Saturday, November 24, 2012

Dork Lord Tasting 2006-2012

No, that’s not a mis-spelling.

So tonight I went to the geekiest beer nerd event I’ve ever had the privilege of attending. And I mean the geekiest. Hands down. What made it particularly enjoyable for was that it focused on a beer I don’t know that much about—I have only tried Dark Lord once prior to this evening—as well as an aspect of beer culture that I don’t normally follow either: tracking down and collecting the rare and elusive special versions of already rare and elusive beers, like the Cognac Barrel Aged Dark Lord 2012 or the Cognac Barrel Aged Dark Lord 2012 aged on Ancho Guajillo Chilis, bottles that were both opened this evening. Certainly, I like the idea of both Dark Lord and rare American craft beer, but I do not have the time, or, more importantly, the money, to dedicate to tracking down products like this. But I won’t lie—I’m certainly happy to taste them when they come my way. Very happy. Plus, my overall lack of knowledge regarding this segment of American beer geek culture meant that I got to observe the evening as something of an outsider: I got to enjoy the atmosphere and refreshments while not being quite fully cognizant of the larger conversation regarding Dark Lord that I witnessed. In other words, it was a pure spectatorial pleasure at all levels.

The seven different Dark Lord vintages that were on display made for an enjoyable comparative tasting. There was a significant shift across the beers—with Dark Lord, age certainly does help, as the brightness, sharpness, and alcohol presence in the 2011 and 2012 were a bit much. However, I’m not sure my verbiage can match the gustatory enjoyment expressed by others in attendance. And that, my dear readers, is saying something. I had never thought to use “soy sauce” as a descriptor for a beer, and yet the term fit perfectly with the attributes being described by numerous attendees. My only low point during the Dark Lord portion of the tasting was that my 2007 pour was, I think, the last from the bottle—it was a silty, gritty, chalky mess that in no way matched the conversation I heard going on around me. So I kept quite and took one for the team. After the initial run through the 2006-20012 vintages, the two specialty bottles— the aforementioned Cognac Barrel Aged Dark Lord 2012 and the Cognac Barrel Aged Dark Lord 2012 aged on Ancho Guajillo Chilis—got cracked and sampled. The Cognac version was a delight, although another year or two would undoubtedly further improve the beer, while the Ancho Guajillo Chili version was a bit too spicy for the beer. Which is saying something for a beer that has a FG in the 1.050s. There was also a bottle of Three Floyds Barrel-Aged Alpha Claws something-or-other, but my memory of it is lost in the shuffle of other drinking delights. See how dismissive one becomes when surrounded by such a cornucopia of unadulterated beer porn?

Additionally, everyone who attended brought a bottle of their own to share after the initial round of tasting. I brought a Goose Island Bourbon County Stout from 2009; compared to what others brought, I felt a bit lame. But then again, I am not so sure that there is anything that cool in my basement. I did get to try Westvleteren 12 for the first time this evening as well—chalk it up to another first in an evening full of firsts. My favorite beer of the evening was Arcadia XV, a brown ale aged in wine barrels with Michigan cherries. We also got to try Arcadia 15, which was aged in bourbon barrels, but it wasn't nearly as good. My greatest regret is that I didn’t get to finally try the Bruery’s Black Tuesday—I had to head for home before it got opened. Foiled again. Do enjoy the picture of the spoils that I “borrowed” from Joshua Hatfield.

Thanks, Gus, for an excellent evening. It was super awesome. Oh, and if you’d like to see the video produced during this delightful evening, go here. While not epic (and I do use that term with all its ironic glory), it is, well, posted on the internet.



  1. I enjoy the label. How were you feeling after you finished this one?

  2. Fine. I had to leave early, so I didn't hit it as hard as others might have. I might have liked to, but I didn't.