Saturday, February 27, 2010

Two skulls are better than one: Popskull

Trends in the beer business come and go, and the latest trend in the beer industry for the last few years has been collaboration beers. What is a collaboration beer? It is a when two or more breweries join up to create a beer and market the beer with said brewers taking the credit for it. Some brewers will do a series, with a beer being brewed at one brewery one year, only to have the other brewery in the collaboration brew it the next.

Popskull is a one off collaboration beer that comes from the Three Floyds Brewing Company of Munster, IN and the Dogfish Head Brewery of Milton, DE. This particular beer was brewed and bottled at Three Floyds in Munster, IN and was brewed in January of 2009. I visited Three Floyds last June and picked up a few 22 oz bottles of this beer. Popskull is based on an Oude Braun or "old brown" which is a Belgian beer style. This version is comes in at a mighty 10% abv, is brewed with "botanicals" and aged on Palo Santo wood. Popskull is slang for moonshine that was produced in the United States during Prohibition. I'm happy to say, you might get a hang over if you drink too much of this one, but its not the rot gut stuff that literally made your skull feel like it was going to pop. This is a complex, strong, rich, flavorful beer meant to sip and savor. With the high alcohol content, it is a beer than you can actually cellar and age. I'm not sure if FFF and DFH are ever going to do this beer again, so the 2009 vintage brewed in Munster, IN just might be it.
Popskull pours to a deep, tawny brown color with a tight, tan head that fades and a moderate to soft carbonation. The nose on this beer is very pleasing. Lots of good spice aromas of cinnamon, pepper, coriander and vanilla pair with some grassy/herbal hop aroma. Hints of chocolate and light coffee notes as well. Really a lot going on here. The palate offers the same, good caramel and chocolate malt flavors pair with hints of cinnamon, vanilla, and coffee and an undertone of estery fruit and orange peel . This beer finishes with more good dark malt and coffee flavor up front, then ends with a touch of fruit and coffee roasty flavor.

Very impressive. Dangerously drinkable as it hides its 10% abv very well. Popskull is well worth buying if you see it, but good luck finding it. I was fortunate to pick some up at the brewery in IN, and am yet so see it anywhere in the markets on the East Coast where Dogfish Head beers are sold. If you can find this one, snap it up, as this one appears to be a one off collaboration beer, and odds are it may never be brewed again.

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