US - Pacific The Official Modern Times League Of Partygoers & Elegant People Thread

Help Support Talkbeer:

Do you like burritos?

  • Yes but I'm anti adjuncts

    Votes: 0 0.0%

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Joined
Sep 29, 2013
Messages
6,408
Location
Champaign, IL
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.
<3
 
Joined
Jul 26, 2013
Messages
2,768
Location
Sandy Eggo, California
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.
I generally read them here because I basically forget that BA exists, but I don’t mind either way. Although, the way this place has been run lately (during last week’s outage I honestly thought the admins had completely pulled the plug), I’d suggest the other new site as an alternate.
 
Joined
Jul 12, 2016
Messages
1,088
Location
California
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.
.
I care :oops:
I’m not on those other two sites and while I haven’t bought much from MT lately I enjoy reading your notes and knowing what’s going on there.
 
Joined
Apr 17, 2017
Messages
372
Location
San Diego
I go to both sites regularly as well as Facebook. I see no harm in continued posting everywhere. It's easy enough to just scroll past for anyone uninterested in reading them. I like the other tidbits you post before you get to the tasting notes, as it's often stuff that was mentioned at one tasting but not another, or something I didn't hear.

As far as the tasting notes themselves, I don't "care" about yours or anyone else's all THAT much... I trust my own palate. That is of course said with all due respect. Cheers.
 
Joined
Aug 11, 2015
Messages
307
Nice deep dive on the Ballast Point deal by Peter Rowe in today's UT. Says the sale price is estimated by industry observers at between $75 million and $200 million. Not sure how much the production facility that Constellation is keeping is worth, but wow what a drop.

How did a tiny Illinois brewery acquire a craft beer icon once valued at $1 billion?
By Peter Rowe
Dec. 8, 2019
5 AM
Fresh off a family trip to Rome, Chris Bradley sat down with Brendan Watters, his partner at Kings & Convicts, a little Illinois brewery. Anything happen, Bradley asked, during his vacation?

“We’re buying Ballast Point,” Watters announced.

“What?” Bradley sputtered. “How?”

That exchange occurred in a Chicago suburb this summer. Similar scenes played out across the U.S. last week, when Constellation Brands — Ballast Point’s current owner — and Kings & Convicts announced the deal. Really? How could an obscure two-year-old brewery from Highwood, Ill., (2018 production: 550 barrels of beer) land an industry icon (2018 production: 320,000 barrels) once worth $1 billion?

The full answer is cloaked in nondisclosure statements, but a partial explanation involves 9/11, golf and a desperate seller. New York-based Constellation was eager to dump Ballast Point, with its plummeting sales and a trademark value — a measure of its worth outside of its assets — in free fall, cratering from $223 million in January 2018 to $17 million in October 2019.

“I think they decided it was time to get what they could,” Bart Watson, the Brewers Association’s chief economist, said of Constellation, “and focus on their core brands.”

The rise, fall and re-invention of Ballast Point is one of the most dramatic chapters in the annals of American craft beer, illustrating this industry’s much-hyped promise and often overlooked fault lines. The arc of Ballast’s story, from rags to riches to near irrelevance, is a cautionary tale within the industry, while its possible resurgence is a sign of hope for craft beer’s true believers.

Much depends on the savvy of Bradley and Watters, two craft beer rookies and expats — Bradley, “The King,” is from England while Watters, “The Convict,” from Australia. Having enjoyed financial success in other professions and in other cities, both express confidence in their ability to revive Ballast.

Still, they understand the skeptics. Consider their original plan.

“What we wanted,” Watters said, laughing, “was to have a place to homebrew, put up some TVs and have a place for our friends to gather.”

Not something of Ballast’s size and reputation? “In our wildest dreams,” he said.

What? How?

From calamity to crisis
With his just-us-mates style, Watters appears to be a simple, free and easy Aussie. He’s not.

His resume includes an MBA from the London Business School; a directorship with Avanade, a joint venture of Microsoft and Accenture; 15 years as owner and CEO of a hotel firm, Boomerang, which he sold the Red Lion group for $8.4 million; and two years as vice president of Le Meridien hotels, overseeing that international chain’s corporate finance, purchases and sales.

He secured that last job on Sept. 10, 2001, with a handshake in a New York City boardroom. The next day, he caught a United flight out of JFK, bound for Seattle, where he lived with his wife and children.

Soon after takeoff, the FAA re-routed his flight to Minneapolis, as authorities grappled with the unfolding calamity of 9/11. “We were one of the last flights to land in the United States that day,” he said.

The 9/11 attacks killed thousands, launched the West’s ongoing war on terrorism and shook global markets. Among the casualties was the travel industry, as flights were cancelled and countless people chose to stay home. Watters moved to London to help Le Meridien recover. Flying around the world, he evaluated the chain’s strengths and weaknesses, adding promising hotels and discarding weak links.

“That really taught me the hotel trade,” Watters said.

When his two-year term was up, he founded his own hotelier business, eventually moving to the Chicago area. He led Boomerang through another crisis — the Great Recession — until 2015, when Red Lion made an irresistible offer.

Around that time, he met Bradley. The son of a British foreign service officer, Bradley was a former executive with Navman Wireless, a New Zealand purveyor of consumer GPS devices. He had nodding acquaintance with Watters, due to a personal tragedy.

Lisa and Brendan Watters’ family includes two daughters, a son and a beloved memory. Benny was 5 when he died in 2010, a victim of a rare form of brain cancer. Benny’s World, the charity his parents founded to fund cancer research, held fundraisers that the Bradleys had attended.

The friends’ desire to homebrew led them to a 5,000-square-foot warehouse in Highwood, a town on Lake Michigan’s shoreline 30 miles north of Chicago. The warehouse was too large for a mere amateur operation but sufficient for a small commercial brewery.

They signed the lease in 2016, sold their first pint in 2017, began planning a larger brewery in 2018. They visited about 50 major craft breweries, from Minneapolis’ Surly to Escondido’s Stone. Using this list of best practices, they began building Kings & Convicts’ new home, a 48,000-square-foot production brewery in Pleasant Prairie, Wis., five miles beyond the Illinois border.

Then Bradley took the family to Rome and Watters took some Constellation executives golfing.

(continued in next post because character limit)
 
Joined
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Messages
307
Caught in the middle
Watters has some pull at Conway Farms, a lush course developed by pro golfer Tom Fazio in upscale Lake Forest, Ill. Before hosting the Constellation contingent, he made sure the clubhouse served one of that corporation’s beers, Corona.

After the game, he inquired about Ballast.

Why? the Constellation reps asked.

“I just blurted it out,” Watters said. “We want to buy it.”

A day later, he took a call from Constellation’s Mergers & Acquisitions department.

Constellation made headlines in 2015 by buying Ballast for a reported $1 billion. Crazy money, yes, but at the time it did not seem totally insane.

Ballast had an appealing back story, emerging in 1996 from a homebrewer shop, Home Brew Mart. Its award-winning IPA, Sculpin, was so popular it made cameo appearances on cable TV (HBO’s “Silicon Valley”) and the funny pages (the “Bliss” comic strip). Ballast’s brewers cranked out fan-favorites: Victory at Sea, an imperial porter; Sour Wench, a pioneering American sour; and small-batch experimental brews, the Homework Series.

If Constellation overpaid, many figured the investment would eventually pay off. The corporation used its marketing muscle to distribute Ballast in 49 states — the lone exception is West Virginia — and touted the brand with billboards and TV ads. An additional fortune was spent on Ballast brewpubs in Long Beach, Anaheim and Chicago plus an East Coast brewery in Daleville, Va.

Sales initially rose, peaking at almost 431,000 barrels (one barrel of beer equals 31 gallons). Then came the collapse. Early estimates for 2019 are somewhere north of 200,000 barrels, while the brand’s trademark value fell by more than 90 percent in less than two years.

Why the decline? Several reasons are cited:

  • In San Diego and other craft beer havens, the cognoscenti shunned Ballast, seeing its sale as a betrayal of the brewery’s local, independent roots.
  • Constellation bought Ballast just as the explosive growth fueling U.S. craft beer began to slow.
  • Craft breweries are now so numerous, there’s been a shift away from bigger brands like Ballast in favor of neighborhood breweries.
“Ballast Point faces the same challenges that a lot of regional breweries face these days,” said the Brewers Association’s Watson. “They are caught between hyper-local breweries and the largest brewing companies.”

Constellation was ready to sell. Watters contacted a handful of investors who had backed his previous ventures; banks that had financed those enterprises; then briefed his stunned partner. In a Chicago “war room,” Bradley and Watters spent two weeks poring over Ballast’s books. After consulting with attorneys, financial planners, friends and family, they came to a decision.

“We can take one of the most iconic brands in beer, with a footprint to die for, with brewpubs in fantastic locations, with a beer that we love?” Watters said. “This is awesome.”

On Sept. 12, California’s Secretary of State registered a new company: Kings & Convicts BP LLC.

Boring as bat guano
This deal still needs approval by the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. While financial details have not been released, industry observers estimate the sales price between $75 million to $200 million.

Today, Kings & Convicts BP has six partners: Watters and Bradley (20 percent each); Richard Mahoney, former chief financial officer for The Wine Group, a consortium behind Cupcake, Franzia, Concannon and other wineries (24.9 percent); and three unnamed individuals,including one commodities trader. Several also have a stake in Kings & Convicts’ Pleasant Prairie expansion.

None, Watters said, owns more than 25 percent of the company.

That’s important because the Brewers Association define “craft breweries” as those making fewer than 6 million barrels of beer a year; using traditional methods and ingredients; and “independent,” with no more than 25 percent owned by an outside entity.

The new company will be headquartered in San Diego. While Ballast’s Miramar brewery will devote some time and brew kettle space to Kings & Convicts beers, especially those intended for export to Australia and New Zealand, the partners insisted the emphasis will be on reviving Ballast.

Expect redesigned labels — the one for Ballast Lager, Watters said, is “boring as bat guano,” or words to that effect — and increased advertising and events in the San Diego and California markets. Bradley promised a revival of the barrel-aged beer program and renewed emphasis on small batch of experimental beers, including some geared toward specific geographic regions.

The partners say Ballast will retain its 49-state footprint, with the focus on a dozen: California, Washington, Colorado, Nevada, Texas, Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, Illinois and Wisconsin.

Constellation, attempting a more uniform cross-country approach, found itself stuck with a declining brand. Will Kings & Convicts BP LLC suffer a similar fate?

“Even though there’s been decline, Ballast Point is going to sell more than 200,000 barrels this year,” said the Brewers Association’s Watson. “In the context of the craft landscape, that’s fairly strong.”

It’s certainly more than 550 barrels.
 

Xul

Joined
Jun 18, 2014
Messages
1,496
Location
San Diego, CA
January 2020 Preview Tasting

Assorted Notes
1 - Steven and Leanne hosted tonight, with Alanna joining them while responding to the deluge of emails they've received over the past couple of days. She was also kind enough to regale us with her story of being bit by a black widow and the ensuing allergies she's suffered since. My primary takeaways from the story were 1) black widows will fuck your shit right up if you don't get proper treatment, and 2) nature - hell, just going outside - is scary. My affinity for kalsarikännit grows stronger by the day.

2 - Derek Freese was also in the house and briefly (too briefly, some might say) stole Steven's mic to update us on what's happening with upcoming events. He rattled off a long list of coffee roasters and breweries that will be at Carnival of Caffeination (02/08 at Liberty Station), including J Wakefield, who just confirmed today. If you haven't already bought your ticket, get on it. Additionally, he confirmed that Lomaland will once again be hosting a Second Halloween party on 02/14 - which is the only holiday worth celebrating on that particular date - and a tie-dye party on 04/20. Details to come on those, but both events are rad.

3 - League members can expect to receive an email with sale information at some point mid-day today, and Steven/Leanne will post in the League FB group when it goes out. They usually don't send the email out until after the Tuesday night tastings, but with the email issues on Friday, they're sending it out earlier to ensure everything is resolved, and everyone has the info they need to participate in the sale on Wednesday.

4 - Another note related to the sale - included bottles do not count towards the limits stated in the sale email. If a beer has two bottles included and then says limit two for the sale (as a random example), you can buy those two bottles on top of the two you have included in your membership.

5 - Additionally, an email will go out at 10AM on Friday with allocation increases for beers that haven't sold out already. The email will explain this clearly, but as a preview, any purchases you've already made count towards the new limit. If a beer had a limit of two during the initial sale on Wednesday (and you bought both), and the limit goes up to four, you can only buy two more to get up to a total of four. It's not a limit reset, just a limit increase.

6 - The dates for the League welcome parties are not set, but they will be in Q1. We'll hear about it via email as soon as they can lock down the details.

7 - On the merch front, our challenge coins and lunchboxes will be available for pick up next week, along with our first included bottles (Modem Tones Aged in Bourbon Barrels w/ Vanilla). Even if you don't buy any beers this month - which, you do you, but that would be a silly mistake - the coin, lunchbox, and MTV will be waiting for you at the location you selected in the membership survey we received late last year. Glassware should be arriving soon, so it will likely be available next month, but as with all other League-related matters, they'll keep us updated.

8 - Our included bar credit should be ready by January 15th. For those who aren't clear on that, League members receive $40 in credit to use on draft beer - tasters, full pours, or crowlers. On-site bottles are not included, nor is anything from the mini-mart. I'm sure they'll notify us when the credit is live in the PoS system but expect it around the 15th.

9 - The construction team in Anaheim continues to make progress. The floor in the brewhouse/cellar was recently poured, some tanks have already been installed, and both the brewhouse and more tanks are en route. Yes, it's really happening, yes, there is actually going to be a pool, and no, they still don't have a precise date. When they do, we'll know.
 

Xul

Joined
Jun 18, 2014
Messages
1,496
Location
San Diego, CA
The Beers:
1 - Reality Maze: Banana Coconut Cream Pie Edition
Style: Pastry Stout w/ Coconut, Vanilla, & Banana
Score: 4.3
Notes: The base on this is very similar to the Reality Maze that was released in July 2019, although the ABV went up slightly, and a new set of adjuncts was used. This time, they added Madagascar vanilla at a rate of .63 lbs/bbl, coconut at a rate of 17 lbs/bbl (half toasted/half untoasted), and dried wild Thai bananas at a rate of 8.3 lbs/bbl. The dried bananas were stewed in a kettle with a small portion of the beer until they mostly broke down, then that slurry was added to the recirculation tank through which the rest of the batch was pumped to impart banana character. Dense, overripe bananas are prominent on the aroma, followed by coconut and vanilla that are roughly in balance, semisweet chocolate, and light baking spices wafting around in the background. Coconut and light spices hit first on the tongue, giving way to chocolate-covered bananas. The vanilla really pulls the cocoa notes out of the base beer and creates a rich milk-chocolate note that melds beautifully with the bananas. Coconut pops back in towards the backend but acts as a supporting element through a finish of vanilla, chocolate, and bananas. The body is towards the middle of the road for a pastry stout, and it's surprisingly not terribly sweet for the style and adjuncts. I certainly wouldn't call it dry, but it's nowhere near Doom Hawk territory. I suspect a lot of you are wary of this one on paper, but several people remarked last night that it worked better than they were expecting.

2 - Modem Tones Aged in Bourbon Barrels w/ Vanilla
Style: Bourbon BA Stout w/ Vanilla
Score: 4.5
Notes: If there's one beer in Modern Times' portfolio that needs no introduction, it's Modem Tones w/ Vanilla. This year's release is a blend of three batches that were aged from eight to ten months in a variety of bourbon barrels, including Heaven Hill, Four Roses, Woodford, and Old Fitzgerald. They conditioned the blend on a mix of 55% Mexican vanilla and 45% Madagascar vanilla at a rate of 1 lb/bbl, which is tied for the second most vanilla they've ever used, behind only MT Ultra: Vanilla Edition. The taster came out a bit too cold and seemed rather boozy on first blush, but a few minutes of cradling the glass like a degenerate Gollum clutching his precious sugar water warmed it right up. Vanilla dominates the aroma with a blend of creamy sweetness, spices, and touches of floral character. Deep, sweet chocolate provides a canvas for the aforementioned vanilla, complemented by assertive bourbon and touches of vanilla-heavy oak. On the palate, a dry, dark cocoa note leads but is quickly subsumed by bourbon-tinged vanilla, creating a fudgy amalgam redolent of fresh brownie batter. Vanilla acts as both a focus and complementary note, standing out but also building into the chocolate character from the base beer. A long, sweet finish of boozy brownie batter coats the back of the tongue. Thick, fudgy, with restrained heat. I think a few months will benefit it, but it's better out of the gate than batch two was.

3 - Modem Tones Aged in Bourbon Barrels w/ Vanilla, Hazelnuts, & Maple Syrup
Style: Bourbon BA Stout w/ Vanilla, Hazelnuts, & Maple Syrup
Score: 4.75
Notes: This variant uses the same base blend as MTV, but the adjunct mix is .75 lbs/bbl Madagascar vanilla, 7.5 lbs/bbl roasted & salted hazelnuts (roasted in-house by the special projects team), and 3.3 lbs/bbl barrel-aged maple syrup. The nose opens with a wave of vanilla, but roasty hazelnuts join the fray quickly, along with assertive bourbon, maple syrup, and dark chocolate. As it warms, the adjuncts ebb and flow but never to extremes of dominance or subservience - they always work harmoniously, leaving room for the base to express itself. The flavor mostly follows the nose, as a wave of vanilla arrives first, quickly melding with hazelnuts and the fudgy base beer to throw of hints of Nutella, backed by maple syrup, bourbon, and sweet oak notes. The maple really comes out the longer it sits in the glass and builds a maple syrup-soaked Nutella finish that coats the palate in the best way possible. The body is thick but not overwhelming. I'd say they surpassed batch one with this - decadent, beautifully integrated, and utterly delicious.

4 - Transit of Venus Aged in Gin Barrels
Style: Gin BA Funky Rye Grisette
Score: 4.4
Notes: Several people asked if the gin barrels were the same as Slow Ice (Stonecutter gin) - they are not. This batch of Transit of Venus was fermented in a medium-toast American oak foeder, then aged in gin barrels from Koval and Caledonia Spirits for three months. The aroma is a harmonious symphony of complementary scents. Earthy and barnyardy funk pop out first with wet forest floor, light hay, and horse blanket, followed by gin barrel - juniper, coriander, eucalyptus, and white pepper - that is assertive but not overwhelming. Mild lactic acidity, touches of rye spice, minerality, and hints of oak work in the background. On the tongue, a spritz of lemony tartness gives way to rye and dry oak before earthy funk strikes on the mid-palate, while gin brings a sweet complementary element with more coriander and eucalyptus than juniper. The base beer's minerality and rye spice pop in towards the backend, leading to a funky, rustic finish tinged by gin botanicals. Effervescent mouthfeel, this one is both something I could crush pints of and spend an hour and a half just smelling. The gin barrels are remarkably restrained compared to Slow Ice, providing well-integrated flavors without being overbearing.

5 - School of Certain Victory
Style: Red Wine BA Blond Sour w/ Apricots
Score: 4.0
Notes: The base blend for this is a selection of blond sours aged in red wine barrels between one and three years, which they refermented on fresh Sunny Cal Farms Robada apricots (4 lbs/gallon) and B&R Farms Blenheim apricot puree (2 lbs/gallon). It only takes one whiff to understand why they used so much fruit, as apricot leaps right out of the glass. Think perfectly ripe apricot flesh and skin, with just hints of a juicy aspect backing it. The base beer asserts itself rather quickly with robust lactic acidity, along with oak and touches of funk. The flavor mostly follows the script, with substantial fleshy apricot and massive tartness. Oak provides some structure around the edges and hints of funk poke through, but this is a reasonably linear duel between fruit and acid. While the apricot character is outstanding, I'm left with the feeling that I'd enjoy it far more if it was less sour. The soft acidity from Valley of Sound is more my pace. I really can't overstate how stellar the fruit is in this beer, but your overall enjoyment is going to depend on how sour you like your beers. This isn't into Upland territory, but it's hitting a bit harder than I'd prefer.
 
Joined
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372
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San Diego
MTV and the Hazelnut, Vanilla, Maple version were both crazy good. My favorite batch of either. HVM is (was) intense. MTV seemed thicker/fudgier than last year.

Gin barrel Transit of Venus was the surprise for me. Went in to the tasting indifferent about it, left buying my allotment.

Reality Maze was better than I expected, but I'm a sucker for banana. Also left the tasting buying more than I intended.
 

Xul

Joined
Jun 18, 2014
Messages
1,496
Location
San Diego, CA
February 2020 Preview Tasting

Assorted Notes
1 - Steven and Leanne hosted the Monday tasting again, and Steven was in top form. He was kind enough to discuss his daily protein intake, his favorite flavor of protein supplement, and even flex for us. Repeatedly. For those playing at home, he recommends Syntha 6's chocolate protein powder. Not a bad choice, but MyProtein.com's snickerdoodle flavor is preferable, in my opinion. MyProtein.com's product also has better macros at a lower price. Still, I'm not the one wearing thin white t-shirts on a cold February evening and flexing in front of a bunch of beer geeks, so perhaps he's the more appropriate authority on supplement choices.

2 - Derek Freese was in the house again and, aside from performing a public service by heckling the shit out of Steven, he filled us in on upcoming events:
2a - Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that Carnival of Caffeination is on Saturday at Liberty Station from 12pm to 4pm (VIP entry at 11am). The League keg is Chaos Grid: Pastrypalooza, and the Theory keg is Beastmaster Aged in Bourbon Barrels: Marshmallow Latte Edition. They posted a partial beer list for guest breweries earlier today, and there's some absolute fire, but honestly, your best bet is to simply wander around, asking people what they've enjoyed and try random beers.
2b - Second Halloween will be taking place at Lomaland and Belmont on 02/14 since Valentine's Day is stupid and undeserving of celebration. Keep an eye on Modern Times' social media channels for details on the costume contests and assorted festivities.
2c - Festival of Funk is still scheduled for 04/18 at Liberty Station. More info on that if/when we manage to survive Caffeination.
2d - The annual tie-dye party will again be held on 04/20. I got my lifetime fill of tie-dye being raised by hippies, but those of you who prefer a colorful wardrobe should have fun with it.

3 - Progress in Anaheim is accelerating. Modern Times' COO Chris Sarette sent out an internal memo yesterday, updating employees on the project. Derek was kind enough to tell us that it contained a whole ton of words spread across six or seven paragraphs, but refused to share even a single detail. Things are on track, though.

4 - In case you missed the email, our draft beer credits are ready to be used. They can be used for tasters, pints, or crowlers - no on-site bottles or beers to go from the Mini Mart. In past years, people have saved their credit, hoping to use it on a special crowler fill or...I don't even know what. Just use it the next time you're at a Modern Times tasting room, so you don't have to worry about it at the end of the year.

5 - We didn't sample it during the tasting, but be sure to stock up on DDH Dinosaur World during the online sale if it's something you want to drink from the comfort of your couch. It's very rare for cans of IPA to sell out during the online sale, but past batches of Dinosaur World have achieved that feat. The number of League members has grown considerably since then, as has Modern Times' popularity. Consider yourselves warned.
 

Xul

Joined
Jun 18, 2014
Messages
1,496
Location
San Diego, CA
The Beers:
1 - Dragon Mask Aged in Maple Bourbon Barrels
Style: Pastry Stout Aged in Maple Bourbon Barrels
Score: 4.35
Notes: This release is a 50/50 blend of batches of Dragon Mask that spent 18 and 24 months each in maple bourbon barrels. While Modern Times usually creates their own maple bourbon barrels by filling bourbon barrels with Vermont maple syrup, these particular barrels were sourced from Bissell Maple Farm in Ohio. Also, this question tends to come up each time a new Dragon Mask or Beastmaster variant is released, so for the sake of clarity - these new releases with those bases do not contain the original adjuncts. This is not the original churro stout version of Dragon Mask aged in maple bourbon barrels. It's just the base stout aged in those barrels. The aroma opens with rich, wood-tinged maple and vanilla-laden bourbon, followed by assertive dark cocoa, burnt caramel, toffee, and hints of leather wafting around in the background. The maple character on the nose carries less sweetness than you might expect, throwing off syrupy decadence without a cloying, sugary edge. Bourbon leads the way on the palate but quickly gives way to burnt caramel and semisweet dark chocolate, along with barrel-derived vanilla. Maple syrup comes in towards the backend and coats the palate, leading to a long syrupy finish of bourbon-tinged, maple-soaked chocolate. The viscous body and chewy mouthfeel are fitting for such a maple-heavy beer, carrying the syrupy flavor without coming across as overly sweet. The nose is a bit boozier than you'd expect from the flavor, but the base beer rises to the challenge, and I love how the maple notes help coax so much caramel and toffee out of Dragon Mask.

2 - Chaos Grid: Joy Edition
Style: Blend of Bourbon Barrel-Aged Pastry Stouts w/ Coconut, Almonds, & Cocoa Nibs
Score: 4.75
Notes: The original description for this in the preview email was a bit ambiguous, but as with all releases in the Chaos Grid series, it was barrel-aged. The base blend for this version is 40% Suggestion of Mass aged in bourbon barrels for sixteen months, 33% Beastmaster aged in bourbon barrels for eight months, and 27% Mega Devil's Teeth aged in bourbon barrels for six months. They hit that blend with cocoa nibs at a rate of 3.3 lbs/bbl (67% Dominican nibs/33% Peruvian nibs), roasted salted almonds at a rate of 5.4 lbs/bbl, and raw coconut at a rate of 22 lbs/bbl. Sweet coconut immediately leaps out of the glass along with sweet milk chocolate, lightly roasted almonds, baking spice-tinged bourbon, barrel-derived vanilla, and touches of caramel lurking at the edges. A quick wave of bourbon hits the tongue first but is subsumed by rich coconut and dark chocolate, with almond, light spices, vanilla, and faint oak supporting in the background. A bourbon-derived cherry note comes in towards the back, complementing the bourbon-soaked candy bar finish that lingers on and on and on, in the best way possible. A thick body that doesn't quite tread into chewiness carries the flavors well but doesn't overwhelm. I've seen some polarizing opinions about the nature of Almond Joy - some people say it's a delicious candy bar, others say it's garbage. Let me frame the comparison this way - CG: Joy Edition flawlessly delivers on what the theoretical ideal for Almond Joy would be, a candy bar constructed from high-quality ingredients rather than commodity-level processed garbage, carrying massive coconut flavor complemented by deftly-sweetened chocolate and roasted almonds, coated in a layer of bourbon goodness. It slaps early, it slaps often, and it slaps hard.

3 - Prometheus Effect
Style: Funky Farmhouse Ale
Score: 4.5
Notes: Each release of the Prometheus Effect has had different base components in varying proportions, this year's features 50% Celestial City aged for four months in clay amphorae and 50% Transit of Venus aged for one and a half months in an oak foeder. The nose is a lovely melange brimming with complexity - deep minerality from the amphorae, hay, barnyard funk, sweet freshly baked white bread, pear, white wine, touches of apricot flesh, restrained lactic acidity, faint chicken coop notes, and bits of bog/wet soil that barely poke through. Nothing dominates, nothing gets lost, it's a harmonious symphony of scents that begs to be both analyzed and enjoyed. On the palate, a light burst of acidity primes the pump for a wave of fruit - pear, green apple, white grapes, and faint nectarine - along with barnyard funk, horse blanket, and vibrant minerality that dovetails beautifully with the barnyard notes. Fruit pops back in for a lightly acidic finish. Light bodied with effervescent carbonation. This is the best version of Prometheus Effect yet and has me hyped for more beers in this vein - restrained acidity, deep Brett-driven complexity, complemented by nuances derived from a variety of aging vessels. Inject that rustic shit right into my veins.

4 - Looking Backward
Style: Blend of Sour Blonds Aged in Red Wine Barrels
Score: 3.5
Notes: This is the second release of Looking Backward - last seen in 2015 - and is comprised of 75% blond sour aged in red wine barrels for eighteen months and 25% blond aged in red wine barrels for approximately three years. A burst of sulfur hits first on the nose, giving way to chicken coop and a big, broad funk profile centered on barnyard and horse blanket. Touches of acidity, vinous notes, oak, and stone fruit waft around in the background, but it's very much a funk-dominated aroma. The flavor is a bit more complex, as restrained acidity transforms quickly into light stone fruits with vinous undertones, assertive barrel character, a significant wheat and bready grain note, and moderate barnyardy funk. There are a lot of good pieces here - restrained acidity, a good funk profile, and some nice fruit esters - but it's somewhat disjointed, and the sulfur on the nose is a bit unpleasant. I'm hopeful that the rough edges clean up over time, but I'm a bit surprised at the lack of refinement in the blend.

5 - Double-Fruited Star Metal
Style: Super Berliner w/ Blood Orange, Guava, Pineapple, & Hibiscus
Score: 3.75
Notes: This new, extra-fruited version of Star Metal was brewed with a process similar to their beefy Mega Berliners and features 1700 lbs of pineapple, 2125 lbs of guava, 1680 lbs of blood orange, and 60 lbs of hibiscus. Past batches contained 1260 lbs of each fruit and 30 lbs of hibiscus, so they weren't messing around with the adjunct rates on this. The aroma is one big wave of tropical fruit, with sharp pineapple hitting first, but guava comes in strong and powers through, supported by blood orange and lactic acidity. Fruit hits hard immediately on the palate with guava taking a lead role and blood orange doing a better job of asserting itself, but the backend doesn't quite come together - the fruit falls off, giving way to an odd slightly peppery/slightly phenloic note on top of an overly soft, almost watery finish. This one seemed a bit polarizing based on my conversations at the tasting - many people didn't pick up on the odd finish, while some of us loved the fruit but just couldn't get past the disjointed palate. If you generally enjoy Modern Times' kettle sours, you'll very likely be a fan of this one; it just didn't quite come together for me.
 
Joined
Oct 15, 2013
Messages
96
Location
San Clemente
I’m guessing it’s a long shot as to whether anyone knows the answer to this, but is Booming Rollers only available via the upcoming special release sale? Also, does anyone have a clue if this batch is up to the standards of the first batch or two? (I remember the last few iterations being fairly mediocre)
 
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