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.

Lambic in general, and Gueuze in particular, have slowly but steadily taken up more of my allotted drinking cycles. Channeling my inner-wonk, nothing beats the harmony, complexity, and balance involved in the traditional three vintage blend of spontaneously fermented beer that marks Gueuze. I suppose this sounds like marketing fluff or just plain wanking, but who cares, Gueuze is probably awesomer than you are. I mean, not you, the other readers. Wink wink, nudge nudge. As producers go, the conventional wisdom is that Cantillon is well known for their fruited lambics, but Drie Fonteinen is most famous for their Gueuze blends (not to belittle their other offerings, nor other lambic producers, who all have their strengths, and what the hell, conventional wisdom can go pound sand, but I digress - the point is that Drie is great at blending.)

After Drie Fonteinen recovered from their "Thermostat Incident", they actually managed to rev up a new production facility, and a few years later, the first vintages of their Gueuze were ready for blending. Of course, their OG standard is wonderful, but since they were finally self-sufficient again, Armand Debelder decided to blend up a special batch in honor of his father, Gaston. This beer consists only of lambic brewed by 3 Fonteinen, and this post will actually cover two batches. One, with the old label, was one of the earlier 2015 batches, and I shared that with a bunch of friends recently (so didn't take detailed notes, but I'll give some background on why I was sharing such a bottle and whatever thoughts I can muster below). The other is a newer 2017 release, and has the new, swanky silkscreen label with stickers, which I was able to write tasting notes for. Because you all love those, right? Right. The label sez that this is "blended from lambics aged and matured on 4 different barrels, originating from wort of 7 different brews. The old lambic was brewed with slightly darker malts and was destined for another Straffe Winter (but we actually forgot about it...)" (Straffe Winter is a Faro that they have still only released once, in case you were wondering.) Ok, enough wanking, let's get to it.

Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen Oude Geuze Cuvée Armand and Gaston

Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen Oude Geuze Cuvée Armand & Gaston (2017) - Pours a dark golden orange color with a couple fingers of fluffy, bubbly head. Smells fantastic, deep, earthy funk, oak, plenty of fruity esters. Taste hits the fruity ester notes more than the nose, but that earthy funk provides some good complexity in the background and the oak leavens things well. A well balanced sourness emerges in the middle and lasts through the finish. It's delicious. Mouthfeel is highly carbonated, crisp, and effervescent, medium bodied, with a moderate and well balanced acidity. Overall, this is one spectacular, well balanced, complex geuze. A

Beer Nerd Details: 5.3% ABV bottled (375 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a flute glass on 2/9/18. Bottling Date: 01/25/17. Best Before: 10/26/37. Blend n° 17 - Season 16-17.

Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen Oude Geuze Cuvée Armand and Gaston 2015

Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen Oude Geuze Cuvée Armand & Gaston (2015) - I hate the sport of basketball. However, I do make one exception, and that is Villanova basketball, which I have watched with some regularity since I graced that fine university, jeeze, over twenty years ago? Anyway, two years ago, Villanova won the NCAA championship and my friend and fellow VU alum Rich brought a BCBS Vanilla Rye to a share the night after we won. It was a spectacular beer; age had treated it very well and I'd go so far as to say it's one of the few beers I've had where age has actually improved the beer. Anyway, a few weeks ago, Villanova won their second NCAA championship in 3 years (and third overall), and Rich and I immediately started putting together a share where we'd dig out something great from our cellars. He brought a spectacular bottle of ADWTD, and I brought this beauty: the first vintage of Armand and Gaston. This consists of some of the first lambic brewed on their new system in 2013, and according to the bottle logs, it's the second 750 ml bottling (both in October of 2015), and there were approximately 3,800 bottles in this batch (there was an additional 375 ml bottling and a thusfar unreleased 1.5 l bottling that is aging in the 3F cellars).

Opening the bottle resulted in some mild gushing (cork basically popped out on its own), but fortunately, not too much of our precious juice was lost. And yes, my impression was that this was somehow even better than the 2017 vintage I just praised to high heaven above. Super funky, but it didn't quite veer into extra-pungent blue-cheese territory that is fascinating for sure, but not quite as nice as this. Earthy, fruity, tart but not overly acidic, highly carbed and effervescent, great balance,depth, and complexity, I could have easily rocked the entire bottle by myself, but I was glad I shared it with some friends who could appreciate its charms. Again, I didn't really take any notes, but it was great. I'll give it an A too, and this is definitely the sort of thing to seek out.

Beer Nerd Details: 6% ABV bottled (750 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a wine glass on 4/12/18. Bottling Date: 2015, October 20. Best Before: 2035, October 26th.

I love the Best Before date on the bottle. Not just 20 years, but 20 years and 6 days. A minute longer and it'll spoil. Anywho, both vintages were phenomenal. Seek this out. It may be pricey, but it's worth a stretch. But my priorities are way out of whack, so you do you.

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof

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As a probable whisky dilettante and professed novelty whore, I don't have what you'd call a "house bourbon", that sort of thing that you always have on hand in case you want a belt of the ol' comfort. But if I did? It would probably be the standard Elijah Craig offering. It's lost its age statement (it formerly was a 12 years old), but it's still a pretty great, approachable, affordable, highly available bourbon that hits all the right notes that I'd want in a bourbon.

So naturally, when I finally spied a bottle of the cask-strength version of same, I jumped on the opportunity. As I understand it, this is one of the more readily available of the highly-regarded cask-strength offerings, but in PA, it was very hard to come by (there have been very limited releases and I think even a lottery at one point), so naturally I wound up getting it in MD during one of my periodic pilgrimages to State Line Liquors.

The idea is very high proof (not quite haz-mat levels of Stagg, though some batches have gotten there) and still age stated at 12 years, it's basically regular Elijah Craig, only more so. This particular batch is apparently one of the lower proof (lowest?), but then, it's still pretty high for me... Let's dive in:

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof - Pours a deep, dark coppery orange color with plenty of legs. Smells great, lots of oak, some caramel, spicebox, cinnamon, dark fruit, vanilla. Taste follows the nose, lots of oak, moar spicebox, cinnamon and the like, a little dark fruit, more oak, and vanilla. Like the regular Elijah Craig, it's very oaky, but this time, it feels more balanced with the rest, which is interesting. Mouthfeel is rich, full bodied, and quite hot. I mean, yeah, keep in mind my baby beer palate, and this isn't the hottest thing I've drank, but it's clearly there. Overall, a nice improvement over the base offering, and one of the better barrel strength offerings I've had (noticeably better than the younger offerings, like Booker's or Stagg Jr.). A-

Whiskey Nerd Details: 124.2 Proof, 62.1% ABV bottled. Drank out of a glencairn glass on 3/24/18. Batch No. B517

Beer Nerd Musings: As previously mentioned, EC12 barrels seem to be prized amongst beer brewers. It historically played a role in BCBS (though their barrel program is so large at this point that who knows anymore). Interestingly, one of the most reliable EC12 barrel aged beers, FiftyFifty's purple waxed Eclipse variant, seemed to be rarer in the most recent release. I'm unsure if that's due to lack of barrels, some result of the loss of age statement, or probably most likely, just FiftyFifty's desire to shake things up a bit (this year's lineup featured a lot of adjuncts like maple, coffee, and vanilla, as well as more diverse barrels from apple brandy, rye, and even mead). Whatever the case, if a beer specifies that it's aged in Elijah Craig barrels, it's usually a good indication. The barrel proof offering is probably too expensive to use for homebrew (something the standard expression would be great for), but will make a great addition to my infinity bottle someday (this... is a topic for another post, though).

Fellow Travelers: Obviously lots of other folks have tried various batches of this out:
Signe Drinks has reviewed the same batch I have, and puts it squarely in the middle tier of Elijah Craig Cask Strength releases. Not the best, but not the worst, he sez. Josh Peters has had many different batches as well (though I don't think this specific one was in his list). The sadly defunct Sku also reviewed early batches and came away impressed. Finally, I suppose I should mention fellow beer dork DDB, who also seems to enjoy these offerings.

This more or less completes my beer hibernation for the year. Actual beer posts will be returning shortly, though I expect the pace of posting here to continue its slow, inexorable decline.

Grahams 20 Year Tawny Porto

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The annual beer hibernation offers an opportunity for me to put on my ruminating wig and think long and hard about things other than beer. Like hot sauce. Or an obsidian goblet filled with an aqueous form of eldritch horror. Or, um, port wine. Alright, I shouldn't have mentioned that Lovecraftian liquor, but I assure you that it is literally unspeakable and indescribable, which obviates the need for a post. I mean, the very geometry was so corrupt that... you know what, I should stop writing about that. For reasons. You'll have to settle for port.

I've only reviewed four different port wines here, but they've all been Ruby Ports. In general, most of the port I've had has also been a Ruby Port. So many robey tones. But in many ways, Tawny Ports seem like they'd be more up my alley. Like a true dork, I've covered the general differences and definitions before, so I won't belabor the point, but Tawny Port is typically aged in oak a lot longer, resulting in a gradual oxidation leading to a change in flavor and color (instead of those robey tones, it's got a more earthy, orange-brown hue - i.e. tawny). The Indication of Age for port tends to follow specific designations of 10, 20, 30, or 40 years. Unlike some spirits, this indicates an average age of a blend (not, for example, the youngest age of the components) and the goal is to approximate the "house style" consistently from release to release (rather than a unique vintage feel). Up until now, I've only ever really had a 10 year old, which is certainly distinct from the various ruby expressions, but now that I've had a 20 year old, the difference is much more apparent. Let's take a closer look:

Grahams 20 Year Tawny Porto

Graham's 20 Year Tawny Porto - Pours a clear, pale orange brown color, kinda like a dirty copper penny color. Smells sweet, syrupy, fruity, but with a nutty character in the background. Taste is very sweet, concentrated, rich, fruity, syrupy, a little nutty, almonds, some oak present, and some oxidation providing complexity. Mouthfeel is rich, full bodied, and sticky, just a faded hint of bright acidity in the background. Overall, unlike any port I've ever had, quite sweet but with a very nice complexity. A-

Port Nerd Details: 20% ABV bottled (750 ml). Drank out of a taster glass on 3/3/18. 20 Years Old.

Beer Nerd Musings: Lots of beers are aged in port barrels, but I don't think I've ever seen any sort of distinction made between Ruby and Tawny barrels (though, of course, they do exist... naturally, it doesn't specify how old the Tawny port was though...). I would certainly be curious about how much of an difference the older barrels make. I mean, a 20 year old barrel has to have a different character than a 2 year Vintage port barrel, right?

Certainly a bit pricey, but worth it at least once. I don't know that this is the sort of thing that would enter my regular repertoire, but it definitely works as a special occasion tipple.

Habanero Heady

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As I make my way through my annual beer hibernation, I try to explore some beer adjacent realms, and this sometimes goes to some odd places, like... hot sauce? Last year, I discovered a new favorite, the BLiS Blast, which is aged in old KBS (or is it CBS?) barrels. It's not especially hot, but it packs a lot of flavor and it's got a character that was missing in my regular hot sauce repertoire (which it has now joined).

This year, we've got Habanero Heady, which I believe is sometimes called Heady Topper Owner's Reserve, and other times Red Heady (not to be confused with my poorly made homebrewed red ale that used yeast harvested from Heady Topper cans). They seem to name every batch differently and from what I can tell, they're all different anyway. Here's a video of them making a batch that does seem similar (but not quite the same as) my batch:

Whatever the case, I snagged a bottle of this from the brewery during last year's Operation Cheddar sortie into Vermont, and have been slowly making my way through it (yeah, it takes me a while to get through a bottle of hot sauce, wanna fight about it?) Made in collaboration with the Butterfly Bakery of VT and Maple Wind Farm, it uses Habanero peppers and a little Heady Topper (along with the usual hot sauce base of distilled white vinegar). Bright hops and spicy peppers actually go together reasonably well, so let's take a closer look:

Habanero Heady

Butterfly Bakery of Vermont Habanero Heady Owner's Reserve - Appears a chunky light orange brown color, visible pepper chunks and seeds. Smells of habanero peppers with a little vinegar tang. Taste has that big spicy habanero character and tons of heat, pretty straightforward and more hot than flavorful. Mouthfeel is chunky and extremely hot. Not a ton of balance here, and the heat tends to overwhelm the taste. I certainly don't get any hops out of the flavor. Not bad at all, but also not exactly a must try. Overall, an interesting hot sauce, but not one that I see myself revisiting. Interestingly, in applications where it's mixing with something liquidy or creamy (like a sunny side up egg or mac & cheese), it actually works better, as the heat is diluted a bit and the flavor actually has room to emerge. More simple additions, like wings or similar things, the pepper overwhelms the rest. B

Hot Sauce Nerd Details: Bottled (5 ounces). Batch #: 1638. Bottle #: 463. Heat Level: 4/5 "Pretty Hot" (not sure I want to know what the 5/5 level, "Crazy Hot", is like).

There are apparently lots of other sauces they make, including other Alchemist based sauces that aren't quite as potent. I'd definitely like to check that out.

Barrel of Monks Double Feature

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South Florida's Barrel of Monks has been a solid discovery and I've really enjoyed checking out their standard takes on Belgian styles (a lot of American breweries dabble in this sort of thing, but few succeed as well as BoM), not to mention their more funky efforts. There's something to be said for an expertly brewed Dubbel or Tripel, but you know me: I'm not going to turn down a barrel-aged effort either.

Speaking of which, the first of our double feature is a Bourbon Barrel Aged variant of their Father Christmas beer, basically a Belgian style strong dark brewed with mulling spices (like clove, cinnamon, and ginger). As an added bonus, Barrel of Monks is living up to their name... now I just need to procure more of their Barrel Aged wares (limited as they may be). Due to a mix up in the Kaedrin procurement department, this didn't arrive until well after Christmas, but hey, why not extend the season a little:

Barrel of Monks Bourbon Barrel Aged Father Christmas

Barrel of Monks Bourbon Barrel Aged Father Christmas - Pours a deep, dark brown color with a finger of tan head. Smells very nice, dark fruit, raisins, plums and the like, a little spice, cloves, coriander, and whatnot, plus a little bourbon, oak, and vanilla. Taste starts off rich and sweet, with that dark fruit character coming through, followed quickly by spicy phenols like clove, finishing with a boozy bourbon note. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied, but nimble, perhaps due to the high-ish carbonation which cuts through the richness and the booziness. Overall, this is really enjoyable and they managed the bourbon barrel aging well, imparting complexity without completely overwhelming the base. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 10% ABV bottled (750 ml copper waxed cap). Drank out of a tulip glass on 1/19/18. Vintage 2017.

Next up in the double feature is a pretty straightforward Belgian style stout. This is perhaps not the most common or popular of the Belgian styles (inasmuch as you can really categorize them), and I must admit that this is the sort of thing that usually makes me wish I was drinking one or the other (i.e. a straight up imperial stout or a standard Belgian strong dark). On the other hand, this does fare well when compared against others of the style, which has become my expectation for BoM:

Barrel of Monks Parade of Souls

Barrel of Monks Parade of Souls - Pours a black color with a finger of light brown head. Smells sweet and a little spicy, maybe some dark fruits. Taste is very sweet, lots of Belgian yeast character, fruity esters, spicy phenols, a little caramel and maybe a faint hint of chocolate. Mouthfeel is highly carbonated, but still medium-to-full bodied, plenty of residual sugar there, but not cloying. Overall, this feels more like a Belgian Strong Dark than an Imperial Stout, but it comports itself well enough. Still, pretty good for a style that has often left me cold... B+

Beer Nerd Details: 10% ABV bottled (750 ml). Drank out of a tulip glass on 1/21/18. Vintage 2017.

While I don't think these guys are lighting up the ISO trading boards, I'm quite glad to have a somewhat regular Florida connection who can snag me some bottles. Many thanks to Kaedrin beverage compatriot Steve for slinging these my way.

Four Seasons of Mother Earth - Winter 2017

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Since I know all of you religiously check this blog and my Twitter feed looking for updates, I must apologize, as I've been absentee of late and unresponsive to your repeated pleas for new posts. You're probably also very astute and did some research and figured out that I have a tendency to enter an annual beer hibernation around this time of year, which at least partially explains my absence. That being said, my general laziness has generated a backlog of beer reviews that I can leverage during this downtime. I also plan to post the customary non-beer reviews of things like hot sauce or bourbon or tea or wine or whatever throughout the season, though perhaps not quite as much as in previous years. For now, though, let's take a look at one of those beer reviews I've been neglecting...

A few years ago, I stumbled on this Four Seasons of Mother Earth series of limited, usually-barrel-aged brews from a San Diego brewery that seemed popular enough. The Autumn 2015 brew was a barrel-aged quad, and it was quite nice. This time around, we celebrate the winter solstice with an imperial brown ale brewed with brown sugar and aged in bourbon barrels. I mean, it's not one of them pastry stouts that people get hot-and-bothered about, but I'll tell you, I was quite taken with this:

Four Seasons of Mother Earth - Winter 2017

Four Seasons of Mother Earth - Winter 2017 - Pours a dark brown color with some amber when held up to the light and a finger of off white head. Smells great, sweet, vanilla, toffee, a little bourbon and oak too. Taste hits all those notes, rich toffee, a little caramel, plenty of bourbon, oak, and vanilla. Mouthfeel is full bodied, but leavened by a good amount of carbonation that makes this seem lighter than it really is (but not overcarbonated at all, it's actually very well balanced and enhances the beer), with a decent amount of pleasant booze. Overall, this is a fantastic, complex, uncommon style and I'm loving it. A little reminiscent of Firestone Walker's Bravo, but easily its equal if not even better. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 12% ABV bottled (22 ounce bomber). Drank out of a snifter glass on 1/26/18. Vintage: 2017.

So yes, I should probably seek out more of these Four Seasons of Mother Earth Beers. And maybe not wait another 3 years before trying another. Anywho, stay tuned, I have a few more beer reviews coming, with at least a couple of bourbons and one hot sauce in the pipeline as well.

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

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