Tag Archives: barleywine

Queen’s Limited Release Wheatwine from Texas Big Beer

I knew Texas Big Beer had another beer coming out soon, and now it’s out.  And it’s gooooood!  Very nice, a tasty wheatwine/barleywine hybrid, but it’s really more of a wheatwine.  And it’s a big, topping off at 11.39% ABV. 

It pours an orange, almost red color, kind of a deep amber.  The head and lacing weren’t that impressive, but there’s ample carbonation, giving it a creamy mouthfeel that’s almost chewy. 

Aroma is this one’s strong point, with a great fruity, floral treat for your nose.  Flavor begins with a solid malt/wheat backbone, a good balancing dose of very floral hops, and plentiful fruitiness. 

Very enjoyable, hats off to Texas Big Beer once again.  I can’t wait to try their new IPA that’s coming out!

Queen’s Wheatwine

 

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Bigfoot Found!

It’s true!!  Bigfoot found!!

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Ale 2013 is in my local grocery store, and I picked up a four pack.  Such an amazing brew!  This is the definition of barleywine if you ask me.  Although a bit hoppier than most barleywines, I haven’t found one that I like more.  Well, Dogfish Head Olde School is pretty damn awesome too, but that one is kind of a different beast: it’s got way more alcohol, for one thing, and isn’t comparable to bigfoot ale.  Although both brews are fantastic, this post is about Sierra Nevada’s Bigfoot ale, so we’ll stick to that!

I’m going to post my original review from more than a year ago, along with my edits for this year’s vintage:

Bigfoot!

Downright gorgeous to look at, deep amber with copper notes, clear, with a great 3 finger head that lasted forever and laced the glass with sticky chunks.

More like an IPA in the nose, hops are dominant and the typical barleywine smells are secondary. Piney and even grapefruit hops are pungent. A little caramel malt and a little fruitiness provide something other than hops as a side note.

Taste is bold and again, very hoppy. Tastes more like a barleywine than it smells, but still, this one is quite a bit like a DIPA in the taste department. The hop profile is just dominant as hell, this fact cannot be hidden. Fruity and caramel malt flavors do balance out the taste more so than the smell though, and overall it’s quite nice!

The body is thick and tangy but the alcohol is surprisingly well hidden. The hops even leave a bit of a bite on the aftertaste.

Honestly, this is a fine barleywine, albeit a lot hoppier and a bit different than I’m used to when I buy a barleywine. I really like this stuff. I can’t wait to see how it mellows. I’ve put a bottle away for a year, and another for two years, will re-try it again next march (and the one after that) and report back.

I really like trying new beers, and I hadn’t had this one yet. Overall I’d list it as “must try” Excellent job, SN!

Edit for 2013: once again, they nailed it.  The original review is more than a year old, but now I’ve had 5 different years of vintages, both aged, and for the more recent years, fresh.  Every time it’s just fantastic!  Gold standard of barleywines.  Monstrous hops and tons of delicious malts, one of my favorite beers anytime, from any brewery.  If I decide to try and brew a barleywine, it will be based on this!

Cheers to Sierra Nevada for 2013 Bigfoot Ale!

 

Bigfoot Found!

Old Ruffian Barleywine

Well time for another Great Divide brew, today it’s Old Ruffian, a delicious barleywine!

Rating a 99/98 on ratebeer, and a 95 on beer advocate, this is a very well liked and highly rated barleywine.   Let’s find out whether it’s worthy of all those high ratings!

Pours a deep amber color, a bit hazy, with a fairly small head but ample lacing.

Aroma is deeply fruity, with lots of mid and dark fruits coming through, figs, plums, raisins, some honey and brown sugar too.  There’s also a plentiful degree of hoppiness that lets you know this is a bold and potent brew!  Alcohol is notable.

Flavor is very deep and rich, with tons of great malty flavors coming through right away.  Caramel malts, grainy bready flavors, nuts, brown sugar, molasses, and rich dark fruits come through first, followed by an intense hoppiness that creates something almost “balanced” (LOL, if that’s even possible with barleywine!).

It has what I consider to be the quintessential property of a barleywine… it’s pungent!  I love the pungent malt/hop interaction that leaves your mouth puckering from the intense malt flavors.  To me, it’s very distinct to the barleywine style, and this barleywine has it in spades.

Body is very thick and full, leaving a fruity, resinously hoppy finish.  Alcohol is warming and noticeable, this is clearly a strong beer!

My overall impression of this beer is that it’s amongst the top barleywines I’ve tried.  I think my favorite ever was Bigfoot Barleywine by Sierra Nevada, and this one isn’t too far off from that.  Great job Great Divide!

If you like barleywine, definitely try this one!

 

Double Bastard!

Ah the joys of Stone Brewing.  I’ve had this bottle of Double Bastard for over a year, and I said “screw it, I’m drinking it.”

Rating a 99 on ratebeer and a 95 on beer advocate in the American strong ale category, this is one of my favorite examples of the style.

What stands out about this beer, along with Stone’s regular pale ale and Arrogant Bastard ale, is that there’s a pronounced hoppiness and a pronounced maltiness that don’t cancel each other out.  In reading The Craft of Stone Brewing, I discovered that Arrogant Bastard was derived from a test batch of Stone pale ale that went wrong (they put too many of the same ingredients in for the batch size).  What came out was so good, despite being a big mistake from what they intended to make, that they made a whole new brew out of it.  Obviously, their creation was a huge success, because arrogant bastard is one of the best beers on the planet, and has been a big commercial hit for the brewery too.  I can only assume that they continued this evolution to create double bastard.  You can see, taste and smell all the same great ingredients in all three beers.

It pours a somewhat cloudy, reddish-brown color with a 1/2 finger head that dissipates into a sheen and leaves thin sheets of lacing that cover the glass.

Aroma is heavily malty, with sweet citrus and lots of hops.  You can detect a bit of alcohol already, although at 11.2%, this is to be expected.

Flavor is a BOMB of a monster of a beer!  American strong ale is right, and this may be the quintessential example of the style (which, BTW, has been hit or miss for me).  The flavors are so strong that they seem to permeate your tongue.  So much maltiness that you’ll think you died and went to malt heaven.  It’s a bit barleywine-esque in that sense, in fact there is probably a lot of overlap between this beer and a good barleywine.  Hops wise you’re once again about to cry uncle, unless you’re a hop-head (like me), in which case you’re just marveling at the saturation of intense flavors that they manage to cram into a single brew.   Piney citrus from the hops is notable.  It’s also quite fruity, with light and mixed mid/dark fruit flavors coming through.  Really your taste buds can’t decide which way to go, but they keep coming back for more.

Feel wise it’s thick, rich, somewhat slick, and downright delicious, with a lingering malty and bitter hop aftertaste.

Overall, you just need one word.  Stone.

A direct quote from the Stone Brewery, and the full text of what’s on the back of the bottle:

This is one lacerative muther of an ale. It is unequivocally certain that your feeble palate is grossly inadequate and thus undeserving of this liquid glory…and those around you would have little desire to listen to your resultant whimpering. Instead, you slackjawed gaping gobemouche, slink away to that pedestrian product that lures agog the great unwashed with the shiny happy imagery of its silly broadcast propaganda. You know, the one that offers no challenge, yet works very, very hard to imbue the foolhardy with the absurd notion that they are exercising ‘independent’ thought, or attempts to convey the perception it is in some way ‘authentic’ or ‘original.’ It’s that one that makes you feel safe and delectates you into basking in the warm, fuzzy, and befuddled glow of your own nescience. Why so many allow themselves to be led by the nose lacks plausible explanation. Perhaps you have been so lulled by the siren song of ignorance that you don’t even notice your white-knuckle grip on it. You feel bold and unique, but alas are nothing but sheep, willingly being herded to and fro. If you think you are being piqued in this text, it is nothing when compared to the insults we are all asked to swallow streaming forth from our televisions and computers. Truth be told, you are being coddled into believing you are special or unique by ethically challenged “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” marketers who layer (upon layer) imagined attributes specifically engineered to lead you by the nose. Should you decide to abdicate your ability to make decisions for yourself, then you are perhaps deserving of the pabulum they serve. Double Bastard Ale calls out the garrulous caitiffs who perpetrate the aforementioned atrocities and demands retribution for their outrageously conniving, intentionally misleading, blatantly masturbatory and fallacious ad campaigns. We demand the unmitigated, transparent truth. We demand forthright honesty. We want justice! Call ‘em out and line ‘em up against the wall… NOW.

Southern Tier Again! Imperial Desserts?

Wow, a slew of new imperial series beers from Southern Tier have just come into my local store, and my taste buds have been exploding left and right!

Right now I’m finishing off a Pumking, a pretty darn amazing pumpkin beer that’s available every fall.

I’ve also got Creme Brulee, Jahva, Mokah, and Back-Burner Barleywine in the fridge!

This post will be created over a few days, highlighting the deliciousness of each of these amazing beers!  To me, these beers all have very dessert like qualities.  Here we go!

Pumking

A pretty damn amazing pumpkin beer.  Appearance is a bit light on head and lacing, but it’s perfectly pumpkin in color and pretty clear, for the most part nice to look at.  It’s got a fantastic aroma, that might be its best quality.  Just like a slice of Grandma’s pie (and my Grandma could bake some serious pies).  Flavor wise it’s very sweet, and very, very spicy.  It’s got bite too, probably a bit from the alcohol, perhaps a bit from being more hopped than other pumpkin brews (?), and definitely from a ton of spices.  I like the aroma more than the flavor, but it’s still quite delicious.  The body is slick, sweet, a little sticky, and plenty thick and rich.  Alcohol is notable but not overwhelming.  I think I’ve had four years worth of Pumking, and this year’s is my favorite yet (the ABV is 8.6% this year, a bit lower than last year’s, maybe that’s why).  I try to get a couple bombers of this every year because it’s so damn festive!

There aren’t that many really good pumpkin beers out there, but from the ones I have tried, I would rate Schlafly’s and Southern Tier’s pumpkin beers at the top.  Actually, Dogfish Head’s pumpkin deserves special mention too, but sadly, I can’t get that one around here.

Mokah

Rating a 92 on beer advocate (with 586 reviews), it’s no slouch.  And American double/imperial stout is a tough category, so that rating is nothing to scoff at either.

Well it’s not that much to look at, kinda flat without a lot of head or lace or carbonation, black as night.  But again, looks don’t make the beer all on their own.

The aroma and flavor are amazing!  Plenty of chocolate: Milk and baker’s chocolate, some cocoa, so many facets of chocolate it’s almost overwhelming.  There’s actually a pretty good hoppiness to it as well, more than I’d expect from the name.  Add to that a nice touch of acrid/burnt malt flavor, plus plenty of sweetness, and you’ve got one tasty imperial stout.

The body is slick, very sweet, and a little syrupy.  The alcohol is well hidden but comes through a bit more as it warms.

You should be aware that this is a very sweet dessert type beer, and be prepared if you open the bomber to drink a lot of very sweet, syrupy beer.  But it’s so worth it!  Delicious stuff!

Jahva

Actually it’s no surprise that this is pretty similar to mokah.  It’s got almost the same appearance and could quite possibly share a good amount of the same ingredients.  However, it does have a distinct and different character that’s quite worth trying.

I detected TONS of chocolate, roasted, and a little burnt malt aroma and flavor, plus plenty of coffee (I would hope so, given the name).  There’s a little vanilla and some dark fruits too.

It’s distinctly different from mokah, but right on the same lines as far as the type of beer and experience you get from drinking it.  Thick, sweet, syrupy, heavily dessert-y, and damn delicious!

Creme Brulee

Again, unimpressive appearance, quite similar to mokah and jahva.

Smells awesome! Although it’s not an especially beer-like smell, more of a dessert like smell. Sweet brown sugar and vanilla aromas dominate, with some roasty dark notes. You can instantly smell it the moment you open up the bottle, and it only smells better and better in the glass as you drink it.

Taste is heavily sweet with tons of vanilla, gobs of brown sugar, almost like drinking a dessert. It truly lives up to its name if a beer ever did.  There’s some dark, roasty notes and some vanilla cappuccino, but nothing at all in the way of hops.

Body is pretty full and very sticky from the sweetness. Carbonation isn’t bad, light but ample, despite the lackluster appearance.

Again, it’s a very thick, very sweet, very dessert-y beer.

Finally, I’m reviewing Back-Burner Imperial Oak Aged Barleywine

Pours cloudy and brown, very typical of a barleywine.  Carbonation is ample and provided a pretty good 2 finger head that lasted a bit, but dissipated into a sheen, leaving pretty good thick, sticky lacing.

Aroma is blastingly malty, with that pungent barley aroma I’m looking for in a barleywine.  Caramel malts are plentiful.  Hops are equally forward, with a nice twang to top off the pungent aromas.

Flavor is very nice.  Caramel malt, brown sugar, dark ripe fruits, some citrus bitterness, and a nice balancing of hops.  This isn’t an overly hopped barleywine, it’s more malt forward and balanced (as compared to say SN Bigfoot ale, which I found to be monstrously hoppy).  There’s a note of oak, but it’s not very forward and certainly not overpowering.

The body is medium to full, with a slick, syrupy finish.

It’s pretty good, not the best barleywine I’ve had but still pretty good.  It’s right on par from what I expect from the Southern Tier Imperial Series.

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Southern Tier.  Definitely a GO at this station!

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