The idea for a Mystic/Backlash collab was born (no surprise) over a few brews at the Beer Summit close to a year ago. The decision was an easy one. I’ve been a huge fan of Mystic’s since their inception – just about the same time Backlash started – and I was excited at the possibility of what kind of crazy beer we could conjure up. We exchanged contact info, returned to our fest booths and continued pouring beer until we were blue in the face (beer fests never seem to get any easier, even after 5 years of practice).
As it happens, time went by quickly and our busy schedules kept both Mystic and Backlash preoccupied. But we eventually set a day to brainstorm and get the project moving. On a snowy winter evening, Zach and I piled into a Zipcar (which, as an aside, was so high tech that I couldn’t figure out how to start the damn thing for about 10 minutes – no joke) and headed over the Tobin. The next few hours were hands down my favorite part of the process.
We didn’t want to make a beer just for the sake of making one (definitely not ours or Mystic’s style), and thinking of a new take on a beer style these days is pretty damn difficult. After some time and a few beers, one of us said to the other “What about a smoked quad? I don’t think I’ve ever had one”. It was a weird moment because one by one, we all confirmed that we hadn’t drank nor heard about a smoked quad – who would’ve thought? We decided to use smoked malt from Valley Malt and also age the beer on locally sourced apple and pear wood. We were off and running – The Null was born.
Louie Berceli of Mystic absolutely nailed the label with a really slick reference to Eugene Thacker’s nihilistic/pessimistic work “In the Dust of this Planet” – I think it sums up the vibe of this beer and our two companies perfectly, with Backlash making a beer called Death and Mystic brewing Entropy it just seemed very fitting. All that was left was to brew it.
It’s always a fun time learning the quirks of another brewer’s system. I’ve yet to meet someone who doesn’t have a nit to pick about their setup, but we tend to be perfectionists. That being said, the brew day went surprisingly smoothly. It’s a bit odd when something doesn’t go wrong. You kind of sit there and wait for it, but somehow the screw-up never came. I really wish we could have somehow captured the aromatics of the mash that day. The smoked malt had a mouth watering scent running through the entire brewery. Charlie Cummings (brewer) and Bryan Greenhagen (brewmaster/owner) from Mystic were absolutely awesome to work with. The amount those two know is a little intimidating, but they’re great dudes who have a palpable passion for what they do. Mystic’s “Day of Doom” yeast went to work and in the coming weeks, we decided how we would handle the wood addition. Bryan ended up toasting the wood in his oven at home to bring out some caramelization, and the beer was taste tested until the wood character was just right.
The result is really something to be proud of. The Null pours a deep dark brown with a complex aroma of fig, dates and plums but with this super interesting smokey overlay. It’s different, but enticing. The taste follows the nose closely. Chocolatey caramel goodness and dark fruit sweetness that is perfectly cut by the smoke and, as it warms, a pleasant hint of alcohol- to be expected from a Belgian Quad pushing 9% ABV. The wood is subtle and mingles in beautifully with the smoke character. This is a beer that’s probably unlike anything you’ve had before, but what did you expect from a Mystic x Backlash collab?
Oh, and in the spirit of marching to our own beat, we’re releasing this huge beer in the middle of summer. It’ll be available this Saturday the 23rd at the Mystic taproom only. Limited draft pours and a 2 bottle per person max – so make sure you get there early. Come grab some bottles and share a Table Beer or 2, or 3.
Hope to see you guys there!