burlington take certainly emphasizes the strawberry aspects well (moreso even than the Tired Hands equivalent), but the balance isn't quite on point and it's overall a little disappointing. But my frame of reference is the Tired Hands Milkshakes. I've certainly had worse takes on the style, and while it's a wholly different beer, this beer is far better than Burlington's Strawberry Whale Cake, which I got on a previous Operation Cheddar. B

Beer Nerd Details: 6% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 8/17/18.

14th Star Make the Cut Saving Grace

14th Star Make the Cut Saving Grace - Apparently there's a local homebrew competition where the winner's recipe is scaled up and brewed at 14th Star. This is a very nice Northeast IPA dry hopped with Mosaic, Citra, and Ekuanot. And it's really good, lots of juicy citrus and pine, good mouthfeel and pretty easy going. Would try again, though I suspect we've seen the last of this particular beer due to its origins. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 7.3% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 8/18/18.

Phew! That's a lot of beer, folks. Many apologies for the lack of blogging recently, I hope this makes up for it. I've still got quite the backlog of reviews, and plenty of things from this trip that I haven't dug into yet, so much moar to come. Stay tuned.

This brings this year's Operation Cheddar to a close. Next year promises to hold at least a minor shakeup in that Lawson's Finest Liquids is finally opening a brewery, taproom, and retail store in Waitsfield, VT (not far from the Warren Store, which was always my scheduled stop to find Lawson's and thus will probably fall out of the rotation next year). Most exciting!

Kane BBA Three Hundred Sixty Five

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Allright, stay with me here. In 2012, Kane was celebrating their first anniversary, and they put out a beer called Three Hundred Sixty Five (the significance of this name is obviously a total mystery.) It was comprised of a blend of 70% Belgian-style quadrupel and 30% barrel-aged imperial stout. Most of that was released then, but some of the finished blend was racked back into bourbon barrels for another year. At their second anniversary party in 2013, they incorporated some of that aged juice into their next anniversary beer, Seven Hundred Thirty (again with the cryptic name), but reserved some of it for release on draft on its own. At their third anniversary in 2014, they incorporated Seven Hundred Thirty into their next anniversary beer, One Thousand Ninety Five (I suppose I've worn this naming joke down to the bone, so I'll refrain this time and this time only). I think you're getting the solera-like pattern here, but the point is that at that third anniversary, they finally released some of the original Bourbon Barrel-Aged Three Hundred and Sixty Five in bottles. So if I've got the chronology right, they brewed and blended it, aged it in bourbon barrels for a year, then bottle conditioned for another year before releasing.

Everybody Got That?

Then it made it's way to me after another, er, 3-4 years or so in the bottle. Quite the storied beer. As we've seen recently, Kane's got a pretty darned good barrel program, so let's dig in:

Kane Bourbon Barrel Aged Three Hundred and Sixty Five

Kane Bourbon Barrel Aged Three Hundred and Sixty Five - Pours a murky, very dark brown color with a half finger of off white, fizzy head that does not stick around very long. Smells nice, lots of that bourbon, oak, and vanilla, along with some almost cola-like spice notes. Taste is very sweet, hits some Belgian yeast spiciness, that cola-like character is there too, with a nice, boozy bourbon, oak, and vanilla character. Mouthfeel is on the lighter end of full bodied, rich but again on the lighter side of that spectrum, nice tight carbonation too. Overall, it has a neat sorta bourbon barrel aged coke feel to it, with some added Belgian yeast notes for complexity. Having had some of the newer anniversary blends, I suspect that while this was quite nice, it would have been better if not aged as long as it was. Still really happy to have tried it! B+

Beer Nerd Details: 12.2% ABV bottled (750 ml silver wax). Drank out of a tulip glass on 6/22/18. Released: 2014.

Many thanks to Gene of Talkbeer for sending this my way (he was very generously making good on a mixup from a while back that was totally not his fault). I will most certainly be seeking out more from Kane's barrel program.

Again Burley Oak Quadruple Feature

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In what's become an annual tradition, I stopped in at Burley Oak on my way home from a vacation in Ocean City, MD for a big, pre-holiday release. Last year, I was taken aback by how bonkers the release was. This year, I was mildly prepared for the insanity. I wouldn't think to put Burley Oak in the top tier of breweries capable of sustaining releases like this (i.e. TreeHouse, Monkish, Other Half, etc...), but I suspect their location matters, and it helps that it was a holiday weekend.

For their part, Burley Oak has implemented some practices to minimize the strain, such as numbered wrist bands and pre-orders (though not pre-payment, which would make the line move faster, but probably presents challenges of its own). The facility has morphed a bit as well, and is more conducive to the whole beer swap/share environment that inevitably emerges during such events. I talked to a guy who was third in line; he'd arrived at 7 pm the night before and hadn't left. Me? I was 173rd in line. But I still got everything on offer, so there is that:

Burley Oak 100 Citra

Burley Oak 100 (Citra) - Last year's Mosaic 100 was amazingly good. Here we have the same beer, but with Citra hops. Alas, I don't think that this rivaled last year's version, though it's obviously quite nice. Pours cloudy, downright murky, a muted, milky looking yellow color with a finger of white, dense head that sticks around for a while. Smells great, lots of sweet citrus and floral notes. Taste is sweet and citrusy, orange juicy, that floral component kicking in for complexity's sake, with a perfectly calibrated finish. Not noticeably bitter, but not sickly sweet either. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, medium bodied, a little chewy, well balanced stuff. Overall, it's great. I'd put the mosaic higher, but this is quite good. B+ or A-

Beer Nerd Details: 8.5% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 6/30/18. Canned: 06/29/2018. Batch: Y WAS THE B BALL COURT WET?

Pretty Girls Like Hazy IPAs

Pretty Girls Like Hazy IPAs - This is a "Pink" IPA (whatever that means) triple dry-hopped with Vic Secret, Summer, and Mosaic hops. Pours a murky pinkish hued color with a finger of off-white (a hint of pink?), dense head that sticks around and leaves some lacing. Smells great, citrus, pine, pineapple, really nice. Taste isn't quite as great as the nose, sweet with a little of that citrus going on, and a balancing bitterness towards the finish. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, well carbonated, moderately dry, again, not quite as good as the nose would have you believe. Overall, it's a solid little IPA, but nothing special. B

Beer Nerd Details: 6.9% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 7/1/18. Canned: 06/29/2018. Batch: BECAUSE OF ALL THE DRIBBLING.

Double Blackberry Mango JREAM

Double Blackberry Mango JREAM - The acronym stands for "Juice Rules Everything Around Me", in case you were wondering, and last year's entries in this series were nice, but didn't particularly blow me away. This one turns things around, perhaps because of the "double" nature providing a wallop of richness, or maybe just Blackberry Mango combo is more to my palate. Pours a hazy, bright red color with a finger of striking pink head. Smells nice, lots of fruit, those blackberries coming through strong, less of the mango. Taste starts off with rich and sweet, with bright, tart fruit coming through in the middle, again with the mangoes taking backseat to the blackberries, finish with a lactic sour kick. Mouthfeel is rich and on the higher end of medium bodied, well carbonated, moderate acidity. It's not something you could slam several of in a row, but it's really great. Overall, this might be my favorite take on a JREAM yet. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 7% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 7/1/18. Canned: 06/25/2018. Batch: I DON'T TRUST THAT TREE

Strawberry Banana JREAM

Strawberry Banana JREAM - Pours a hazy yellowish orange color with a finger of white head. Smells decent, sweet, I'm getting both strawberry and banana in there, though who knows if I'd be able to pick that out blind. Taste starts off sweet, hits a sugary strawberry and banana note in the middle, finishing with a tartness that escalates into sourness. Mouthfeel is well carbonated but smooth and medium bodied, a sorta sweet soft drink feel to it, but with that acidic note in the finish. Overall, it's not the eye opener that Double Blackberry Mango was, but it's pretty good and compares favorably the ones I had last year. B or B+

Beer Nerd Details: 4.8% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 7/6/18. Canned: 06/25/2018. Batch: IT LOOKS A BIT ...SHADY

So there you have it. Not sure it'd be worth getting in line at 7 PM the night before, but I'm glad I got there when I did...

Finback Social Fabric

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Yet another member of NYC's beer renaissance is Finback brewing. Located in Queens, it's not just a borough where you can sow your royal oats or discover a worthy bride anymore. Between Finback and their neighbors at SingleCut as well as brethren in Brooklyn like Other Half and Interboro, things are looking up in the NYC beer scene. This particular beer is a double dry-hopped DIPA made with Mosaic and 007 (the hop formerly known as Idaho 7, which if this beer is any indication, is a wonderful match with Mosaic). The Social Fabric may be fraying, but beers like this might help knit things back together. Yeah, fat chance, but let's give it a shot, eh?

Finback Social Fabric

Finback Social Fabric - Pours a cloudy yellow color with a solid finger of head that sticks around for a bit, leaving a bit of lacing. Smells fantastic, sweet, bright, tropical fruit, mangoes, oranges, and a wallop of pineapple. Taste starts off sweet, hits that bright tropical fruit note, juicy citrus, mangoes, and pineapples, finishes with just enough balancing bitterness. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, light, and crisp, well carbonated, drinks like a lower ABV beer. Overall, this is fantastic. A

Beer Nerd Details: 8% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 6/24/18. (No canning date, but I'm guessing this was within 2 or so weeks of canning.)

Many thanks to Kaedrin beverage compatriot Dana for slinging this can my way. I will most definitely need to be checking out moar Finback in the future. In the meantime, IPA season continues next week, but we'll start to see some other styles float in too....

And so we enter IPA season here at Kaedrin HQ. I know, I know, all year is IPA season, especially these days, but the summer months tend to be an attractor for hops. For whatever reason, my fridge just magically starts to fill with new and unique IPAs around this time of year, much moreso than the winter months. As such, the next several reviews will feature hoppy beers. I usually try to mix things up here, but sometimes the pipeline gets clogged with hops. Oh, the horror!

First up is a pair of Tree House IPAs thoughtfully passed along by Kaedrin friend Danur (many thanks!) I also had two additional Tree House beers at a share (also thanks to Danur), but they were small pours and I didn't take notes because I'm the worst and I know everyone loves tasting notes and finds them super-useful and entertaining to read so I'm sorry that I don't have much to say about them and by the way, I only really took detailed notes on the first of these beers, so enjoy it because the rest of the post is blatant rambling and run-on sentences kinda like this one. Annnd... go:

Tree House Bbbrighttt with Citra

Tree House Bbbrighttt with Citra - I initially mistook this for plain ol' Bright w/Citra, but apparently the extra b's and t's mean something. I think this was, like triple dry hopped instead of whatever they normally do? Something like that? Let's see: Pours a moderately hazy but kinda radiant (bright?) pale straw yellow color with a solid finger of dense, fluffy head. Smells great, lots of juicy citrus (dare I say bright?) with a nice floral component. Taste starts off sweet, again that juicy citrus with a solid floral note, followed by just a hint of balancing bitterness in the finish. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, perfectly carbonated, crisp, refreshing. Overall, big shock, another great Tree House IPA. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 7.8% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 6/22/18. Canned on: 06/12/18. Batch: NNNEVER EVER SAW THE STARS SO BBBRIGHT

Tree House Hurricane

Tree House Hurricane - I didn't take detailed notes for this, because as previously mentioned, I'm the worst and I'm just going to blather about it for a bit and maybe make a Bob Dylan joke (or maybe just mentioning that is enough). My general impression is that this has a great citrus nose, but the taste is dryer and more minerally than I'm used to from Tree House. It's still got your typical citrus hop notes, but they're not quite as pronounced here. But the dryness makes for a good mouthfeel and a nice match with food. Still a pretty good IPA, but not near their top of the line. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 7.7% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 6/26/18. Canned on: 06/12/18. Batch: EVERYBODY'S PLAYING IN THE HEART OF GOLD BAND

Tree House Juice Machine

Tree House Juice Machine - This apparently very limited release (2 cans pp) appears to be a sorta mix between King Julius and Very Green, with a convoluted hop schedule consisting of Magnum, Columbus, Amarillo, Citra, and Galaxy, resulting in a complexity not quite present in, for example, the above beers. Lots of citrus, juicy tropical fruit, pine, and floral notes, pretty much running the gamut of what hops are capable of. It's totally delicious. That being said, I suspect ratings are entirely driven by rarity here. It deserves a good rating, to be sure, but this gets astronomical ratings. I will abstain from rating because I was not in a hermetically sealed environment like I usually am (but seriously, not ideal conditions here). Who knows, maybe if I have ten more of these I'll think they're worth the trouble.

Beer Nerd Details: 8.2% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a wine glass on 7/5/18. I don't remember the canning date, but I assume it's around 6/12 like the above.

Tree House Very Green

Tree House Very Green - The plain ol' Green was actually my first Tree House beer way back when, shared by a visiting friend from Vermont, and it was phenomenal (once again, I never really wrote about it because it was a social situation and it's not like I drank a whole can, and so on). Like Juice Machine, this one is hyped to high heaven, probably because of the rarity. It's also totally delicious with all that great NEIPA character, juicy hops with some big floral notes - the word green actually does come to mind, but that may just be the power of suggestion and my puny willpower. Again, totes great beer, but the hype and rarity drive the ratings perhaps a bit to far. Of course, here I am posting terrible pictures and no tasting notes, so it's not like I'm immune to hype.

Beer Nerd Details: 8.6% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a wine glass on 7/5/18. I don't remember the canning date, but I assume it's around 6/12 like the above.

So there you have it. I continue to pine for Tree House beers and will most certainly be seeking them out in the future. Many thanks again to Kaedrin friend Danur for braving the Massachusetts wilderness to acquire and share all these beers.

Kane Object Permanence

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Object Permanence is the idea that objects continue to exist even when you are no longer observing them. Unfortunately, beer does cease to exists if you insist on drinking it. Doubly unfortunate when the beer is as good as this one.

Kane was one of the brewers that made this Pennsylvanian take notice of New Jersey, which sez a lot, and I've been particularly impressed with their barrel program. A Night to End All Dawns and its associated variants are spectacular, but alas, I keep losing the lottery and have to make due with the generosity of friends at shares to get a taste of the stuff. I've had a few tastes of other Barrel Aged goodies from them, which have been uniformly great. Fortunately, I did manage to procure this bit of life, an English Barleywine with a complicated malt bill aged in bourbon barrels for over a year. The beer is gone, but the idea continues to exist even though I can no longer drink it. Or something like that. What is this, a psychology blog? No, it's a beer blog, so read my dumb tasting notes:

Kane Object Permanence

Kane Object Permanence - Pours a murky brown color with a cap of off-white head. Smells fantastic, rich toffee, caramel, a hint of dark fruit, and a great bourbon, oak, and vanilla character. Taste follows the nose, rich toffee, caramel, dark fruit, and a boozy bourbon, oak, and vanilla character. Mouthfeel is full bodied, rich, and chewy, almost creamy, moderate carbonation provides just enough levity, some boozy heat but nothing unwieldy. Overall, this is fantastic, one of the better examples of life that I've had. A

Beer Nerd Details: 11.8% ABV bottled (750 ml waxed). Drank out of a snifter on 4/20/18. Vintage: 2016 (batch 1?)

I've recently come into a couple of more Kane bottles. One is last year's vintage of Object Permanence (huzzah), and the other is a BBA anniversary beer from them. Stay tuned. I may not wait two months to write that one up (assuming I drink it soon). Fingers crossed for this year's ANTEAD lottery too.

Bottle Logic Red Rover

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I drank this on Friday, April 13th, so yes, I'm far behind on reviews here. A thousand pardons. That date being what it is, I decided to have a little movie marathon and broke out my 8 movie set of Friday the 13th films. Yes, I still use physical media from time to time, wanna fight about it? Also, yes, for some reason I love the Friday the 13th series of films, such that I'm probably going to spend a lot more time writing about them in this post than the beer in question. We can fight about that too, if you like.

So I started off with the original Friday the 13th. Made in 1980, it's not an ur example of the slasher genre or anything, but it may be a codifier of a few conventions. In other words, it's derivative as all get out, but it solidified the template that many of the trashier examples of the genre follow. There's not much in this movie that was not done earlier and better by the likes of Black Christmas or Halloween, but this shows how lesser filmmakers imitate greatness. Some elements are still great. Tom Savini's makeup and effects are a step up from earlier examples, even when they're lifting gags wholesale from obscure proto-slashers like Bay of Blood. The ending is also a notable example of a broader horror movie trope (I won't spoil it here, but it's a good one, despite the implication that it's a dream sequence? Whatever, it works.) It suffers a bit in my mind for the lack of Jason, though it's also interesting in that respect. It was fun revisiting this, but it's not the one I usually reach to rewatch.

Next up was Friday the 13th Part 2. Made on the cheap just a year later, this one features Jason for the first time, though he's still in backwoods overalls and with a bag over his head (which again, are elements stolen from earlier films like The Town That Dreaded Sundown, etc...) Again, decent makeup and effects work here, and the film is still aping Bay of Blood for its kills, but the real standout of the film is Ginny (played by Amy Steel), arguably the best final girl of all time. She fights Jason with a kick to the nards, a machete, a pitchfork, a chainsaw, and of course, a cable knit sweater (or, like, her wits, whatever). She also subverts a lot of the supposed final girl conventions, which are generally overstated to make a case that slashers are conservative morality plays (which they can be, but aren't always). Anyway, the film is a bit marred by Steve Miner's unimaginative direction and the nonsensical ending, but it's still a fun little flick.

Ginny kicking ass

Realizing that I probably wouldn't get through all of the series in one night, I then skipped ahead to Friday the 13th: A New Beginning, the much maligned fifth installment of the series. While certainly not one of the best of the series (a distinction that belongs to Parts IV and VI), I do think it's a bit underrated. It's got a neat-ish idea. Since Jason was "killed" in part IV, they decide to follow the little boy who killed him. Now grown up, he's haunted by visions of Jason. Currently living in a halfway house with other troubled teens, people start dying, and it's implied that Jason may be returning, perhaps as a copycat. Or something. It's not a very well executed idea, but the movie still has some fun characters or moments here or there. I mean, come on, how can you not like Violet?

Violet doing the robot

Well that's probably way more about Friday the 13th movies than you wanted to know (and I'm betraying way too much about my knowledge of these movies), so let's get to one of the beers drank whilst watching. Bottle Logic's barrel aged beers are hyped and praised to the point where obtaining them tends to be rather difficult, but it's not so bad for lesser efforts like this one, an Imperial Red Ale made with Cassia Bark (basically cinnamon), aged in Mitcher bourbon barrels, then finished on French oak. It's all done in collaboration with Barks of Love, a dog rescue organization, so it's for a good cause too. Red Rover, Red Rover, I call Jason over:

Bottle Logic Red Rover

Bottle Logic Red Rover - Pours a dark amber brown color with a solid finger of dense, off-white head that leaves a bit of lacing as I drink. Smells very nice, a spicy, cinnamon-like character, floral and almost fruity aromas, woodsy, with a bit of boozy bourbon lurking around. Taste hits the same profile as the nose, sweet and spicy, cinnamon, a little fruit, rich toffee, some bourbon, oak, and vanilla. Mouthfeel is full bodied and rich, hints of spice and booze on the palate, but in a balanced way. Overall, tasty, complex, refined, and balanced stuff. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 11.3% ABV bottled (500 ml). Drank out of a tulip glass on 4/13/18. Release: 2018. Level 1.

Alright folks, maybe I won't wait a month to post again. Maybe.

Jester King and Fantôme Del Rey

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The label sez: "We continue on, forward, like phantom people, towards subtle dawn." I don't know what that means, and the ghost infamously never shares its secrets, so we'll just have to let that be, I guess.

The beer itself was originally brewed in Belgium at Fantôme, with Dany and Jester King brewer Garrett Crowell collaborating on the recipe. Speaking of which, unlike most Tômes, we know a little more about the recipe here. It's made with dark candi syrup, truffle honey, coriander, and black peppercorns. After the initial batch in Belgium, Jester King made a batch back at their own brewery and subjected it to extended fermentation and partial barrel aging (and using their distinctive well water and a melange of native, mixed-culture yeast and bacterial beasties.) The name Fantôme Del Rey roughly translates to Ghost of the King, which is actually pretty evocative. But how's the beer?

Jester King and Fantôme Del Rey

Jester King and Fantôme Del Rey (Texas Version) - Pours a striking clear golden orange color with a solid finger of dense white head that has great retention and leaves some lacing as I drink. Smells very funky, lots of dusty, musty Belgian funk going on, a little earthy, some unidentifiable spices, and an underlying fruitiness peeking through. Taste is candy sweet up front, a little sticky fruit, hints of spice and earthy funk, finishing with a whisper of tartness. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, a little low on the carbonation (but there's plenty there), some stickiness, and only a hint of acidity. A little more carbonation would have done this well. Overall, this is a very nice beer, atypical for Fantôme, which I guess makes sense since this is the Texas version. Well worth checking out. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 8.8% ABV bottled (750 ml capped and corked). Drank out of a tulip glass on 4/8/18. Blend #1 - 03.22.16.

Always down for another Tôme, and Jester King is certainly a brewery I should seek out more often. Many thanks to fellow BeerNERD Gary for procuring this bottle for me in his many travels.

Hoppin Frog Barrel Aged InTENsity

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And now for something completely different. I know I'm supposed to be writing about this beer, but I've been doing this for almost 8 years at this point and thus getting a little repetitive. Please indulge me. Doubly so, because I'm going to talk about the (for some reason) much maligned Dean Koontz. For the uninitiated, he's a very prolific horror/suspense author that is usually dismissed as a second-rate Stephen King.

To me, though, he's an important author in that he's the one that got me to start reading books. I wasn't, like, illiterate or anything, but I mostly only read books when forced to for school, and Koontz got me reading for pleasure. No coercion necessary! Sure, his novels get repetitive, he has some specific bugaboos that he always focuses on (there's a Scooby-esque satanic bad guy that seems supernatural but often isn't and then a good guy with Police/SWAT/FBI/CIA/Army/Marine/etc... training takes him on and usually falls in love with a strong single mother with a precocious child and adorably intelligent dog along the way), and the stories can be repetitive, but they tend to be pretty interesting and a lot of fun. Movies based on his books have been almost uniformly bad, which might also be part of why his reputation suffers.

Unfortunately, his prolific output also means there's a lot of stuff out there that isn't quite as good as his best (to put it kindly), and from what I've read recently, he hasn't really come close to the success he had in the 80s and 90s. Even given his tendency to repeat himself, when you've got about 100 books in print, it's a little more difficult to find one that suits you, and people these days usually aren't willing to give an author a second chance (a fair strategy for dealing with media overload, to be sure). For the record, I'd recommend checking out Lightning, Phantoms, Midnight, Strangers, or maybe:

Intensity by Dean Koontz

Pretty much the last great book of his that I remember reading was called Intensity. Granted, he didn't use goofy capitalization to emphasize a brewery's tenth anniversary (see? This post is coming together. Kinda.), but I have to admit that when I saw this bottle of beer, I immediately thought of Koontz's novel. It was one of the flood of serial killer tales that besieged us in the mid 1990s, and to my mind, one of the better ones. A gruesome but well paced and compulsive read.

It's been a solid twenty years since I've read it, but I still remember a lot of details, which isn't something you expect from popular airport thrillers like this. Some of these details are trivial, like the killer's choice of music for his cross country murder spree: Angelo Badalamenti (most famous as a film and TV composer for David Lynch, amongst others - and an odd choice to be employed like this). There's this recurring bit with an albino deer that was mysterious but still evocative. There's one decision from our protagonist that might be difficult to swallow, but once you get past that the book doesn't really let up. It's genuinely tense, and if I remember correctly, Koontz even sometimes reverts to present tense at times to emphasize the tension (a move that could be jarring and cheap, but which I remember working well). For once, Koontz's obvious love of dogs is subverted by his use of them in a villainous fashion. The killer's refusal to conform to textbook serial killer tropes (which was becoming a trope of itself at the time, to be sure) was effective, and there were some neat twists in that arena.

At this point, you've probably seen a dozen similar tales, so this might be old hat, but it was pretty great for teenaged me. There was a TV mini-series that was pretty much par for the course (not particularly worth seeking out, but not an abomination either), and it's worth noting that the first half of High Tension is remarkably similar to the first half of Intensity, though the stories diverge considerably from there (even so, this might be the only real worthwhile Koontz adaptation, even though it's not really acknowledged as such).

That a beer would remind me of a serial killer story is probably something best left unexplored, but since this is, in fact, a beer blog, let's take a closer look at this beer brewed in honor of Hoppin' Frog's tenth anniversary. It's a hoppy, American-style barleywine that was aged in bourbon barrels for six months, then dry hopped for some extra kick. Of course, this was released in 2016, so that fresh hop character has probably dissipated... or maybe not. Let's drink it and find out:

Hoppin Frog Barrel Aged InTENsity

Hoppin' Frog Barrel Aged InTENsity - Pours a clear, dark amber color with a half finger of off-white head. Smells of faded citrus hops, a little toffee, some boozy bourbon, oak, and vanilla edging in too. Taste starts off which rich caramel, crystal malt, and boozy bourbon, oak, and vanilla, the hops emerging more towards the finish, which also has a boozy little bite. Some mild oxidation here gives complexity without turning the whole thing into cardboard. Mouthfeel is full bodied and rich, moderate carbonation, some boozy heat too. Overall, it's bit on the hoppy side, as American Barleywines tend to be, but it's quite nice. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 12% ABV bottled (22 ounce bomber). Drank out of a snifter on 4/1/17.

I'm not sure if Hoppin' Frog still makes Naked Evil, but I remember that as being better than this one. Of course, that was like 5 years ago, and my memory of that is somehow not as distinct as my memory of Koontz's book.

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

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