Again Dark Wednesday

Every year, on the day before Thanksgiving, Victory has some sort of beer release. They hath dubbed the day Dark Wednesday, and past offerings include the likes of Dark Intrigue, Java Cask, and Java Cask Rye. This year’s primary offering was Wisdom’s Hour, a dark sour, but they were also teasing another “mystery” beer that wasn’t really a mystery because it sorta already came out during the summer that they were making another batch of Java Cask Rye, but with added vanilla beans. As per usual, Victory’s releases tend to be pretty low-stress affairs, so even though I was battling a cold at the time, I managed to pop over and secure a couple bottles without notably impacting my condition… Anywho, Victory is one of my long time favorite local breweries, so I’m always excited to see them trying new things from time to time. Let’s get on with it:

Victory Wisdoms Hour

Victory Wisdom’s Hour – Pours a dark amber color with a finger of off white head. Smells of dark fruit, oak, vinegar, vanilla. Taste has some darker malt sort of notes, not exactly roasty, some dark fruit, spice, oak, and vinegar, only moderately sour. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, well carbonated, moderate acidity, pretty easy going. Overall, it’s a nice little sour, not going to light anything on fire, but worthwhile. It may be on the lower end of the B+ rating, but I’m feeling generous enough.

Beer Nerd Details: 9.5% ABV bottled (750 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a tulip glass on 11/27/17. Bottled on: 10 Nov 2017.

Victory Java Cask Rye with Vanilla Beans

Victory Java Cask Rye with Vanilla Beans – Pours a jet black color with almost no head whatsoever (and what’s there disappears quickly). Smells of coffee, with a little bit of booze and hints of that vanilla evident. Taste starts with some rich caramel, lots of booze, oak, and a little vanilla, with the coffee only emerging in the middle and not super strong either. Mouthfeel is rich and despite the appearance, actually pretty well carbonated, lots of warming booze. Overall, it’s pretty darned good, but I have a feeling coffee fans would be a touch disappointed, but as someone ambivalent to coffee, I think I liked this more. It’s definitely not the non-coffeed version of my dreams, but it’s darned good. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 12.5% ABV bottled (750 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a snifter on 12/3/17. Bottled on: 13 Nov 2017.

As per usual, Victory remains a local go to, and it looks like they have another batch of Red coming soon, which was phenomenal last year…

Melting Down with Root Down

Root Down Brewing opened its doors earlier this year, and it was an event I had been anticipating for a while. The owner/brewer, Mike Hamara, was the guy who sold me my homebrew setup many moons ago. On at least one occasion, he improvised a complete recipe from scratch for me because I needed something quick and didn’t have time to prepare (I’m the worst). To put it mildly, this is a guy who knows what he’s doing, and has been planning this operation for years, if not decades.

Root Down Graffiti

Located in Phoenixville, PA, the building is deceptively large and punctuated by graffiti inspired decor. Chances are, there will be some sort of obscure martial arts film playing on the TVs (though they will cave in and put the Eagles game on if someone asks), and indeed, some of the beer names (like the below Flying Guillotine IPA) are inspired by said movies (truly a brewery after my heart). I didn’t have any food during my visit, but they have a menu of BBQ goodies and even a whole page dedicated to Vegan offerings, such that I’ll definitely be checking this stuff out upon future visits.

Root Down Flying Guillotine IPA

I visited on a Sunday when they were releasing a particular beer made in cahoots with BeerNERDs (N.E.R.D. stands for Network of Educated Refined Drinkers), with proceeds going to Main Line Deputy Dog, a local charity that helps with training service dogs for those in need. For the uninitiated, BeerNERDs is a group of, well, nerds centered in southeastern PA with smatterings of members from MD, DE, and NJ. There’s a Facebook Group of 5000 plus members, which naturally leads to the occasional, erm, argument. Tensions mount, some people can’t handle it, others pile on, and then a full blown meltdown ensues. One particular meltdown centered on Root Down taking forever to deliver an ordered beer. I can no longer find specifics of the complaint, but the guy was awfully strident in his distaste and apparently greatly exaggerated his experience, as it was later revealed that he had only been around for a scant 107 seconds before up and leaving the place. But these details are unimportant; Root Down and BeerNERDs decided to relax and remember that it’s just beer, eventually deciding to collaborate for charity.

So finally we get to the beer, a 10.7% ABV (I see what they did there) imperial oatmeal stout brewed with bitter chocolate and slow molasses. Sounds wonderful, so let’s kick it root down:

Root Down Melt Down

Root Down Melt Down – Pours a very dark, deep brown, almost black color with a finger of brown head. Smells of roasted malt, dark chocolate, maybe a little coffee note, and that molasses tang in the background. Taste is rich and sweet up front, with a bitter roastiness emerging quickly, leavened a bit by the molasses, then returning to roast, coffee, and chocolate in the finish. Mouthfeel is rich and full bodied, solid carbonation, a hint of boozy heat. Overall, rock solid imperial stout. Rumors of barrel aged variants in the future, so let’s leave some room for such endeavors in the rating, making this a high B+

Beer Nerd Details: 10.7% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a snifter on 11/12/17. Canned 11/6/17. Batch: DOOMA DOOMA.

Very much looking forward to more trips to Root Down, as well as seeing some of their barrel aging efforts come to fruition…

Jackie O’s Double Feature

The impression I get is that Jackie O’s is a sort of hidden gem. Perhaps because they’re located in Ohio, or perhaps because they don’t have that one walezish offering that everyone goes bonkers over (an arguable point, I’m sure, but still). I’ve had a few things in informal settings, and recently came into a couple of staple bottles that would be a reasonable introduction. So let’s get into it:

Hockhocking

Jackie O’s Hockhocking – I’m pretty sure Jackie O’s isn’t known for this sort of thing, a mixed fermentation saison aged in wine barrels. Named after a river and music festival that takes place on the banks of said river, this is certainly a worthy entry into that crowded style. Pours a pale, slightly hazy yellow color with a finger of white head. Smells sweet, vinous fruit, lactic funk. Taste starts off sweet, with lots of tart, vinous fruit, maybe a hint of saison spice in the middle, with the finish having a funky, lactic tartness to it. Mouthfeel is tightly carbonated, medium bodied, moderate acidity, quaffable. Overall, this is a pretty great little saison. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 6.5% ABV bottled (500 ml). Drank out of a charente glass on 11/11/17. Vintage: 2017.

Oil Of Aphrodite

Jackie O’s Oil Of Aphrodite – An imperial stout brewed with black walnuts and Belgian candied syrup. Pours black with a finger of light brown head. Smells very sweet and sugary, not much roast, a little caramel and vanilla. Taste follows the nose, a little more roast here than the nose, but still very sweet, caramel and vanilla, some piney hops in the finish balance things out a bit. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied, well carbed. Overall, a pretty straightforward imperial stout, a little on the sweet side, but quite nice. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 10% ABV bottled (375 ml). Drank out of a snifter on 11/17/17.

A promising start. Now I just need to snag some of their barrel aged offerings, which I’ve heard good things about…

Marshal Zhukov

Georgy Zhukov was a Soviet Army officer who commanded troops during the Battle of Berlin, eventually resulting in the defeat of Nazi Germany. He attained the rank of Marshal (the highest military rank in the Soviet Union), but also became Minister of Defence amongst taking on other political roles. Infamously stubborn and hot-tempered, he was known to risk life and limb by heatedly arguing with Stalin over this or that policy (normally surrounded by sycophants, Stalin respected Zhukov’s independent thought, while presumably also being annoyed by his stubbornness, which is the sort of thing people got disappeared for…) Basically, a decent guy to name a Russian Imperial Stout after. In a mildly refreshing change of pace, there’s nothing particularly special about this stout (other than it being really good). No weird ingredients, no spices or vanilla, not even barrels. Just barley, hops, yeast, and water. Spaseeba!

Marshal Zhukov

Cigar City Marshal Zhukov’s Imperial Stout – Pours a deep black color with a pretty brown head that quickly dissipates. Smells great, lots of sweet malt, caramel, hints of roast, vanilla. Taste hits those same notes, rich caramel, hints of roast, a touch of vanilla, a little booze. Mouthfeel is full bodied, rich, and chewy, moderate carbonation, a little boozy heat. Overall, fantastic straightforward imperial stout. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 11.2% ABV bottled (22 ounce bomber). Drank out of a snifter on 10/29/17.

There are tons of variants of this, some of which I’ve had (a couple of coffee dosed versions), but I’d love to try a barrel aged one sometime (of which there are several varieties). Someday!

Anchorage Darkest Hour

I have a friend with a penchant for Alaskan beers who was always giving me a hard time for only having two reviews of Anchorage beers on the blog, so this one’s for you buddy. Also, if you can get me an extra bottle or two of A Deal With The Devil, I will gladly review that (in all fairness, this person has generously shared a bottle of that right excellent barleywine, and it was indeed glorious, but those weren’t exactly ideal reviewer conditions and you know how we do here at Kaedrin – journalistic integrity and all that garbage. Alright fine, it’s just laziness, you happy now?)

So what we have here is an Imperial Stout brewed with Summit hops, aged in a variety whisky barrels, and bottle conditioned with a wine yeast. This is apparently different from the original batch (released in 2013), which used a Belgian yeast and incorporated Pinot Noir barrels in addition to whiskey barrels. It still feels like a distinct offering in a crowded BBA stout field. To paraphrase Carl von Clausewitz, this is the sort of beer that requires “an intellect that, even in the darkest hour, retains some glimmerings of the inner light which leads to truth.” Or, you know, something like that.

Anchorage Darkest Hour

Anchorage Darkest Hour – Pours a deep, dark brown, almost black color with just a ring of brown head around the edge of the glass. Smells sweet and rich, caramel, liquorish, oak, vanilla, and bourbon. Taste has a sweet, rich caramel to it, with that liquorish pitching in, roasted malt, char, coffee, a hint of spice, finishing on that whisky, oak, and vanilla tip. Mouthfeel is rich and full bodied, light but appropriate carbonation, sneaky booze bite. Overall, yep, really good example of the style, if not quite as comparatively great as something like ADWTD… B+

Beer Nerd Details: 13% ABV bottled (750 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a snifter glass on 8/18/17. Vintage: Batch #3 DEC/2016.

So there you have it. If I ever get my greedy little paws on ADWTD, you will most certainly see that popping up here at some point, but you never know. I’ve generally enjoyed everything I’ve had from Anchorage, so maybe we’ll get to something else before then…

The Veil Quadrupel Feature (Again)

The Veil occupies an interesting space in my beer consumption. I will gladly partake whenever I get a chance, but so far, I am unlikely to make the four hour (one way) trip to Virginia to hit up a release. Of course, I’m also unlikely to make the thirty minute trip to Tired Hands for a release, so that’s the context here. Fortunately, I know people, and through their generosity, I sometimes bag a few cans of this stuff. Last time, we got somewhat uneven results. This time, we’re remarkably consistent, but nothing really melting my face either. A nice mixture of styles though, and it made for a nice weekend of drinking:

The Veil Coalesce

The Veil Coalesce – Czech style Pilsner and someday I’ll be able to tell the difference between Czech and German Pilsners blind, but alas, that day is not today – Pours a slightly hazy golden yellow color with a finger of white, fluffy head. Smells of earthy, spicy, floral hops. Taste hits those same hop notes, spicy, grassy, floral, with a hint of bready malt, finishing clean. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, light bodied, and crisp. Overall, solid little Pilsner that’s a welcome change of pace from all these IPAs I’ve been downing. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 5.5% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a willibecher glass on 7/21/17. Canned: 07/11/17.

The Veil Snozzwired

The Veil Snozzwired – This is The Veil’s session chocolate milk stout Snozzwanger conditioned on a bunch of Lamplighter Coffee Roasters espresso – Pours ridiculously dark, one of the blackest beers I’ve seen, with just a cap of brown head that doesn’t stick around long. Smells of deep roast coffee, roasted malt, dark chocolate, did I mention roasty? Taste is, yes, extremely roasty, spent coffee grounds, a little bitterness from that roast, hints of dark chocolate taking a back seat to, you guessed it, roast. Mouthfeel is medium bodied (more than you’d think), well carbonated, relatively dry, doesn’t really drink like a 4.4% ABV beer, but it doesn’t feel like a big imperial bruiser either. Overall, it’s solid, but my general lack of coffee enthusiasm has its downsides. B

Beer Nerd Details: 4.4% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a snifter on 7/22/17. Canned: 07/11/17.

The Veil Henry From Monkish

The Veil Henry From Monkish – IPA made with Galaxy and Simcoe in honor of Henry Nguyen of Monkish brewing, who, if this can is any indication, is a frost giant from the Thor movies – Pours a turbid, murky orange yellow color with a solid finger of white, fluffy head that has good retention and leaves some lacing. Smells great, typical NEIPA juicy citrus hops, mango, tropical fruit. Taste again hits those South Pacific citrus hop notes (guessing Galaxy here), lots of mango and tropical fruit, finishing with a bit of a bitter bite. Mouthfeel is low to medium bodied, ample carbonation, relatively dry. Could perhaps use a hint more heft, but otherwise this is overall pretty damn nice! B+

Beer Nerd Details: 5.9% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 7/22/17. Canned: 07/10/17.

The Veil Broz Night Out

The Veil Broz Night Out – An imperial version of The Veil’s low ABV Citra IPA Broz Day Off – Pours a similar turbid, murky orange yellow color with a finger of white fluffy head, good retention, and some lacing. Smells of sugary sweet citrus, like candied fruit, with some floral notes and maybe even some of that booze. Taste is sweet and citrusy, with plenty of floral hops too, juicy, and a little boozy. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, almost creamy, medium bodied, a little sticky nonetheless, and hints of booze. Overall, rock solid DIPA. I tend to like them with a little less booze, but this is nice. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 9% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 7/23/17. Canned: 07/10/17.

Many thanks to fellow beer nerd Sheik for being a great American and trading me these cans.

Checking in with Levante Brewing

For a brewery that is as local as Levante (a place that I visit regularly) I sure haven’t kept up with them when it comes to reviews. This is mostly just because I’m the worst, but also because I’m generally palling around with local beer nerds and don’t really take the time to write down detailed notes (see, maybe I’m not the worst).

In the year and a half since I last wrote about them, they’ve grown considerably, branched out a bit, and started bottling/canning beer. After working out some kinks, they appear to be dialed in on that front, as these two recent can releases were fantastic! Both are Northeast IPA style beers with trendy, citrus-forward hops and they stack up favorably amongst the growing throngs of NEIPA producers in the region (and it should be noted, they still put out more typical West Coast IPA style stuff on occasion as well). While I’m at it, I figure I’ll throw out some notes on the latest iteration of Bullit Train (their bourbon barrel aged vanilla stout), because why not?

Levante 3D Hippo

Levante 3D Hippo – An IPA brewed with Citra and Galaxy hops – Pours a cloudy dark yellow color with a finger of white head that leaves plenty of lacing as I drink. Smells of bright, tropical fruit, juicy citrus. Taste starts sweet, again lots of citrus and tropical fruit, juicy, a bit of a bitter bite to round things off in the finish. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, thick, bright. Overall, one damn fine NE style IPA, on par with (if not better than) some of the recent Tired Hands cans I’ve sampled. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 7.4% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 5/29/17. Canned on 05/24/17. Batch: MUCH LOVE!

Levante South Pacific Hop Cartel on draft

Levante South Pacific Hop Cartel – A DIPA brewed with an unspecified blend of New Zealand and Australian hops (from talking to the brewer, I believe it involves at least Motueka and Nelson Sauvin, but probably more). This was initially released on tap in February, and it was spectacular. Bursting with juicy citrus hops in both aroma and taste, great mouthfeel, just a wonderful beer.

Levante South Pacific Hop Cartel

I guess people wouldn’t shut up about how awesome it was, because they decided to brew another batch and can it a few months later. I will note that the can was perhaps not quite as spectacular as it was on draft, but it’s pretty darn close and it’s been my favorite can release so far. A (on tap), A- (canned)

Beer Nerd Details: 8% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 2/1/17 (on tap), 3/31/17 (can), and several times thereafter, bro. On tap: 2/1/17. Canned: 03/27/17.

Levante Bourbon Barrel Aged Bullit Train Bottle

Levante Bourbon Barrel Aged Bullit Train – So I already reviewed this back when it was initially released, and they had a batch after that that was incredible as well… but the initial bottle release left something to be desired. The bottles were way overcarbonated, which just cut through the rich flavors and made it unsatisfying. BUT! The following bottle release fared significantly better, and the good folks at Levante made the stand-up decision to allow people to trade-in the old, overcarbed bottles to get a new one. Great decision, and a great beer. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 10.5% ABV bottled (22 ounce bomber). Drank out of a snifter glass.

So there you have it. I hope to show you more from these fine folks in the near future, so stay tuned…

Vintage Dogfish Head

Once the darlings of the craft beer community, it seems that Dogfish Head’s fortunes have been on the wane in recent years. Sure, they’re still chugging along and are often the savior of a BMC dominated taplist, but their beers aren’t quite as heralded as they once were. This might be due to the hit-or-miss nature of their sometimes gimmicky approach, or perhaps just plain snobbery. Personally, I tend to enjoy their more “normal” takes on beer, though some of the “off-centered” stuff hits its mark from time to time as well. I had the good fortune to visit the original Rehoboth Beach brewpub last year, and it was a really good time. I had some brewpub exclusives like Porter by Proxy and SeaQuench Ale (now a regular release) that I really enjoyed (and others that were… less successful, like Choc Lobster).

Anyway, I knew that I’d squirreled away a few bottles of Dogfish Head’s more extreme efforts a few years ago, so I lit my torch and made the trek into the deepest, darkest catacombs of my cellar. After fighting off a hoard of mummies and centipede-like creatures, I managed to extricate a few vintage bottles of Dogfish Head from several years of cobwebs and dust.

As per usual, there are two sides of the coin when drinking well-aged beer. On one side, it’s always an interesting and sometimes sublime experience. On the other, while it’s always a different beer than it was fresh, it’s rarely a better beer. I’m happy to report that, in this case at least, Dogfish Head’s wares held up remarkably well. Of course, you’ll also have to note that these are among the more extreme varieties they make in terms of ABV and thus are particularly good candidates for aging. I suspect most of their other offerings would not fare so well. I’ve got some comments about each beer that are incorporated below, so read on, fearless drinker:

Dogfish Head Olde School Barleywine – A barleywine brewed with figs, I always found the label’s “Directions” charming: “Open bottle, pour contents into two snifters. Enjoy. Or: Walk hand-in-neck into the middle of the woods. Use a shovel to dig a 2×2 hole three feet deep. Seal the bottle in a plastic bag. Place in hole & pack with dirt. Memorize location & leave. Return exactly one year later. Dig up bottle, open & enjoy.” Well, I didn’t pack it in dirt and I left it in the catacombs of castle Kaedrin for 5 years instead of just 1, but this still held up pretty well. I’d probably recommend a little less time in the cellar if you’re looking to age your own, but it definitely takes on age gracefully. This is probably one of Dogfish Head’s more underrated beers. This is actually the last beer from Dogfish Head that I did a proper review for, and it’s from 2012… I may need to remedy that, but for now, let’s look at our well aged 4-5 year old bottle.

Dogfish Head Olde School Barleywine

Pours a very murky brown color with a half finger of off white head. Smells of dark fruits, those figs and prunes, crystal malt, dank resinous hops (typical of aged beers, but it’s a subtle presence here, lending complexity). Taste hits that fruity malt character, rich caramelized figs and prunes, crystal malt, light on the resinous hops, followed by a heaping helping of booze. There’s a little oxidation going on here, but it’s not overwhelming the beer. Mouthfeel is rich and full bodied, lots of boozy heat but nothing unapproachable. A sipper for sure. Overall, this has held up remarkably well. Would try again. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 15% ABV bottled (12 ounces). Drank out of a tulip glass on 2/4/17. Bottled in 2012B.

Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA – Perhaps Dogfish Head’s most famous beer, it’s one of the few that does seem to still command a devout following. One thing you’ll hear a lot of people say about this beer is that it’s almost undrinkable when fresh, which I’ve always counted as an exaggeration, but I never did manage a well-aged version until new. This has to be one of the most remarkable transformations I’ve ever seen in an aged beer. When fresh, it’s certainly boozy and hot, but it’s got lots of great citrus and pine hop character going on. I liked it. With age, especially once we start talking about 5-6 years, it essentially turns into a malt-forward barleywine. Even just the color of the beer changes dramatically. I managed to dig up a picture from ye olde digital catacombs that shows what it was like with about 6 months on it (you can click to embiggen all the images in this post, but I’m afraid this one isn’t exactly high quality. Please direct complaints to my old cell phone):

2012 Picture of a freshish bottle of Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA

And with 6 years on it (these two bottles were from the same 2011B batch), oxidation takes hold and turns this a much darker color:

A six year old Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA from the same batch as previous picture

Whoa. Pours a murky, very dark amber color with a finger of white head. Smells like a malt-forward barleywine, lots of oxidized aromas, a little bit of dank, resinous hops (way different than fresh). Taste is rich and sweet, again, malt forward, more like a barleywine, certainly a little oxidized, a little faded, dank, resinous hops, finishing boozy. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, full bodied, and quite boozy, not as hot as fresh, but plenty of warming sensations as I drink. Overall, I may have kept this just a bit too long, but it’s still quite interesting. I’d like to try one with 3 or so years on it to see how it compares. For now B or B+

Beer Nerd Details: 18% ABV bottled (12 ounces). Drank out of a tulip glass on 2/18/17. Bottled in 2011B.

Dogfish Head World Wide Stout – Of the Dogfish Beers I’ve aged, I’d expect this one to do the best. It ticks all the right checkboxes for the ideal beer-aging candidate: dark malt-focused ale with extremely high alcohol, no flavor additives likely to fade too much over time (i.e. coffee, vanilla, etc…), and so on. This is the sort of beer that drinks pretty hot fresh, but ages considerably well. At 2 years old, it was a really tasty treat. With 5-6 years under its belt, it’s even better. This appears to be one of the few beers that actually does get better over time.

A vintage bottle of 2011 Dogfish Head World Wide Stout

Pours a very dark brown, almost black color with a half finger of tan head that disappears quickly. Smells rich and malty, caramel, dark fruit, even some roast and dark chocolate remaining. Taste is very sweet, caramel, dark fruit, almost port-like character here, again, still a little roast and chocolate. Mouthfeel is rich, full bodied, and chewy, plenty of booze but it does not at all feel like 18%. Overall, this has held up remarkably well, could probably last much longer! A-

Beer Nerd Details: 18% ABV bottled (12 ounces). Drank out of a snifter glass on 5/1/17. Bottled in 2011A.

So there you have it. I’ve depleted my entire supply of Olde School, but I still have a 120 (same vintage) left, and a 2010 WWS slumbering in the cellar. I’m guessing the WWS could take several more years before showing significant degradation, but the 120 should probably be drunk soon (and if I had Olde School, that seems to be at its limit as well). All three of these beers are good for long term aging though, and my recommendation would be to pick up a 4 pack of each, and drink a bottle every 1 or 2 years.

Tired Hands Bottle & Can Chronicle

It’s been a while since I’ve covered these Ardmore dorkuses, what with their saisons and their IPAs and rows of empty chairs at can releases and yes, even a bourbon barrel aged stout. I’ve basically given up on keeping track of every Tired Hands beer I try, and indeed, my visits have decreased in recent months, but they are still, by far, the brewery I’ve had the most different beers from. I can’t see anyone overtaking them anytime soon either. So let’s get with the program and check out the last 6 months or so of bottle releases (with the occasional can and growler).

The Emptiness is in Bloom

The Emptiness is in Bloom – Oak barrel fermented saison conditioned on locally harvested honeysuckle and elderflowers – Pours a very pale straw yellow color with a finger of white head. Smells, tart, floral, delightfully funky, earthy. Taste has a nice, tart sweetness to it up front, moving into an earthy funk and oaky middle, followed by a tart and funky floral finish. As it warms a nice saison spice emerges. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, light bodied, and moderately acidic. Overall, it’s great to be back in the Emptiness series. While not the best Emptiness offering, it’s still a gem. A-

Beer Nerd Details: ? ABV bottled (500 ml). Drank out of a flute glass on 1/20/17.

Clourison – Standard Ourison saison conditioned atop clementines (juice and zest) – Pours a hazy golden color with a finger of moderately lived white head. Smells hugely of clementines, tones of citrus fruit, with that saison funk, spice, and hint of oak lingering in the background. Taste again hits huge notes of clementine, really strong, then there are hints of the saisonhands base beer to even things out a bit, a little earthy funk, oak, spice. Clementine is really the star here, really intense. Mouthfeel is moderately carbonated, light, and refreshing. Overall, this is really nice, the intensity of the fruit reminds me of Freedom from the Known, but the saisonhands base can’t stand up to it as well. Still really nice. B+

Beer Nerd Details: ? ABV bottled (750 ml). Drank out of a tulip glass on 9/30/16.

Strawrison – Standard Ourison saison conditioned atop strawberries – Pours an almost radiant golden orange color with half a finger of white head. Smells funky, tart fruit, strawberries certainly, maybe a little yeasty spice. Taste again has more funk than I’m used to from the Ourison line, earthy, not quite cheesy or smokey, but edging in that direction; tart fruit still apparent though, strawberries, saison spice, and a little oak. Mouthfeel is light bodied but not as crisp or dry as Ourison and a little less carbonated (but still enough). Overall, this is quite nice right now. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 4.8% ABV bottled (750 ml). Drank out of a teku glass on 1/2/17.

Blourison – Standard Ourison saison conditioned atop blueberries – Pours a ridiculous dark ruby red, looks almost like a rose, with a finger of pinkish blue head. Smells nice, lots of oak, a little saison spice, and those tart blueberry aromas coming through well. Taste is blueberry forward, sweet and tart, with some saison spice and oak peeking in during the middle to finish, which also has that tart note. Mouthfeel is light bodied, a little thin, decent carbonation but not as much as ourison. Overall, this is nice, but as much as I love Saisonhands and Ourison, I’m not sure how great a platform for fruit that base really is… B

Beer Nerd Details: 4.8% ABV bottled (750 ml). Drank out of charente glass on 1/15/17.

Individuation: Florid – Slightly spiced blended orange-hued Saison aged in French oak – Pours a golden honey color with a finger of head and ok retention. Smells quite nice, vinous fruit and plenty of oak, going to be a sour one. Taste is sweet up front, with a nice oak character coming through in the middle, maybe some funk there too, and then the sourness ramps up into the finish. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, well carbonated, moderate to high acidity, but still pleasant. Overall, is your typical TH style sour saison, which is a very good thing indeed. A-

Beer Nerd Details: ? ABV bottled (750 ml Green Bottle). Drank out of a Teku glass on 10/15/16.

Individuation Florid, Dry Hop and regular version

Individuation: Florid, Dry Hopped – The same as Individuation: Florid, but dry hopped with Hull Melon – Pours that same golden honey color with that same finger of head. Smells very different though, clearly that Hull Melon dry hopping coming through, honeydew and lemons, with oak taking a backseat in this variant. The taste starts off sweet and sour, hop flavor overtaking the oak here too, finishing with that sour note. Less oaky, more hoppy and maybe even more sour (or at least the perception of more sourness). Mouthfeel is pretty much the same as regular, but again, slightly more astringency. Overall, this is more complex, but I’m not sure if it’s better. Hull Melon certainly isn’t my favorite hop, but it is definitely distinct. B+

Beer Nerd Details: ? ABV bottle (750 ml Brown Bottle). Drank out of a charente glass on 10/15/16.

Tired Hands Bourbon Barrel Aged Only Void

Tired Hands Only Void Bourbon Barrel Aged – Imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels for over a year – Pours deep black with a finger of short lived light brown head. Smells of caramel, oak, vanilla, and bourbon. Taste starts off sweet, rich caramel, bourbon, oak, and vanilla, the richness fading a bit after the middle and into the sweet finish. Mouthfeel is rich and full bodied up front, but it thins a bit in the finish, a little pleasant boozy heat as I drink. Overall, hell yes, I’ve been waiting for this for a long time. I still really wish they bottled it, but it’s a solid BBA imperial stout. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 11% ABV growler (1 Liter). Drank out of a tulip glass on 10/15/16. Growler filled 10/15/16.

Tired Hands Permashore – Oak fermented gose with lemon drop hops – a radiant, clear yellow color with half a finger of bubbly head. Smells oaky, but you get that gose spice (coriander) and tart fruit, lemon, lime thing in the background too. Taste starts out with the gose spice character, moves into oak town, and adds in a salinity and a little tartness towards the finish. Mouthfeel is light bodied, a bit undercarbonated, pleasant, low acidity. Overall, this is very nice. The oak overwhelmed the style a bit, but it still comports itself well. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 6.8% ABV bottled (750 ml). Drank out of a teku glass on 11/12/16.

Whatever, Nevermind – Oak aged “yule” saison, 2015 bottle – Fun fact: this beer was the 200th checkin at Tired Hands Brew Cafe. I loved it. Then they bottled it a year later or something. And now it’s a year after that! And it’s still great. Nice tart, oaky foeder character, really tasty. Really enjoy this. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 9% ABV bottled (750 ml). Drank out of a teku glass on 12/3/16. Vintage: 2015.

Heavy Gem Humanimal Stasis

Heavy Gem Humanimal Stasis – Collaboration with Half Acre, Double IPA brewed with Equinox, Mosaic, and Simcoe – Pours a cloudy, darkish golden yellow color with a finger of white head and some lacing as I drink. Smells very floral an almost spicy, a little pine, but not as much citrus or pine as you’d want. Taste also hits floral and spicy hop notes, with a little dank pine emerging in the middle, and a relatively bitter finish. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, well carbonated, maybe a hint of booze too. Overall, this is not in your typical Tired Hands style; it’s alright but nowhere near the ratings I’m seeing. B-

Beer Nerd Details: 8.3% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 3/24/17. Canned on 3/19/17.

The Deepest and Most Wonderful Secret

The Deepest and Most Wonderful Secret – Yuzu Triple IPA brewed with Simcoe, Galaxy, Azacca, and Equinox – Pours a hazy pale orange color with a finger of white head that leaves lacing as I drink. Smells citrusy and almost tart, some of those typical TH juicy IPA notes. Taste is very sweet with an almost tart kick (apparently that yuzu), some citrus and floral hops, and a little booze. Mouthfeel is surprisingly full bodied, lightly acidic, a little alcohol heat but it drinks lighter than it is… Overall, a solid take on a triple IPA, really tasty. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 10.2% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a mason jar on 3/3/17. Canned 03/01/17. Batch: GO DEEP.

Phew, that’s quite a few beers. And, of course, I already have a couple more on deck, so look for another recap in the nearish future. It feels like can releases are getting a little less insane, so maybe I’ll snag a few more of those in the future…

The Alchemist Beelzebub

Beelzebub is the name of a demon, sometimes used synonymously with Satan or the Devil, but more often referred to as the second in command, the chief lieutenant of Lucifer, the Emperor of Hell, and other such dubious honorifics. As John Milton sez “than whom, Satan except, none higher sat.” It’s believed to be derived from the Canaanite god Baal, who was sometimes referred to as the “Lord of the Flies” and there’s lots of conflicting accounts of Beelzebub’s true nature, almost as if no one has had any actual contact with… him? It? You guys, it’s time for some game theory.

Um anyway, there is, in fact, a beer named after Beelzebub. No game theory needed. The label even has a fly on it that our demonic friend is apparently the lord of. It’s one of The Alchemist’s rotating releases, a hoppy imperial stout clocking in at 8% ABV. This is the first non-IPA I’ve had from our friends in Vermont, and while it is indeed intense and unique, I don’t think it quite nails the style like their various IPAs manage. I got these cans in December and have been slowly working through them to see if a few months has softened the harsh edges. Alas, we have once again run into the this is pretty good, but it’s the worst beer from The Alchemist that I’ve had conundrum:

The Alchemist Beelzebub

The Alchemist Beelzebub – Pours a deep black color, maybe the darkest beer I’ve ever seen (faintest hint of brown can be seen while pouring, but no light can otherwise escape), with a gorgeous finger of brown head. Smells of roasted malt, char, roast, some dank hops, roast, coffee, bitter dark chocolate, and did I mention roast? It’s roasty. Taste is rich and roasty, a little coffee-like (no actual coffee in it, but reminiscent), maybe some bitter dark chocolate, an intense roast, some dank hops, finishing with a big bite of roast and hop bitterness. Mouthfeel has a light richness to it, full bodied, well carbonated, not dry overall but there’s some sort of drying element going on here, tannins or something. Overall, this is an odd duck. This can is from December, and when fresh it was even more intense, but it’s held up quite well, and I like it a little better now. I’ve never had anything quite like it, which is interesting but there’s also probably a reason for that. Intense and roasty, certainly unique. B or maybe a B+, but we’ll leave it at B.

Beer Nerd Details: 8% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a snifter on 2/25/17 (also 12/2/17, about a week after release and a couple times inbetween).

Many thanks to Kaedrin friend Adam for braving a snowstorm to acquire his allotment (and, obviously, for sharing with me). I am, obviously, still in the bag to try moar Alchemist beers, as Heady and Focal are some of the best out there and minor missteps like this can’t detract from that.