Barley Mowat 

Driftwood Singularity 2013

with 9 comments

Okay, Singularity is out. It’s perhaps the single most hyped BC beer release (at least in this household), and thus accordingly comes with commensurately higher expectations. For those keeping score at home, 2011 was an intriguing mix of sweet cherry goodness with tart coffee bitter, and 2012 replaced all that with the hops that didn’t make it into Old Barrel Dweller (aka a lot). For the record, 2011 is drinking quite well just now, but 2012 needs more time.

So what about this years? Is this year’s Singularity a carbon clone of last year’s, much like this year’s Old Cellar Dweller? No, it is not. It is not even close. To put it short, folks, Driftwood has swung for the fences, and I think they just might have made it.

2013 is a deeply complex malt-forward monster of a beer. A lot of those nuances are hiding behind the bourbon barreling for now, but given enough time, the sticky sweetness of that whiskey will reduce, and the sugars will yield their nuanced flavours. Over time, I suspect this will age down into just a beautiful way to spend a Saturday night, provided that you have a fireplace, smoking jacket, and an old hound dog named Rex under which to slip your cold feet. Yup, I get all that from taking a sip. I am just that crazy.

Tasting Notes:
Nose: Strong oaky bourbon over a sugar rich background of plum and dates. Driftwood says they didn’t add any molasses to this, and I’m therefore impressed with the sugar profile on this thing. If you can resist drinking long enough, a hint of the hops just starts to come in at the end, but not enough to ID a varietal.
Body: Pours pitch freaking black. Like tar, only with less carbonation. This is a glass of inactive black sludge that just lies there taunting you, and then might just randomly kill your Chief Security Officer to get her out of an inconvenient contract.
Palate: Wow. The bourbon here is just… bourbon. Bourbon, bourbon, bourbon. I think they used the same batch of barrels from Old Barrel Dweller, because there’s no mistaking the giant double pump fist of whiskey goodness on this guy. Behind all all that whiskey is a huge, rich, malt profile, but you’re not going to know about it for a long while.

Coles notes:

Brewery Driftwood
From Victoria
Name Singularity
Style Russian Imperial Stout
SOA Now Silver
SOA Potential Gold
Drink Early 2014 through 2017. Maybe longer.
Time for a spoon to fall over after standing it in a glass Okay, fine, it was 0.285 seconds, but I honestly THOUGHT it would be longer, and doesn’t that count for something?
Availability Widely available at LRS… for now
Cost $13.50+ per 650ml bottle.
Similar Beers P49 RIS, Phillips The Hammer, maybe even Driftwood OBD
Chuck says Buy. Buy it right now, and in volume, because it will be gone very very soon.

Another gold. Either beer is getting better or I’m losing my touch.

Written by chuck

January 14th, 2013 at 6:09 pm

Posted in Beers

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9 Responses to 'Driftwood Singularity 2013'

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  1. Just gotta say bravo on the Tasha Yar reference. That black tar monster was a total jerk.


    14 Jan 13 at 18:35

  2. I just cracked a bottle and I gotta say that I’m BRUTALLY DISAPPOINTED. There is so much Acetaldehyde in there that I almost believe they intentionally tried to brew a green apple flavoured beer.

    This is the best beer in BC? Ummm, I certainly hope not. The P49 RIS, while a bit more straight forward and less jazzy than previous Singularities, is miles ahead of this abomination!

    Am I crazy, or am I the only one here that sees the king has no clothes? I’ll have to do another tasting side by side in about 6 months, but for my money right now P49 RIS >>>>> Singularity.


    15 Jan 13 at 13:41

  3. @nuckingfuts — Nope, you are not the only one–far from it. I was at a table full of BCJP-certified judges last night, and when a bottle of 2013 was produced the first words out of their mouths after “Oooo… Singularity!” was “acetaldehyde!”

    I’ll retest again this evening and see if bottle #2 is any different from bottle #1. It’s possible that I just attributed the acetaldehyde to bourbon-y sweetness, or that the particular bottle I sampled was different due to incomplete barrel blending (Driftwood, despite claiming perfect blends, often has great variability between cases. Take Mad Bruin for example).

    I’d be surprised if my first bottle was shot through with acetaldehyde and I just didn’t notice, though, because I really hate green apples 🙂

    Acetaldehyde does break down (or rather, combine into complex but flavourless molecules) with age in-bottle though, so time will tell how this beer develops. Will update soon.


    15 Jan 13 at 14:28

  4. UPDATE. I’ve done a second tasting, with a laser-like focus looking for acetaldehyde, along with the more-sensitive tasting Sharon.

    This beer absolutely has plenty of fusels, a bit of DMS, and some oxidation has snuck in, basically as you’d expect from barrel aging.

    With a bit of time, explicitly looking for the green apple-ness of acetaldehyde I was eventually able to pull out some mild sniffs here and there, but these were a combination of other flavours. The heavy bourbon barreling absolutely has a lot of overlap with an acetaldehyde-ly profile, but this is in common with Old Barrel Dweller (and GIB’s Barley Wine, for that matter). So either we’re looking at a massive acetaldehyde fault or this beer was aged in bourbon barrels, but not both (it’s also possible that the barrel aging is simply masking the acetaldehyde so effectively it’s eluding detection).

    In the end, after long and serious consideration, I’m not going to put acetaldehyde down on this beer’s list of major faults. Up front are high fusels and a heavy-handed bourbon-ing, but both those should age out, and both faster and more completely than acetaldehyde will. I guess let’s just wait a year and see if this beer is vastly improved, or an applely mess.

    Now, I can’t end this comment without at least acknowledging the very real possibility that I (and Sharon) simply cannot detect acetaldehyde. I’m no super taster by any means, but I’m definitely aware of how Unibroue uses it in Ephemere to good effect, and I know what green apples taste like 🙂


    15 Jan 13 at 20:01

  5. After my first bottle of 2013 Singularity, I’m on the fence regarding acetaldehyde; the first few sips had depth and character, but as my first glass diminished, a bourbon-apple aroma and taste crept in to the degree where I nearly drain-poured it (oh, the blasphemy!).

    After letting the remainder of the bottle sit in my fridge (sealed) for two days, I again tried it tonight and found that the warmer my glass became, the more pleasant and drinkable it was.

    I have a few more bottles to experiment with, but I don’t see me opening the next one until the end of this year at the earliest…


    23 Jan 13 at 23:31

  6. @Scott–That fits with some acetaldehyde in the bottle. If you give it some room to get out of the beer and a bit of time, it will practically jump at the chance.

    As well, acetaldehyde boils at 21C, so letting the beer warm up will accelerate the off-gassing.


    24 Jan 13 at 09:06

  7. […] Driftwood Singularity, Phillips Hammer, Parallel 49 RIS […]

  8. All of it true! Love the Armus/Tasha Yar reference! I did not dream that a beer, let alone a stout could have such bourbony flavour!


    7 Apr 13 at 21:15

  9. […] I think that could be spectacular, particularly with some of the more bourbon-forward stouts, like Driftwood’s Singularity. Nothing goes with chocolate quite like […]

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