One curated beer box. A bunch of crazy beers I’ve never seen before. Zero reason not to drink them. What will happen?
Like many other folks in the beer world, I was recently contacted by the fine folks at Tavour to give their service a try and see what I thought about their offerings. I thought, well, it’s been a long pandemic, I have a decent stretch of winter left and I currently have no qualms about taking free beer when offered unprompted.
(Though, to be clear, I do not go out and ask for free beer for the purpose of maybe writing or posting to Instagram about it.)
So, I said sure. Send me your curated box of beers. Let’s see what you’ve got. What I received in return was enough to support more than a few evenings of considered drinking, so I present to you: The Tavour Chronicles. Short snapshots of beers provided to me, gratis, by the Tavour Team.
And yes, this is where I tell you that if you want to have a similar kind of enjoyable experience, you can absolutely save $10 off your first order of $25 or more simply by downloading the Tavour app and using the promo code GDB. Easy, no? You will get an email or a push notification about once a day, but … they’re telling you about another great beer for you to try. Not the worst thing in the world.
For those unfamiliar, Tavour is a service that works with hundreds of breweries nationwide to ship beer to discerning drinkers and offer them brews that they’d otherwise have very little access to (if any). For example — the beers I’ve received in this shipment skewed hoppy, dark and sour per my preferences, and nearly all of them were from breweries I’d never had the chance to try before. The ones that I had tried previously — Phase Three, for example — are often times hard to find for a casual beer fan. I was into the idea of having these dropped on my doorstep.
Another thing I’ve come to appreciate after being a subscriber for some time is that Tavour isn’t just taking anyone who’ll work with them. This is clearly a very well curated service, working with breweries who are of a certain level of quality. In fact, not a single email comes into my inbox from these guys without some sort of third-party accolade talking about how great the beer is that they’re offering me. I like that.
Anyways, let’s start drinking our way through this box, shall we?
Urban Artifact Mixing Machine
“Mixed Berry Midwest Fruit Tart”
Do you like Hawaiian Punch? This is soclose to being basically “Hawaiian Punch – The Beer,” save for it being a bit too low on the acidity and a bit too flat in the carb — bounce both of those up a good 10-15% and you’re really in the ballpark. I don’t know anything about Urban Artifact as a brewery but this is a good first try — this is super berry forward to the point of being winelike and the lightly-translucent red body with an immediately disappearing head really helps drive that home.
The vanilla promised on the can adds a touch of light sweetness to cut the fruit down a bit which is nice and subtle; definitely no cake frosting here. If I had a pontoon boat and it was mid-July this would be putting up a good fight for space in my cooler.
Wait, this is 8% ABV? Hot damn. I’m going to add some sparkling water, mix in half the can and stretch this one out.
Braxton Labs’ Caribbean Breeze Smoothie
Gotta say, I was expecting something a lot thicker given the “smoothie” beers I’ve seen mocked all across Instagram, and I’m not mad that this poured more or less like a regular beer. That said, if you handed this to me and told me it was some sort of tea or kombucha, based on the visuals alone I’d have a hard time arguing with you.
Lightly tart and mildly tangy, I think the cherry/peach mix in here really skewed the whole mixture towards the stone fruit as I wasn’t finding much of that super-sugary pineappley goodness, and the mango is really hiding in the background wearing all black doing the tech work for the fruits on stage.
Not bad. Glad I tried it. Moving on.
Austin Brothers Beer Co. Sumo Sumatra Imperial Stout
For this beer, Tavour brought me something a little closer to home, though Alpena MI is still a bit of a haul. This stout promised Sumo-sized flavors and for the most part delivered, with Sumatran coffee, cocoa nibs and vanilla bean all in this particular mosh pit of a beer.
Sumo-sized body was not present, though, as this was a weirdly-thin beer for something supposedly so overweight. There’s plenty of candy sweetness right up front, followed by a decent amount of dark-roast coffee-ground flavor in the middle of the flavor and then this beer finishes bone-dry, which I found quite odd though not completely off putting. Different isn’t bad, and this was just different; unexpected. Might be worth a drive to check out some more beers from these guys.
Moonraker Brewing Co. Citra Double: Crushable Series
A solid hazy! At this point I find there’s very few new things to say about most hazy beers — they either work or they don’t and there isn’t a ton of flavor difference between most of them. Are they juicy or not juicy? Are they hazy or not hazy? Are they pleasant, or just blah?
File this one under “pleasant.”
Nice pillowy mouthfeel, bright sweet orange and pineapple citrus flavors, no finishing hop burn or grassiness. That ticks all the boxes I look for in your basic imperial hazy. Don’t know anything about Moonraker and it’s unlikely I’ll be getting to California to find them, but I’m glad to have had the chance to try them.
Parish Brewing / Untitled Art Gulf Coast IPA
I don’t fully know what I was expecting from this beer — would this Gulf Coast Via Wisconsin IPA be firmly plush and tropical, or would it be bitter and dank, or would it be a combination of both?
After seeing the recent news about Southern states going through a massive deep freeze, I decided that in some weird karmic way that my drinking this NOLA-ish beer would somehow help. I don’t think it did. And I don’t…know if I liked this or not?
It was fine, but it was somehow a collision of flavors that came together to make an IPA with perhaps too many ideas. (“Collaborations” can be like that sometimes.) Neither fully juicy nor full-on bitter, it leaned towards the side of pine/dank while some pops of lime zest and passionfruit punched up as much as it could, but to no avail.
DUBCO (Destination Unknown Beer Company) Dark Chocolate Orange Abuse of Stout
Okay, there is a LOT going on here, and I did not expect to really enjoy this. Somehow, it all worked – which astounds me since I do not like honey in pastry stouts (or most beers, really; there’s so many other ways to add sweetness). Cocoa nibs. Vanilla. Orange. Honey. All in a weirdly thin 12% ABV bombshell and hot damn if they didn’t pull it off.
This one drank crazy smooth, light and still managed to pack a ton of those promised flavors into every sip. Would gladly seek this out again – not all the time, but every now and then it’d be fun to pull out and marvel at.
Mikkeller SD Double Blush: Imperial Berliner with Raspberry and Coffee
Nnnnnnnnnnnnnope. This one’s a miss. It’s not like they took a coffee beer and added a little berry fruitiness to it. I could see that. This one is a big, rough, bodyslam of a sour raspberry beer that they seemingly just jammed a bunch of coffee grounds into. Big whoops.
Have you ever been drinking a big glass of juice – like a cranberry cocktail or a grape juice – and thought to yourself, “You know what this needs? COFFEE.” No. No one ever has.
Phase Three Brewing Crome DDH DIPA
The hype bar has been set pretty high for Phase Three and I was quite surprised to see something local to me show up in my box (in a good way). Even though this is the brewery closest to Chicago in my Tavour box, I rarely stumbled across their beers in the city without some effort (though the Booze Caboose near the French Market at Ogilvie station usually has some on hand – makes a great train beer on the way home from the Loop, if that’s a thing that people do any more).
For a brewery so quickly and highly elevated, this DDH DIPA seemed very by-the-book: lemony-yellow opaque body with a thick pillowy head; very pear-forward flavor and a soft finish with minimal hop burn. Sound like most of the DDH DIPAs you’ve had? Me too. Good, but can you blame me for expecting a bit more? Especially with the heights they’ve hit previously? Their Chantilly Strawberry beer was legitimately and begrudgingly amazing. Go find that.
Humble Forager Coastal Sunshine Fruited Sour
Hey, remember earlier when I was talking about Hawaiian Punch beer? Well, hold up there buckaroo, because we’ve got another contender for the crown. (Note to self: come up with Hawaiian Punch-sponsored sour beer competition where you get a crown of some sort.)
Humble Forager is a name I’m familiar with but not for anything in particular, so I came into this Wisconsin brewery with a pretty blank slate. And it’s a rare pleasure to find a fruited sour that features fruits that I’m honestly quite unfamiliar with. I couldn’t tell you what a soursop tastes like, and dragonfruit is a pretty mild flavor so I’m impressed that they managed to make it pop up and say hi in this. The combination of those fruits along with the much-more-common passionfruit makes for something that to me is unique, which is something special.
I love the nuclear-alarm red color, love the complex tart, kind of dusty nature to the flavor, it finishes quite dry and clean. It’s a bit too heavy to be a summer slammer but for the first beer out on the pontoon boat this is a great option before hitting the Summer Shandy.
Adroit Theory’s “BLVCK Celebration [Maple Syrup + Blackstrap Molasses + Black Lava Salt] (Ghost 944)”
I’ll admit it, I didn’t write out that full beer name up there. I copied it from Untappd. Forgive me but the name of this beer is like the name of a Rob Zombie song – weird and way longer than most other things out there. Cracking into this I had the feeling that I’d be into it, but I wasn’t prepared to enjoy it in a way completely different than what was promised on the can. Salinity from the salt? Nope! A rum-like sweetness or dark fruit richness from the molasses? Nope! Porter-y ness and maple-y-ness? Nope! Did I get what was basically a strong stout with some nice big hearty roasty notes to offset the naturally large amount of sweetness in here? Yep! Was it really good and I’d happily order another at the bar? Yep! Do I actually really like the name even if I’ll never say the full version out loud? Yep!
Fair State Co-Op / Burial Beer Sastruigi DDH IPA
Light, bright, easy drinking hazy with big notes of lemonade and lemon pith with maybe a touch of Sprite limon back in there as well. Nothing to spend too much time thinking about and plenty enjoyable for an easy-lifting type of beer. This is the type of collaboration where the two brewers were clearly having fun hanging out and didn’t kill themselves to make some sort of bonkers off-the-wall kind of brew.
The Fair State site says it was fermented cool with Kolsch yeast which I never would have guessed but is great to know because it definitely has that light borderline-next-door-to-a-lager crispness and tight attentuation to it, especially for an IPA. It’s just a good, airy beer for hazy hangouts. Nothing wrong with that.