BREWHEADS: Bloody Roots – Bourbon Barrel Aged

Roots Bloody Roots! “You like beer? You like Bloody Marys?? You’ll love this beer!” claims the label and I could not agree more. Bloody Roots is an intense and unique 8.8% ABV imperial brown ale aged in bourbon barrels and spiced to taste like a Bloody Mary. It’s a collaboration brew between Adroit Theory Brewing in Purcellville, VA and Three Notch’d Brewing in Charlottesville, VA. Both are great breweries with metalheads in charge. These two breweries teamed up to brew Bloody Roots at Three Notch’d in 2015.

Below is the verbatim description printed on the bottle:


If it wasn’t already obvious, Bloody Roots is a heavy metal tribute beer to Sepultura and the title track “Roots Bloody Roots” from the band’s acclaimed yet controversial 1996 album Roots. If you compare the beer’s bottle description with “Roots Bloody Roots” lyrics, you will see the obvious connection. The album Roots marked the beginning of the end in many ways for Sepultura. Lead singer Max Cavalera left the band at the end of 1996 and Roots had a metric fuck-ton of Nu-Metal influences, which marked a slight shift away from Sepultura’s straight thrash/death metal roots (excuse the pun).

I am a big Sepultura fan. The first Sepultura album I bought way back in 1989 was Beneath the Remains. I quickly bought Morbid Visions and Schizophrenia and every release after that. I even picked up a couple of albums after Max left. I enjoyed some of them, but post-Max Sepultura just wasn’t quite the same.

Let’s get back to the beer. I asked the fine gents at Three Notch’d and Adroit Theory Brewing about the beer and the collaboration process. Adroit Theory head brewer Greg Skotzko and owner/founder Mark Osborne as well as Three Notch’d head brewer Dave Warwick were kind enough to answer a few quick questions about Bloody Roots.

Q. How did the idea for the collaboration between Adroit and Three Notch'd come about and was the idea always to make a heavy metal tribute beer?

Greg Skotzko: We always enjoyed talking with Dave [Warwick, head brewer at Three Notch’d] and when we were at Craft Brewers’ Conference in Denver two years ago we met up with him again and proposed the idea of doing a collaboration. Little did we know we'd kick it into an annual brew. We ended up brewing year two of the beer within weeks of anniversary date.

Q. How did you decide on Sepultura’s “Roots Bloody Roots”? Did you first decide to make a Bloody Mary-style beer or did the name come first and the style follow?

Greg: The name for the beer came after the idea for the beer. We proposed a Bloody Mary-inspired Imperial Brown ale based off of how Mark likes to make Bloody Marys - we would always add some India Brown Ale to the mix.

Mark Osborne: As far as the Sepultura tie-in, it clearly is an abbreviated nod to the band, and arguably their most famous track.

Q. Are you guys fans of Sepultura and are you still fans of the band with its current line-up and music since the Cavalera brothers left?

Dave Warwick: I was huge into thrash metal. I knew every song on every album by Metallica, Megadeth, Iron Maiden and Anthrax. The Sepultura tie-in was Mark’s idea. I liked Sepultura and used to watch their videos on MTV’s Headbangers Ball back in the day.

Greg: We definitely enjoy Sepultura.

Mark: We’re big fans, and yes to include Soulfly—please don't judge. Sepultura album artwork is always top notch, and something that serves as baseline inspiration for some of our "hidden imagery". Bloody Roots is also a direct reference to the Ian Christie show SOUND OF THE BEAST [on SirisXM Liquid Metal]. I'm still surprised nobody picked up on that yet.

Q. Did you brew this at both Three Notch'd and Adroit Theory? Who was present on brew day? Did Greg and Dave brew it together? Are there plans to brew it again?

Greg: We brewed the beer the first two times at Three Notch'd. This year we'll be brewing it at Adroit Theory on our new brewhouse on June 15th. Dave and I brewed it together the first year along with Levi Erickson [brewer at Three Notch’d] the second year. This year Dave, at least, will be up here, and possibly Levi. Bryan & Tyler [brewers at Adroit Theory] will also be present on our side.

Q. Did you blast Sepultura on brew day?

Greg: Sadly I don't think Sepultura was blasted on brew day. I think Levi got the control of the sound system, and we ended up playing rock.

I want to give a big thanks to Kyle Stewart and Bryan “Doctor M” Younger from Adroit Theory for delivering to me a growler of Bloody Roots so I could enjoy it and profile the beer for BREWHEADS. Cheers gentlemen!

Tasting Notes:
Bloody Roots is extremely dark brown, almost black with an off-white head. If you look from the top of glass, it appears dark brown, however if you look from the side, it’s black. It’s like there is evil black magic at work!

The black magic grows stronger when you smell it. The nose has an insane combination of hot pepper heat, sweet maple syrup, chocolate, toffee, caramel, and bourbon. It sounds like a mess, but I can assure you it works well – really well. Damn, black magic is powerful!

Do you want to drink this beer? Lock ‘n load! I took my first sip, and I immediately noticed the heat from the habanero peppers. It burned a bit in the back of my throat – but I liked the burn. Once I embraced the burn, I tasted a lot of chocolate, caramel and bourbon flavors. I swear I also could detect some of the additional Bloody Mary ingredients like tomato, celery salt, and horseradish, which the brewers added to the mash tun. In case you are wondering, they added the honey at the end of the boil and habanero peppers during the whirlpool process after the boil.

Bloody Roots is a very complex beer. There’s a lot going on. Between the heat, bourbon, malty sweetness, spices, black magic – it all works. They made it work. Well done gents. Horns up to you all! Sometimes I think Adroit Theory and Three Notch’d make beers just for me.

There is a non-barrel aged variant which I also drank during an epic metal beer bottle share with Metal Chris from Thanks, Chris!

Adroit and Three Notch’d always have great bottle and can artwork. Bloody Roots has a lot of symbolism on the label. Mark Osborne said, “As far as artwork, we had to make sure Three Notch'd was on board, so we dialed things back a bit. We decided on a tree to showcase their logo, but then make a visual representation of bloody roots (hence the red/white). In this case the use of a murder of crows flying out of the roots. This is a recurring theme on many of our labels.”

So after all this, do you want some Bloody Roots? According to Adroit Theory, they sold their last kegs in mid-March. However, as they stated earlier, they plan to brew a 10 or 20 bbl batch (310 or 620 gallons) on Adroit’s new brewhouse this June with Dave. They also plan on aging the beer in more barrels this year—like hot sauce and other exotic concoctions—than last year, which was only bourbon.

Do you want more metal beers by these guys? You got it! Dave brewed an Iron Maiden tribute beer called Hallowed Be They Ale in collaboration with another metal head brewer Kevin Bills at Corcoran Brewing, which also is located in Purcellville, VA. I went out of my way last year to ensure I drank a pint of Hallowed Be Thy Ale with Dave when they released the beer in northern Virginia. I even a bought a t-shirt! Dave said they probably will brew it again in the future. The metal beer madness does not stop there. Dave brewed a Metal Church tribute beer—a dark English mild ale—called Method to Your Madness named after the song “Method to My Madness” on the band’s debut album The Dark.

Last month even I got in on the collaboration metal beer mania. I went out to Adroit Theory and brewed a black rye IPA with Greg and Bryan dubbed Metal As Fvck! It’s not an official tribute to a particular band, but rather the pure awesomeness of heavy metal. I was, however, wearing my Black Fast t-shirt and subsequently got Mark hooked on the band. Maybe next time we can make it an official tribute to Black Fast . . . hint, hint.

You can buy Three Notch’d beers in Virginia and Washington DC. Adroit Theory distributes their brews throughout Virginia and Maryland as well as their on-line store that ships to Virginia and Ohio.

I highly recommend visiting both breweries if you are ever in Virginia: Three Notch’d Brewing - 946 Grady Ave Charlottesville, VA; Adroit Theory Brewing - 404 Browning Ct. Unit C Purcellville, Virginia.

Make it your mission in life to find Bloody Roots and listen to this interesting clip of Roots Bloody Roots featuring Luciano Pavarrotti! Cheers!