Hello, and welcome to night nine of the 13 Beers of Halloween, brought to you by the dark lords of The Daily Beard. Coming off a night of mango mead tastiness, tonight’s offering is pretty much as far removed from mead as one can get. It’s also one of the strongest beers I’ve ever had, and it has one of the sweetest labels I’ve ever seen on anything. Ever. It’s Thirsty Dog’s Wulver, fresh off an 11 month stint of chilling out in a bourbon barrel, and arriving with a beastly 12% ABV. It’s classified as a wee heavy ale, which is the same as the Skull Splitter Ale from earlier, except this beer has spent the past year mingling with bourbon soaked oak char. Now, before drinking this, I want everyone to melt down all the silver you can find, and turn them into bullets or swords or whatever else you can think of. I don’t think this beer will care if it’s a full moon or not, and I don’t want to take any chances.
The initial bottle aroma is an insanely potent bloom of toasted coconut, with notes of vanilla, chocolate, and roasted malts. It’s a monstrous aroma, driving straight through your nose and burying into the beer lobe of your brain. It has a stout-like heaviness that changes into a half beer, half bourbon hybrid. On top of everything, there’s a highly noticeable alcoholic edge. It’s not as sharp as a high proof alcohol, but it definitely packs a bigger punch than most other beers. After a few seconds, notes of caramel and oak rise up through the middle of the coconut and vanilla, clinging to the inside of your nose well after the bottle has been pulled away. All the ingredients are up front and fully loaded into each breath you take, dominating your senses even before you’ve tasted it.
That’s the thing with werewolves. They always have to be so savage. Nothing in moderation. I admire that quality, actually. Anyway, after too short a rest following that job with the witch, I received a note from my Blood Moon supplier. He needs a favor done, he needs it taken care of quietly, and he’s paying me top dollar for it. Silence and subtlety aren’t the easiest of goals to pull off when dealing with a werewolf, but I haven’t survived for 500 years by being sloppy. Besides, I’m running low on booze.
From what he’s told me, I’ll be looking for a big bastard by the name of Vladmir Romanov, one of the most notorious werewolves in the Balkan steppes. He’s been terrorizing small villages for years, slaughtering livestock and changing the occasional villager. Until a few weeks ago, that is. He’s made his way up and down the country side, leaving a trail of bodies behind him. And, now it’s up to me to go take care of him. As they say, back to the grind. What else is new, huh?
The first taste from the bottle is a massive explosion of toasted coconut, coffee, vanilla and oak that drops through your tongue like tasty napalm. The flavor is so intense, it makes you fill out a waiver before you even taste the first drop. A crazy-potent alcoholic edge is slightly masked by an overlying earthy sweetness, potentially from vanilla or chocolate notes, but make no mistake, you will taste and feel the alcohol whether you want to or not. The bourbon aging is in full force, creating massive notes of oak and vanilla that persists from start to finish. It’s so potent and brutal, you have to go super slow or else you’ll melt your tongue right out of your mouth. However, despite that, the aftertaste is a wonderfully sweet maltiness that lasts for about three years. On the tongue, the alcohol creates a definitive burn, but it continues quite smooth, with a bit of a tingle after the first few drinks.
I don’t know what it is about Eastern Europe that lends itself so well to mythical beasts. Maybe it’s the whole Dracula thing, or the run down, post communist vibe. Or, maybe it’s just the grey desolation that leaks out of the very ground. Whatever it is, it’s present here in…Cristeşti, Moldova. Where that is, I have no idea. I slept through the cattle-truck ride here. But, from the looks of things, something has these villagers spooked. Lamb’s blood protection wards, silver stakes and crosses hammered into any available surface, and armed farm boys patrolling the streets. Well, three farm boys at least. I don’t need to speak the language to understand that these people are under siege from a shape shifting psychopath. Luckily, full moon is in two days. I wonder what there is to eat around here…
The snifter aroma is the same as the bottle, except twice as massive. Colossal, toasted coconut and sweet chocolate bursts out from a volcano of coffee, roasted malts, oak and vanilla as a pyroclastic cloud of beastly proportions. Every flavor from the bottle is present in the aroma, as is the alcoholic kick. On the front, it is primarily comprised of bourbon notes, but there’s also a sugary rum-like quality that brings both a burn and a sweetness even before drinking. Visually, it pours a deep, clear roasted brown that collects into a super dark chestnut under a thin, white head.
Over the past two days, I’ve only seen a handful of villagers walking the streets. It seems that not even daylight is safe, though I haven’t caught sight of any wolfish man-beasts running around. This place reminds me of a little village in Brazil, about 70 years ago. Their werewolf was a smaller variety, but he was fast as hell. He could tear the throat of a full-grown man before anyone even knew what was happening. He became cocky, started attacking in the middle of the market place during the day, and boasting about his kill right in front of the poor bastards’ families. That was his favorite method. Well, until I unloaded a .45 full of silver slugs into his face. Gotta love memories. Anyway, for this job, I’ve beefed up the arsenal a bit, bringing a pump-action shotty loaded with 120 grain silver slugs. Overkill? Possibly, but I always say if it’s worth killing, it’s worth overkilling. In addition to the shotty, I’m wearing full Kevlar, steel toes, wolfsbane wrist wraps, and my Hadrubaal head band because it’s bad ass. I’m also packing a snub nosed .45 just in case. Sun’s going down within the hour, and the full moon’s just about to start peaking over the mountains. I’ve been told he starts his night at an outlying farm, slaughtering sheep to get his rocks off. I’ll catch up with him there, and see if he wants to chat.
Before I describe the snifter taste, I’ll let you know that my tongue has just burst into flame from the strength of this beer. These flavors are so potent, the only words I can think of to describe it are insanity, enormous, gigantic, hellfire, and please spare my soul. The first tastes show huge, alcoholic notes of oak, vanilla, chocolate and coffee, while toasted coconut and roasted malts burn and smolder at the back end. The same earthy sweetness tries its best to keep that biting alcoholic wave at bay, but it ultimately just ends up focusing it across your tongue. The aftertaste is sweet coffee and bready malts once more, but with each taste, it becomes more and more difficult to discern the specific flavors as the mouth starts to tingle and go numb after just a few drinks. Despite the crazy harsh bite, it flows rich and smooth over the tongue before finishing as a sweet, lingering burn at the back of the throat. Be sure to sip this as you would bourbon or whiskey. Not only will it equalize the flavors, but it will also make each flavor last longer, and save you from losing your esophagus.
He didn’t try to hide his approach. Loud, crashing gallops through the underbrush gave him away before the silver light of the moon revealed his position. He must not know I’m here. That’s good. I was told he has a scar across his chest, from shoulder to hip. Not that I needed additional proof that this was the right werewolf, but I’m not in the business of random killings. Anyway, once he swaggered out of the field and into the moonlight, I knew it was him. He was massive, standing near eight feet tall, wrapped in layers of bulging muscle, and of course, a deep, shiny scar across his chest. I slip around behind the sheep barn, sticking to the shadows as I pull a Bane out of my pocket and bite down on it. No light tonight – he’d smell the smoke from a mile away.
I crouch down behind the cracked engine block of a rusty old tractor, loading my slugs into the shotty, and tossing a thin, razor-sharp silver trip wire out across the ground. It anchors into a silo ten feet away. I leave it slack across the ground, holding the wire handle in my hand as I peer through the decrepit skeleton of a communist born John Deere. He’s making his way towards me, sniffing around like a kid in a candy store. Or a dog in a butchers’ shop. Suddenly, he lets out a howl and takes off towards the tractor. I pull the wire taut and wait. No turning back now. Biting down on the Bane, I lean back. I can hear him panting as he comes closer, able to see the sweat glistening off of his chest. Ah what the hell, he’s close enough now. I reach into my pocket and pull out a match, striking it against the tractor and bringing the flame to the tip of the cig. I toss the match behind me and turn back to Rover. I don’t even think he noticed . Must be too deep into his blood lust. I grin, taking a drag as I watch him pass beside the tractor.
This beer is insane. Sure, it may not be the strongest out there, but the mix of alcohol, huge flavors, and aged bourbon potency collide to create a teeth melting firestorm of biting tastiness. Huge notes of toasted coconuts, oak and vanilla make up the primary flavors, while chocolate, coffee and roasted malts support from a massive base. The entire drink is topped with a thick, earthy sweetness, as well as a colossal alcoholic bite that will put hair on your chest, before burning that hair off, and then punching you in the throat. A sweet, bread malt aftertaste prolongs a mild flavor alongside a long lasting alcoholic burn and tingle across the entire mouth. Despite the biting strength, it feels quite smooth over the tongue. Be sure to go slow in order to bring out all the flavors and enjoy them without drowning in the alcohol, and keep in mind that the price may be a bit steep for the super unique and strong qualities it offers, but if you’re into incredible potency, this will be right up your alley.
As he passes by the tractor, he finally catches wind of the cig smoke. Too late, though. His feet catch the tripwire, slicing into the muscle and sending him to the ground. I stand up and level the shotty at his chest. He’s vicious, flailing and snarling on the ground, not yet realizing his feet are just about useless. I stand clear, but remain close enough to guarantee a shot. I’m about to ask if he’d like to explain himself, when I notice something around his neck. A necklace of human ears and finger bones. Sorry pal, no talking your way out of this one. I bring the shotty up to my shoulder and aim, taking a drag on the Bane and staring into his eyes. Exhaling slowly, I pull the trigger, sending a slug between his eyes with enough force to knock diamonds loose a mile deep. It’s not pretty, but damn if it’s not effective. I take one last drag from the cig and lean down next to him, snuffing the Bane out against his chest. Who know’s what drove this guy to such animalistic actions. Hell, who knows why I’m still going. That’s not important. What is important is getting out of here before the “we’re saved” party begins. I hate parties…
My suggestions for drinking this are strictly during the evening. A long, slow night-cap, either in the summer to relax, or in the winter to stay warm. My horror genre is, of course, werewolf horror, such as An American Werewolf in London. Thirsty Dog’s Wulver earns a full moon sized B+.
Lasting Strength: 10/10
Overall: 8.8/10 B+