1 - Slow Ice Aged in Stonecutter Gin Barrels
Style: Pilsner Aged in Gin Barrels
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
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
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
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.