ClarkVV (5571) - Allston, Massachusetts, USA - MAR 28, 2007
3.6 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 15/20
Draught snifter at the brewpub on 3/21/07
Thin wisp of tan head vanishes immediately. Body is dark, cocoa brown but has a strong maroon tint to it. Clarity is medium-low.
No hops in the nose. Thatís a relief. What is this, one of ten malt-focused barleywines brewed in the United States? Nice to see something different for a change. Spicy phenols (cinnamon, clove) and light notes of Spanish coffee congregate on the nose, but are dispersed by thick, gooey-sweet malts that deliver notes of raisins, prunes and milk chocolate. Thereís a strong vanilla note mixing with light alcohol that helps dry things out on the end while the overall strength of the aroma is medium. Chocolate covered raisins, with almost a bourbon-like spiciness are released much more strongly, upon warming and the beer gains a lot of character.
Iíve got to say after about 2 sips all I could think of was Lost Abbeyís Angelís Share. Itís got the huge, thick, chewy-sweet dark malt profile with tons of chocolate, raisins and toffee, thatís for sure. But on top of that, this one seems to gather plenty of bourbon/brandy-like character as well (not sure from where). Must just be the interplay of phenol, alcohol and sweet malt, but is has that very flavorful, vanilla dryness with lots of rich woody character. It definitely stuck with me through the rest of the glass. Very low carbonation, but still enough to give a bit of zestiness to the otherwise incredibly sluggish palate. Obviously not the mouthfeel that the bottle conditioned Angels Share has, but nice for a brewpub draught beer. Some burnt/char notes emerged on the end as well, adding a light acidity that further helped attempt to balance the malt. But the toffee lays on thickly as the beer warms, with a slight syrupiness as well, that defies much of the balance. Alcohol and phenols coarse through it, giving some complexity while light prunes and strong raisins further intensify the toffee-caramel sweetness. I enjoyed it quite thoroughly, despite it being quite sweet. I really think these are the best barleywines (the toffee and raisin combo, with no hops and plenty of interesting yeast character). I just wish I could try Angels Share before itís barrel-aged.
Cletus (6355) - Connecticut, USA - MAR 3, 2007
3.2 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 13/20
Pours reddish brown with a thin ring of bubbles. Smell is cloying and contains lots of spicy clove and raisins. Tastes of berries and malt with some hoppy earthy elements. Not bad.
jcwattsrugger (12122) - Florida and, New Jersey, USA - DEC 30, 2006
3.1 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 12/20
on tap-pours a tan head and mahogany color. Aroma is sweet/perfumy, medium malt, dark fruit. Taste is sweet/perfumy, medium malt, dark fruit, yeast,slight alcohol. Kind of a Belgian style barleywine. Mild carbonation. Sipping.