Friday, December 16, 2011

Barleywine Classics

I intended to post some reviews of my favorite Barleywines back in the fall, but never got around to it.  This weekend I've got a little extra time on my hands, so I figured I would share some reviews of brews from one of my favorite styles, a style that doesn't seem to get as much love as others, especially here in Oklahoma.   While I realize that the Barelywine is seen as a seasonal release from many brewers, thus doesn't lend itself to being as readily available as many other styles, the consistent paucity of Barleywines on Oklahoma Liquor store shelves never ceases to amaze me, and I always feel lucky if I can even find one (usually the Old Ruffian).  Inexcusable.

Rogue Old Crustacean

While the Barleywine is one of my favorite styles, I've put off getting to this one because of the price, and a bad experience with the XS IPA. That being said, Rogue is also one of my favorite breweries, and I just couldn't see passing this one up any longer. This is the 2007 Vintage. Pours a chocolaty brown into a snifter. A huge, bubbly dark tan and brown head sits atop and fades slowly leaving a thin, but consistent lace around the glass.

Smells of sweet and dark chocolates, dark fruits (prunes and plums) yeast, big sweet malts and bread. Tastes rich and creamy, chocolaty and sweet, with an unexpected but very welcome hop hit at the end. Alcohol is fairly well hidden by the complex tastes which also include the big malts and caramel candy finish.

Mouth-feel is full bodied, but goes down pretty easy. The carbonation explodes after a slight swirl. This is redemption in a glass, and I can't believe I waited this long to enjoy this first class Barleywine.

Great Divide Old Ruffian

The absolute first Barleywine I ever tried, and what a fucking home run of a beer to turn me on to the style.  I mean where the hell do you go from here?  It was like losing your virginity to a supermodel . . . well, not really, but. . .

Pours a dirty brown into a tulip. Nice fluffy two finger tan head with adequate retention and spotty lacing left behind. Smells of big citrus hops, caramel, raisins and some furtive alcohol in the background. Tastes sweet with a good balance of hops that aren't as huge as the smell would have you think, mixed in with malts and ends with some alcohol heat at the top. Has a piny aftertaste.

Being my first Barleywine Style Ale, I would have to say I'm a little surprised that it isn't as complex as I was anticipating, and that is not to say I don't greatly enjoy this beer. I will age my next one for a bit longer. All in all I am very satisfied with this brew and will return to the style, coming back to this one after I've tried a few others.

Nøgne ø 100

Here's what I had to say about this one back in June of 09.

My first Nogne brew, and highly anticipated. Very deep brown, bordering on black in color. A flurry of carbonation results in a bubbly, medium-sized tan head that has great retention. When it finally fades, a constellation of little dots surround the middle of the snifter, and a few clumps of bubbles are left on top of the brew.

Smells pleasant with deep chocolates and ripe red cherries easing into some piny hops. Subtle sweet malts and dark dried fruits flow across the palate and are followed by a big hit of more piny hops, distant dark chocolates and fairly sharp and lingering alcohol heat.

Mouth-feel is medium to heavy, and it initially goes down smooth and creamy, but a certain crispness forms around the edges after a few drinks, making things interesting. I can see where aging one of these would make a big difference in rounding off some of the sharp edges, but it's still good to go as is, and very satisfying.

Live Oak Old Tree Hugger.

Big bad bearded behemoth of a brew here, which suits me just fine, because I like a gnarly beer from time to time. 

March 10, 2011 review.  On tap at the Gingerman in Austin.

Ruby red in color with a slim tan head at the rim.  Has an aroma of black licorice, caramel malts and burnt hickory. Tastes of pine, bubblegum and sour cherries with a vein of sweet malts, a very faint spice and a medicinal tinge at the edges.

Medium to heavy and a bit syrupy with a lingering alcohol heat. Fair carbonation.

Nice and big drinkin' on a spring-like Austin eve.

Well I guess that wraps it all up for now.  I highly recommend you go out and support the plight of the Barleywine as soon as possible.


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