Style: Rye Farmhouse Ale
Dry Hopping: Dried Hibiscus Flowers
Brewer’s Note: “As it goes, War is the second horseman of the Apocalypse. With man’s desire to conquer his fellow man (aka Conquest, the first horseman) set firmly in place, the outcome is almost a foregone conclusion: War./ In the spirit of the horseman, I wanted to infuse this beer with an element of conflict. To get there, I pitted 3 yeast strains against one another in primary fermentation, 2 Belgian ale strains and a farmhouse strain. The result? It’s pretty safe to say that the farmhouse strain dominates the flavor profile. Follow along for what to expect when you try War.”
So… There isn’t a lot of info on this beer outside of what the brewer is saying on his blog, so forgive me if I get some of the facts of this beer wrong. This is the second beer of the Apocalypse Series beers, brewed in inspiration from the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, they were originally being brewed for the 4 months leading up to the “Mayan Apocalypse” on 12/21/12, but it seems that only two beers were able to be released into distribution before the Apocalypse, and I am unsure if Backlash intends on brewing the other two. This beer is specifically based off the second horsemen of the Apocalypse, War, who rode upon a red horse, hence the red(ish) beer.
The beer’s label is a beautiful, graphite-style drawing of the Horsemen, War, trailing a cloak of flames, and charging at a pike-line of soldiers as a town burns in the background and a peasant lies dead beside a push cart. It’s simple, black and white, elegant, classy, and hilarious, all in one fell swoop. The font choices are simple, but perfect for the bottle design, and beautifully appear as if they are almost handwritten. All the boring information is nicely hidden on the sides of the label. This bottle is a keeper for sure. Alongside its brother Apocalypse beer, Conquest, I’m sure it would make a lovely display, but it is quite lovely on its own. Keep this label for sure!
The beer pours a muddy rose color with a big old soap bubble head that sits at a fingers width. Bubbles race up to replenish the head, but the body is murky and cloudy like swamp water and completely opaque. The beer’s color is pretty but dirty rose brown, the lacing is sticky and thin, with long and hole-ridden sheets traveling alongside the walls of the glass. On the nose, the beer smells terrifically complex, though reserved, with fruity esters of banana, clove, with nice sour notes that hint at lemon and salt, which must be the hibiscus flower. Rye and bready yeast notes can also be detected in the smell along with slight grassy notes.
On the tongue, the beer tastes strangely salty with nice rye notes, and some great underlying sweet hints. The beer begins with salty grass, which opens into terrific rye notes with underlying hints of fruit and salty meat. In the middle of the taste the banana flavors appear and wash over the tongue quickly to return to the bitter grassy flavor. Grass and hay are prevalent throughout the taste with a grassy bitter resonance traveling throughout the taste and into the finish and aftertaste, which also rings on the sides of the tongue with salty meat. This taste is bizarre and different, but I think I like it. Salty and sweet play strangely together in this beer, while the bitter herbal flavor of the hibiscus overshadows the background taste with its oddity. The beer is quite drinkable. On the mouth, it feels medium bodied and fluffy from the carbonation, with a little bit of wateriness on the finish, the mouth is left dry along the sides with the herbal bitter while the middle of the tongue feels damp with the odd salty flavor of the beer. Overall, I am a little stunned by this beer. I had no idea what to expect, but it certainly is something entirely different from what I expected… And that is not a bad thing. Strange and tasty flavors abound in this beer. I love the balance between salty, sweet, and the herbal bitter flavors. I can’t wait to see what other things come out of this brewery, as this beer is so bizarrely tasty that everything else must surely be great! Expect more reviews from Backlash Brewery to follow. Try this beer for sure, and I cannot wait for the other two horsemen and their beer!