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Collaborating for a Cause | Altar of the Orc Lord: DDB Edition

Feature Image for Modern Time's dedicated release for Alex Kidd
Eric Griffin

Those who have followed Alex Kidd since the beginning know him to be a long-time supporter of Modern Times. His reviews of their products have contributed to the growth of their barrel program and special projects, and the news of his cancer diagnosis back in May really hit the team in a personal place. Less than a month after Alex shared the news on social media, Modern Times had already organized a release in an effort to help cover his hospital expenses. We had the opportunity to work briefly with the Special Projects team at Modern Times to gain more insight on the beer itself and Alex’s impact on their development.

The Modern Times Cause

Modern Times brewed its first beer ten years ago, and since then have seen huge development into what has been described as an “intrepid cadre of brewers, coffee roasters, culinary wizards, creative powerhouses, and beer-slingers.” They began as a small 30bbl production brewery and have since expanded into six states beyond their home in California. As they continue to grow, they constantly look to improve their barrel program further and develop their coffee roastery and tasting room locations.

According to New Projects Manager Justin Holmes, the team decided to do the DDB charity release because Alex is such a valued member of the beer community. He went on to say that a lot of people who got into the beer world did so because of the sense of community; the collective collaboration and inspiration within this tight-knit group. These qualities separate it from other industries, and Alex has brought so many more people into this world. Through his work he’s really brought the community a little closer.

Barrel Program Manager Kyle Fjalstad also added that Alex Kidd’s contributions to the beer industry can’t be overstated. While noting his exceptional humor and palate in equal measure, he also credited Alex further by saying that he doesn’t think he would be in the position he is at now at Modern Times without his advocacy for high gravity beers. The term “Pastry Stout” was conceived by Alex, and is now a nationally recognized category in Brewers Association competitions. We undoubtedly agreed that if that doesn’t show his impact, we’re not sure what could.

Altar of the Orc Lord: DDB Edition

Flat Label file for DDB Edition Altar of the Orc Lord
Label Courtesy of Modern Times Beer

It was on May 30th that the team announced the release of their DDB Edition Altar of the Orc Lord. The “Orc Lord” barleywine series sees constant variation of adjuncts and barrels, and has always been a great example of the depth of experimentation that goes on in the barrel room at Modern Times. While in general Barleywine isn’t hugely popular, neither are many of the beers that Alex loves. His voice in the industry advocating for styles beyond IPAs has been great, with this release definitely speaking to that. This exclusive DDB Edition Barleywine is a meticulously selected blend, non-adjunct, and aged in Tiny Horsey (AKA Blanton’s) barrels. The pre-sale for the release continued through the 5th of June, and in the end raised a staggering $12,406. This makes it one of the highest donations to date for the Kidd family.

Through the generosity of a member of the Barleywine is Life Facebook group, we were able to track down a bottle of this exclusive DDB Edition Release and share our experience.

The Review

Review Photo, Altar of the Orc Lord: DDB Edition
Photo Courtesy of Eric Griffin

The beer, while poured with some vigor, never once results in the formation of lingering head. Beige bubbles swirl as the liquid cascades into the glass, quick to settle flat into the glass.

The nose hits immediately with an abundance of oatmeal raisin cookies. Following closely are notes of brown sugar, dates, and Rolo candies. While both rich and sweet, there is undoubtedly a grittier, oak-forward underbelly that yearns to break through. Time and temperature allows just that; a fantastic complexity.

The flavor profile to this exclusive Barleywine, while comparable to the nose, allows the barrel character to become more evident. Heavily oaked, there’s a great compliment immediately to the rich, molasses-forward bitterness that accompanies. Quick to follow is over-baked cookies, Werther’s caramel, and date pudding.

The weight of the beer rides the line perfectly between sitting comfortably on the palate and leaving just the right amount of residual stickiness. The barrel brings with it a touch of dryness, finishing with a hint of bitterness; it is alarmingly approachable.

Barrel Room Shot, Altar of the Orc Lord DDB Edition
Photo Courtesy of Modern Times Beer

Supporting the Kidd Family

In yet another amazing display of togetherness, the beer community continues to astound in its generosity toward the Kidds. With now over 3,300 donations and $389,000 raised and counting, the GoFundMe set up for Alex and his family remains open and determined to reach its goal.

We hope that in the coming weeks there is nothing but good news to share regarding Alex’s journey. In the meantime, we will continue to do our part in sharing the contributions of this amazing community as they look to aid in funding the associated hospital bills.

A huge thank you to the Special Projects team at Modern Times for this release and their contributions to this installment; it was a truly remarkable beer and one well-worthy of representing DDB. Not only that, but proceeds from this release alone has accounted for over 3% of the total raised so far. Stay Strong Alex!

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