Archive for the 'Barleywine Ale' category
photo credit: walknboston
Here in New England the first winter storm has hit us, which provides an excellent excuse to tuck into a big and bold beer style. Barleywine certainly fits that bill, so I popped opened Pretty Things’ latest creation, Our Finest Regards. Pretty Things has made some great beers in the past so my expectations are rather high for this concoction.
In the snifter the beer was a dark reddish-brown, with a snow-white head. The head went thin after a couple of minutes, offering only a wispy covering. Plums and cherries dipped in caramelized sugar are what I envisioned when I took in the beer’s pronounced aroma. Toward the back of my nose there was the faintest hint of alcohol burn, as to warn me to not take too big a first sip.
The slightly viscous beer tingled the tip of my tongue with slight carbonation. Then came the plums I noticed in the beer’s aroma. This flavor lasted a short while and then moved to a strong malt profile. The malt was of caramel and grain that danced effortlessly in my mouth. As the beer warmed the fruit profile became more cherry in nature, thus both fruit aromas were present in the beer’s taste profile. The warmth also allowed the caramel to mingle with the plum and cherry taste, creating a diverse mix of flavors in my mouth. The beer’s finish had a slight bitterness, and a light hint of alcohol warmth. The aftertaste of dark fruits was short-lived, requiring the next sip to come quickly.
One thing about this beer that threw me was its lack of viscosity. I prepared myself for a rather oily viscous brew, and that was certainly not the case. Certainly not a negative in my book, but something of note. This was a great beer that showed a lot of complexity and went down easy. At 13.5%abv (!) it may be too easy to drink. Once the sidewalks are cleared I’ll probably go pick up a couple more, to get me through the winter.
PS The plum character of the beer reminded me of Pretty Things’ Baby Tree, another good beer by the way.
Normally I am not a big barleywine drinker, but when a barleywine from Three Floyds comes my way, I am going to step up to the plate (or glass, which is probably more apt), and give the beer a go.
Poured into a snifter, the beer was a dark-fiery-amber, with a head I completely forgot to take note of. How did I forget to note the head? Because as I sat jotting down the beer’s color, the amazing smell of hop aroma hit me. Mind you I did not have my nose up to the glass or, quite frankly, anywhere near the glass. This smell of citrus-grapefruit aroma grabbed my nostrils, completely distracting me from the task at hand. When I got close enough for a proper inhale, the beer became quite complex. Aromas of sweetness, caramel and brown sugar, and dark fruit, plums and dark cherries, danced with the initial hop wallop of grapefruit.
The first sips of this beer were on the harsh side, due to the bitter hit my mouth experienced. However, as the session progressed the beer smoothed out (or my mouth became numb). This great bitterness kick (just because it is harsh does not mean it is ‘bad’) was matched with a menagerie of flavors. Along with the previously mentioned aromas of caramel, plums, and dark cherries the taste included a sugary-sticky-bun-esque flavoring. Since the beer was quite rich and thick, these flavors left an aftertaste in my mouth for a good period of time. Through out the whole entire session there was one thing missing from the beer. The remotest hint that the beer was 12.5% ABV.
This was one helluva barleywine, and I am sad to see it gone. If you can get your hands on this beer, even if you are not a barleywine drinker, definitely do so. This beer opened my taste buds up to what I have been missing with the barleywine style.
Here we go, folks. I’m cleaning out the coffers. As much as I love a good barleywine, I’m about ready for some summer beers! So, I’m digging in the fridge, cleaning out all my barleywines and stouts and porters – I’m ready to move on! This one, though, more than most, I’m pretty excited about. First of all, it’s a lovely bottle. Second of all, it’s from Shipyard, who has made some great brews, but who we don’t see much of here in NC. So, I’m hoping for the best from this brew.
This beer pours a very dark brown color with some light ruby hints around the edges. The head on this is a deep, deep caramel – it flairs up and dissipates quickly, indicating a relatively low level of carbonation. In the nose, there is a ton of molasses and brown sugar here. There is a bit of hop presence, as well, to balance us out, but it’s mostly just a big syrupy sweet aroma. The flavor of this is well-balanced and decadent. Initially, there is a strong complement of molasses early on the tongue. This molasses is joined by a rather strong hop complement around the middle of the tongue, adding some earthy bitterness. However, it’s towards the back of the mouth that a huge explosion of flavor occurs. I’m having a hard time figuring out this flavor explosion. It’s mostly bitter, with some herbal notes and a bit of metallic hop. In addition, the molasses sticks around, adding a thicker sweet note to the beer. Either way, this flavor shoots all over the walls of the mouth, making this beer feel super big. Add this to the syrupy mouthfeel of the brew, and you have something that has quite a presence in the mouth. Honestly, this isn’t a barleywine that I’d choose to drink often – the herbal bitter notes are a bit much for me. However, I can appreciate this as a pretty well refined and unique take on the genre. If you’re really into barleywines, this is probably worth a taste. In contrast to yesterday’s review, this barleywine skews more towards the bitter spectrum of the genre. Quite good, indeed, and definitely worth a try.
This is a bittersweet review for me folks. I bought a sixer of this brew whilst in Columbia, SC to keep me company at the hotel room (hint – if staying at a hotel with no fridge, bigger darker beers such as barleywine ales are quite delicious at room temperature). I quite enjoyed this brew for the duration of my stay in Columbia, electing to bring one back to NC to review in the comfort of home. However, somehow this bottle seems to have lost its carbonation during the trip and is completely flat. So, we’re losing some of the essence of this beer. However, much of the value of a barleywine ale lies in its big flavor, and we can still capture a pretty good picture of this sans gas.
This barleywine pours a deep brownish-purple hue with lots of dirty debris floating around. This particular glass had zero head, due to the carbonation issue, but I recall a thick and rocky caramel head from my previous bottles. In the nose, this is full of rich caramel aromas, subdued by some more bitter aniseed notes. In the mouth, this beer full of rich, sweet flavors. Again, there is a ton of caramel here, coupled with some more decadent toffee flavors. However, there also exists some rich bitter flavors reminiscent of horehound candy with some more refined brown sugar essences. Altogether, these flavors combine to make a rather decadent brew that wouldn’t be out of place at the dessert table. This one doesn’t lean too far to either the bitter or sweet sides of the equation, but rather offers a well-balanced barleywine that is slightly skewed towards the sweet. Overall, it’s an excellent barleywine, and the best Uinta brew I’ve had to date.
*Updated with cellaring notes, see below*
Originally Published July 26, 2006 by Ben:
Just before tasting this particular beer, Matty and I were discussing my theory that East coast beers inherently have bigger balls than West coast beers. As a rule, it seems that the Western beers (from Colorado and California, for instance) are more mellow and often display more creative sweet or fruity flavors. Eastern beers, on the other hand, seem to be migrating to either staunch interpretations of standard genres or, more excitingly, extreme interpretations of already ballsy beers – case in point are the great IPA’s, Pilsners, and even Double Wheat beers that are now coming from the East coast. Well, then we had to open the Stone “Old Guardian” – this beer has some decent machismo about it, and is quite a treat. The only problem is that this beer is from California. Oh well, there goes my theory.
This beer pours a beautiful dark and cloudy ruby tint. The head isn’t pronounced from the start, and thins to near-nothing by the time the beer settles. The aroma isn’t extremely pronounced, but indicates a subtle floral sweetness with a fair amount of spice – it isn’t near as pungent as the Lagunitas Barleywine, but nevertheless pleasant. Where this beer comes to the forefront is with the taste. The initial tasty is pleasant and sweet with a slight burn that I think must be a result of the hops. Across the tongue the hops blaze a trail, presenting an original nuance every inch of the way. At the end of the mouth, the hops remain coating the tongue. Down the throat, the spiciness remains and there is a slight shock in the swallow, kind of like a liquor in its effect. The mouthfeel, in general, is very full, but not overly syrupy. Overall, I would consider this a great Barleywine style ale. It isn’t quite as strong as some at it’s 11.25% abv, but it isn’t at all watered-down. Rather, this is a strong beer that doesn’t sacrifice flavor for shock value, and a Barleywine that any fan of the genre should try.
Published February 2, 2009 by Dave:
During the “other” big game of the day yesterday (which could have the nick name of The Penalty Bowl), I decided to crack open a cellared Stone “Old Guardian” Barleywine Style Ale. This beer was a “limited early 2007 release”, as written on the bottle, and has been cellaring in my possession since June-ish (forget the exact date) 2007. Though I do not have an ideal cellaring area (i.e. a separate temperature controlled room… I can dream can I not?), I have to say my area keeps a pretty consistent, and cool temperature. Unfortunately I have lost my notes from my first tasting of this beer (I bought two bottles and tasted one before cellaring), so I am going to go off of Ben’s initial notes of a 2006 release. Though not an ideal situation, I have read enough of Ben’s reviews and sampled the same reviewed beers to have a pretty good idea of what he is talking about.
The beer looks just as Ben describes so lets skip right to the aromas and taste. Though I notice a slight sweetness to the aroma, I really notice a dark fruit note. Raisins and plums come to mind right off the bat. There is a spicy hop presence, but I would label it more subdued then “fair amount”. I also notice a slight booze note in the nose. This booze note does not follow through to the taste however, with only a slightly bitter, hop-bite present at the back of the mouth.
What does come through in the taste is a sweet, dark fruit flavoring. This taste is very pleasant and runs smooth right through the mouth. Not only is the beer smooth, but it has quite a heft to it. Not syrupy, though definitely getting very close to it, but it coats the mouth with this luscious dark fruit sweetness amazingly well.
This beer has aged quite well. Losing its alcohol notes, while gaining a very pleasurable dark fruit character. The spicy hop character is still around, which gives the beer an interesting dynamic. Give the beer another year, and I would assume this hop character would be very subdued and tough to find. I’ll have to pick up a 2009 release and try aging it again (this time keeping my notes!).
I’m not totally sure about this, but I THINK that the Killer Penguin is the type of beer that you can only find at the Boulder Brewery, or maybe around town at some local beer shops. Either way, I’ve never seen this on store shelves, and I like a good barleywine this time of year, so I had to pick it up.
Also, it’s called Killer Penguin, which is a pretty cool name for anything, including beer.
The Penguin pours a surprisingly clear dark brown with golden tints and a very dense but thin off-white head. The head fluffs up a bit initially, but subsides, leaving a nice coating down the glass. In the nose, the beer is pungent with a blend of licorice and gumdrops, which strikes me as a bit odd, but not displeasing. In the mouth, this beer is big and flavorful. The majority of flavors are sweet and somewhat candy-like. Initially, I get a bit of bubblegum combined with some bitter anise flavor. As the beer travels down the tongue, some more rootsy and woodsy flavors creep in, while the candy sweetness remains in the background. On back, some hop bitterness creeps in, but it’s not overwhelming, and not enough to call this an especially ‘hoppy’ beer. Through the aftertaste that rich sweetness maintains, and some spicy tingly bits dance around the tongue where the beer recently resided. Actually, this is a really great barleywine – it is more sweet and less bitter than most of the genre, and it’s about middle of the road for abv at 10%. However, as far as barleywines go, I find this one very accessible and very pleasing – would make a great dessert beer and a fairly easy drinker over a cool evening. This is likely the best brew I’ve had from the folks at Boulder, and one of the best barleywines I’ve had this season…
The self proclaimed “organic pioneers” have created a barleywine style ale that they say “you’ll be lucky…” to walk away from. Barleywine ales are typically very robust and this is no exception as it weighs in at 10.6% abv. With these types of beers there seems to be a fine line between a complex, well balanced mouthfeel and a pseudo liquor shot with very little beer-like qualities. I tend to shy away from the barleywines because they tend to dance on the side of the latter due to the small amount of flavors created during the brewing process. However, there are some out there that are palatable and I am very happy when I find them.
This beer pours a deep, dirty copper. There is a considerable amount of debris scattered throughout the glass, adding to its haziness. The smell is a mixture of grassiness and pineapple. There is a significant hop presence in the aroma which usually leads to a hop explosion in the mouth. Such is not the case in this instance. There is more of a roasted malt flavor to this beer. The front of the mouth is privy to toasted almonds which evolve into a soft, bready flavor in the back. There is a spiciness that is present at all times but it is more prominent in the middle of the mouth, more specifically on the hard palate up top. There is also a noticeable aftertaste that hearkens back to the initial toasted almonds. All told this beer is quite flavor full and while you can still discern the high abv it isn’t totally overwhelming. You kinda know what you’re getting into from the beginning with this beer so I can’t take off points because I taste alcohol. This is certainly a beer-flavored train racing out of control in route to smashing into your tastebuds. This surely isn’t my favorite beer but I respect it for not trying to hide what it is.
Despite the fact that I have Left Hand stickers plastered all over my beer fridge (thanks, Jon), I’m generally not that wild about Left Hand beers. Don’t get me wrong, they make some tasty brews, but they also make some that I find sub-par. So, let’s just say that I find Left Hand to be pretty hit-or-miss. Nevertheless, this sounds like a rather interesting beer – a barleywine ale, 50% of which is aged in oak barrels.
The pour of this is murky brown with light hints of ruby and a thin off-white head. The aroma of this is rich and biting. There are hints of licorice, spice, dark fruit, and a light metallic tint. In the mouth, this is quite a big beer. Initially, there is a bite on the tip of the tongue full of bitter spice. As the beer moves down the tongue, the complexity increases with tastes of dark cherry and a bit of grape. There is also a licorice contribution and some apricot sweetness, all co-mingling with the ever-present bitterness. The aftertaste is all bitter fruit, and it lingers for several seconds after the beer is gone. Truthfully, there is more going on in this beer than can easily be described. And, to be honest, it’s a bit much for me. I like a complex beer when it is refined and the boundaries of the various flavors are clear. However, this beer comes across as muddled and confused to me. Don’t get me wrong, there are some good flavors here, but it’s just too much for my current tastes. So, it’s a good beer – not great.
Frankly, my fridge has so overflown with small bottles lately, that it feels like an age since I opened a big bottle of something tasty. So, tonight I thought it’d be nice to take a break to enjoy a big beer in a big bottle that offers something a bit out of the ordinary – that beer is going to be the Atlantic Brewing Brother Adam’s Bragget Honey Barley Wine Style Ale. Yes, that’s quite a name, and I think they toss a lot of those words in there as descriptors because most of us don’t know what a Bragget is. However, were we to live about 1,000 years ago in Wales, it’d probably just be called Brother Adam’s Bragget – it’s a bit more palatable that way. Actually, what this is is a barley wine style ale that’s brewed with equal parts honey and barley. Personally, I’ve never had anything quite like this, so I’m anxious to see what it’s like.
This beer pours a pretty dark ruby color with almost no head to speak of. The aroma of this is cloyingly sweet – there is obviously a lot of honey here, although the sweetness also carries a sharper sugary flavor reminiscent of sugarcane. In the mouth, this beer is HUGE, and needs to be enjoyed slowly as a dessert beer. The major contributor here is a sharp sweetness that just grows and grows and grows. Again, you can taste honey here, but the ultimate sweetness is a bit sharper and refined, so it’s certainly not like spoon-feeding yourself honey. On the tip of the tongue, there’s actually a bit of a burn, but this quickly subsides and a uniform sweetness grows in amplitude all the way down the tongue until it slaps into the back of the throat. The combination of the sweetness and the alcohol in this is a bit abrasive, especially at the back of the mouth. However, the strength is welcome and makes this all the more suitable as a dessert beer. Basically, this is a huge dessert beer with lots of sweetness and a big helping of alcohol presence. Personally, I like it a lot, and it’s one of the best and more robust beers I’ve had in quite a while. I highly encourage you to pick up a bottle if it’s available in your area.
I’m skeptical of any beer that costs $14 for a six-pack. Now, this is a little strange, because I’ve been known to pay up to $20 for a single 12 oz. bottle of beer. But, for some reason, the six-pack format strikes me as something that generally doesn’t carry such grandiose pricetags. However, when I saw the Old Horizontal, I had to convince myself that maybe, just maybe, for a 6-pack of 11% abv brews from a great brewery, my $14 might be justified. So, after about 30 seconds of said convincing, I picked it up and took it to the counter to pay out my hard-earned dollars.
This barleywine pours a lovely muddy purple hue with an aroma that is full of grape and dark cherry with just the lightest hint of licorice. The smell gets a lot more of the rich sweetness that I really love from a barleywine, but sacrifices some of that anise bitterness that often comes with the package. Personally, I don’t mind, but it’s a noticeable difference. In the mouth, this beer is full, rich, and complex. There is again a lot of rich sweetness here – mostly dark cherry with a decent bready sweetness. However, around the middle of the mouth, there is also a tart shock, also reminiscent of cherry, that comes out of left field and really kicks the tastebuds in the teeth. On through the mouth, this tartness reaches some level of bitterness that lingers around the top of the mouth while the aftertaste keeps plenty of dark fruit at the back of the throat. Honestly, I expected a lot from this barleywine, and it exceeded all of those expectations. I think that I have tasted more intense barleywines that coax more description than this one. However, this one is so high on all of the attributes that I look for in a good barleywine that I have to give it a definite top 3 spot in my book. It is sweet and rich, with a decent kick, but mellow enough to make it a soothing dessert beer. Definitely seek this out if it is available in your area.
I haven’t had a good barleywine ale in a while. It’s not because they’re not out there – it’s more about the fact that barleywine ale’s are much less at home during a sweltering NC summer than during the corresponding icey winters. Nevertheless, this brew has been sitting in the fridge for months on end now, and it’s time to clean house. Matty said something about planning to review this back in February – but after 6 months, I think you lose review dibs. So, Matt – take THAT…
This beer, as barleywines do, pours a dark brown/amber with some dense debris. The aroma of this isn’t terribly pungent, but it’s worth getting your nose into it, because it smells delicious. The aroma is very sweet and full with light hints of dark cherry and licorice. In the mouth, this beer first hits with sweet flavors of dark fruit like dark cherry with hints of grape. On through the mouth, this sweet swirls around until the back of the tongue where a sharp hop bitterness strikes. The bitterness hits solidly for a brief moment until it subsides into a lasting hoppy bitterness that remains into the aftertaste. The aftertaste complicates itself a little bit by tossing in some warm licorice tones and spiciness, and it sticks around for many seconds. Overall, I’d say this is one of the best American barleywine ales that I’ve yet had. It is rich and full without being cloying, and it is sharp and complex without having any particular flavor that overpowers the beer. Hats off to Mad River for this. I don’t know about any other Mad River beers out there, but I’m sure hoping I can find some others to try, ’cause this one is excellent.
This is the second barley wine style I have tried, with the first being the Sierra Nevada Bigfoot(s) 2006 and 2007. For some reason, I had never tried the Avery specialty with the flying swine, but this was my chance.
The beer pours a deep red – almost mahogany. The head dissipates quickly, but it still left a nice amount on the beer and a good amount to taste. The smell is very sweet and aromatic with almost a flowery component to it. The mouthfeel is smooth and sweet – there is no nasty bite from the hops. You can certainly tell you are drinking a big beer, but it is not overpowering by any measure. The flavor is sweet with a great deal of hops. There is an almost fruity flavor to the beer that is just very subtle and behind the overall taste. The hops are really the strongest feature of the beer – they are there at the first smell and there with the tiniest amount of aftertaste. There is almost a very subtle smoky flavor present, but it is not distinct at all.
Overall, I would highly recommend the Hog Heaven. Avery almost always makes good beers and they certainly have not disappointed here. I will certainly have to add this in the next time I have a Bigfoot and give a more comparative review.
Okay, that’s it! I’ve officially cleaned my fridge of all the Clipper City beers that I had sitting around waiting for reviews. It’s a proud day, and a sad day, ’cause these was a bunch of tasty beers, I tell ya’.
This one pours a very clear dark amber, which is a bit of a surprise. The rest of the Clipper City brews have had at least a bit of debris to them, so I’m surprised at how well filtered this bad boy is. The aroma is very sweet – it reminds me of cane sugar with just a bit of maple. It’s a sweeter aroma than I get from most barleywine ales, but it still holds on to its roots well enough that you can tell what it is. In the mouth, this is pretty burly. The first taste has a pretty good dose of sweet licorice in it, and this quickly moves to a new sweetness on the middle of the tongue that resemble maple and a bit of cherry. Towards the back of the mouth, I get more dark cherry, and maybe just a tinge of brown sugar. It seems to me that this amounts to a lot of myriad flavors from this beer, so I hope my tastebuds aren’t just going crazy. But, hey, I call ‘em like I see ‘em. Regardless, I find this to be a very tasty beer. It’s a big and full-flavored barleywine ale, but it isn’t too thick or cloying in the mouth. Rather, I think it represents the genre quite well in both size and balance. Another good job from the folks at Clipper City. I’m anxious to try out more of their stuff when it comes around.
It’s new! Well, at least new to me. I’ve never heard a thing about Two Brothers Brewing Company, and I’d be interested to hear anything about them from you folks in the crowd. For me, the first time I ever saw the name was during a perusal of the beer section at Liquor Land in the South End of Boston. While the name isn’t flattering, Liquor Land has a fairly respectable selection, and I couldn’t resist picking up this adventurous style from a brewery I am unfamiliar with. It was apparently brewed in 2006, and has been sitting in my fridge for a few weeks. Tonight, I uncorked ‘er.
The pour of this beer is a medium ruby color with mild debris. The aroma is quite pleasant – heavy with banana and caramel, it smells almost desert-like – similar to a banana split with warm caramel drizzled over it. In the mouth, this is an explosion of flavors. Initially, I sense an apricot sweetness on the front of the tongue. This then blends into the melange of banana and caramel by the middle of the mouth. On through the mouth, we get hints of pepper and spice, along with some licorice hints that carry this on to the back of the mouth. In the aftertaste, I get a slight tinge that is mildly unpleasant, but not enough to ruin the beer. The flavor is mildly oak-like, but doesn’t seem entirely balanced, and I honestly think this flavor would mellow out with age to make this an absolutely fabulous brew. Even with the odd finish, I would consider this beer a wild success. The only other experience I’ve had with a weiss/barleywine hybrid is in Smuttynose’s Wheat Wine, which I wasn’t entirely impressed with. However, the guys at Two Brothers have done a fabulous job here, and I bet this beer will mellow out to be a real knockout within a year or two. Well done, and I’m looking forward to any opportunity to try something else from Two Brothers.
I have tasted a number of barleywine ales in my day, and there are none that I would portend to enjoy enough to buy again. This Brooklyn varietal, however, is remarkably pleasant. This beer doesn’t contain the port-like bite that comes with the traditional barleywine ale. Rather, it has a rich fig flavor through the mouth with a full feel and a light finish that quickly diminishes instead of sticking around with the typical syrupy finish. This is probably the first barley-wine ale that I will likely buy, and enjoy, again