As we endure the last cold snap of spring and look toward a new season of Showtime’s Penny Dreadful, it’s time we finished off some of our late winter/early spring brews. In this post, we’ll take a look at some beers with creepy, unsettling, and downright nasty labels and taste what kinds of sudsy goodness is inside. Let’s start with downright nasty. Indiana’s Three Floyds Brewing Company brewed a limited overhopped amber ale called Amber Smashed Face whose label prominently displays a dozen ghouls in different stages of decomposition based of the visuals of the metal band Cannibal Corpse. I’m not really sure who this is marketed to, but I guess Wisconsin metalheads with spending money reserved for craft beer and a Halloween vice like us will buy something like this, but we are probably a limited audience. The Amber Smashed Face (which is a wordplay off of Cannibal Corpse’s much-loved song Hammer Smashed Face for the uninitiated) is solidly carbonated and pours out a orange butter color with a loose, but lingering foamy head. Can’t say this is a beautiful beer. The nose is suddenly hoppy with a touch of pine. There’s no doubt that it is, as the bottle says, ‘aggressively hopped’ since it smells and tastes like an IPA. The lacing held down the pilsner glass as I drank in the way I really like, but if you are looking to drink an amber, this isn’t it. It’s worth a try, though, especially if you like IPAs.
Our next beer is Stillwater Artisanal’s Folklore untraditional stout with its label adorned with a satyr-like harlequin bedecked with two stark-faced sisters playing violins. Trollway Liquors touted this beer at checkout and they are not wrong. This is my favorite beer since Lake Louie’s Twins maibock last year at this time. It pours out black with a finger’s worth of tan head like a stout would. The aroma is even, roasted malt and pleasing. On the palate, Folklore is a wonderfully-balanced blend of coffee, dark chocolate, and roasted malt with a touch of smoke in the background. Stillwater did such a great job balancing this beer, I triple-dog dare you to guess the ABV. You won’t be close. This beer is so great with hard cheese.
The last of the trio of creepy labels feature a hooded and skeletonized dark angel raising a chalice to the heavens (or hells). The beer is O’so Brewing’s Liquid Soul Imperial Stout and it fits this beer style nicely. In the glass, Liquid Soul sits in pitch black stillness capped with a frothy dark beige head with little lacing. The nose is slight, with roasty malt and raisins. The taste echoes its nose, dates and other dark fruit, roasted malt, and coffee melting away with bittersweet smoked chocolate. I love O’so. It’s hard to argue that they aren’t the best craft brewery in Wisconsin right now.