FlacoAlto (3737) - Tucson, Arizona, USA - NOV 30, 2013
3.5 AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 15/20
A careful pour into my New Belgium globe glass produces a fat-two-finger + over a finger more over the rim of my glass, pale tan colored head. The aroma smells quite spicy in an earthy kind of way; touches of anise, cardamom perhaps, and some rounded molasses are the most noticeable, though the licorice / anise note is definitely the strongest note here in the aroma. There might be some supporting clove character from the yeast, and a soft, slightly nutty, toasted whole grain cracker like maltiness that just peaks out from behind the spices. As my nose adjusts the aromatics get more herbal with notes of fennel, perhaps some thyme like notes, and a woody note that is somewhat like rosemary, but definitely distinct. At times there is a distinct, green, herbal note that sort of reminds me a bit of a freshly sliced aloe-vera leaf.
The beer is fairly dry, but has a soft creamy texture while still being light on the palate. The beer tastes of anise, floral at first, but then more of a lingering licorice like note towards the finish. An ample carbonation adds some prickliness, peppery spicy character and texture to this beer. The finish has an astrigency and spicy bite to it from lingering herbal notes; woody, slightly peppery, rosemary like, fennel leaves, as well as some turpene like, wood-sap leaning note that lingers a bit on the palate. There is a soft caramelized malt, toasted whole grain character that melds pretty well with the dominant herbal notes. The yeast character accentuates a soft earthiness, some mustiness, and definitely the spice character of this beer.
This is a really interesting brewery; I may not entirely agree with the aggressive herbal / spice focus of these beers, but they manage to keep these note from being overwhelming, despite being pretty dominant. Definitely a brewery I wouldn’t mind trying everything from. I regret not picking up more of these during my last trip, and I’ll have to figure out a way to get more. In the end this does manage to strike a nice balance between the dominant herbal / spice notes and the supporting malt / yeast character.
5000 (5984) - Hardened Liver, Washington, USA - SEP 29, 2013
3.2 AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 13/20
Bottle:   Dark orangish straw, thin to moderate sudsy white head, spotty lacing.   Rustic herbal nose, yeasty, barnish, but not as bright or sweet in floralness as some others.   Musty and barnish on the nose, muted straw and spices.   Same on the tongue.   Clean at least.   Body and mouthfeel are moderate to full.   Musty herbal finish, a little shrubby too, pale earthiness.   Decent, but really needs a bit of sweetness or bright floral notes to make it more... well, bright.
3fourths (7771) - Boulder, Colorado, USA - JUN 30, 2013
3.4 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 14/20
Draft. Hazed amber body with a small head. Fennel seed and anise herbaceousness with amber / caramel malt base, lightly phenolic and estery peach / citrus, lightly floral. Low, creamy carbonation with a smooth malt texture. Medium sweetness, low bitterness, medium-low acid. Lingering fennel licorice herbal spiciness with touches of stone fruit / peach fuzz. Decent stuff, but I’d be more interested in trying their attempt at an unadulterated saison.