Thursday, June 4, 2009

Pop Skull: Significantly Better Than Moonshine

When I was working on a limited edition beer piece for All About Beer magazine back in February, I got in touch with Barnaby Struve, one of the brewers at Three Floyds, so that I could interview him about their Dark Lord Russian imperial stout that's caused such a mania. Turns out Barnaby is a major metalhead—and a really nice guy, to boot—so we hit it off immediately. Anyway, I meekly asked for a sample bottle of Dark Lord so I that I would be able to write about it authortatively in my article and he graciously said that he'd put something together for me. Two days later a massive box arrived via FedEx with two bottles of the 2008 vintage of Dark Lord…plus 2 bottles of Brian Boru, 1 bottle of Oatgoop and 1 bottle of Pop Skull, Three Floyds' collaboration with Dogfish Head (and the reason for this post).

I was able to write about Dark Lord for the article, but just didn't have the space to talk about the others, specifically the Pop Skull (apparently an old slang term for moonshine), which was released right around the same time as Dark Lord in April, and was available on draught at DLD. So, I thought I'd just knock out a quick post about my impressions of it, even though it's probably all but impossible to get now.

I actually opened and tasted it with five friends on the same evening I tasted all the other beers mentioned in the article, but it was the only one that didn't get mentioned, and not because we didn't like it. I tried to include everyone's feedback in my notes, and one of the best I got for Pop Skull was that it tasted like tiramisu—kinda boozy, a little sweet and with some definite coffee and chocolate notes. The smell was funky, herbaceous, woody and smoky—no doubt a result of the Palo Santo wood aging and "botanicals" involved—and the color reminded me of muddy coffee.

I don't know who was responsible for what in this two-brewery collaboration, but this seems to have hallmarks of both—the Palo Santo wood that Dogfish Head has been using and the cool label and "not normal" beer-making that Three Floyds is known for. Wish I had more.


Invisible Oranges said...

I don't even drink beer, but this beer thing you've got going seems like so much fun. It also seems like if you sample a bunch of beers, your judgment as to the last few might be affected b/c of boozing it up on their predecessors.


Yeah, that's why you have to "taste," rather than "drink"! We were splitting 22 oz. bottles 6 ways, so even if the beer is strong like all of them were, you still taste less than 4 oz. each.