Strong BA Series | Bottle Logic Fundamental Observation
We all remember the first time we waited in an exceptionally long line for an exceptionally small pour of a notable beer. On a sunny SoCal day in May 2015, at The Bruery’s 7th Anniversary party, a beer from local upstart Bottle Logic Brewing named Fundamental Observation showed up like Lindsay Lohan as the new queen bee of The Plastics. An explosion of vanilla followed by the soft cuddle of high-end bourbon barrels, this beer was a delicious needle in the four hours of unlimited tastings haystack. With the next public release of this beer came a block-spanning line, providing a delicious 8oz reward for an hour of your time, and the first memory of waiting in extended anticipation for a single draught of excellence.
Fast-forward five years and Bottle Logic has cemented its status as a titan in the BA game, with a stable of reliable favorites, F5-shattering collaboration releases, and envelope-pushing Level 2 and Level 3 beers to satiate the bearded masses. All this success, It can be argued, is traced back to the hysteria surrounding the first batches of Fundamental Observation. The beer has won multiple awards over the last half-decade, including 2015’s Best New Beer on BeerAdvocate, a gold medal winner in the Festival of Wood and Barrel-Aged Beer, and the 2018 FOBAB Best In Show. With that Michael Phelpsian haul of medals, it’s always a treat to revisit this beer each year, wondering if it’s time for FO to hang up its cleats, or if like LeBron it’s still pushing for LA championships despite some mileage.
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A Few Observations About Fundamental Observation
The beer is, surprise, dark. Bottle Logic themselves describe this beer as liquid brownie batter, and the ad wizards are right on the money. Somehow the beer sounds decadent as it’s pouring out, a few glugs of black gold splashing into the glass to create a beautiful tan head that quickly fades. There is an undeniable smoothness to the pour, look, and constitution of the beer, like firing up an old Barry White album. That deep 14.17% voice takes a while to open up in your glass, but once it does it hits that vanilla high note and sustains it throughout.
Smell, taste, finish, all are dominated by the only product that beer nerds know hails from Madagascar. The quality of the natural vanilla flavor is this beer’s signature move, a hadoken to the tongue followed by the shoryuken uppercut of roasty malts, barrel woods, and sticky caramels. If Mom substituted this for the water necessary to bake some Betty Crocker Extra Moists, you would initially be enraged, but surely all would be forgiven when you tasted the results. Is this where the pastry stout was born? Maybe not quite, but it very well could be the Pet Sounds to full-pastry’s Sgt. Pepper’s, a pivotal and influential entry that helped expand the horizons of the BA style. This year’s batch seems to be a little thinner and has a little berry-tinged sidecar attached, both things that when compared to previous editions you either love or hate.
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It’s interesting watching a hyped beer’s journey as production demands grow, capacity increases, and novelty eventually wears off, and FO proves a fantastic case study. Tracing the Untappd ratings, this beer has seen a fairly large fall-off from the 4.7 heights of the first two editions to something in the 4.3s for the most recent. Has the beer really changed all that much in five years, or have our tastes? Probably a little of both. Do we subsidize our feelings about a beer based on the money spent or the effort needed to acquire it? Most definitely. Can our master Cicerones weigh in on this important matter? Maybe the next article.
All things considered, this beer belongs on the Mount Rushmore of great SoCal stouts, proudly enshrined next to The Bruery’s Black Tuesday, Alesmith’s Speedway Stout series, and Firestone Walker’s Parabola. Fundamental Observation is most assuredly worth your attention, a modern classic in an ever-changing beer landscape.
Feature image courtesy of Bottle Logic Brewing.