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Xul

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

Assorted Notes:
1) Leanne was in Santa Ana, and Steven was sick, so Andrew hosted with a special guest - Teddy Gowan from Societe. For having never experienced the madness of a League preview tasting, Teddy did a great job of jumping into the fire and keeping up with Andrew. Or keeping up as much as anyone could be expected to. Between the tangential dissertation on bananas and the encouragement to drop acid right then and there, it was a rather free-form evening. I'm not going to say we needed some adult supervision, but we probably needed some adult supervision. Never a good sign when even I, of all people, feel like things are getting a bit off the rails.

2) Andrew also decided to have some fun at my expense by calling me up to sign a bottle of Fellowship of Xul, ostensibly for Jacob. If you don't get that bottle, Jacob, Andrew has some explaining to do. If instead, it shows up on MBC, I'm going to be very disappointed. Not angry, just disappointed.

3) The Black House Black Friday beer list for the San Diego event is completely outrageous. If you haven't bought your ticket yet, get on it. It's my favorite Modern Times event of the year, and this looks to be the best yet. Seriously, what else are you going to do that morning? Trample grandmothers at WalMart for a shitty flatscreen TV? Come beat back your Thanksgiving hangover with some nice, refreshing imperial stouts. I've done every Black House Black Friday, and I can safely say there's no better way to spend the day.

4) New public slots for the 2020 League sold out in under a minute on Saturday. I expected them to go quickly, but damn, that was impressive. A huge congrats to everyone at Modern Times. I think many of us would agree that this club is unmatched in the beer world right now, and it's great to see the public continue to catch on to the awesomeness.

5) If you've been enjoying Foeder Ice - and I hope you have, because it's straight fire - Andrew mentioned that we'll be seeing another variant coming out soon, as well as some other foeder-aged lagers. I'm pretty fond of this development, although I'm still hoping for a 10% ABV doppelbock called Export Jurgenbrau so I can finally reach my full potential of being a walking, talking Mitchell & Webb skit.

6) There were some questions earlier about the flavor profile of the barrels used for Beastermaster Aged in Malt Whiskey Barrels. It's going to be reasonably similar to bourbon, although a bit maltier since bourbon has a significant corn component. Think a mashup of bourbon and single malt whiskey. I'm pretty stoked for it, as I think the barrel profile will play well with the Beastmaster base.

7) Pimping another beer we didn't get to try - don't sleep on Starbelt. Everyone knows Abaddon is going to slay, but the Starbelt pilot batch was a crushable hoppy lager back in May, and I'm guessing the canned batch will be even more refined. Summer may be over, but there's never an inappropriate time to slam back cans of hoppy lager.
 

Xul

Joined
Jun 18, 2014
Messages
1,496
Location
San Diego, CA
The Beverages:
1) Radix: Roxbury Russet Single-Varietal Cider
Style: Cider
Score: 4.25
Notes: Roxbury Russet apples are an heirloom varietal and generally recognized as the oldest apple variety to originate in North America. Neat. Modern Times sourced the juice from EZ Orchards in Oregon, then fermented it with funky house cultures and aged it in red wine barrels for six months. The nose opens with bright, lightly acidic apple juice followed by mild to moderate funk - hay, horse blanket, and fresh sod. Light oak wafts around in the background with touches of vanilla. The palate opens with a flash of lactic acidity, followed by bright, lightly-sweetened apples and barnyardy funk - less sod/earth, more hay. An assertive wave of barrel character comes through towards the backend with oak and vanilla, rounding out the apples and providing a touch of body and sweetness to the finish. This is probably my favorite from the Radix series so far, excellent fruit profile, and the funk melds nicely with it.

2) At Long Last
Style: West Coast Double IPA
Score: 4.25 (4.35)
Notes: The goal with this was to use Societe's The Pupil as a rough starting point, bulk it up, and add a bit of a Modern Times twist. To that end, they laid down a grain bill of 2-row, oat malt, and white wheat, fermented it with Chico yeast, and hopped it with Nelson, Citra, and Centennial. It's safe to say they hit their mark as the beer practically leaped out of the glass at first sniff with orange, tangerine, papaya, light white wine, and resinous pine sap all weaved around. Bits of boozy heat poked through but were neither distracting nor stylistically out of place for a WC DIPA. A firm but restrained bitterness hits the tongue first, followed by tropical fruits - mango, papaya, guava - and a less assertive citrus profile than the nose with orange zest and tangerines. White wine and gooseberry float in the background along with pine resin. The oats and wheat provide a bit more body and sweetness than your typical WC DIPA, but it doesn't drift anywhere near NE IPA territory. Those of you that have been clamoring for some WC action should be pleased with this one.

3) Beastmaster: Rum Banana Sundae Edition
Style: Rum Barrel-Aged Stout w/ Bananas, Peanuts, Vanilla, & Cocoa Nibs
Score: 4.5
Notes: It seems like this was the biggest question mark of the month for a lot of people, but have no fear - it's a certified slapper. They blended Beastmaster that had been aged in both Jamaican and San Diegan rum barrels for twelve months, then added dried heirloom Thai bananas at a rate of 7.8 lbs/bbl, roasted salted peanuts at a rate of 4.7 lbs/bbl, Mexican cocoa nibs at 3.1 lbs/bbl, and Mexican vanilla at just over 1 lb/bbl. Banana opens the aroma immediately, standing out but not overwhelming, with a character that's easily recognizable as dried, yet richer and more complex than you'd get out of the dried food bins at Sprouts. More banana depth and touches of allspice and nutmeg, it's interesting how nuanced it is in the context of such a powerful beer. Salty peanuts follow quickly, along with vanilla, dark cocoa, and smooth rum barrel notes. The rum really plays well here, displaying none of the harshness that Jamaican rum barrels have imparted in some beers. The flavor takes on considerably more rum barrel influence as it opens with big, syrupy dark fruits - dates, figs, and touches of sweet grapes - that are quickly subsumed by a wave of sweet dark chocolate. Beastmaster doesn't mess around; it asserts itself. Vanilla and peanuts come through on the mid-palate, while banana is subtle, but playing its part before a long, sweet finish of boozy, rum-dipped chocolate takes over. They really hit the mark on this one.

4) Cloud Daggers
Style: Bourbon Barrel-Aged Imperial Porter w/ Maple Syrup Roasted Pecans, Cocoa Nibs, & Vanilla
Score: 4.25 (4.15)
Notes: As with last year's batch, Cloud Daggers is an imperial porter aged for nine months in bourbon barrels, to which they added maple syrup, maple-roasted pecans, cocoa nibs, and vanilla. For this year's version, they increased the vanilla significantly and dialed back the pecans slightly. Those changes are immediately evident as vanilla dominates with a sweet, fruity character, followed by maple, toasty pecans, sweet milk chocolate, velvety bourbon, and light oak in the background. Bourbon and rich, semisweet cocoa lead on the palate, providing a canvas for vanilla, maple, and subtle pecans. The cocoa provides a drying balance to the sweeter vanilla character, preventing the beer from drifting in a cloying direction. Medium-bodied - in the context of modern stouts, anyway - although following Beastmaster made it seem drier than it really is. I would've liked to see the maple and pecans take on a bigger role, as the vanilla is quite dominant and creates a linear sweetness. Enjoyable for what it is, but it doesn't really hold my interest.

5) Valley of Sound
Style: Red Wine Barrel-Aged Sour Blond w/ Peaches
Score: 4.5
Notes: Get your helmets, kids, the peaches are loose and comin' for your skull. The base here is a blend of blond sours aged in red wine barrels for anywhere from eighteen months to three years, which they refermented with Flavorcrest peaches from Masumoto Farms at a rate of four pounds per gallon. Masumoto fruits are basically a cheat code for beer, and this is no exception. Peach takes command of the nose and never lets up, with the full spectrum from skin to flesh to juice all on display, rendering both a breadth of depth that provides a borderline-sensual experience. Barnyard-driven funk manages to poke through the fruit, along with light acidity, oak, and a faint blue cheese that only occasionally shows itself. The palate is a bit more balanced, as acidity takes a slightly stronger role - although it's still entirely restrained - that leaves plenty of space for the peaches without letting them overwhelm. Flesh and skin lead the fruit side, with less juice than the nose, while oak, hints of vanilla, and light funk complement the fruit profile. As dominant as the peaches are, the base manages to weave an interesting story and prevent the beer from being simplistic or linear. Nonetheless, the fruit is the star of the show here, as Masumoto peaches tend to be.

6) Palace of Paper Sacks
Style: Red Wine Barrel-Aged Sour Blond w/ Nectarines
Score: 4 (4.1)
Notes: Using roughly the same base blend as Valley of Sound, they added yellow nectarines from Sunny Cal Farms at a rate of four pounds per gallon. The aroma opens with fleshy nectarine, a good dose of skin, and just a mild, juicy aspect. Moderate acidity, funk, and light oak follow with a bigger and more balanced role than in Valley of Sound. Nectarines assert themselves more on the palate with just a touch more juice, but the fruit's more acidic nature causes it to stand out less and integrate more into the beer's character. A bit oakier and less funky, with an acidity that's moderate but certainly brighter than Valley of Sound. Where that was dominated by fruit, this is a well-integrated wild ale with an enjoyable but restrained nectarine contribution. In some ways, I think trying Valley of Sound first hurt my impression of this beer and perhaps is coloring my scoring a bit. This is a damn good beer on its own, but it's hard to stand up to that Masumoto greatness. Don't sleep on this just because it's the lesser of the two, it's well worth the price of admission.
 
Joined
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The rum was too strong? or the banana?
I find all of their Jamaican Rum beers to be too overwhelming. That funk seems to dominate for me, I could barely pick anything else out. Which is funny, because I love rum - I just don't like that profile with these beers. They feel like a mess.
 
Joined
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Messages
371
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I find all of their Jamaican Rum beers to be too overwhelming. That funk seems to dominate for me, I could barely pick anything else out. Which is funny, because I love rum - I just don't like that profile with these beers. They feel like a mess.
I'm always opposite of you with the rum beers. I've loved their jamaican rum barrel beers, and unlike you, I don't generally love rum (on its own). It's fine and all, but I rarely ever drink it other than mai tais or dumped in cola. But hey, tastes vary and all that.
 
Joined
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Messages
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I find all of their Jamaican Rum beers to be too overwhelming. That funk seems to dominate for me, I could barely pick anything else out. Which is funny, because I love rum - I just don't like that profile with these beers. They feel like a mess.
noted, copy that.

I'm always opposite of you with the rum beers. I've loved their jamaican rum barrel beers, and unlike you, I don't generally love rum (on its own). It's fine and all, but I rarely ever drink it other than mai tais or dumped in cola. But hey, tastes vary and all that.
I also generally don't enjoy rum. Even less, when its a beer aged in rum barrels. Though there are some outliers where the rum is mild. I'm surprised once in a while. Banana and rum sounds like a good combo though.
 
Joined
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Messages
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Location
Champaign, IL
  • Gin Ice: boring. Why waste gin barrels on a pilsner?
  • Chaos Grid 4Roses: fucking amazing. Sleep on this at your own peril
  • Wizard Blend: this was fine, but having it right after Chaos does it a disservice. Need to have it again.
  • Nectarnomicbullshit: this isnt beer, its fucking fruit puree. Wish they wouldnt serve this at tastings. That being said, it was decent. If it came in a Kerns Nectar can I wouldn't know the difference.
  • Mega Space Ways: this was great, but again; why serve this at a tasting? It's a distro'd can. Who needs to "preview" this? 14 beers in this release, and they serve one that is a crowler only, unfermented fruit bomb waiting to happen, and a wide distro can? Makes no damned sense.
 
Joined
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4,809
Location
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  • Gin Ice: boring. Why waste gin barrels on a pilsner?
  • Chaos Grid 4Roses: fucking amazing. Sleep on this at your own peril
  • Wizard Blend: this was fine, but having it right after Chaos does it a disservice. Need to have it again.
  • Nectarnomicbullshit: this isnt beer, its fucking fruit puree. Wish they wouldnt serve this at tastings. That being said, it was decent. If it came in a Kerns Nectar can I wouldn't know the difference.
  • Mega Space Ways: this was great, but again; why serve this at a tasting? It's a distro'd can. Who needs to "preview" this? 14 beers in this release, and they serve one that is a crowler only, unfermented fruit bomb waiting to happen, and a wide distro can? Makes no damned sense.
I like your notes better than Xul ;)
 
Joined
Aug 11, 2015
Messages
303
  • Gin Ice: boring. Why waste gin barrels on a pilsner?
  • Chaos Grid 4Roses: fucking amazing. Sleep on this at your own peril
  • Wizard Blend: this was fine, but having it right after Chaos does it a disservice. Need to have it again.
  • Nectarnomicbullshit: this isnt beer, its fucking fruit puree. Wish they wouldnt serve this at tastings. That being said, it was decent. If it came in a Kerns Nectar can I wouldn't know the difference.
  • Mega Space Ways: this was great, but again; why serve this at a tasting? It's a distro'd can. Who needs to "preview" this? 14 beers in this release, and they serve one that is a crowler only, unfermented fruit bomb waiting to happen, and a wide distro can? Makes no damned sense.
You'll never get a beer named after you with notes like that haha.
 
Joined
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Messages
371
Location
San Diego

  • Wizard Blend: this was fine, but having it right after Chaos does it a disservice. Need to have it again.
I thought this happened with Cloud Daggers last month, too, when it followed Beastmaster rum sundae. Cloud Daggers tasted watery and thin, which it isn't.
 

Xul

Joined
Jun 18, 2014
Messages
1,496
Location
San Diego, CA
Is there anyone over here who cares about my tasting notes but doesn't read them on BA or Facebook? If not, I'm fine with not copying them over here, I've merely done so out of habit. Hell, if anyone wants me to keep copying them over just to laugh at them, that's fine too - not something I'm going to get butthurt about. Anyway, if anyone still cares about them being copied over here, speak up and I'll continue doing so after this month.

----------

December Preview Tasting

Assorted Notes:
1 - Leanne and Steven hosted the Monday tasting in the new warehouse adjacent to the brewery, which has considerably more free space than the Fortress of Raditude (for now, anyway). I loved having all the metal of the empty cans around, but it was a bit bright and spacious for my tastes. If they could come up with a venue redolent of fetid caves and oppressive darkness, that would be delightful. Call it The Void of Infinite Desolation. Think of the cost savings when you don't have to spend a dime on lighting or decorations. I have a feeling they're going to see this, tape a laser-printed sign on a mop closet, and tell me to go nuts, but you know what? I'll take it.

2 - Before I dive into tonight's tasting, I wanted to touch briefly on Black House Black Friday since I neglected to post thoughts on it over the holiday weekend. First and foremost, kudos to Derek and the team for shifting the event over to the new warehouse on pretty short notice - the space ended up being excellent, in my opinion. Not overly crowded, comfortable inside without the risk of rain or wind, and plenty of spots to sit with benches and tables moved inside. More importantly, the beer lineup might've been the most insane stout list MT has thrown down. Every year I feel like BHBF sets an unbeatable standard, and every year, they prove me wrong. My personal highlights as far as new beers were BA Monsters' Park: Coconut Coffee Cake Edition (this needs to be bottled), BA Monsters' Park: All the Coconut Edition, BA Beastmaster: Luxury Edition, and Fellowship of Xul: Banana Sundae Edition (totally unbiased, of course), but there was more insanely good beer than you could hope to get to. Seriously, I love living on a timeline where not only are there several new incredible stouts to try, but Monster Tones, Date Shake, and Espresso Macaroon last all afternoon. To say we're spoiled is a colossal understatement. The team as a whole - Events, Special Projects, Production, Hospitality/FoH, League, and the assorted other employees who jumped in to help out - deserves a huge round of applause. BHBF has been my favorite MT event for several years now, and this year's edition only served to reinforce that.

3 - We were reminded that we have until 12/23 to use our included bar credit. Last year, some people saved theirs, hoping for a special crowler or something, but that led to a lot of people showing up in the final week, kicking kegs left and right. If you still have your credit, use it. If you're not going to make it to a tasting room between now and then, have a proxy use it. It's good for tasters, full pours, and crowlers - you've got three weeks, and you've been warned.

4 - On the events front, the Holiday Market is coming up on 12/15 at Lomaland, where a variety of local artists and vendors will have all sorts of stuff on offer. If you care enough about anyone to give them a Christmas gift, this is an excellent opportunity to get them something considerably nicer than whatever random shit you'd otherwise order for them from Amazon. There's also a PDX edition of the Holiday Market at Belmont on the same date. Those of you who live elsewhere will have to tell your loved ones they don't get anything for Christmas. Sucks for them.

5 - If Christmas isn't your jam, Lomaland will be hosting a Shalomaland party on 12/26. I haven't seen details as of yet, but past editions had a couple of unique beers and a pretty rad food truck. Honestly, though, do the details matter? By the 26th, you're going to be sick to death of celebrating Christmas with family and ready to kick it with the MT crew for some excellent brews.

6 - If you thought you weren't ever going to see rewards from your 2018 tasting room points, think again. Steven said tonight that they've worked out three tiers of rewards and should be officially announcing it soon(ish). Tier 1 will be a special t-shirt design, tier 2 will be a special bottled batch of beer that we'll have the opportunity to purchase at cost (giving us beer would be illegal, so they have to charge us), and tier 3 will be a blending competition. The actual rewards won't be happening before the end of the year, but even if you decided not to renew as a member, they're planning to offer the rewards to those who earned them, provided your email address still works.

7 - The rest of our included bottles for 2019 are being released this month. This question has come up several times in the League FB group, and yes, everything we were promised either has been delivered or will be next week. If you were concerned that Modern Times was going to abscond with a portion of your League membership fee, you can rest easy.

8 - The note about Chaos Grid: Quadruple Flowers containing the final barrel of Devil's Teeth ever raised many questions, and I specifically asked why it was discontinued in favor of Mega Devil's Teeth. The reasoning is that it was too dry and thin after barrel aging and "didn't stand up to modern stout expectations." I certainly don't blame Modern Times for understanding and serving their market, but I'll just present that answer without any further comment, since most of what I have to say would seem hilariously hypocritical coming from someone with a pastry stout named after them.
 

Xul

Joined
Jun 18, 2014
Messages
1,496
Location
San Diego, CA
The Beers:
1 - Slow Ice Aged in Stonecutter Gin Barrels
Style: Pilsner Aged in Gin Barrels
Score: 4
Notes: If you're wondering, Stonecutter isn't a clever nickname for a spirit brand, like Bovine Outline or Quadruple Flowers - it's an actual distillery in Vermont. MT was given permission to use the brand on the label, as the brewery and distillery are on friendly terms. For this batch, Ice was added to freshly emptied gin barrels, aged for roughly three and a half months, then bottle conditioned with funky house cultures. Considering the jump in ABV from 4.8% to 8.5%, I'm assuming these barrels were quite wet when Modern Times got their hands on them. Unsurprisingly, the aroma is dominated by gin botanicals - juniper, sweet orange peel, coriander, eucalyptus, and tea - along with more subtle grainy white bread, light oak, grassy noble hops, and a faint boozy note. On the palate, juniper leads, followed by orange peel, eucalyptus, licorice root, and orange peel. Oak, earthy funk, and mildly-sweet grains come in on the mid-palate, giving way to a finish of botanicals, fresh sod, and white bread. I'm curious to see what this does with time as the house cultures have more time to work, but in its current form, it's dominated by the gin barrel character. I feel like a more interesting base would've benefited more from the gin barrels. Certainly a good beer for what it is - and slightly better than the draft batch of Ice Aged in Gin Barrels - but as it stands, I'd still prefer to drink Foeder Ice or regular Ice.

2 - Chaos Grid: Quadruple Flowers
Style: Blend of Imperial Stouts + Barleywine Aged in Four Roses Barrels
Score: 4.35
Notes: This is the first edition of Chaos Grid not to feature any adjuncts, and per a question I had asked, the series isn't intended to be anything other than a playground for interesting blends. CG: Quadruple Flowers features one barrel each of five bases, each aged in Four Roses barrels - Devil's Teeth (aged three years), Beastmaster (aged thirteen months), Infinity Gauntlet (aged fifteen months), Dragon Mask (aged 22 months), and Suggestion of Mass (aged fifteen months). The barrel-centric nature of this blend is readily apparent as rich bourbon character leads on the nose with barrel-derived vanilla, marshmallow, moderate boozy notes, sweet dark cherries, and oak. The base blend asserts itself well, though, presenting semisweet chocolate and dark cocoa, brown sugar, molasses, lightly-burnt caramel, and touches of leather. The flavor follows a similar path as a burst of boozy bourbon leads along with a wave of vanilla, giving way to semisweet chocolate, brown sugar, leather, caramel, and a big blast of marshmallow on the palate. Oak, touches of alcohol burn, and faint dark cherries present a boozy edge to a long finish of marshmallowy dark chocolate. The body is a bit drier than you'd expect for a blend that's 60% pastry stout, but that's hardly a detriment, in my opinion, as it allows more of the barrel-derived nuance to shine through. Delicious blend, but a touch boozier than I'd prefer.

3 - Wizard Blend 2019
Style: Megablend of Stouts & Barleywines Aged in a Variety of Barrels
Score: 4.6
Notes: For those who are new to the League, Wizard Blend is a yearly blend with no specific target as far as style. The Special Projects team keeps track of prime barrels throughout the year, along with interest orphan barrels that didn't fit into other projects, and brings them together into a symphony of decadence. I'm not going to bother listing all the constituent beers since they're in the description we've received via email, but there are some rather interesting barrels in this year's blend. The aroma took several minutes to really sink in and process, as each whiff revealed different nuances in varying strengths and sequences - bourbon, brandy, mildly-smoky rum barrel, rich wood, leather, boozy figs and dates, marshmallow, semisweet chocolate, toffee, brown sugar, drying cocoa, and a vanilla note that really pops as the beer warms. The blend comes across as bit sweeter on the tongue, although still immensely balanced, with a melange of marshmallow, sweet dark chocolate, dark caramel, assertive bourbon, touches of wood, mild brandy and rum notes, leather, prunes, and figs wafting about. Bourbon, cocoa, vanilla, and marshmallow combine for a long, rich finish. The blend is certainly less stout-centric than in past years, which may not be a desirable change for some, but I was a big fan. My only real quibble is that I would've served it before Chaos Grid. While Wizard Blend has the higher ABV, Chaos Grid came across as bigger and bolder on the palate, which I have a feeling overwhelmed the nuance of Wizard Blend for some people.

4 - Nectarnomicon w/ Strawberry, Mango, & Vanilla
Style: Low-Alcohol Fruit Juice
Score: 4.4 (scored to the context of the style)
Notes: Writing complex tasting notes for this seems like an exercise in futility since it's a rather straightforward beverage - what you see is what you get. The nose is rich in both strawberry and mango at a roughly equal rate, while vanilla supports and provides a backing sweetness. Mango takes a stronger role on the palate, but strawberry is still present. Light acidity, but the vanilla and unfermented fruit keep it on the sweet end of the spectrum. The body on this one is roughly middle of the road by Nectarnomicon standards - not full-blown smoothie as a couple batches have been, but not thin, either. If you like Nectarnomicon in general, you should like this.

5 - Mega Space Ways
Style: Hazy DIPA
Score: 4.5
Notes: This isn't part of the sale, but due to the logistics of trying to ensure all locations end up sampling the same beers, it was included as the fifth taster for the evening. Space Ways has been absolutely killer this year, and Mega Space Ways kicks it up another notch. The aroma jumps out of the glass with resinous pine, white wine, oily citrus peel, sweet papaya and guava, and juicy stonefruit playing a supporting role. The flavor is more fruit-driven than the nose indicated, with guava, mango, and papaya hitting right off the bat, followed by dry white wine grapes, nectarine juice, very mild pine resin, and light grassy notes, before tropical fruit returns to dominate the finish. Perfect body for a hazy DIPA - smooth, but not pillowy, with restrained bitterness. This is probably the best distro haze Modern Times has done, don't sleep on it.
 
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