Tasting Notes: Katastrophic Humiliation

These notes will be in media res, unedited, rough drafts.  They happened at the tapping party, with friends, in the crowd. 

For those who don’t know, Kingman’s local brewery, Black Bridge, entered several beers earlier this year in the Arizona Strong Beer Festival. The gold medal went to Katastrophic Humiliation, a barley-wine style ale made by Black Bridge.  To celebrate and commemorate the win, the brewery had a tapping party for the newest iteration of Katastrophic tonight, May 12, 2017. This is not the recipe that won gold but a new version. 

Brewer Tim Schritter has always been inspired by the beers at Stone Brewing. This is evident in his hop-forward, high alcohol interpretations of every beer style.  For Katastrophic, he followed the Stone ideal of recipe tweaking and added some different hops to the 2017 version of Katastrophic. 

Here are my notes and impressions. They are not final verdict on the beer, simply my thoughts and those of my drinking compatriots. Support your local, y’all, go find out for yourselves if it’s gold medal worthy. 


That Smell…

It smells tropical. Interesting. I didn’t catch that during the sneak drink earlier this week. There were no hops evident at all then. So, this soft tropical, maybe papaya smell, that’s gotta be the Mosaic hops, which is the new ingredient this year.  I am right.  Seriously, it smells fantastic. I love Mosaic. Brilliant hops. 

In Appearance…

Reddish copper body. Good head retention.  Red and purple appear. Hmm. Okay, well, my wife and a friend were wearing purple, so maybe I am biased. But the color was solid.  Just what a barley wine should be.  

But The Taste …

Tastes of plum.  Maybe Jamaican coconuts … hahaha, anyway.  No not really. No coconut.  That reference was for something else.  The tropical taste was there, the … melons, let’s say, are very apparent. There are a few readers who will dig that reference.   (Wink-wink,  nudge-nudge, say no more …).

Its got a medium body, but feels heavier.  High alcohol, I’m guessing.  It is incredibly sweet and a little tart.  Just like a good wife….

Almost like a Reisling?  Hmm.  Well, it is a barley wine, so that’s cool. 

A B3 patron was cognizant enough to have a sample of the 2016 gold medal winning beer on hand. There are not enough thanks we can give this craft beer enthusiast.  Here is the comparison:

The 2016 gold medal beer is vastly superior. Fine. Not vastly. Just mostly.  It has a splendiferous malty and bready body, clean and precise at the edges like a dense Dostoyevsky novel. Gorgeous and intimidating.  Age gives it a brilliant attenuation and a cleaner, crisper taste. There are no hops apparent in the nose or the body.  The Mosaic hops softens the character of the 2017 batch.  That is not in any way derogatory. After a year of aging, this new batch could easily outshine the 2016 version.

The Conclusion of the Matter …

Wow, what to say about this beer. According to BJCP guidelines for English Barley Wines, the aroma should be “very rich and strongly malty, often with a caramel- like aroma in darker versions or a light toffee character in paler versions. May have moderate to strong fruitiness, often with a dark or dried fruit character, particularly in dark versions.”  This isn’t really a dark barley wine; however, those elements are present. Vinous and complex alcohol flavors definitely present themselves.  American barley wines should have hop flavor and bitterness. This one has just the flavor. It does possess a well integrated alcohol presence. It also has the alcohol warmth and chewy complexity of a British Strong Ale and the raisin/apple smell and taste of a Belgian dubbel. 

Schritter has again produced a beer that is just what it should be, yet something it shouldn’t be. If this beer were a book, it would be a Lovecraftian work, a libation of expectation and madness and something you know has completely altered your palate.

I’ve got to give him homebrew cred, too. He realized in the midst of brewing that he did not have the hops he wanted. But there was no going back; the beer had to be made, had to have hops.  He improvised.  The Mosaic hops were on hand and in the quantity he needed.  How many times does that happen to us as homebrewers?  You’ve just got to work with what you have. And how often does that brewing crisis lead to a beautiful beer?  Most of the time!  And that’s the case here.  The universe wants good beer, y’all!  Deny it not. 

If it were a book it would be, if not Lovecraft, Cloud Atlas

If it were a movie it would be Inception

I’m still not a fan of the beer’s name. It’s cadence just doesn’t work for me.  And I still hold to what I said four years ago. This beer has no “attitude” in the arrogant, supercilious sense.  It is dignified and sure of itself.  That is so much cooler. It is what it wants to be, which is not what you think it should be.  Very well done. 

Cheers, B3! 

The Brewer’s Barrel

It’s been thirteen months since I have brewed a beer.  It’s been approximately twenty-five months since I have brewed a successful beer.  Yeah, the last one just, sort of, kinda, well … exploded.  I had planned an awesome Winter of Brewing, beginning in October of 2012.  This did not occur.  Life conspires.  Time expires.

As with most home brewer’s, however, creating Art In A Glass is in my blood and eventually I shall return to it just as the Jedi returned to a galaxy far, far away.  And whence I do I’ll begin with old recipes that I have stored on my computer.  Once I need more I’ll be looking online.  Like I haven’t been doing that anyway.

Some brew recipe sites are difficult to navigate.  I like this one at the moment:  The Brewer’s Barrel.  It’s a clean site, nice fonts, good colors, easy to read.  Those are seriously important factors for me.  The site does not allow you to create your own recipes.  It is a compendium of recipes from home brewer’s around the country.  The home page lists popular recipes and newest recipes.  You can also choose to see all recipes.  They are grouped by style and indicate if they are All Grain or Extract recipes.  This site is a great starting place for a Brew Day.

While it doesn’t let you craft your own specialized recipe it does have a practical option that other similar sites seem to lack.  Once you’ve found the recipe you like you can click “Buy Ingredients.”  The Brewer’s Barrel is connected to a home brew supply company in Chicago called Brew Camp.  Once you click their link you can buy the exact ingredients in that recipe.  Now, it sends the order immediately to Brew Camp.  You’ll get an email confirming your order.  Make sure you’re ready to order when you click the link and enter your information.  The guys at Brew Camp will send you a confirmation email within a few hours and contact you for payment.

The homebrewing community is a social place and Brewer’s Barrel capitalizes on that.  Go on, check it out.  Add your own recipe.  I hope to get around to brewing it one of these days.

More Belgian-ness

I was in the mood for Belgian beer again.  I considered Three Philosophers but ended up with Abbey Ale from Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, NY.  It’s 8.5% abv and packaged in a 25 ounce bottle.

It’s very foamy.  The head is off white and looks like a plaster or that foamy insulation stuff.   Well, okay, I guess “mousse-like” is a better description.  No, not better.  I like my foamy insulation stuff description.  Just because the “official” style guidelines say mousse-like doesn’t mean I have to fall in line and start spouting off their jargon.  Right, it’s insulation.   And quite impressive, really.  Nor does it leave, nay, it lingers throughout the beer.

The ale has a soft fruit smell, like banana or cantaloupe.  Maybe I’m pushing it with the cantaloupe but there’s definitely a bannana undertone.  This is appropriate for the style, which is a Belgian-style dubbel; I don’t believe I’ve mentioned that.  And no hops are evident.  It’s a dark, somber brown.  Apparently that’s my theme over the past couple of weeks – dark brown or strong tea colored brews, the color of a Kentucky whiskey.


 

 

 

 

It’s a sour, metallic, fruity joy.  The body is a little heavier than I expected which is delightful.  The insulation/mousse like head makes it feel a little creamy, then the carbonation hits, scouring the tongue just a bit.