6/4/20: Tales from the Cellar #10--Burial Beer Company's Anno Domini MMXVIII

3:37 PM

We're ten entries deep into Tales from the Cellar. It's been fun, but, barring an intense resurgence of COVID-19 (which I'm actually kind of expecting but hoping we avoid), this'll be the penultimate entry. I'll do one more, but that'll be it. I'm now working at my place of employment for three-fifths of my week. The virus isn't gone, we're still up to our chins in this pandemic, but life's moving on. Like it always does. Regardless, you'd still better be wearing masks when you go out.

Today's entry is from Asheville, NC's Burial Beer Company. I've been to the brewery twice: Once when I was visiting a buddy from college and again during our honeymoon. The beer-day trip to Asheville that held that second visit was super self-indulgent of me but Michelle was a trooper during the whole thing (she liked Asheville even though she's not big into beer--thanks for humoring me, Shelly!).

This bottle of Anno Domini MMXVIII (2018 henceforth) was purchased during our honeymoon. I was saving it for the bottleshare of a big, funky sour release day that one of my favorite Cincinnati breweries used to do, but that hasn't happened since May 2018. So, I can't say I was too disappointed when I blindly pulled this from my cellar. Let's see how its drinking in Anno Domini MMXX.

Between watching the video embedded in Burial's "Story" page and reading through their "Asheville Taproom and Kitchen" page, I'm reporting back with the following: The company was founded by Jess Reiser, Doug Reiser, and Tim Gormley in what's now known as Asheville's South Slope District in 2013. They like to experiment with beer while resurrecting forgotten European styles of yore.

I'd call 2018 an experimental beer. While it's not listed in the Beer section of Burial's website, an official description of it still lives on via this Facebook post. It's an 8.0% ABV dark ale cuvée that was soured in foudres with brettanomyces and lactobacillus before aging in bourbon barrels. After that aging it rested on orange peels and cacao nibs in a steel tank. The beer was then set to condition in the bottles that've held it since. Now, I'm ready to drink it.

I'll note that there's some floaters in the beer. I stored this bottle on its side but it's been upright in my fridge for the last few days. I'm keen to throw it back anyway.

2018's bouquet is downright floral. It smells like walking through a flower garden in the spring. Returning to it, I find a mild bit of sourness and slight oak from the bourbon barrels. I can't suss out booze, orange, or cacao. This isn't the nose I'd expected but I'm pleasantly surprised. Henrietta enjoyed it as much as me--she gave the bottle 32 (!) whiffs. EDIT WHILE PROOFING THE POST: The floweriness has dissipated. Sour's mainly what's left.

The sourness is much more prominent in the flavor profile. It's sour, warming, and damn fine. I get some of the bourbon barrel in the long finish and just a nibble of booziness. The essence of the orange peel and the cacao nibs are here, but they're more ephemerial than anything. Like, I get the ghosts of them. I wouldn't be able to tell you they're present if I didn't know their role in the ale's creation, however.

After two years, the beer still has a lively amount of carbonation. It's velvety, which melds brilliantly with the sourness of the ale.

Look, I know I'd usually link the beer to a memory at this part of the post, but I just can't right now. I remembered my two trips to Asheville earlier in this post when I mentioned them and I'm not going to write about them here. Instead, I'll direct you to my last post about Black Lives and how they Matter (I shouldn't have to say that. If you're reading this you should know as much) and encourage you to read through this document and donate to some of the organizations it lists.

Burial's Anno Domini MMXVIII is a hell of a beer. 10/10. Gold Tier. Two years on, it's still drinking amazingly. If you ever get a chance to try some, don't let it pass you by.

Wear a mask when you go out.

Black Lives Matter.

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