Sante Adairius Saison Bernice

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When I was in college, my friends and I were on the Campus Activities Team (I ran the movie program, natch) and we had this (in retrospect) utterly bizarre habit of designating office supplies with old-people names. Of particular note were tape dispensers named Phyllis and Gertrude. I don't think we had anything named Bernice, but we certainly should have. I'm... glad I was able to write about this, and I know you are too.

I'll let eponymous owner Adair Paterno describe this Brett dosed saison in more detail: "I think that Saison Bernice is the purest expression of what our house culture can do to a base saison, specifically, our house saison, Anais, without oak and/or a significant amount of aging time." Presumably they named it after someone important in their lives, but I'd like to think that somewhere at the SARA headquarters there's a tape dispenser with the name Bernice scrawled on the side in whiteout. Let's dig in:

Sante Adairius Saison Bernice

Sante Adairius Rustic Ales Saison Bernice - Pours a bright, luminous yellow color with a finger of white head. Smells wonderful, nice earthy funk component, especially as it warms up, with lots of vinous fruit, lemons, tangerines, nectarines, you know, fruit type stuff. We get real technical here at Kaedrin, get used to it. Taste hits those same elements, a little more in the way of earthy funk here, but it's all brightened up by those notes of juicy fruit, lemony tartness creeping in towards the finish. Mouthfeel is crisp, light, and utterly quaffable, very refreshing and croosh. Overall, this is a fabulous saison in the Logsdon Seizoen Bretta mold, maybe even a little more nimble; definitely funky, complex, juicy, and delicious. A

Beer Nerd Details: 6.5% ABV bottled (750 ml). Drank out of a flute glass on 5/6/16.

Drinking SARA beers is always a pleasure. Many thanks to the hibernating blogger Jay from BeerSamizdat for sending this one my way. Fortunately, there is another SARA beer in the pipeline, so look for a review in the near future...

Other Half Stacks On Stacks

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Ok Mark, be cool. This is totally a Soulja Boy reference. The artwork even has stacks of money flying everywhere. Don't start talking protocol stacks or data structures, LIFO, FIFO for your life. Oh. Wait, crap, I just did exactly what I wasn't supposed to, didn't I? I'm the worst. Quick, change the subject! Beer, we're supposed to be talking about beer!

So I was just talking about the recent-ish emergence of great brewing in NYC, and Other Half is certainly on that list, lining up NYCers for blocks on end to get a taste of their Northeast IPA flare. I had the good fortune to sample a few of their brews at ACBF last year, and a friend generously gifted me this can, a lovely little Northeast DIPA number made with Citra, Mosaic and El Dorado hops. I'll take it!

Other Half Stacks On Stacks

Other Half Stacks On Stacks - Pours a pale, slightly hazy golden yellow color with a finger of white head. Smells fabulous, huge citrus hop component with lots of tropical fruit, grapefruit, pine, and the like. Taste follows that nose up front, then diverges into more floral hop notes before hitting a nice bitter hop finish. No date on the can, but this is clearly pretty fresh. Moughfeel is medium bodied and well carbonated, still quaffable, hints of stickiness as it warms. Overall, yep, it's a hum-dinger of a DIPA, and I can see why this stuff is sought after. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 8.5% ABV canned (16 ounces). Drank out of a Charente glass on 5/6/16.

So yes, I need to get me some more Other Half, and you will most certainly be seeing more of them on this blog soon enough.

Old Perseverance

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So you're making a beer celebrating Winston Churchill, what do you do? Obviously start with an English style, in this case an Old Ale, something that is distinctly English. Should probably name it after something that embodies his spirit, and perseverance is unquestionably something Churchill had in abundance. I mean, any survey of famous quotes is bound to find a Churchill quip that is pertinent here. For example: "If you are going through hell, keep going." Yes, sir. Then, naturally, you need to amp up the alcohol. I mean, sure, the notion that Churchill was a functioning alcoholic is almost certainly exaggerated, but the man did certainly enjoy imbibing and liked to promote his seemingly "bottomless capacity." So high ABV it is! This sounds like a job for Adam Avery. Yes, another behemoth from Avery's Barrel-Aged Series that stretches beyond the 18% ABV mark. So, like, not an everyday drinker, but after a long weekend of not drinking much, this one was perfect. Will I persevere in finishing this beer? So it would appear:

Avery Old Perseverance

Avery Old Perseverance - Pours a clear amber brown color with half a finger of off white head. Smells of fruity malt, a little of that maple syrup, and hints of bourbon, vanilla, and oak. Taste is very rich, again with the almost fruity malt character, figs and the like, with some toffee notes and a little caramel pitching in (but not as much as you'd expect), and just enough boozy bourbon, oak, and vanilla. Mouthfeel is full bodied, rich, and chewy, plenty of well balanced carbonation, and lots of booze. Intense, such that it would be nice to share a single 12 ounce bottle... Overall, this is very good, rich, tasty, worth checking out, but it's not going to make you fall down and see God. It is an interesting spin on the style while still retaining its distinct attributes though, which is admirable. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 18.5% ABV bottled (12 ounce bottle). Drank out of a snifter on 5/1/16. Bottled: March 3, 2016. Production: 783 cases.

Never, never, never give up! And I won't, Winston. In fact, I will be seeking out some more in the way of Old Ales in the near future, I think. It will require some hoop jumping though, so wish me luck.

Grimm Bourbon Barrel Double Negative

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New York City has quietly begun to establish itself with some standout breweries. They've always had Brooklyn, and last time I was there, Captain Lawrence was the lone savior on generally tepid taplists, but now places like Other Half and Grimm Artisan Ales popping up, putting out cans of beer that have godforsaken beer dorks lining up for hours.

Or wait, where is Grimm from? This label sez it's brewed by Grimm at Beltway Brewing Co, Sterling, VA. Looks like we have another Gypsy on our hands you guys (oops, they call themselves a "Nomadic" brewer, a thousand pardons for not glomming onto the right hipster codeword), and yes, it looks like they're collaborating their arse off as well. Some interesting stuff coming, too. In particular, they brewed a batch of Mosaic hopped Braumeister Pils with Victory (this will hopefully show up around here soon, and I'm most excited to try it) and collaborated with Fantôme on a saison. My kind of Gypsy, is what I'm getting at here.

So what we have here is a nice little imperial stout aged in 11 year old bourbon barrels (original batch was aged in Elijah Craig 12 barrels, so mayhaps the new NAS barrels were used for this?) No big whoop.

Grimm Bourbon Barrel-Aged Double Negative

Grimm Bourbon Barrel Double Negative - Pours a very dark brown, almost black color with half a finger of light brown head. Smells of roasted malt, vanilla, caramel, and a little bourbon and oak. There's something I can't quite place here as well, not brown sugar, but maybe something along these lines. Taste starts very rich, some roasted malt character, and then that weird flavor I can't place, and maybe even some bitter hops in the finish. Mouthfeel is rich, full bodied, thinning out a bit towards the finish (not thin, but not as rich as the beginning). Overall, this is very good, but not top tier stuff. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 10.3% ABV bottled (22 ounce bomber). Drank out of a snifter on 4/22/16.

There's also a Maple Bourbon version of this beer which is, you know, sploosh, but I'm pretty on board with the whole Grimm program. I also recently got a taste of their Super Spruce Gose which was very impressive. At this point, I'm definitely seeking out more from these guys.

Drie Fonteinen Intense Red

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Your typical Oude Kriek lambic will be made by blending young lambic with somewhere on the order of 25%-30% (by weight) of cherries. Intense Red? Well, it uses 40% whole sour cherries. Madness, I tell you! Madness. In any case, the name "Intense Red" is most certainly appropriate. I was unable to figure out why this particular offering has a completely different labeling style from all of Drie Fonteinen's other artwork, but then, maybe that's why I was able to find this on a shelf. I'm not complaining, so let's wade into this potent cherry potion:

Drie Fonteinen Intense Red Oude Kriek

Drie Fonteinen Intense Red Oude Kriek - Pours a clear, vivid ruby red color, quite striking, with a cap of bright pink head. Smells very sweet, tons of cherries of course, but also hints of underlying earthy funk and maybe really faint notes of oak. Taste is syrupy sweet, lots of sour cherries, just hints of earthy funk present themselves in the middle along with some oak, only to be drowned out by tart cherries in the finish. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied, very sticky, but not cloying, low-ish carbonation, but enough to make it palatable... Light to moderate sourness. The impact is generally pretty powerful, making this something that'd be worth sharing (even this small bottle). Overall, this is very good, somehow managing to be simultaniously unique and yet a little one note... but if you like cherries, you'll love that note. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 5% ABV bottled (375 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a tumbler glass on 4/16/16. Bottled: 02-05-2014.

As always, 3 Fonteinen delivers. Alas, no new varieties on the horizon for me... yet. I'm sure I'll find a way to try something else soon enough. I'm looking at you, Framboos.

Midnight Sun Termination Dust

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These days, anytime I get a chance to snag a bottle of barrel aged Midnight Sun beer, I jump at the opportunity. This Belgian Style Barleywine aged in High West bourbon barrels was no exception. Looking into it a little more, it seems like this has a pretty interesting heritage. A little over ten years ago, Midnight Sun celebrated their 1000th batch of beer with, you guessed it, a Belgian Style Barleywine aged in bourbon barrels called simply "M" (I knew Roman numerals were good for something). These days, this concept isn't particularly noteworthy. Everyone does this sort of thing. Hell, even I've homebrewed a bourbon oaked barleywine (that I'm positive is drastically inferior to anything produced by Midnight Sun, I'm the worst). But back in 2005? It was apparently a revelation. Bottles of M are among the most prized beers in existence, going for thousands of dollars at auction. Why? Partly it's the rarity, but it is also supposed to be uniquely well suited to aging. Ratings are still sky high, even a decade after bottling.

Of course, I have not had M, nor does it seem likely that I ever will. However, as you might imagine, the requests to Midnight Sun to rebrew it are numerous. A couple years ago, current brewer Lee Ellis answered some questions about M and let a few interesting nuggets slip. To bring this digression into relevance, here's a few quotes:

Hmmm, I'll just say that if we did re-release it, we wouldn't call it M. It is impossible to re-create it exactly. While Gabe Fletcher was an amazing Brewer, he sure sucked at documentation.

...As for more M, I'll say that Termination Dust is probably the closest re-creation we have done to date. Fairly similar malt bill, and very similar yeast blend. But again, it's kind one of those "that time, that place" beer. I love making big, dark, barrel aged belgians, stouts, and barley wines. Our Alaskan clientele demands it. As we say, session beers start at 8% up here.

Well that's nice to hear! Naturally, this beer doesn't seem to be making the waves that M did, but perhaps in a few years, these bottles will emerge as a wale, bro. Or M was just that ephemeral, one of a kind brew that will never be replicated.

Hope springs eternal though, so let's take a closer look. Termination Dust is basically the first light snow that signals the end of summer, something that generally carries more weight in a land of extremes like Alaska than it does for us doofuses down here. Brewed with a blend of Belgian yeasts and aged in High West barrels, this clearly isn't an exact duplicate of M. For one, it's a little stronger, and for another, High West didn't exist back in 2005 (and presumably, higher quality barrels were much more widely available back then). Still, this is Midnight Sun we're talking about here, so let's dig in:

Midnight Sun Termination Dust

Midnight Sun Termination Dust - Pours a very dark brown color with half a finger of tan head that is relatively short lived. Smells of caramelized brown sugar, bourbon, oak, some fruity esters, faint hints of spice. Taste hits those brown sugar notes hard, toffee, caramel, maybe even some Belgian yeast spice, and that boozy bourbon, vanilla, and oak. Very sweet, and even moreso once it warms up, though the spicy phenols also come out more. Mouthfeel is full bodied and rich, moderate and smooth carbonation that fits well, a little boozy heat. Overall, certainly another winner from Midnight Sun, though I don't think it's better than Arctic Devil. Yet. I think this could age fabulously, so let's check back in a few years, shall we? Still, this ain't no slouch, so we'll go A-

Beer Nerd Details: 13% ABV bottled (22 ounce bomber). Drank out of a snifter on 4/15/16. Bottled: 9/16/15.

I shall have to track down another bottle of this stuff to age. In the meantime, I'm sure we'll be seeing more from these Alaskan ballers soon enough.

Freigeist Geisterzug Rhubarb Gose

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You can't read a book about beer without running into the Reinheitsgebot; the fabled German beer purity law that sez only "malt, hops, yeast and water can be used" to make beer. There's something to that, of course, and lots of great beer is made that way. But there is a lot to be had outside the Reinheitsgebot as well. Don't take my word for it, even the Germans recognize certain historical and regional styles that wouldn't fall under the law as beer. Take Gose, traditionally made with salt and spiced with coriander, yet it is covered under and exception.

Then again, this particular German Gose is not, because they add Rhubarb to tart things up a bit (and least, that's what I assume, though the bottle I have here sez "German Beer" on the label, so who knows what's going on). Freigeist is the experimental arm of a more traditional brewer, Braustelle. They make all sorts of weird stuff, often in the berliner weiss or Gose mold and usually taking an unconventional approach to even those styles. Their approach seems similar enough to our freewheeling American environment, which I guess explains a fair amount of collaboration in the US, including local Kaedrin compatriots at Teresa's Cafe and Victory. Freigeist translates to "Free Spirit", so I guess they're Dharma to Germany's Greg*, eh?

Freigeist Geisterzug Rhubarb Gose

Freigeist Geisterzug Rhubarb Gose - Pours a slightly hazy golden color with a finger of white head that has decent retention. Aroma definitely has that lacto funk to it, sweet with hints of fruit, some spice notes too, maybe coriander and wheat or something like that. Taste feels a bit more subdued that expected, subtle notes of malt and wheat, that Gose salinity kicking in midway through, levied by tart fruit towards the finish. Mouthfeel is light to medium bodied, moderate carbonation, low acidity, and it finishes pretty dry. Overall, this is a nice beer, nothing to go cuckoo nutso about, but worthy. I do wonder how fresh it is though, and I suspect it's been sitting on the shelf for a while - would definitely give a fresh bottle a look, as I suspect the fruit character would be more prominent... I'm feeling generous though, so we'll give it a B+

Beer Nerd Details: 5.2% bottled (500 ml). Drank out of a willibecher glass on 4/15/16.

Would definitely take a flier on more of their stuff, especially if I see a fresh shipment or something...

* Kaedrin: Come for the beer, stay for the cutting edge cultural references.

Ale Apothecary Sahalie

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There are lots of breweries that use highfalutin terms to describe themselves. Craft has long since devolved into meaninglessness and debate that I could not care less about. Independent is the new hotness, but that's distressingly prosaic and not really what I'm getting at. Artisanal? Bespoke? Hand made? Now that's what I'm talking about. While usually belying a nugget of truth, I think most of use see these as the marketing codewords and hipster signaling that they really are.

Ale Apothecary describes themselves as "A Vintage Batch Oak Barrel Brewery Buried in the Mountain Wild of Oregon. Producing the finest hand made beer using our own innovative brewing process, which melds the ancient art of brewing with traditions of wine & champagne production." Engage cynical hipster codeword scanners. 8%.... 19%... 42%...95%... Scan Complete. Results: Signaling present, more data needed. Alright, so yeah, maybe I'm feeling paranoid right now, but dropping $30 on a bottle of beer will do that to you. Then again, the process described on their website, in all its wonky glory, does seem to fit with their marketing fluff. Their beer appears to spend nearly all of its time in oak barrels (presumably only really excluding the boiling stages), from mashing in to fermentation to aging to dry hopping, it's all done in barrels. Each batch appears to be from a single barrel as well, meaning really tiny 50ish gallon bottle runs. Each barrel appears to be lovingly named (rather than just using boring old numbers) and presumably reused frequently in order to build up their yeast strains and bacterial beasties. Truly small scale stuff, with a price tag to match.

Sahalie is their flagship ale. It spends over a year in a barrel, followed by a one month dry hopping period in another barrel (they appear to only use Cascade hops at their brewery, which is something I've never heard of before - single hop brewery?) This particular bottle began life in August 2014 and was aged for over 1 year in a barrel named "Reno", after which it was dry hopped for a month in a barrel named "Bagby". Finally it was bottled, using an oddly designed cork and twine contraption to seal the bottle and allow it to condition for a few weeks. The result? Well, my paranoid ramblings appear misplaced, this is phenomenal:

Ale Apothecary Sahalie

Ale Apothecary Sahalie - Pours a hazy pale yellow with a couple fingers of fluffy white head that sticks around for a bit and even leaves some lacing. Smells fabulous, lots of vinous fruit, oak, musty funk. Taste follows the nose, fruity and spicy Brett, musty funk, finishing off with that big vinous fruit kick and maybe a hint of booze. Mouthfeel is highly carbonated and effervescent up front, but leveling off a bit in the finish, which has a note of pleasant booze, even if it hides the alcohol pretty well. Still, it's pretty intense, so it's not quite a pounding beer if you know what I mean. Overall, this is fantastic, complex, delicious.. A

Beer Nerd Details: 9.45% ABV bottled (750 ml corked and, um, twined?) Drank out of a flute on 4/8/16. Batch 135, August 2014, aged in barrel Reno for 1+ years, dry hopped in barrel Bagby for one month with Cascade hops. Label sez: Batch: Nov 20 2016, which I think means this comes from the future. My scanners seem particularly unsuited to parsing a lot of this stuff. I'm the worst.

Well that was nice. Who knows if I'll ever get to try more from Ale Apothecary, but I'd totally be willing to shell out the scheckels for more of this (or any of the other varieties they produce).

Lambickx Kriek

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Vanberg & DeWulf is an importer with a long history of bringing Belgian beer to America, even back in the Dark Ages of U.S. beer in the 1980s. At various times, they handled the likes of Duvel, Rodenbach, and Boon, but those operations eventually outgrew Vanberg & DeWulf's small-scale focus. These days, they're probably best known as the importers of Brasserie Dupont and, for you lambic dorks out there, Geuzestekkerij DeCam. They also seem to have good relationships with Oud Beersel, De Troch, and Boon, sometimes importing one-offs or oddball lines like the Bzart series of champagne/lambic hybrids.

I'm not huge into the business side of beer, but one aspect that does interest me a bit is the sort of strange commodity market that has evolved around lambic. This sort of thing seems to happen more often with aged booze, and given the 3 year lead time for a good Gueuze (typically a blend of 1, 2, and 3 year old lambic) it seems to be present in Belgium. Granted, it's probably not as widespread as NDP bourbon and Scotch houses, but there's a few blenderies that don't actually make the beer, but rather just age and blend it. And they're not scrubs either; Tilquin has quickly become a Kaedrin favorite, for instance. This is also how you end up with all those weird mad scientist blends that we've been covering lately.

Anyway, Vanberg & DeWulf's founder Don Feinberg used his connections in the lambic world to purchase his own lambic reserves and bottle his own selections under a the Lambickx brand. Some of these have clear provenance (usually an unblended DeTroch lambic), but others label the source as the cryptic "Private Domain". Vanberg's website says they're from De Troch and Oud Beersal, but other sources claim Boon is also involved. What we have here is actually the Kriek, two year old lambic with cherries added (actual fruit, none of that syrupy, artificial adjunct gunk they put in the cheap fruited lambics). It hails from that ever-mysterious Private Domain, but it's actually one of the better fruited lambics I've had outside of the big boys (i.e. Cantillon and 3F). I've always been scared away from the regular Lambickx offerings because they're unblended and nearly still, and I have this thing about carbonation and whatnot, but this one is actually pretty well carbonated. Let's take a closer look:

Lambickx Kriek

Vanberg & DeWulf Lambickx Kriek - Pours a striking clear red, so many robey tones bro, with avery pretty finger of pink head that sticks around for a bit. Smells nice, lots of sour cherry and some earthy funk, maybe some hints of oak. Taste is very sweet, lots of cherries up front, buttressed by oak and earthy funk in the middle, ending back on cherry character, more syrupy this time, in the finish. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, medium bodied, lightly acidic, with just a hint of syrupy character but then, it kinda dries out in the finish. Overall, this is an excellent Kriek, one of the better ones that I've snagged off of a shelf. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 6.5% ABV bottled (750 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a flute glass on 4/9/16. Batch 2. Brew Year: 2012. Bottle Year: 2014. Number of Bottles: 9867. Region: Zenne Valley. Source: Private Domain. Barrel Type: 650 liter, Oak and Chestnut.

This was good enough that I'd like to snag another sometime and age it, see if that funk blossoms over time. Someday, I'm sure I'll take a flier on regular Lambickx, despite the supposed lack of carbonation. In the meantime, I've got a couple other Kriek lambic reviews coming your way, so stay tuned.

Due South Bourbon Barrel 88 Shilling

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In the before time, the long long ago, beers would be referred to by the price per hogshead. This was widespread practice, but Scottish Ales are still referred to by their Shilling categories, even after Shillings became an obsolete form of currency. 90 Shilling was generally the Scotch Ale/Wee Heavy designation, so I'm not sure what 88 Shilling means, but hey, it seems close enough. Also a pretty sweet price for 50+ Imperial Gallons of beer, but then, inflation is a bitch. Brewed in South Florida and aged in bourbon barrels for 13 months (usually hard to tell how long is best for beer and many other factors are involved, but 13 months seems like more than most, and I know that sometimes those extra few months make a big difference...), let's take a closer look at this one:

Due South Bourbon Barrel Aged 88 Shilling

Due South The Bourbon Barrel Aged 88 Shilling - Pours a dark brown color with copper highlights and a finger of short-lived off white head. Smells of toffee, caramel, dark fruit, and just a little of the bourbon, oak, and vanilla trinity. Taste is a little less impressive, feinting towards rich caramel but not fully following through as the flavors drop out into a more fruity malt character, with the bourbon and oak pitching in and doing their best, but not quite elevating this to where it needs to be. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, a little thinner than expected for a BBA beer, appropriate carbonation, maybe even a little dry (which may be the culprit here, even if it's still very nice), quite approachable actually. Overall, it's a good, solid beer, but it's not a top tier Scotch Ale. B

Beer Nerd Details: 8% ABV bottled (22 ounce bomber). Drank out of a tulip glass on 4/8/16.

Solid stuff. Many thanks to Kaedrin beverage compatriot Steve for slinging this my way. We'll probably be seeing more South Florida beers if Steve has anything to say about it (I'm looking at you, Funky Buddha!)

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

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