25 May 2011

KOTBR #127 - Three Floyds' Barrel Aged Topless Smoke Pizza

Three Floyds Brewpub is a place that I wish was closer, but am also relieved that it's not. In the short time we were there, they changed 3 taps out for really awesome and interesting beers. Even with an incredible guest lineup, it's difficult to order something other than a Floyds beer.

But we ended up doing just that, but not before a glass of Topless Wytch, a Baltic Porter weighing in at a hefty 9%. For me, the beer was velvety smooth and went down very fast. I got a lot of chocolate notes and a little coffee and absolutely no bitterness. Quite spectacular, in my opinion. 3.5 Mugs

We were getting ready to head to the Illiana Mayfest for the afternoon, but we couldn't pass up an opportunity to share some of the great guest taps from Pizza Port and Victory. The three of us shared small pours of the three beers and quickly discovered that we were going to have to force ourselves to head out or we could easily get sucked into the atmosphere for the rest of the afternoon.

The first sample I tried was the Oat Smoke from Victory. I passed on trying this at Dark Lord Day and I probably shouldn't have. I'm not the hugest smoke beer fan, but I am not giving up on the style. I enjoy trying all of them and I get excited when I find one with elements that I like. Oat Smoke definitely had some of those qualities. This beer was certainly smoky, but it didn't contain the medicinal or band aid characters that my palate usually finds with this type of beer. 3 Mugs.

Our next sample was Pizza Port Night Rider Imperial Stout. If I didn't know this was an Imperial Stout, I never would have guessed it this was 10.5%. It drank like chocolate milk, both in flavor and body. 4.25 Mugs.

As we consumed and talked about the sample, the keg blew. We were really glad that we ordered it. But the remarkable thing about the Brew Pub is that just a few moments later, Dan, the Pub Manager wheeled in another barrel to replace the blown kegs immediately. I don't know if it is like that all of the time, but it is really awesome to not see a cup covering a tap handle and too see that they were replacing an awesome beer with another awesome beer. Kudos to them for that.

What they ended up replacing the Imperial Stout with was another Pizza Port selection. This time it was their Bourbon Barrel Aged Barleywine. This too was really, really nice. The sweetness from the Bourbon really made this beer shine. I don't know the abv on this one, and I assume it was pretty high. But I didn't get the stinging booziness that is generally associated with a bourbon barrel aged beer, or even a barleywine for that matter, and that was very interesting. Excellent beer. 4.45 Mugs.

Three Floyds Topless Wytch


Seriously, I went in before the Illiana Mayfest to have lunch before doing a lot of drinking.

And a warm up beer or two.

But I was thinking maybe Gumballhead or Pride and Joy.

But NOOOOOOOOOOO. Not only did they have their wonderful beers, but a kickass guest tap lineup. Seriously, big mistake going in here before a beer festival. Huge mistake.

Started with a Topless Wytch. This is Baltic porter is a dangerous, easy drinking beer. Nice percent alcohol by volume. I’m guessing a witch takes a drink of this and BOOM her top flies off. It has a lot of coffee notes. Chocolate appears as it warmed up. Served in a tulip glass. $5. 3.85 mugs.

We then left the sacred hunting grounds of the Three Floyds tap list to the guest list. Some of the guest beers were obviously left over from Dark Lord Day. Big win for us!

I’ve never been to southern California. And I’ve never had beers from Pizza Port Carlsbad. So I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try their Night Rider. This Imperial Stout is dangerously smooooooooooooooooth. Like Keith Stone. The bourbon characteristics from aging were light. It was big on chocolate. It was creamy. It was sweet. I think I should visit SoCal soon. 4.45 mugs.

I then moved to Victory Oak Smoke. I am always reluctant when I order a beer with “smoke” in its name. I’m not like the rest of the smoked beer riff-raff at HBG; I don’t care for smoked beers. So imagine my surprise when I found myself disappointed not by the amount of smoke, but the lack thereof. Light smoke, light oak, light mouthfeel. For a 7.5% beer, I was left underwehelmed. 2.75 mugs.

Just when I thought I was done… they put a Pizza Port Bourbon Barrel Aged Barleywine on tap. Fuck. Sure, I’ll drink another beer. Beautifully sweet with caramel notes. A lot of aromas. The barleywine is battling with the bourbon barrel for supremacy, all “Macho Man” Randy Savage-style (RIP brother). It is booooooooooozy. I’m lovin’ it. 4.75 mugs.

Pizza Port Night Rider Imperial Stout

We arrived at Three Floyds at 11AM on a Saturday. That's a problem; they don't open until noon. So we sat in the car in the parking lot, looking around, watching the brew pub staff hang around waiting for their day to start (smoking, sulking, looking intimidating, kicking rocks at my Miata and calling me "preppy", saying "dude" and "fuck" ("Fuck, dude!" "Dude.. fuck!") a lot), and noticing how small the parking lot looks when it's not filled with 6,000 people. Eventually we got scared and went and filled the car with gas.

I'm teasing.

When we came back, more customers soon joined us in the lot, and when a bus filled with guys holding PBR cans showed up and wandered around, we lined up at the door while the staff told them that they weren't allowed to do that.

People sort of geek out at Floyds, wandering all over the bar, just sort of freaking out about the place, I guess - and that probably makes sense. The space is filled with great things to look at, and you are at The World's Great Brewery, after all. That same staff takes it all in stride, encouraging folks to have a seat so they can make sure everyone is taken care of. They don't fuck around here - with the beer, food or service, but it's a welcoming place and one I'd love to have closer to home.

I can't be sure what the regular playlist is at Floyds, but on our visit it was the same sort of metal you'd hear at Dark Lord Day. Something about the music promotes drinking, and as a result (and thanks to the awesome lineup) we made our way through quite a few (shared) selections.

Topless Wytch - First off, the wytch on that tap handle clearly is wearing a top. And she had a head. So unless she's been cut in half (and maybe she has), the beer name is.. inaccurate.

The beer is Guinness black, with heavy lacing from a creamy head. Nose is light cocoa powder. It's a meaty sort of beer, not in flavor so much as in heft. Not a whole lot going on (maybe a lager yeast vs ale yeast thing) but it's a solid and satisfying beer. Doesn't go any strong direction. Nevertheless, tasty. 3.75 Mugs.

Pizza Port Carlsbad Night Rider Barrel Aged Imperial Stout - A black/creamy beast, with a big bourbon nose. The front is light on the tongue, leading to big but smooth vanilla flavors. 10.5% ABV, but it drinks like 6%. Reminds me of the Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout ice cream I made. 4.8 Mugs.

Victory Oat Smoke

Victory Oat Smoke - Deep ruby red. Smoked malt nose, but a hint of sweetness also lies there. Watery. Maybe it's the prior beers but this one doesn't get anywhere with me. Finishes with a smoked malt flouish. Inoffensive. Would drink again, perhaps context is an issue. 3.0 Mugs.

Pizza Port Carlsbad Barrel Aged Barleywine - Hot beer. Bigger bourbon nose than our other Pizza Port offering, hot on the lips, chocolatey bourbon syrup, with a very strong chocolate covered cherries thing going there. Syrupy. Dangerous. Hot/spicy, but not boozy.

Blind, I'd never guess this beer was a barleywine. None of the hoppiness you might expect. 4.78 Mugs.

Pizza Port Bourbon Barrel Aged Barleywine

Three Floyds Topless Wytch
Gina: 3.5 Mugs | Jason: 3.85 Mugs | Mike: 3.75 Mugs
KOTBR Score: 3.7 Mugs

Pizza Port Carlsbad Barrel Aged Night Rider Imperial Stout
Gina: 4.25 Mugs | Jason: 4.45 Mugs | Mike: 4.8 Mugs
KOTBR Score: 4.5 Mugs

Victory Oat Smoke
Gina: 3.0 Mugs | Jason: 2.75 Mugs | Mike: 3.0 Mugs
KOTBR Score: 2.91 Mugs

Pizza Port Carlsbad Barrel Aged Barleywine
Gina: 4.45 Mugs | Jason: 4.75 Mugs | Mike: 4.78 Mugs
KOTBR Score: 4.66 Mugs

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