Thursday, February 16, 2012

Singularity - Driftwood Brewery

Price: $11ish
Size: 750mL
Notes: Available at most local liquor stores for a limited time. We found it at Cascadia on Quadra.

Thought I would mix things up a bit and post a bit of a "locally available" product review. As a card-carrying member of the local beer club, CAMRA, beer was the obvious choice.

Driftwood Brewery started in 2008. It feels like longer. I really, really like their beer. I remember chatting with a Phillips staff person shortly afterwards and suggesting that Phillips didn't really need to worry about the competition. This wasn't because Driftwood's beers weren't delicious, they were just a wee bit less mainstream than Phillips selection. At the time, their most popular beer White Bark Ale, a cloudy wheat beer with the aftertaste of cilantro - not everyone's cup of tea! With the release of beers like Crooked Coast, a crisp and slightly hoppy amber ale, and a porter called "Blackstone" that's quite delicious, I do find myself torn between old favourites from Phillips and new favourites from Driftwood when faced with the selection at the liquor store.

However, with the release of this beer I do feel like there must be a bit of (healthy? good for the consumer, anyhow) competition going on between the two breweries. Mere weeks ago Phillips released their standard Imperial Stout "The Hammer" (with a Soviet-era man with hammer on the front) and a select portion of the bottles were aged in bourbon casks. Hmmmm... sounds familiar!

They upped the ante on the packaging this year, dipping the bottles in wax to finish them, turning an already delicious aesthetic into something extremely glorious and decadent. You can see a photo of this process on their Facebook page.

I like this beer more than my notes last year indicate. Admittedly - my technical understanding and taste in beer have both deepened significantly in the year since I wrote about the 2011 release but since taste is completely subjective (and yet people read this for some reason) I don't really feel the need to justify this too much!

Like last year, the smoothness is incredible. There is not a bitter, hoppy note in site. The sweetness level is much lower than I remember last year - about a 3 or 4 out of ten, and there really is a depth and 'char' taste that does contribute to a pretty fantastic impression of 'infinite depth' although the perception of 'zero volume' would really only be true after you reach the bottom of the bottle. This is a Strong Beer! I am barely 1/8 of the bottle in and I already can feel it - and this is after a hearty meal of curry. Drinkers be warned (or, encouraged).  The more I'm drinking, the better it's tasting.

I'm eating it along with some ice cream made by Ms Cold Comfort with some of their batch. The addition of cream, sugar, chocolate and vanilla made for an incredibly gentle, creamy ice cream. Pure decadence!

Love it! The bottle is jet black, the labeling is extremely minimal. Clearly some attention and thought went into designing this one to match the overall idea of the beer. Or, at least I think so, as I'm somewhat confused as to what they mean by 'singularity.'

Google says there are several definitions to choose from:
  • The quality of being one of a kind
    (technically untrue since Phillips just released an extremely similar beer. or maybe that was the point?)
  • technological singularity, which is the idea that we can't predict the future because technology changes too fast
    (are they saying that they never predicted they would be making this beer at this point in time, or perhaps that they are getting so much better at making beer who knows where they will be in a few years?)
  • mathematical singularity which can broadly be defined as a point when there is no definition for something
    (this beer is so amazing we just can't define it)
  • astronomical singularity which is the point at which the fabric of space and time ruptures
    (this beer is so amazing that your internal organs will leak embarrassingly into your pants)
Edited to add:
This review [which has been moved or removed, sorry folks] pointed out that the label looks like a black hole imploding. According to my research, "At the center of a black hole the singularity point has zero volume and infinite density." [source]. Now it all makes sense!

Not as awesome as expected with such an EPIC STATEMENT of a name. Sorry folks.

I think maybe it's preference, though, because I've kind of come to realize that as much as I like the idea of the novelty of aging things in barrels (see: Sea Cider's Rumrunner. YUM!), sometimes it comes out sweet. I don't really enjoy overly sweet beers too much. Your mileage may vary!

However, as promised it did have a lot of depth to it, and that was the only thing that made it go down smoothly. (Okay, well it's been a bit of a week so far - so maybe not the only thing!). Once I'd had a bit of spicy food, I did notice more of the deeper flavours and less of the sweet ones. A very smooth beer.