Monday, May 6, 2013

Founders Doom: An imperial IPA gets even heavier

Posted By on 05.06.13 at 02:00 PM

A bottle of Founders Doom impersonating the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • A bottle of Founders Doom impersonating the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey
I almost wish Founders had called its bourbon-barrel imperial IPA "Thrash," as inapt as that name would be—that way it'd be marginally less awkward to use this review to talk about the death of founding Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman, who succumbed to liver failure at age 49 on Thursday. The organ damage that helped kill him was almost certainly related to his bout with necrotizing fasciitis, aka the flesh-eating bacteria, which he said he contracted from (of all things) a spider bite. You'd think it would take the devil himself to finish off anybody in Slayer.

Hanneman has been eulogized all over the Internet already, though, and by plenty of folks better qualified than me. If you care at all about the "metal" part of this Beer and Metal series, I'm not breaking the news to you now. When I reviewed Doom, I poured some out for the man who wrote "Angel of Death."

Doom is a version of Founders' alarmingly good imperial IPA, Double Trouble, that's spent four months in bourbon barrels. (Where Founders IPAs are concerned, I reserve the epithet "dangerously good" for Devil Dancer. That's not to say it's better, but it's certainly more dangerous.) Released in April, Doom is the latest beer in the brewery's Backstage Series, which also includes the barrel-aged barleywine Bolt Cutter. You might know it as "Hand of Doom," its name as a tap-only beer.

The label art even looks like an Evoken album cover. I like the tombstones in the shape of beer bottles.
  • The label art even looks like an Evoken album cover. I like the tombstones in the shape of beer bottles.
An uncautious pour stirs up a rocky, fluffy, sticky white head, though it leaves little lacing and eventually recedes to a ring. The beer has a clear gold color very much like honey, though you wouldn't know it from the photo below—I don't seem to be terribly competent when it comes to setting the exposure time on my knackered old camera.

When I took my first snort of Doom (there's a phrase you don't see every day), I flashed back to a backyard cookout where a buddy had grilled pineapple rings painted with a glaze of whiskey and brown sugar. The aroma is mouth-wateringly fruity, with lots more than pineapple—I also get tangerine, peach, and canteloupe. The malts and the barreling treatment contribute vanilla custard, bourbon, and toffee, and the hops add a bit of fresh-cut grass, plus a whiff of cedar or juniper. Stir the head up with a good swirl of your glass and you can smell a bit of grapefruit rind and something peppery and herbal, with a touch of scallion greens.

Its really a shame I broke that green glass vase.
  • It's really a shame I broke that green glass vase.

The flavor is creamy and sweet up front, with lots of vanilla and toffee again, plus some unctuous toasted coconut. Midway through the profile, the hoppiness comes forward, and at the moment of transition I'm persuaded I can taste caramelized pine sap (can you even caramelize sap?) alongside a clean, sharp bitterness. The hops don't fight the oak and bourbon, which is a mercy—I've been disappointed by my share of barrel-aged IPAs—but they don't really complement it either. The fruitiness is almost gone here, though I can pick up some dried apricot and garlic chives. Overall this tastes an awful lot like an excellent American barleywine, on par with Three Floyds' Behemoth. Doom probably owes its nicely astringent finish to the hops or the wood, but don't ask me which. I have no idea how this stuff will age—on the one hand, you're never supposed to cellar hoppy beers, but on the other hand, anything barreled usually gets better with time. You rolls your dice, you takes your chances. You'll pay at least 13 dollars for a bottle, so factor that in.

If you're here for the beer but not the metal, this would be a good time to check out—I'm about to go batshit crazy with doom-metal videos. Doom is probably my favorite kind of metal, both because it's so varied and because a proper live show feels like a full-body massage. What follows is a brief YouTube tour of some of my favorites, in alphabetical order because iTunes. I've linked to Reader coverage of the bands in question when possible.

I'll start with German "nautical doom" act Ahab. This is the towering, melancholy, beautifully crafted song "Further South," from the 2012 album The Giant.

I'm not sure that Caspar Brötzmann Massaker, led by the guitarist son of famous free-jazz reedist Peter Brötzmann, plays metal at all, much less doom. But it's close enough for horseshoes, and besides, more people need to hear this music. This is "Schlaf," from 1993's Koksofen.

Indianapolis outfit Coffinworm plays a raw, sludgy sort of doom. I've heard their style referred to as "decrepit doom," which tends to mean "somebody in the band has dreadlocks." Here's "Blood Born Doom," from 2010's When All Became None.

Liverpool three-piece Conan makes music that seems like it'd be good for lowering your blood pressure. "Older Than Earth" comes from a 2011 split with Slomatics.

Here's the title track from Electric Wizard's 2000 album Dopethrone. Coincidentally, that was also the last year I smoked weed.

I like the grotesque campiness of Finnish band Hooded Menace. This is "House of Hammer," from 2010's Never Cross the Dead.

Horseback specializes in high-desert bad trips, equal parts hypnotizing and evil. "Invokation" is from 2009's The Invisible Mountain.

I'd be remiss not to mention Indian, the most merciless doom band in Chicago. "No Grace" appears on 2011's Guiltless.

Nashville group Loss plays crawling, depressive doom—the 2011 record that includes "Shallow Pulse" is called Despond.

Australia's Mournful Congregation specialize in a delicate and monumental sort of funeral doom. "The Waterless Streams" comes from 2011's The Book of Kings.

Om features former Sleep bassist Al Cisneros, and their mystical, entrancing music is what I like to call "hookah doom." This track, "Flight of the Eagle," appears on 2006's Conference of the Birds, one of the band's records with Sleep drummer Chris Hakius, who's since been replaced by Emil Amos of Grails.

I love Pallbearer's 2012 album Sorrow and Extinction so much that I can't possibly choose just one song. Here's the whole thing.

Samothrace's "When We Emerged" appears on 2012's Reverence to Stone.

Serpentine Path includes members of Unearthly Trance, Thralldom, Electric Wizard, and Winter. The band released a self-titled album last year, which includes "Crotalus Horridus Horridus."

Tom G. Warrior of the legendary Celtic Frost now leads Triptykon, who put on a live show that will turn your hair white. When I saw them play at Bottom Lounge, they closed with "The Prolonging," a nearly 20-minute song from 2010's Eparistera Daimones.

Witch Mountain, fronted by Uta Plotkin, is Exhibit A in the case for more women in doom bands. "Beekeeper" comes from 2012's Cauldron of the Wild.

Yob may very well be my favorite live band in the world. Their exalted cosmic doom leaves me exhausted and euphoric. It was hard work to pick just one song, but the vocal entrance on "Burning the Altar" is absolutely perfect. It's from their 2009 comeback album, The Great Cessation.

If you've scrolled down this far, you probably won't mind if I mention that I'm trying to start a doom band myself. I'm a drummer, and I'm looking for folks who play things that aren't drums, preferably at skull-softening volume. I've been in bands for about 20 years, and it's fair to say I'm an old fart who's over it. That is, I'm looking for a creative outlet, not for my big break. I've got a nice practice space and a janky old PA but unfortunately no car.

I bought a double kick pedal 16 months ago, and I'll be honest—I can't do blastbeats or thrash worth a damn yet. But I can handle doom and nontechnical death metal. At any rate, skill is less important to me than that we be on the same page as far as why we're doing this and what we're trying to accomplish musically.

If this sounds like fun to you, hit me up at pmontoro@chicagoreader.com. Thanks!

Philip Montoro writes about beer and metal, singly or in combination, every Monday.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

More by Philip Montoro

Agenda Teaser

Performing Arts
Love's Labor's Lost Chicago Shakespeare Theater
February 07

Tabbed Event Search

The Bleader Archive

Popular Stories