BREWHEADS: Amber Smashed Face
If you are reading this, you probably like heavy metal, craft beer, or both. If not, what you're about to read—and hopefully drink—may crush your skull and liquefy your brain! This write-up is the first BREWHEADS metal beer review in what I intend to become a regular column for METALHEADS.
I had the good fortune to acquire several bottles of Amber Smashed Face – a collaboration metal beer between Cannibal Corpse and 3 Floyds Brewing Company based in Munster, Indiana. The beer's name is a riff on the Cannibal Corpse' song "Hammer Smashed Face" from their album Tomb of the Mutilated.
3 Floyds Brewing Company is legendary in the craft beer community for brewing beers for metal bands. They previously have brewed several collaboration beers for Pelican, Eyehategod, Amon Amarth, Pig Destroyer, Municipal Waste, and High on Fire, to name a few.
I have to give a huge shout-out to my good friend Doug's half-sister's husband (did you follow that chain?) who procured the bottles for me and smuggled them all the way from Indiana to Washington D.C. Thanks!
There is not a lot of information out there about this beer or how the collaboration process worked. Did Cannibal Corpse pick the beer style or help create the recipe? Were they present on brew day? There are more questions than answers about this collaboration. As a professional brewer who has brewed several beers for local metal bands, these are the things that make me wonder. As an obsessed metal beer drinker, I'm not going to dwell on it; I'm going to pour myself a glass.
I cracked open my first 22oz bomber of Amber Smashed Face on December 6th. The fill date printed on the bottle was October 14th. 3 Floyds' website describes the beer as "An aggressively hopped American Amber Ale sure to crush your skull and liquify your brain" (yes they spelled liquefy wrong). Oddly, the website description does not specifically mention the collaboration with Cannibal Corpse; whereas the descriptions from previous 3 Floyds metal beer collaborations always mentioned the related bands. Hmm. There is no alcohol by volume (% ABV) listed on the bottle or web page, but I estimate it's somewhere between 7.5 – 8.5% ABV. Beer Advocate lists the ABV as 7.8%, but I'm not sure what the source of the ABV originates.
Despite the beer's name, it appears and tastes more like an India Pale Ale than an Amber Ale. I was expecting it to be dark and malty. Nonetheless, the color and taste are great and indeed worthy of the Corpse brand. When I poured it into my glass and took a big whiff, I first smelled intense citrus hops, but after one delicious sip, the beer's nose quickly turns "dank" from earthy and resinous hops - like a body that has started to rot - in a good way. The balance between malt sweetness and hop bitterness is done well. This beer drinks a lot like it smells, and I love it! This is not a palette destroyer. It is a palette embracer.
I spent a lot of time pouring over the beer's label art. I quickly discovered that artist Vince Locke has ingeniously incorporated elements from all 13 Cannibal Corpse album covers and sleeves into the beer label. You can buy the original artwork for the beer label for a mere $3,500 at www.vincelocke.com.
Find this beer while you can. 3 Floyds does not often re-release its metal beers. If you are so lucky—crack it open. Pour yourself glass. Sit down with the "Bible of Butchery" and blast Cannibal Corpse to 11! Cheers!
While drinking Amber Smashed Face, I encourage you to listen to "Hammer Smashed Face" on Youtube while streaming this video gem: