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Black Project Reheat

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So there was this brewery in Denver called Former Future Brewing. They put out your standard brewery starter kit of beers, like IPAs and porters and whatnot, but they had this top-secret, backroom operation where they were experimenting with capturing native microflora and yeasts by using coolships. Soon enough, beers from this "Black Project" started to take off... so much so that at this point, Former Future is no more, and Black Project has become the heart of the operation.

This particular offering almost symbolically resembles the transition of the brewery. There's a barrel aged sour that is refermented on locally sourced wine grapes called Supercruise... but instead of rinsing and steaming the emptied barrels (as they'd normally do), they simply added freshly coolshipped wort to the Supercruise "dregs", and allow the whole thing to referment and mesh. The result? Pretty tasty stuff, so lets reheat some leftovers and pop the cork on this sucker:

Black Project Reheat

Black Project Spontaneous & Wild Ales Reheat - Pours an almost pinkish hued golden color with a half finger of fizzy white head that is short for this world. Smells nice and musty, funky, vinous fruit, a little oak. Taste is sweet and sour, vinous fruit, oak, and moar sourness in the finish. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, lowish carbonation, moderate to high acidity. Overall, it's a rock oak aged American wild... with more carbonation, this could rate higher than a B+ but that's where it's at for now...

Beer Nerd Details: 4.5% ABV bottled (750 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a flute glass on 6/17/17. Bottled on: ? 09 2017 (can't read that first number). Label also has "CF-CS" printed on the front too, not sure what that means.

I had acquired another of Black Project's beers along with this one, but I shared Rocket Sled with some friends so I didn't take detailed notes (it was more sour and better carbed, with a dry hopped kick to it...) and darn, I don't have any of these Black Project beers left... But I'll surely find ways to procure moar of this stuff, because these were good...

de Garde Anianish

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I love pretty much everything I've had from de Garde, but I must admit that I'm starting to get a sorta samey vibe from much of what I've managed to procure. Sure, those fruited Bu variants (especially the imperial ones) are making waves and are obviously diverse in terms of flavor, but there also seems to be an unending series of 5%ish tart saison/American wild hybrids that are delicious, but again, samey. This isn't the worst thing in the world, of course, and making consistent wild ales is an achievement in and of itself. Plus, as I continue to evolve as a beer dork, this sort of consistent, approachable, 5% offering is more appealing than ever. It's just a lot easier to write about something that blows your mind (or the reverse situation of a beer that is a disaster). Blogger problems, bro.

It's probably also worth noting that a low-level trading dilettante like myself doesn't really pull the truly face-melting offerings from these Tillamook ballers. Not that I'm bitter. Which is usually, like, an ironic statement, but I'm genuinely not bitter, because this is some really tasty stuff, and as these things go, it's still in the top tier. It's just that there's not much to say about this wild farmhouse ale aged in oak with unspecified fruit & spices. Except that I've now written a couple of paragraphs about how I don't have much to say, so, um, let's just get to the beer:

de Garde Anianish

de Garde Anianish - Pours a golden orange color with a finger of white head that sticks around for a while. Smells of saison spice and fruity esters, a little bit of oak and funk. Taste is sweet and spicy, with lots of tart, vinous fruit, not quite sour but enough of a bite. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, well carbonated, and tasty. Overall, this is some great stuff. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 5.2% ABV bottled (750 ml). Drank out of a flute glass on 6/3/17.

No more De Garde on hand at chez Kaedrin, but I expect more to come my way soon enough. I would like to actually review one of the many Bu variants (the last one I got, I foolishly shared with other people in a setting not conducive to reviewing) and what the hell, maybe someday I'll manage to snag one of those face-melters like Broken Truck...

Four Legs Good

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The name of this beer harkens back to George Orwell's Animal Farm, where the phrase "Four legs good, two legs bad." is used as propaganda that initially helps clarify the animals' goal to be free of human oppression, but which eventually devolves into a meaningless sound bleated by the sheep ("two legs baa-d") that only serves to shut down dissent. As the novel progresses and the needs of the leadership change, the chant is modified to the ironic "Four legs good, two legs better", which sounds similar but obviously means the opposite. Such reversals might sound silly, but this sort of thing happens all the time, even in science. For example, over-the-counter nasal docongestant sprays are effective... for about 3 days. After that, the user's continuing stuffiness and congestion are actually caused by the product itself, something called a rebound congestion.

But I digress. I'm not positive why Sante Adairius named a beer after this infamous quote, but their blurb on the bottle mentions a three-legged dog, so one must assume that there is a rising tide of three-legged dogs plotting revolution in Capitola, California. And I, for one, welcome our new doggo overlords and would like to remind them that as a trusted blogging personality, I can be helpful in rounding up others to toil in their underground bone mines.

And I'm digressing again. The beer itself is labeled a "Belgian-style blonde Quad" (a "made-up beer style") that is fermented in oak puncheons then aged for long periods in oak foudres. As befits the style-defying description, this was originally part of Sante Adairius's 16e series of weird one-offs, but it appears to have graduated to a regular offering. Four Legs Good, three legs better?

Sante Adairius Rustic Ales Four Legs Good

Sante Adairius Rustic Ales Four Legs Good - Pours a golden yellow color with a finger of white, bubbly head that sticks around for a bit. Smells nice, fruity and oaky, a little spice in the background. Taste is sweet and spicy, vinous fruit, with oak emerging quickly, followed by some tartness. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, well carbonated but a little sticky, plenty of booze. Overall, this is one damn fine beer, complex and tasty. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 9.9% ABV bottled (750 ml). Drank out of a flute glass on 6/2/17. Batch 2.

Fabulous stuff, as always. I got a small taste of a new(ish) 16e beer called Feeling Ursine (a tart barrel aged brown) that was decent, and I've got another SARA beer on its way. Certainly one of my favorite breweries to snag something from these days...

Checking in with Levante Brewing

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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...

Our Finest Regards

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It's been a little over a year and a half since the famed gypsy brewers of Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project decided to close up shop. Despite speculation, there was no official reason given for the closure other than their note that it was never meant to be a long term thing. As gypsy brewers, their very nature meant that their enterprise was lightweight and not tied down by things like debt, equipment, or real estate. I suspect they had their fill and decided to walk the Earth (you know, like Caine from Kung Fu) basically just because they could. And why not?

They were great brewers though, so it was still a sad thing. I thought I'd long since drank my last Pretty Things beer when I spied this bottle of barleywine at a random liquor store in Maryland. A decidedly English take on the style, this is meant as a tribute to barley (their hot take on American Barleywine: "...normally a sad beer indeed, lots of hops and alcohol but the star of the show is left scratching his chin in the eaves of the theatre." Burn.) So I think its time to pay our finest regards to this sadly defunct brewery:

Pretty Things Our Finest Regards

Pretty Things Our Finest Regards - Pours a cloudy dark brown color with a half-finger of off white head. Smells of rich crystal malt, a little nuttiness adding complexity along with hints of hops playing in the background. Taste has a nice caramel and toffee character with a distinct malty nuttiness finishing with a bit of dry booze. Mouthfeel is rich and medium-to-full bodied, perfectly carbonated, some pleasant booze. Overall, this is a great non-BA barleywine, one of the better that I've had. A-

Beer Nerd Details: ABV bottled (22 ounce bomber). Drank out of a snifter on 5/26/17. Bottled: Nov 2015.

Despite their closure, Pretty Things did put out a pale ale in the UK last year, so it's possible we'll see their return at some point. The nimble business model that allowed them to close neatly should also allow them to start up again if they so desire, but I suspect the best we'll see are limited one-off type events like that pale ale... if that. Still, a beer dork can hope.

Burial The Persistence Of Memories

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One of the leading lights of the Asheville, NC craft beer community has sold out to the Great Satan, AB Inbev, whatever shall we do!? Well, Asheville is one of the most densely populated cities in the country when it comes to breweries (second only to Portland, OR), so there's no shortage of alternatives. Among them is Burial, which I've heard good things about, but only been able to sample once at a share (i.e. not exactly ideal conditions).

They started tiny, with a 1 barrel brewhouse, now sporting a 10 barrel brewhouse and tasting room, and will soon be spinning up an additional 20 barrel production facility with associated "urban farm" and a restaurant/brewpub-like facility. Sounds peachy, but let's take a look at this Double IPA to see if all this expansion is justified (hint: it is)

The Persistence of Memories is a Double IPA brewed with El Dorado, Mosaic, and Equinox hops, and a pretty obvious reference to Salvador Dali's famous painting. So let's brush up on our surrealism and drink some beer, eh?

Burial The Persistence Of Memories Double IPA

Burial The Persistence Of Memories Double IPA - Pours a pale yellow gold color with a finger of finely bubbled head that has good retention and leaves some lacing as I drink. Smells of sugary sweet citrus hops with a hint of pine. Taste starts off sweet, lots of citrus, with some pine emerging in the middle, finishing with a balancing bit of bitterness and dank pine. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, well carbonated, very easy going. Overall, this is a great IPA. A

Beer Nerd Details: 8.5% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 5/19/17. Canned: 4/27/17. Batch: #CANDYISDANDY

Many thanks to fellow beerNERD Danur for bravely exploring the environs of Asheville and snagging this can for me. I will most certainly be keeping an eye out for more Burial (and what the hey, more Asheville breweries while I'm at it).

Vintage Dogfish Head

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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 2x2 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.

Funky Buddha Double Feature

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Funky Buddha has a reputation for gimmicky sorcery and artificial flavoring. Like most things, this cuts both ways. Some of these beers are absolutely wonderful, others are less successful. As I gather from a Florida-based friend of mine, even the great stuff can get old pretty fast, but in small doses, these can be really fascinating beers (this is something that doesn't hit me as hard, as I only get dribs and drabs once or twice a year, so it's all still a novelty to me). Thanks to that same Florida man, I've recently received a cache of Funky Buddha beers in the mail, so let's dive into a couple of them to see what's kickin' in the sunshine state.

First up is Undefeated Saison, brewed in honor of the Miami Dolphins' 1972 campaign where they became the only NFL team to complete an undefeated season and win the Super Bowl. Back in the day, I had a well worn copy of the Sega Genesis game Madden '93 and used to play with the 72 Dolphins a lot, relying heavily on Larry Csonka, who seemed like an invincible truck. Anywho, the beer bills itself as a "French Countryside Style Ale" (i.e. a saison and my unsubstantiated guess is that it's using the 3711 yeast strain) brewed with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grape must and fermented with saison and Champagne yeasts. Sounds good, though I feel like this could have been improved with the addition of some Brett and/or a touch of oak. Also needs more Csonka:

Funky Buddha Undefeated Saison

Funky Buddha Undefeated Saison Brut - Pours a orange amber color with a finger of dense white head that sticks around for a while. Smells of vinous fruit, a little 3711 yeasty esters and spice. Taste is sweet and a little spicy, that vinous fruit shows up again and intensifies through the finish. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, highly carbonated and somehow both sticky and dry, maybe even some winelike tannins pitching in. Overall, this is an interesting little saison, nothing to go too crazy over and it begs for some Brett and/or barrel treatment, but it's fine as is (well, maybe a little disappointing, but a far cry from bad). B-

Beer Nerd Details: 7% ABV bottled (750 ml). Drank out of a charente glass on 5/12/17. Released: November 1, 2016.

Next we have Butta' Cup, a double brown ale made to evoke, yes, the fabled peanut butter cup. No brand specified, but you know they're talking about Reese's, because what other one can you really name? I mean, yeah, sure, I know your local chocolatier has a handmade version that is spectacular, but does anyone really think about those? Did you get those when you went trick-or-treating? No. And as I've mentioned before, there's something about peanut butter beer that, while certainly gimmicky, still manages to evoke a feeling of nostalgia and warmth. Or something. So is their artificial flavoring wizardry game doing better than their saison game? Why don't you build me up, butta' cup?

Funky Buddha Butta Cup

Funky Buddha Butta' Cup - Pours a very dark brown color with a finger of light tan head. Smells of peanuts, vanilla, and a little chocolate, as advertised. Taste has a nice sweetness to it, less peanut butter than the nose would imply, less chocolate too, but a good amount of vanilla. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, well carbonated, a little astringent, but that goes away as it warms. Overall, this is really nice. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 8.8% ABV bottled (22 ounce bomber). Drank out of a snifter on 5/12/17.

So a pretty good showing here, nothing to rival the best of Funky Buddha that I've had (Last Snow and Wide Awake It's Morning), but they're always interesting, that's for sure.

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