Cellador Ales | Deadcrush Rustic Wild Ale
With Firestone Walker launching their new society to much hullabaloo and memes, many are asking “Why should you spend your hard-earned COVID relief check on an expensive collection of beers from one brewery?” This question becomes especially poignant when you realize that, instead of investing these funds at the local bottle shop where you are choosing what prizes you will go home with, you are at the mercy of the brewer spinning their “wheel of chance” for what you receive. With so many good beers so readily available, and an abundance of trust issues built up from watching too much “Survivor,” how do you decide when it’s worth it to drop a large lump sum for vague promises of future delights? Cellador Ales might have the answer.
SoCal breweries have been early adopters of the wine club-esque approach, perhaps because of their familiarity with the Napa and Santa Ynez business models. Los Angeles’s Cellador Ales, producers of some of the finest Wild Ales for refined valley dudes and those driving around white jeeps (“as if?!”), jumped on the bandwagon with their Syndicate Society. Offering a smattering of experimental Sours to their fan base, Deadcrush was originally a member’s-only offering.
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It’s Wine O’Clock Somewhere
A blend of half Malbec barrel-aged Wild Ale and half actual Malbec grape must, this 12% ABV sour-wine hybrid is yet another grand exploration of the fuzzy boundaries between Wild Ales and wines. Pouring a deep red color that no amount of cleaning product would be able to vanish should you spill on your friend’s white rug, this is a monster of a Sour. You would have all sorts of notes about the nose if you paid attention and maybe spit one of the 90 tastings you had on your last vineyard tour, but instead, we agree assuredly that it smells “earthy” and there are “dark fruits” present.
The first sip is intense and catches you off-guard because you think you’re pouring a “beer” and instead you are greeted by Aunt Linda’s “happy juice.” On the spectrum of wine to beer, the needle is all the way grape: This could easily masquerade as a Lambrusco served chilled at a restaurant where everyone is family. The fruits you get on the nose you get on the tongue; the Malbec genealogy lends a dry characteristic throughout, most prevalent in the finish. There are almost no beer characteristics to be savored besides a light tartness, something I’m sure the Sommelier would turn his nose up at, but the Cicerone appreciates how it cuts through the sweetness of the body. After the initial shock, this beer settles nicely on your palate, encouraging small sips over chugs, making for a great apertivo or end of meal treat.
Benefits of a High-Class Society
What this beer does best is demonstrate the type of experimentation that is possible through these society and club memberships. This is not designed for your casual beer consumer, but rather a nifty present you get for trusting in a brewer. Deadcrush is also a fantastic example of #trusttheprocess, with a successful membership bottling leading to a wider, non-membership release the next year. While there are of course a number of benefits to these societies–like easy access to small-batch beers and not having to invest in snacks and lawn chairs for your grandmother to wait in line with you at releases–it’s the creativity fostered with the right mindset from the brewers that is the true benefit to the beer community. Hopefully, breweries continue to use these society memberships to push the envelope and allow for new ideas that wouldn’t be possible without that upfront investment.