Good Faith (Barrel-Aged)

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Good Faith (Barrel Aged)
Discretion Brewing (Soquel)
9% ABV //
65 IBU
www.discretionbrewing.com

Good Faith’s pedigree sets up some difficult expectations. The label lists it as a strong ale, which doesn’t mean much (technically, it means it’s an ale that’s on the stiffer side). Altogether, my expectation was a strong, warm, malty body. Beyond that? Who knows. I hoped for a little spice, maybe something reminiscent of a Christmas ale but lighter on the clove aspect, less yule tide and more a beer for all season. What I got was unexpected and way more interesting than all this bald stereotyping.

The first sensation was a strong hit of bitter lolling across the palate. It was deep and gamey — somewhere between tobacco and coffee. As the beer washed over the mouth, it coated the throat like a friendlier version of the lactic film that a milk stout paints the gullet. I’ve had some milk stouts that make a mouth feel like a crime scene; this was a thin flavor coating that stuck around long enough to let ye ol’ olfactory senses explore the aroma.

From there, the Barrel-Aged version of Good Faith kicks into high gear. A brown sugar, bourbon flavor knocks around and drunkenly sings songs about vanilla, its long lost love. The sweet plays against the biggish alcohol — a second sip builds on the flavors so that the malt starts finding its voice. From there, it’s a one-way ticket to chocolate and oats town: deep and toasty while the smoke from the barrel lingers at top of your throat.

Throughout the experience, several key flavors come and go with protean glee. There’s a toasted nut thing going on, but even after two pints, I couldn’t pin down exactly what it was: I’m pretty sure it was hazelnut, but after a couple more sips, I got weird and tasted paprika. (This is probably a good spot to stop and mention that Good Faith has a habit of sneaking up on you and leave even experienced drinkers feeling a little boozy.) By the time you’re fully unwrapping everything there is to discover, the buzz is kicking in and the mind is set adrift.

If this were a one-word review, I’d call Good Faith “Balanced.” Discretion’s recipe brings a lot of competing flavors to the discussion and not only do each get a word in the conversation, the conversation feels like it’s written by a pretty damn good playwright. By Clayton Schuster