Oh, the interwebs. A marvelous series of tubes helping bring beer geeks together though they be separated by many miles. Last Saturday, that is exactly what it did. Long story short? I was chatting with fellow beer geek extraordinaire Lance about his recent procurement of 3 Floyds Zombie Dust. Well, it wasn’t long before Lance was good enough to offer me a trade. Perhaps it was our impatience, or our excitement, or my recent distrust of UPS and a “lost” package… in any case we decided to meet halfway across the state, have lunch, and trade some craft beer. My wife and I made a nice Saturday drive of it and she even threw in one of her stout cupcakes (with Irish Cream frosting) to seal the deal.
Today’s review is remarkably appropriate since the mid-season premier of The Walking Dead will be on in 2 days! The wife and I are pretty excited. Without further ado… Let’s pour!
Aroma 11/12: Wow! The label says Pale Ale, but this is clearly an IPA if not a DIPA. Pine resin aroma is thick in the nose and not far behind is a splendid combination of honey, peach (a bit of mango), and grapefruit bitter. A 2-3 oz. pour for smelling really lets the hops settle down and allows some malts to showcase their talents. It was a rapid transition from the aforementioned fruits to a musty straw type of malt with herbal hops, the pine still lingering just behind them. Pouring the full glass strengthened the hops and made it difficult to pick out the odd herbal and musty notes again, which, I confess, I did not detect at all in my first bottle. However, a general sweetness has settled over the glass comprised of honey and citrus hops. Caramel may be in there too, but it is blended to well and is competing against some rather formidable hops. After warming the aroma becomes much brighter and shows its citric acidity.
Appearance 3/3: If you look at the picture below and don’t want to drink it, you don’t like beer. It. Looks. Gorgeous. The head is perfect in portion, has a nice pastel orange color, leaves fair lacing, and is stiff enough to shake (not wave) whenever I disturb the tulip glass. The color is assisted by an all but perfect clarity and is full of bright honey shades, hints of peach, and lightly hued copper. Fantastic.
Flavor 20/20: It starts with a light, sweet malt flavor that is soon CRUSHED by an absolute tidal wave of hoppy goodness. The contrast is almost cartoonish and gives me a new appreciation for their bottle art. The backbone is hops doing their thing. The primary flavor is the grapefruit, the resin second, and the pine third. The pine fades away to allow a dull lemon to come through and mingle with the initial grapefruit flavor, making it slightly brighter and more acidic. A quick slurp brings out the alcohol (ABV not indicated on the label) and a lot of the fruit flavors! After the beer warms it truly becomes more complex and allows the sweeter flavors to have their say. The peach-mango note from the aroma is faint, but present and is more easily detected against the now present malts. The resin’s bitterness mixes with the malts and would have us believe that they’re burnt, but truly they’re a light caramel that, with the honey, tries mightily to provide some sweetness to balance this hoppy brew. The finish is a sharp bitter that initially tingles the tongue (literally), but eventually the palate acclimates and the drinker is allowed to focus on the creamy texture and drying, bitter, sticky aftertaste.
Mouthfeel 5/5: This beer does a lot of cool things texture-wise. Most noticeably is that it foams up very nicely in the mouth. Not so much as to fill the mouth, but definitely enough to cover the tongue in a comforting way. The best simile that I can give is that of several inches worth of feathers covering a floor after a pillow fight. It’s not to the ceiling, but it’s definitely buried. The carbonation is tiny and leans more toward being refreshing and spirited instead of trying to make this beer seem heavier than it is. Overall, the mouthfeel is… deceptive. I’d call it medium, but the citrus flavors and the carbonation want you to believe that this beer is lighter than it really is.
Overall Impression 9/10: What can I say? I really enjoyed it. It has a big hop aroma, lighter mouthfeel than most “serious” IPAs, and is very complex as a whole. It smells like absolute heaven! Honey, fruits, resin, pine… I need to trade for this stuff all the time! The taste is also fantastic. It’s definitely hop leaning, but if you let it warm a bit you’re in for a much more balanced, citrus-sweet ride. I cannot recommend enough to let this beer warm.
Total 48/50: I think that the only thing holding this beer back is inconsistency. Maybe it’s just so complex that I can’t quite get a handle on it and see something new every time. My first bottle (several days ago) earned the remarks from me, “DAMN! Resin galore and a very light body!” The first bottle that I had tonight, definitely had some funky flavors in the aroma (straw, herbal hops, etc). The second bottle was more like the first: honey, hops, citrus goodness, but still offered more caramel than either of the previous two. I’m not sure what to make of all this. I’m not an expert, that’s for certain. However, I’m no slouch either and I’d like to think I can taste differences like these. Very odd.
In any case, they seem to all feature the honey, peach/mango, resin, pine and lighter nature. This is the center around which all the bottles seemed to rotate. I’m more than OK with that. I wish I could buy cases of this. CASES! It’s supremely tasty and I don’t feel weighed down at all. It makes me wish my wife didn’t appreciate “The Walking Dead” as much so that I wouldn’t have to share a bottle! But what’s craft beer without sharing, right? After all, I’m glad that Lance shared this with me. It’s only right to keep the beer karma rolling, to “pay it forward,” and share this ungodly, undead brew. You could buy this for the aroma alone. It’s enough to keep you busy. A big, fat “CHEERS” to 3 Floyds. Your reputation is well-deserved.
The bottle reads, “This intensely hopped and gushing undead pale ale will be ones only respite after the zombie apocalypse. Created with marvelous friends in the comic industry. Art by Tim Seeley.”
Joel R. Kolander is the Cheif Blogger for Sud Savant, a beer-savoring blog for the rest of us. We’re not here to get plowed. We’re not here because we are world-famous beer critics. We’re here because we enjoy savoring a great beer with even better friends. Sharing great beer is just as amazing as finding it in the first place. Lets share!