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Weyerbacher 21st Anniversary Ale

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It's been a while since I've checked in with the semi-local booze hounds up at Weyerbacher. They made a big splash with last year's Sunday Morning Stout, which might be their all-around best beer that is regularly available (I'm still partial to Whiskey Barrel Aged myself; alas, that was a one-off), but then my now legendary indifference to coffee dulled my personal response. As usual, my instinct upon drinking a well made coffee stout is to wonder what it would be like without the coffee.

On paper, Weyerbacher's 21st Anniversary ale seems to fit that bill perfectly. An 11.9% ABV imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels with cocoa nibs, cocoa powder, and vanilla beans. It sounds grand, but I've often found Weyerbacher's barrel aged entries boozy and unbalanced (or completely lacking in barrel character, which makes for an odd dynamic for sure). One reason Sunday Morning Stout has caught on is that it actually coheres into a well balanced little treat. Will this one fare as well? Well, sorta, but I'll tell you one thing: It really made for a nice palate cleanser after drinking gallons of VT IPAs over the past few weeks. Let's get to it:

Weyerbacher 21st Anniversary

Weyerbacher 21st Anniversary Ale - Pours a very dark brown, almost black color with a finger of tan head. Smells of vanilla, a bit of roast, dark chocolate, and hefty amounts of bourbon and oak. Taste starts off with that hint of roast and dark chocolate, followed by a sweet wallop of vanilla, then lots of boozy bourbon. Mouthfeel is full bodied and well carbonated, pretty boozy, not particularly balanced, though it does get better as it warms - this is a beer to let sit out a bit, methinks. Overall, this is a good, tasty little beer, it lacks the integration and balance of the best in style, but if you're a fan of vanilla and bourbon, you'll like this sucker. (For the record, I like vanilla and bourbon quite a bit.) B+

Beer Nerd Details: 11.9% ABV bottled (12 ounce). Drank out of a snifter on 8/6/16. Packaged On: 06/22/16

Definitely a contender for best Weyerbacher Anniversary beer I've had, but then, they tend to be a little hit or miss. I haven't done a good job keeping up with their Brewer's Select series of one-off experimental beers and I see they've now renamed it Jester's Choice. I shall have to keep an eye out for those beers. If one catches my eye, you'll probably be hearing about it on here!

Frost Beer Works Plush

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Moar Vermont Double IPAs! VT DIPAs forever!

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

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

Frost Beer Works Plush

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

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

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

Burlington Beer Co. Double Feature

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

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

Its Complicated Being A Wizard
(Click to Embiggen)

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

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

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

Peasant King

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

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

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

Funky Buddha Nikolai Vorlauf

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eagle Rock Tarte Noir

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

Eagle Rock Tarte Noir

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

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

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

Fantôme Forest Ghost

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

Fantome Forest Ghost - Light

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

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

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

Barrel-Aged Tröegs Double Feature

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Semi-local Tröegs has been steadily expanding of late, and one beneficiary of their success has been their barrel-aging program, which they call their "Splinter" series. They've been doing them for a while, but the initial offerings were very rare and dare I say, walezish. Recent expansions have allowed them to step up their game and the availability of these beers has been getting better (though nothing seems to approach those original sour offerings just yet), even for those of us who hesitate to drive out to Hershey on a whim. The two I have here were relatively recent releases, basically just barrel aged versions of standard-lineup offerings. Oddly, their names have changed from "Bourbon Barrel-Aged" to just "Barrel-Aged", though I'm not sure if that means anything. In at least one case, the newer vintage has not lived up to the reputation of its predecessor, but it's still pretty nice. Let's dive in:

Tröegs Barrel-Aged Troegenator

Tröegs Barrel-Aged Troegenator - Pours a dark amber brown color with half a finger of off white head that is short for this world. Smells nice, lots of fruity malt character, raisins, light on the barrel-aged character, but oak and vanilla are definitely there and it's an improvement on the base. Taste hits the barrel aging notes more than the nose, adding rich sweetness, caramel, oak, vanilla, and booze notes to the base fruity malt character, which is lessened here in the taste. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied, well carbonated but smooth, with a warming alcohol note. Overall, this is really nice, certainly an improvement on the base. A strong B+

Beer Nerd Details: 10.8% ABV bottled (375 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a snifter on 6/18/16. Bottled: 02/23/16.

Tröegs Barrel-Aged Flying Mouflan

Tröegs Barrel-Aged Flying Mouflan - Pours a deeper, darker amber brown color with a finger of off white head. Smells good, less in the way of fruity malt but the slack is picked up with hops, again the barrel character is light in the nose, but it's there, imparting some of that booze, oak, and vanilla. Taste again plays up those hops, a little dankness here before the booze, oak, and vanilla kicks in... Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied, well carbonated, perhaps a bit less smooth, but still with the warming alcohol. Overall, this is very nice, but far from a top tier BA barleywine, and honestly, I think I might prefer BA Troegenator... I could still give it a weak B+ though, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Beer Nerd Details: 11.7% ABV bottled (375 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a snifter on 6/19/16. Bottled: 03/17/16.

Now they just need to put Impending Descent into barrels (and maybe amp up that ABV to original Scratch offering levels before that) and I'll be a happy camper. Regardless, I'm excited to see what comes out of the Splinter series in the coming months and years.

RAR Marylan

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One of the laziest things a brewer can do is make a blonde style beer (ok, not that part, that is kinda interesting as it's an underappreciated style) and then slap a label on it that features a (usually tastelessly buxom) blonde woman. It's been done a billion times before and even if it was the first time anyone had done it, it's still on the nose and not very clever (and that's before we get into how classy the artwork is). And yet... this beer manages to swing it. First, the design is great, a well composed silhouette in black. So how do we know it's a blonde? Well, Realerevival (a sorta play on Real Ale Revival, abbreviated RAR) is located in Maryland and if you remove the "d" you get Marylan, which sounds like Marilyn and I knew that face looked familiar! Gentlemen prefer blondes. It's on the borderline, but I'll allow it. What? Because my opinion matters, that's why? No? Well, you're right, so let's just fire up WinRAR to compress some files, shall we?

RAR Marylan

RAR Marylan American Blonde - Pours a hazy golden yellow color with a finger or two of fluffy white head and great retention. Smells very nice, light citrusy hops with a candied sweetness. Taste starts sweet, again with a sorta candied malt feel, and moves into a nice, mellow hoppiness without a real bitter bite. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, tight, crisp, quaffable. Overall, this is a very nice, aromatic, crushable can, perfect lawnmower or summer beer. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 5.2% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a willibecher glass on 6/10/16.

Many thanks to fellow beer nerd Gary for throwing a can my way. Am now much more curious to try me some more RAR beers...

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