Frost Beer Works Plush

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Moar Vermont Double IPAs! VT DIPAs forever!

This one hails from Frost Beer Works, a bit southeast of Burlington. Not technically VT beer roulette since I'd actually heard of these guys before and Eric recommended I grab a bottle as it had just been released and was thus fresh. Oh, and it's apparently pretty good. It's part of Frost's "Research Series", basically their experimental arm of one-offs (or are they? This seems to have been made before, so perhaps they're still "researching" this, though from what I can see, it's clearly ready for the big time). Supposedly this is a double-dry hopped version of their standard DIPA, called Lush, though their website lists a different Research Series beer that was also that, so who knows?

The description sez it's a double dry-hopped DIPA with a soft mouthfeel and juiciness reminiscent of stuffed animals and STP. Er, what? Like, STP the motor oil? Stone Temple Pilots? Or ohhhh, 2,5-Dimethoxy-4-methylamphetamine - a psychotropic known by the street name STP (meaning Serenity, Tranquility and Peace)? Oh wait, there's more on the label: "Where ya going to tomorrow?" I see, so we're back to Stone Temple Pilots and yes, they have a song called Plush and that's a lyric, duh, I'm the worst. Let's drink this thing:

Frost Beer Works Plush

Frost Beer Works Plush - Pours a hazy dark gold color with a finger or two of fluffy white head that leaves plenty of lacing as I drink. Smells quite nice, sweet, candied citrus, mangoes. Taste also hits those sweet notes up front, lots of citrus of the mango kind, not much bitterness here but enough to feel balanced. Mouthfeel is finely carbonated, medium bodied, surprisingly quaffable for an 8% DIPA - I downed quite a bit of this without noticing how much. Overall, whoa, another VT DIPA that's really good, shocker. B+ or A-, I don't know anymore, my palate is drowning in hops. In, uh, a good way I guess.

Beer Nerd Details: 8% ABV bottled (22 ounce bomber). Drank out of a charente glass on 8/12/16. Bottled: 07/28/16. Label sez: A tribute to Scott W (RIP)

Damnit, another VT brewery I need to explore more from? You know it. Alas, nothing else from this trip, so you'll have to wait for Operation Cheddar VI: Night of the Living Cheddar (tentative name). In the meantime, one more VT DIPA review on its way until things return to normal...

Burlington Beer Co. Double Feature

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I know what you're thinking: Ugh, more Vermont Double IPAs? Well, um, get used to it jerks, because we got a few more VT DIPAs in the pipeline this week. And for good reason! These VT brewers love them some hops, and when Kaedrin friend Cian McGuire heard I was passing through town, he suggested I stop in and say hello, which was a great idea. I got a small taste of Strawberry Whale Cake (a tasty little hoppy cream ale made with strawberries) and saw Cian packaging some beer, and picked up a bunch of stuff. In fact, I think the only dark beer I picked up during Operation Cheddar V was from here (a peanut butter porter called Chunky), so there is that. But first we've got to drink those hoppy beers fresh, so we've got a pair of DIPAs for your perusal.

First up is the awesomely named It's Complicated Being A Wizard, their year-round DIPA brewed with wheat and oats. Lovely artwork, and the title inspired me to break out the AD&D rulebooks. I am such a dork. It turns out, it really is complicated being a Wizard. So many spells, man. Just ask the Harrys, Potter and Dresden:

Its Complicated Being A Wizard
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Burlington Beer Co. It's Complicated Being A Wizard - Pours an almost clear (imagine that) golden yellow color with a finger of white head. Smell has a sweetness to it along with a decent citrus and pine hop aroma. Taste follows the nose, sweet, citrus and pine hops, hint of bitterness in the finish. Mouthfeel is finely carbonated, light to medium bodied, crisp and clean. Goes down faster than your typical 8% DIPA. Overall, yet another tasty VT DIPA. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 8% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 8/13/16. Canned: 7/20/16. Batch: OCTARINE.

Next comes Peasant King, which is a heftier DIPA bordering on TIPA territory. I'd like to make another D&D reference here, but it seems there's actually a pretty robust history of commoners becoming monarchs. Go figure.

Peasant King

Burlington Beer Co. Peasant King - Pours a slightly hazier yet brighter golden yellow color with a finger of big bubbled head. Smells sweeter, with more citrus and pine hops. Taste starts off sweet, hits those citrus and pine notes, finishes with a bigger bitter bite. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, medium bodied, a little boozy. Overall, this is quite good. B+ or A-

Beer Nerd Details: 9% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 8/13/16. Canned: 7/27/16. Batch: HE IS HAPPIEST.

Phew, that's a lot of hoppy beer. Stay tuned, we've got two more doozies coming up this week. Then things should return to a more normal Saison and BBA stout fest.

Foam Built To Spill

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Foam Brewers opened their doors just over four months ago and you know how on-top-of-the-game we are here at Kaedrin, so I simply had to scout them out. Or, you know, I could have just stumbled upon it at the recommendation of @HopSnobbery and @LipstickNLager during my annual Operation Cheddar sorties into VT. It's a pretty standard small-brewery tasting room operation, but it's situated at a gorgeous location, right next to the Burlington waterfront (with plenty of parking too).

Started by alums of Switchback (and apparently, before that, Magic Hat), these fellas have seemingly dialed in their IPA and DIPA game already... which is really saying something for a Vermont brewery. I had a small glass of Lupi Fresh whilst there and snagged this DIPA in growler form for the haul back to PA. At this point, I'm regretting not filling up a few other growlers, because I am the worst. Built to Spill seems like a pretty straightforward Northeast DIPA named after an indie rock band (the other DIPA on tap was called Pavement, I see what they're doing there), and it's fabulous:

Foam Built To Spill

Foam Built To Spill - Pours a very hazy, very pale straw yellow color with a finger of white head. Smells very nice, sweet, juicy citrus hops, tropical fruit, pineapple, you know the deal. Taste hits a nice balance of sweetness and juicy citrus, hints of bitterness in the finish but it's definitely on the sweeter side (without being cloying, of course). Mouthfeel is medium bodied and well carbonated, nice balance of sweet and bitter. Doesn't really drink like a DIPA actually. Overall, this is one damn fine DIPA, holding its own against its VT brethren. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 8% ABV from a growler (750 ml swing top). Drank out of a tulip glass on 8/5/16. Growler filled: 8/4/16.

Quite a nice first impression. From what I can see, they're not quite there yet with saisons, but they're well on their way. Hopefully by the time I make my triumphant return (and I will most certainly be returning here), they'll be nailing those down too.

Operation Cheddar V: Bride of Cheddar

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When I was a teenager, I drove cross-country with my brother and uncle. One feature of such a trip is that once you get past major population centers, you tend to see the same people over and over again. There are only so many major highways and if you're both traveling in the same general direction, you'll find yourself stopping at the same gas stations, eating at the same roadside stops, and even camping at the same campgrounds. There's a (admittedly trashy) movie called Road Games that relies on this dynamic, making it a sorta moving version of Hitchcock's Rear Window.

I noticed something similar going on during Operation Cheddar V: Bride of Cheddar, only instead of gas stations and campsites, I kept seeing the same people at breweries. Go figure. This is my fifth such trek through the wilds of Vermont in search of beer, and as per usual, it was a lot of fun.

This started off, as per usual, at the Warren Store, where I always go to pick up some of Lawson's Finest Liquids. Alas, both available options were things I'd had before, but then, they're both great:

Lawsons Finest Liquids (and a Frost too)
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That's Sip of Sunshine and Super Session #2, for those keeping count. I also snagged a freshish bottle of Frost's Plush, as I'd heard good things about them.

The Alchemist in Stowe
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From there, I headed up to The Alchemist's new digs in Stowe, VT. For the uninitiated, during the first Operation Cheddar I was able to go to The Alchemist's cannery in Waterbury, VT. However, due to the high level of traffic and with consideration for their town and neighbors, they closed that location to the public and started distributing their beer throughout the state. This made their beer more difficult to snag (at least, for passers-through like myself), but due to intense demand, they were able to open a new brewery facility in Stowe. While the cannery still puts out as much Heady Topper as possible, the new brewery focuses on their other brews, notably Focal Banger and Crusher.

Mixed Case of Alchemist Beerz
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Limit of one case, but you could get a variety, so I got a mix of Heady Topper, Focal Banger, and The Crusher. That last one is something I've never had before, so you will most certainly be seeing more about that in the near future.

Just a hop and a skip away from there is Lost Nation, which has become a mandatory stop, if for no other reason than their food is just astonshingly good. I had some sort of smoked beef sandwhich, which was great, of course. And I snagged some Gose and The Wind while I was at it.

Amazing sandwich at Lost Nation
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Next up is another mandatory stop, Hill Farmstead. They've been doing some expansions of their own, and while lots of folks were there, the lines and waiting have been reduced considerably (though now you get bottles and growlers at two different locations). They also had some vintage bottles for sale, though only for onsite consumption (a bit pricey, to be sure, but probably worth it). I must have hit them at a weird time, as their bottle selections were dwindling rapidly, but hey, it's hard to complain when you get bottles of world class beer:

Beer haul from Hill Farmstead
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That's Casita Cerveceria Del Arboles (this is a contract brewing operation that brews at Hill Farmstead, which is something that obviously requires more scrutiny that will be provided at a later date), Dry-Hopped Arthur (I believe this is another beer that uses Segal Ranch Cascades), Table Dorothy, and growlers of Sumner, Single-Hop Citra, and Single-Hop Nelson Sauvin. What the hell, let's review some of those growlers right now, while we're here and all:

Hill Farmstead Citra

Hill Farmstead Citra Single-Hop Pale Ale - This is pretty much what it sez. I missed out on this during my first exposure to Hill Farmstead many moons ago during Philly Beer Week, so I was glad to finally catch up with it. Pours a cloudy orange-yellow color with a finger of fluffy white head and decent retention. Smells wonderful, bright, juicy citrus leavened by that floral note I tend to get out of Citra. Taste follows the nose, lots of juicy hops, a little of that earthy floral character, finishing on a bitter note. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with fine carbonation and a bit of dryness, quite drillable. Overall, yep, it's fabulous and I feel like even grading on a curve, this rates an A-

Beer Nerd Details: 5.4% ABV from a growler (750 ml swing top). Drank out of a charente glass on 8/5/16. Growler filled 8/4/16.

Hill Farmstead Sumner

Hill Farmstead Sumner American Pale Ale - Brewed with Simcoe, Citra, and Mosaic hops? Well, ok, if you're going to twist my arm. Pours a little less cloudy, paler yellow color with a finger of white head. Smells similar, but with less floral character and more dank, resinous pine - still plenty of citrus though! Taste is again more on the dank side, plenty of citrus, a little less bright, but juicy enough, with a little less bitterness in the finish. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, finely carbonated, less dry, very crushable stuff. Overall, less intense, but still quite good. Again grading on a curve, maybe B+ or A-? This is getting impossible you guys.

Beer Nerd Details: 5.2% ABV from a growler (750 ml swing top). Drank out of a tulip glass on 8/6/16. Growler filled 8/4/16.

Then I popped over to Burlington Beer Company, the first time I'd visited. There I met with Kaedrin friend Cian McGuire, who works at the brewery and was busily bottling some beer when I arrived. We had a nice chat and I picked up plenty of beer. Naturally, I forgot to take pictures of the facility, so you'll just have to deal with the haul pic:

Burlington Beer Company haul
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That's It's Complicated Being a Wizard, Peasant King, Peach of Mind, Brettanomyces Incident, and Chunky. Check out that artwork, so nice. Looking forward to these!

Finally, I stopped in at Foam brewery to visit with Lipstick n Lager and try some of their wares. They've only been open for about 4 months, but they're really nailing their IPAs, which in Vermont is really saying something. I only snagged a single growler from them, but you will most definitely be hearing more about it in the near future. And I will almost certainly stop here again next year.

Foam Brewing
(Click to Embiggen)

From there, it was a simple jaunt back to the Adirondacks (where I was staying last week) to enjoy my spoils. I should also mention that I went back to Fulton Chain brewing, which was within walking distance of where I was staying. If you recall, during Operation Cheddar IV: Smoked Cheddar, I stopped in to this place mere weeks after they had opened. I was glad to see that they seem to be well established at this point, with a healthy crowd and many more taplines open.

Fulton Chain Flight
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Highlights were Go Fluff Yourself (made with peanut butter and marshmallow fluff) and Flooded Tent (a cucumber lime saison). Not quite Vermont levels awesome, but hey, walking distance. I should also add that Officer Bob enjoyed Eskimo Strong, an imperial red/amber:

Officer Bob
(Click to Embiggen)

Also of note, Wakely's Speakeasy on the other side of town (awesomely named Thendara, NY) that had probably the best Bourbon selection I've ever seen. Very secretive, need a passphrase to get in, and no cell phones/pictures allowed. But live music and again, great whiskey selection (not so good on the beer front, but whatevers). Apparently the owners were from Kentucky, so they've got their connections. Well worth stopping in if you're ever in the area...

And that just about covers another successful Operation Cheddar. Now if you'll excuse me, all this VT beer ain't going to drink itself. I'll leave you with some pictures of Tired Hands beers that I was drinking all week in preparation for Operation Cheddar...

Tired hands Milkshake IPA
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Tired Hands Pineal
(Click to Embiggen)

It was a fun vacation, is what I'm saying. Already looking forward to my next VT odyssey.

Other Half Double Feature

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One feature most of these newfangled Northeast IPA brewers have is that they make, like, a hojillion different varieties of IPA. To all the normals out there, this must seem baffling in the extreme. How different can all these IPAs be? Us abnormal hop-sniffing degenerates know what's up though, and these two cans of Other Half that recently found their way to Kaedrin HQ are a pretty good example of distinction.

By all appearances, they're similar DIPAs with the major difference being the hops used. One a trendy Mosaic hopped beer, the other using more traditional Segal Ranch high-oil Cascades, but they come off very different. I mean, not night-and-day, but maybe night and twilight or something. No, I don't like this metaphor anymore. It's hacky and cliched. I'm the worst. Let's just look closer:

Other Half Double Mosaic Dream

Other Half Double Mosaic Dream - First, that is one gorgeous label, eh? Pours a hazy straw yellow color with a finger of fluffy white head that leaves some lacing as I drink. Smells great, huge waft of tropical fruit, some resinous pine lurking in the background, sweet candied notes tying it together. Tastes delicious, sweet with that juicy tropical fruit up front, hints of pine in the middle, finishing with just enough bitterness to balance things out (definitely on the sweeter side of the IPA realm, but not at all cloying). Mouthfeel is medium bodied, finely carbed, and very well balanced. Overall, yeah, this is the stuff. Sometimes I feel like Mosaic is overrated, and people do tend to go a little too crazy of these hops, but beers like this show why pretty well. Best Other Half I've had yet. A

Beer Nerd Details: 8.5% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 7/22/16. Canned 7/15/16. Batch: Double Downer.

Other Half Magic Green Nuggets

Other Half Magic Green Nuggets - Another nice label, though sometimes the hops on the label look like... broccoli? Anywho, pours a clearer, darker, more golden yellow color with finger of fluffy white head, similar lacing. Smells a little more subdued, sweeter but with a lesser citrus and pine quality. Taste is very sweet, but with a cleaner, more earthy, floral character in addition to the typical, old-school citrus and pine, a hint of booze in the finish. In general, a little more dank than the Mosaic, not really juicy. Mouthfeel is bigger and heavier, but still nice, well carbed, a little more out of whack and boozy, but still quite well crafted. Overall, this is decent, but it reminds me of something more older school. Victory's Ranch S (i.e. another single hopped DIPA with Segal Ranch Cascades) comes to mind, though this is just as good if not better. Indeed, this feels like there might even have been a different yeast in use (producing a cleaner, clearer beer, similar in many ways to the type of stuff Victory produces). Tasty double IPA, well worth trying, but there are easier to acquire analogs out there. B+*

Beer Nerd Details: 8.5% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 7/22/16. Canned 7/15/16. Batch: Kazaam!

Many thanks to fellow BeerNerd Sheik for making the long trip to Brooklyn and waiting in line for these beauties. Other Half is clearly the real deal and if I didn't have Tired Hands in my backyard, I'd probably be seeking this sort of thing out more often. As it is, I'm still going out of my way to snag their stuff, so there is that. You will no doubt hear more about them soon.

* But you rated Victory's Ranch S an A-!? Two answers to this: 1. Grade inflation is real and b) I'm the worst. This has been established.

2SP Barrel-Aged Dead of Night Saison

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Ah the Dark Saison, everyone's favorite! By which I mean no one really likes or appreciates these things. They're all liars. But they've got good taste and that's got to count for something, right? The answer is no.

In all seriousness, this is not the most common style, and even the really good ones we do get tend to be more American Wild Ales than saisons... but now we're just splitting hairs. The truth is that it's difficult to really nail this sort of thing, a dark saison aged in American Oak barrels, and I've only had a couple that I've really enjoyed. That being said, I'm always looking for a beer to turn me around on an underwhelming style. It's happened many times before, did 2SP manage it with this entry? Alas, the answer is again: no. It's perfectly cromulent, to be sure, but not something that will change hearts and minds:

2SP Barrel-Aged Dead of Night Saison

2SP Barrel-Aged Dead of Night Saison - Pours a very dark brown color with hints of amber when held in light, a finger of very light tan head. Smells of dark chocolate, hints of that musty saison base, and a little tart funk peeking through. Taste has a nice richness to it, some chocolate, some saison spice, a very light funky tartness, and a slightly discordant boozy note. It never quite reaches that chocolate covered fruit character that the best entries in the style have. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, decent carbonation, a little boozy. Overall, this is interesting and cromulent enough, but I'm not sure it's entirely baked. B-

Beer Nerd Details: 8% ABV bottled (750 ml). Drank out of a flute glass on 7/23/16. Batch date: 11/15. Bottle No.: 252. BBL Aged: American Oak.

I've really enjoyed a lot of 2SP's beers, but for some reason the two barrel-aged entries have underwhelmed. It still feels like there's a lot of potential here though, so I will most certainly be trying some more...

Softly Spoken Magic Spells

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After sleeping on these SingleCut beers for a while, I'm slowly making my way through celebrating their entire catalog, and yes, this has been a good idea. As per usual, their beers are named after some sort of rock music reference and in this case, we're talking about a line from Pink Floyd's "Breath (Reprise)" (aka the end of "Time") from The Dark Side of the Moon. It's a wonderfully evocative line, calling to mind love and loss and... hobbits. So lets get to it. I predict mystery, enchantment, and hops:

Singlecut Softly Spoken Magic Spells

SingleCut Softly Spoken Magic Spells - Pours a murky orange color with a finger of white head. Smells of tropical fruit, mangoes, pineapple, grapefruit and the like, very nice nose. Taste starts off sweet, hits that juicy citrus character pretty hard, followed by some dankness in the middle, finishing back on the tropical fruit tip with just enough bitterness to keep things interesting. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, dense, moderately carbonated, hints of pleasant booze, goes down easy. Overall, yup, it's fantastic, maybe a step above 18-watt. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 8.6% ABV bottled (500 ml). Drank out of a charente glass on 7/23/16. Bottled on 7/13/16. Ultra fresh buddy.

So these beers are quickly escalating to must buys, and you'll no doubt be seeing more from SingleCut in the nearish future.

Funky Buddha Nikolai Vorlauf

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We've already established that Funky Buddha has a thing for kooky ingredients that they are mystically able to incorporate into good beers. Now it's time to take a look at a more unassuming take on a classical style. Sure, it's got oats and lactose, but those aren't particularly unusual in a big imperial stout, so this is about as close as it gets.

At first glance, I could not find any information on this fellow Nikolai Vorlauf, so I concocted a story based on the bear pictured on the label. A performer at the infamous Moscow State Circus, Nikolai got himself into trouble when he started walking on his hind legs and... exposing himself to passers by (hence the censored strip on the label). Thus began Nikolai's decades-long quest for revenge upon the cruel taskmasters at the circus. Alas, this speculation was foiled by the truth (imagine that!) It turns out this beer is named after two different things. One is Nikolai Volkoff, a WWF wrestler famed for his bearhug (he teamed up with The Iron Sheik to win the tag-team championship at the first Wrestlemania). The other is a brewing term, vorlauf, which is the process of clarifying the wort being drawn out of the mash tun. Not as fun as my version, but hey, it works:

Funky Buddha Nikolai Vorlauf, look at the bear on the label

Funky Buddha Nikolai Vorlauf Imperial Stout - Pours a very dark brown color, almost black, with a finger and a half of tan head. Smells sweet, caramel and vanilla, hints of roast. Taste starts off sweet, that caramel and vanilla are here, typical milk stout feel too, a light smokey roast emerges in the middle, finishing on another sweet note. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied up front, but thinning out in the finish, low carbonation, maybe a hint of booze. Overall, this is rock solid, but nothing exceptional. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 9.5% ABV bottled (22 ounce bomber). Drank out of a snifter on 7/15/16. Bottled on 11/18/15.

Many thanks to Kaedrin beverage compatriot Steve for slinging this my way. More southern Florida goodies will be had in the near future, for sure, so stay tuned.

Eagle Rock Tarte Noir

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Once upon a beer trade, many orbital cycles ago, Jay of the quasi-defunct Beer Samizdat sent me a bottle of Eagle Rock Jubilee. Being a sorta hybrid old ale/winter warmer, I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. So I kept my eyes open for Eagle Rock. Three years later, and lo, I hath finally secured another bottle of Eagle Rock wares. This is a red wine barrel aged dark mild ale (they use the genuinely sessionable Solidarity as the base) that has soured up nicely. Insert beer-themed film noir joke here:

Eagle Rock Tarte Noir

Eagle Rock Tarte Noir - Pours a very dark brown color with a finger of tan head. Smells of musty, dusty funk, sour, vinous fruit, a little oak and vanilla. Taste has that sour vinous fruit character, less of the musty, earthy funk, finishing with a nice puckering sourness. Mouthfeel is surprisingly light bodied and nimble, well carbonated, with medium acidity. Overall, this is really quite nice. On the higher end of B+

Beer Nerd Details: 4.9% ABV bottled (375 ml waxed and capped). Drank out of a flute glass on 7/16/16. Bottled: October of 2015. Batch: 002.

Nice, let's check in on them in another three years to see where they're at. Or, you know, we could try and do it before then. Only following the orbital cycles will tell.

Fantôme Forest Ghost

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So it's called Forest Ghost, but it's got palm trees and a beach on the label? Like, I'm sure ghosts enjoy traveling and vacations and all, but what's going on here? It turns out that this beer is brewed with Brazilian spices and since Brazil is known for their palm trees and forests, et voila! As per usual, I went into this with no idea what to expect and of course bustin' always makes me feel good:

Fantome Forest Ghost - Light

Fantôme Forest Ghost (Light) - Pours a mostly clear dark orange color with a couple fingers of fluffy, dense white head that sticks around for a bit. Smells nice, candied malt, typical earthy Brett funk, maybe hints of fruit too, banana and raisins maybe? Taste has a nice sweetness up front, followed by some of that earthy Brett, noble hops, maybe some unidentifiable spice (peppery? Maybe it is identifiable), and finishing with that raisiny banana note. Mouthfeel is fuller bodied and richer than expected, though it's not a monster by any stretch. Well carbonated, tight, and balanced. Overall, rock solid stuff here, yet another interesting spin from Dany. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 6% ABV bottled (750 ml capped and corked). Drank out of a tulip glass on 7/15/16.

I've got the "Dark" version of Forest Ghost in the pipeline as well, though I may end up sharing that one with some friends. Always looking for more Fantôme!


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