Perhaps this beer was doomed to get bad reviews from the beginning. After all, Three Floyds and DFH are known for their bold, sometimes very hoppy and extreme brews. So, I think when most people heard that they were doing a collaboration, they assumed this would be a a huge beast of a beer–something that perhaps topped World Wide Stout, Dark Lord, or 120 min IPA. I assume that people were simply licking their chops about the prospect of such a match made in heaven. Like many craft brew lovers, I have tremendous respect for both of these breweries and expected what many others did. A big beer was all that crossed my mind.
What people got, however, was a “normal”–i.e., not extreme–beer. I think that the knee-jerk reaction was to automatically drop the beer down to mediocre or only slightly above mediocre because of the unfulfilled expectations. I refuse to be part of that. I think that this German Brown Ale is a very good beer. Maybe the most ingenious thing about this marriage of DFH and Three Floyds is its restraint against extremism.
The Pour: Popskull had some very nice brown colors, which reminded me of a Porter (this would turn out to be prescient for the rest of the beer). There was a light brown head that didn’t hang around for very long.
The Nose: Sweet malts and a slight smokiness were the first impression of the beer that really stuck out to me. Perhaps the smoky quality came from the wood aging that was used in the process. The hops were very very restrained. A very slight touch of alcohol came through, along with grains and hints of coffee. Nuts and caramel could also be noticed.
The Taste: Once again I can’t help but note that this beer had some very brown porter qualities to it. Smoke, coffee, and slightly burnt grain qualities all added to the porter impressions. The nuts and caramel also added to my porter case. Residual sweetness came through, along with some nice, acidic juiciness. A somewhat thick mouth-feel made the beer seem pretty substantial. Popskull was malty and ended with a semi-dry finish.
Overall, I think Popskull has gotten reviews that are too critical based on expectations. For what the beer is and what it does, it is a very good beer.
Among other Browns:
Among other Ales: