I was in my local store the other night when a label on a beer bottle caught my eye. The beer was sporting a label with the distinctive art of Charles Burns (Black Hole, X’ed Out). Upon closer inspection, it was revealed that the beer was part of a year-long collaboration between Fantagraphics and Elysian Brewing (a Seattle craft brewer).
I know Burns is good. I know Fantagraphics is good. The real question is, is the beer any good? Only one way to find out.
In case you cannot read the label, it says that this is a Pale Beet Bock. When I opened it, my wife said, “It had better be pink.” It was. It is difficult to tell in the picture above, so I took the pic again, this time with a white paper behind to highlight the color.
The “solicitation” text on the beer reads: Beer #7 TORRENT Pale Beet Bock will tow you under with an earthy inundation of beets and malt, bringing satisfaction to the survivor in a beer the color of hellfire. Remember: THE END IS BEER.
Let’s see how it did.
First off, this beer tastes like beets. There is noway around it. The first sip hit my mouth in a smooth sip which rolled along the tongue. It was sweet, without being syrupy. And then the beets hit. I was expecting maybe a hint of beet in the aftertaste, or maybe even in the bouquet. But not a full on blast of beet in my mouth. Luckily I am a fan of beets, but to anyone who does not like the taste of beets this beer is going to be unpleasant.
The beet flavor lingers after the swallow, but it stays on the tongue. It does not move the nose the way so many coffee or even pumpkin flavored beers will. The malt mellows and contains it.
This is not a fast drinking beer. The entire bottle (1 pint, 6 ounces) lasted me much longer than the average two or three bottles of another beer. It isn’t so much that the beer is heavy (it isn’t). It is more that there is so much flavor in the beer that you have to slow down for fear of being overrun by it all. One bottle lasted the entire night, and even then, I found myself having to work a bit to get through it.
For the most part the beer delivers on its promises. It was definitely an inundation of beets. It was satisfying. It was pinkish in color, so it sort of falls short on the promise of being the color of hellfire. But, at 7% abv, it would not take more than two of these to make you see demons. But, best of all, the bottle has Charles Burns all over it.
Look for a new Charles burns-labeled beer each month through December when the world is supposed to end. You can find Elysian beers in finer markets.