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Xul

Joined
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San Diego, CA
June 2019 Preview Tasting

Assorted Notes:
1) Leanne and Andrew were hosting tonight in San Diego. It was rad to have Leanne back, as she hadn't done a tasting down here since January - aside from Leanne just being awesome all around, it's fun to mix and match different hosts (although I feel like we're due for a classic Steven/Andrew tasting again soon). There was a bit of reminiscing about how far the tastings have come over the years from their roots with a handful of us in one corner of the Lomaland tasting room to now needing two SD tastings. It's really cool to see how the tastings have become a part of the experience, but I've also noticed crowd participation has dropped substantially, at least in San Diego. I have my theories, but I'm curious to ask those of you reading - why the lack of questions? Busy tasting the beer? Are your questions being answered in advance via emails/Facebook interaction? Is the goal to slam back tasters as quickly as possible and get home to catch Wheel of Fortune? Not judging since I never ask questions, more curious to perhaps foster conversation on what has caused a lack of participation and get the crowd involved a bit more.

2) We receive another included bottle this month - Monsters' Park Aged in Jamaican Rum Barrels w/ Coconut & Vanilla. It wasn't available to sample at the tasting, but that combination has worked beautifully in the past so I'm excited to try this new version.

3) The 6th Anniversary party will be on July 6th, and Leanne said we should be receiving info about it in the next week or so. If you've never been, it's a rad event - it's a much smaller scale than a fest like Funk or Dankness since it's only Modern Times beer, but they always bring absolute thunder and put their best foot forward to celebrate their own birthday. I highly recommend doing your best to attend, even if you need to cancel other plans. Weddings, baptisms, birthday parties, whatever - these are all less important than celebrating Modern Times.

4) A lot of people have been asking about the League hoodies - I think it was mentioned somewhere online, but Modern Times' screen printer broke his hand and had a child arrive the same week not too long ago, so the schedule got pushed back a bit. Leanne said she would discuss that with Steven and get us an update when they have a reasonable timeline.

Tasting Notes:
1) Occhio Malocchio
Style: Italian Pilsner
Score: 4.25
Notes: As Andrew mentioned, Italian pilsners are a sort of unofficial substyle that's primarily driven by a single beer, Birrificio Italiano's Tipopils. If you've never had it but find yourself with the opportunity to try it, I highly recommend doing so, it's one of those stalwart beers that goes underappreciated by most consumers but is viewed as exemplary by brewers and fans of the style. I have to admit - tasting this was a bit of a challenge immediately after going through the MT Ultra set (more on that later, for those who are interested), but it managed to cut through the pastry residue quite nicely. Rustic white bread wafts out of the glass first, followed by lightly candied lemon peel and dried lime zest, along with a firm noble hop profile rich in both spicy and floral components. On the tongue, a malt profile centered on dry, toasted white bread leads the way, followed by lemon zest and oily citron rind, and a predominantly spicy hop character with delicate earthy notes. The fermentation profile is incredibly clean, which combines with the spritzy carbonation to yield maximum quaffability. If you slept on Abaddon, don't repeat that mistake this month.

2) Monsters' Park Aged in Bourbon Barrels: Blackberry Cobbler Edition
Style: BBA Imperial Stout w/ Blackberries, Vanilla, and Cinnamon
Score: 4.5 (4.4ish)
Notes: Blackberry puree was added a rate of roughly one pound per gallon, along with a blend of Madagascan and Mexican vanilla, and Cassia cinnamon. Fruit leads the way on the nose, as moderately jammy blackberry pops out with hints of acidity - think the acidic note in a fresh blackberry, not contaminant-driven tartness - that create a broad berry smell and prevent any sense of syrupy or cloying fruit. Vanilla plays a supporting role and cinnamon pops up in the background, enhancing woody notes from the barrels, along with bakers chocolate and bourbon. On the palate, the blackberries come across jammier with almost none of the acidic edge, melding with more prominent vanilla and marshmallow flavor than the nose indicated. The cinnamon hits on the mid-palate to round out the cobbler profile, while semisweet chocolate, bourbon, and light toffee notes play in the background. As it warmed, the fruit, vanilla, and chocolate each popped even more, and it was easy to imagine walking into your grandma's kitchen on a warm summer afternoon to find a fresh berry cobbler and chocolate chip cookies cooling on the windowsill while grandpa sipped bourbon from his recliner in the adjoining den. Or imagine you're a degenerate reliving the halcyon days of your youth through toxic sugar water. Whatever floats your boat, mate. A stout with both berries and cinnamon is polarizing territory for most - a few people said the cinnamon was too much for them (although not overwhelmingly so), but I didn't hear anyone complain about the fruit. Personally, I think the adjunct profile is dialed in nicely and people will be pleased with it.

3) Suggestion of Mass Aged in Jamaican Rum Barrels w/ Mexican Vanilla
Style: BA Pastry Stout
Score: 4
Notes: Suggestion of Mass was brewed in collaboration with J Wakefield Brewing last year - some of the batch was released in cans with coconut, coffee, and vanilla, while the remainder was left to rest in a variety of barrels. This particular release is a blend of a few types of Jamaican rum barrels, to which they added almost a pound per barrel of Mexican vanilla. On first whiff, the rum barrel character is nearly overwhelming, unleashing a wave of dark cherries, oak, deep tannins, light molasses, boozy figs, and touches of isopropyl. Vanilla manages to pop through and assert itself, lending a marshmallowy side to the aroma along with floral touches. Semisweet chocolate lurks in the background, both enhanced by and melding with the vanilla to give the barrel some competition. The flavor is slightly more balanced, although still heavy on the rum, as a big dose of vanilla leads the charge before boozy cherries, figs, and dates charge into the fray. Tannic structure dominates the mid-palate with some light molasses providing balance before a long, rum-focused finish leaves alcohol heat in its wake. As the beer warms, the rum recedes a bit and allows both the vanilla and residual sugars to shine, leading to a somewhat easier drinking beer. That said, it's still a barrel-forward beer. I expect some time to be beneficial in taming the heat and dominant rum notes, but appreciating rum barrels is definitely a prerequisite.

4) Analog: Riesling Skin Contact Edition
Style: Blend of Funky Saison & Wine
Score: 4.5
Notes: Where the original Analog was a blend of funky saison and wine must, this is a blend of those elements, along with the pomace from the riesling grapes - skins, stems, all in. It was amphora-aged for four months, which is shorter than the original, but just as good. Each whiff reveals a swirling miasma of sweet riesling grapes, deep orange and mandarin-driven citrus, freshly baked sweet bread, assertive barrel structure, light oak-driven vanilla, minerality, and mild lactic acidity. An even bigger vinous note takes hold of the tongue first, giving way to tangerines and orange zest, lovely barnyard and horse blanket notes, restrained acidity, and vanilla-tinged oak. The riesling character returns towards the backend, leading to a long, structured finish that would almost pass for wine if not for the beer's body and carbonation. They absolutely nailed this one and I look forward to seeing how it develops in the bottle. Don't sleep on it.

For those who want to read more about the Ultra set, I will post my thoughts later in a separate post. I have shit to deal with this morning - namely, the words I get paid to string together for people, rather than the ones I do for free - and I have enough to say about the set that I don't want to rush it out. If you have the opportunity to buy one and are looking for a short answer, Modern Times accomplished what they set out to do and the beers are truly stellar.
 
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3) The 6th Anniversary party will be on July 6th, and Leanne said we should be receiving info about it in the next week or so. If you've never been, it's a rad event - it's a much smaller scale than a fest like Funk or Dankness since it's only Modern Times beer, but they always bring absolute thunder and put their best foot forward to celebrate their own birthday. I highly recommend doing your best to attend, even if you need to cancel other plans. Weddings, baptisms, birthday parties, whatever - these are all less important than celebrating Modern Times.
Agreed - this is my favorite MT event of the year. I like the smaller scale and the beers are killer.
 
Joined
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Pretty psyched on the Anniversary party. First year I won't be out of town. I always read (and try to ignore) how it's the best MT event.
 
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While everyone waits for Xul's rating on the Ultra set, here's my two cents.

  • Coffee - it's fine.
  • Vanilla - Smells amazing. Tastes good. Doesn't blow my mind.
  • Coconut - Loads of coconut. Quite tasty. I'd like to have it next to Deeds and Exploits because honestly I feel like they're close.

Overall not that impressed for the price / hub-bub. Still hope I can trade mine for bourbon or lambic.
 
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Agreed about comparing the coconut with Deeds. First thing I thought was, wow that tastes just like Deeds, maybe a little more coconut. To be fair, Deeds has the strongest+best coconut flavor I've had in a beer, IMO. But I expected to be knocked over by the adjunct levels in all three Ultra beers. They were all great, just didn't have the "absurd" levels of flavor that the descriptions made me anticipate.

There was a Mega Black House with double coffee a couple years ago that I think might have had a stronger coffee flavor than this Ultra coffee. At least, in my memory it did, but who knows. I do think the coffee one will be the most enjoyable to solo dome.
 
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Yeah, not a fan of the Jamaican rum barrels. Was hoping Suggestion of Mass would be better in those than the MP's from last year, but it still had that super overpowering rum flavor.
 
Joined
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Yeah, not a fan of the Jamaican rum barrels. Was hoping Suggestion of Mass would be better in those than the MP's from last year, but it still had that super overpowering rum flavor.
Ha, and I love Jamaican Rum Barrel beers in particular. Everything is dead on in the last few posts so it depends on how you feel about all of the above. Some I was with were debating whether they'd get even one bottle. Others were an easy max.
 

Xul

Joined
Jun 18, 2014
Messages
1,496
Location
San Diego, CA
July 2019 Preview Tasting

Assorted Notes:
1) As mentioned last month, San Diego will now feature two monthly tastings to serve the increased demand better. They ended up doing this month's extra tasting on Sunday afternoon - in hopes that people who were in from out of town for the 6th-anniversary party could/would attend - but that's not set in stone for future months. I'll likely stick to the Tuesday evening tastings in the future, but it was a nice change of pace, and it was great to see Steven and Leanne hosting together for the first time in quite a while.

2) With the anniversary party behind us, the next big event on the calendar is the Festival of Dankness. If you haven't been keeping August 24th reserved for an afternoon of hop-fueled fun on San Diego's waterfront, you'd best cancel whatever else you have planned for the day. The on-sale date for tickets is TBA, but as usual, League members will have first crack at purchasing. Additionally, there will be a Portland edition of the festival this year, but I have no details on that. I imagine it will come up at this month's PDX preview tasting and the MT crew will begin releasing information once they've had a few days to recuperate from this past weekend's festivities.

3) The rewards for 2018 tasting room points have more or less been set and are going to be finalized soon once they're approved by all necessary parties. Things took a bit longer to dial in since they're spread around more locations than prior years, so they had to figure out what could be offered that would be feasible everywhere. Stay tuned for details.

4) Editorial note on my part: If Abaddon doesn't sell out during the online sale - and I'm including public sale here just to be generous - I'm going to be incredibly fucking disappointed in all of you, both individually and in aggregate. It's July, the weather is warming up, and you've got all summer to ram down cans. If we can't collectively figure out how to get through 5000 cans of a delicious Helles lager, the terrorists have already won.

The Beers:
1) Reality Maze
Style: Pastry Stout w/ Cocoa, Vanilla, Coconut, & Macadamia Nuts
Score: 4.25
Notes: The adjuncts on this are as follows - 100lbs untoasted coconut, 200lbs toasted coconut, 125lbs toasted macadamia nuts, 12lbs Madagascan vanilla, 30lbs Peruvian cocoa nibs, and 30lbs Dominican cocoa nibs. For those whose memory of macadamia nuts includes Eleventh Hour but not Devil's Teeth, fear not - they were very sensitive to that beer's reception and recirculated this beer over macadamia nuts for less than half the time they did with Eleventh Hour (ten hours vs. ~24 for EH). The adjustment worked, although as a fan of the macadamia DT variant, I wouldn't have minded a bit more.

The nose opens with rich, dark chocolate supported by moderate coconut and vanilla, while macadamia nuts waft around in the background but steadily increase as the beer warms. The malt profile from the base beer contributes heavy brown sugar - almost maple - notes that meld with the chocolate profile to smell like freshly baked chocolate cookies. Coconut and vanilla lead the charge on the tongue, giving way to macadamia nuts coated in dark chocolate before vanilla returns for a long, lightly boozy finish. Full bodied but not syrupy, it sits in a similar place to Pharaoh Ascendant in Modern Times' portfolio - an enjoyable non-BA pastry stout with a good adjunct profile. I'd love to see these make their way into 12oz cans, but as with Pharaoh Ascendant, I'm glad they've re-focused on executing these as well as possible rather than churning out 16oz cans with experimental recipes that don't quite hit the right marks for the style.

2) Altar of the Orc Lord Double-Aged in Bourbon & Apple Brandy Barrels
Style: Barleywine Aged in Bourbon & Apple Brandy Barrels
Score: 4.25
Notes: The barrel influence makes itself evident immediately as apple brandy leaps out of the glass, complemented by bourbon, deep toffee notes, raisins, prunes, oak, light barrel-derived vanilla, and candied oranges. Think roasted apples and plums, fresh out of the oven, and you wouldn't be far off the mark. The flavor is perhaps a bit more bourbon-forward as it hits first, followed by a more restrained apple brandy presence, before caramel-soaked raisins, prunes, figs, and candied orange take over. Vanilla and oak feature in the finish along with touches of alcohol heat. It's a very barrel-forward barleywine, evident not just in the flavor and aroma, but the slightly thinner body.

3) Suggestion of Mass Aged in Bourbon Barrels: Mocha Latte Edition
Style: Pastry Stout Aged in Bourbon Barrels w/ Coffee, Cocoa Nibs, & Vanilla
Score: 4.5
Notes: If you have unpleasant memories of SoM Aged in Jamaican rum barrels, set them aside. This variant was aged in bourbon barrels for eleven months before being hit with 40 pounds of Peruvian cocoa nibs, eight pounds of Tahitian vanilla,and 50 pounds of Modern Times' Idea Machine coffee blend (which is 50% Colombia Heriberto, 25% Peru El Corazon, and 25% Guatemala Chochajau, resulting in a chocolate-forward profile).

Idea Machine leads the way on the nose as abundant, medium roasted coffee grounds hit first followed by dry, dark chocolate, a big wave of vanilla-derived marshmallow, light bourbon barrel, and touches of toffee. Coffee takes on a less prominent role flavor-wise, giving way to more substantial dark chocolate and even more vanilla, along with deeply caramelized brown sugar, oak, and faint whiskey. A long finish of coffee-saturated marshmallow coats the tongue without ever feeling cloying or syrupy. As it warms, the dark chocolate and coffee integrate beautifully into a decadent mocha, with vanilla providing balancing touches of sweetness, reminiscent of standing in front of the bar at a good third wave coffee shop as the barista mixes a freshly pulled espresso shot with high-quality chocolate.

4) Chaos Grid: Island Vacation
Style: Blend of Stouts Aged in Rum Barrels w/ Coconut & Cocoa Nibs
Score: 4.75
Notes: This edition of Chaos Grid features a blend of Monsters' Park, Devil's Teeth, and Beastmaster aged in Barbados rum barrels for a range of eight to fourteen months. The resulting beer saw additions of 150 pounds of toasted coconut, 150 pounds of untoasted coconut, and 50 pounds of Dominican cocoa nibs.

The aroma features an implacable assault of sweet coconut, wave after wave powering out of the glass, leaving enough room for milk chocolate, dark rum, figs, hints of vanilla, and oak to remind you that you're not merely drinking liquid coconut. The palate opens with a quick dose of rum - raisins, prunes, lightly caramelized sugar, and a bit of ethanol heat - before coconut and semisweet chocolate power their way through to a long, viscous finish redolent of dessert in paradise. The higher-than-usual dosing of untoasted coconut is on display as it tends more towards sweet, candy-style coconut than macaroons or baked goods. Dipping a Mounds bar in rum and then taking a massive bite would get you somewhere in the vicinity of this one, but it wouldn't necessarily do justice to the quality of the chocolate, nor the sheer amount of coconut that envelopes your tastebuds. Simply outstanding.

5) Order of Hemes
Style: Super-Berliner w/ Pineapple, Passion Fruit, and Dragon Fruit
Score: 4.25
Notes: The base for this remains roughly the same as their past super-Berliners - 6.5% ABV with a malt bill consisting of 2 row, white wheat, and flaked wheat - but they went absolutely nuts with the fruit. 2640 pounds of pineapple puree, 2640 pounds of passion fruit puree, and 660 pounds of dragon fruit puree. The fruiting ratio is the same as Gravity Hammer, and therefore, a literal fuckton in a much smaller base beer.

Fresh, juicy pineapple leads the way on the nose with passion fruit taking on a heavy support role. Candied mango, papaya, and faint grain notes dance around in the background, along with a light to moderate lemony acidity. Taking a sip reveals a more equally-weighted fruit profile as passion fruit comes through first with an almost fruit punch like character - mango, papaya, touches of clementine flesh - while pineapple powers through towards the backend, combining with the moderate acidity for an almost-but-not-quite puckering finish. The heavy adjunct dosage is evident in every way, from the juicy nose to the fruit basket palate to the deep red color in the glass - I'm pretty sure that each can counts as two of your USDA-recommended daily servings of fruit.
 
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4) Editorial note on my part: If Abaddon doesn't sell out during the online sale - and I'm including public sale here just to be generous - I'm going to be incredibly fucking disappointed in all of you, both individually and in aggregate. It's July, the weather is warming up, and you've got all summer to ram down cans. If we can't collectively figure out how to get through 5000 cans of a delicious Helles lager, the terrorists have already won.
How does this compare to my faves Green Cheek Bier )$16/4 pack and Firestone Lager $16/12 pack?
 

Xul

Joined
Jun 18, 2014
Messages
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Location
San Diego, CA
I'm glad MT is making helles, doppelbock, and more traditional beers but I think their core audience doesn't care about them so much.
The last batch of Abaddon (in April) sold out more quickly than many similar-sized releases of hazy IPA. The increased pace of releasing lagers is very much a response to demand, especially cans of Helles, pilsners, and other styles at the lighter end of the spectrum.
 
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The last batch of Abaddon (in April) sold out more quickly than many similar-sized releases of hazy IPA. The increased pace of releasing lagers is very much a response to demand, especially cans of Helles, pilsners, and other styles at the lighter end of the spectrum.
I was saving some Abaddon cans from the April release in order to deal with the heat (this weekend looks to almost hit 90). So glad they rebrewed and re-released another round for these summer months.
 
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