ClarkVV (6708) - Boston, Massachusetts, USA - SEP 4, 2003
UPDATED: JAN 11, 2006 1997 bottle (9/5/8/5/19), sampled in 2003. Pours a muddy caramel brown, with layers of dark chestnut and some black, some beige. Good solid creamy beige head. Aroma is wonderful, sharp aromatic apricots with some sugary spice as well. Started out at about 54 degrees, the beer begins with a truly unique flavor of. . .dirt? It is like when you fall in the dirt and get a mouthfeel, like that dirty soil taste. Surprisingly it wasnt bad, this transitions into a tremendous amount of warm malt flavor with some butterscotch appeal. Has a medium-full body, tending towards full. Finish begins with some alcohol and apricot flavors mixed together, along with some barley malt lingering. Ends with an exquisite caramel malt. As the beer warmed, towards 57-59 degrees, this dirty taste turned out to be the maturing alcohol flavor that was so poignant and concentrated it tasted almost mineralesque. As it softened and warmed, and the beer could breath, to my great delight, this turned into the most authentic caramel taste. Like fresh caramel that is not too sweet, and just perfect, i dont know how else to say it. Growing warm and fuzzy and then mixing with some more barley and slight scotch notes. Wow. This has aged gracefully to say the least. Make sure to let this one breath when you open it. The 97 is wonderful, and has got plenty more years of aging to do. Gotta get me some more to cellar. The best aged barley I have tried thus far, though the 97 Hardys needs far more aging than this one, so it is a bit unfair.
1996 bottle (7/5/7/3/15). Sampled 3/3/04. Same pour and color, but much weaker aroma than the 1997. Uh oh. As I guessed from the aroma, this one was thin and oxidized. Strange with the one year difference, but obviously the sitting in a warm, lit store for 8 years didnt do much for this bottle, whereas the 97 I tried had been refrigerated for quite a few years. Much thinner, not as much good caramel malt, nor am I able to distinguish the clean fruit flavors. Not that bad though, just too oxidized.
1996 again. Amazing. This bottle was still great, no traces of the heavily oxidized, watery palate that the last bottle had. Big, warm, sweet, lightly fruity with those lovely mineralesque flavors I love in this beer. Glad that the last bottle being bad was just a fluke. RichJ7 (1175) - Cullman, Alabama, USA - AUG 24, 2003
UPDATED: MAR 27, 2007 Sweet, yeasty malt aroma; cloudy caramel/amber in color. Little head to speak of. Taste was sweet with a hint of roasted malt and fruit. Very nice, flavorful brew with a smooth finish. Lighter than expected with extreme drinkability. One of the finest beers I’ve had, bar none. jgb9348 (6250) - Arlington (Pentagon City), Virginia, USA - JUL 24, 2003
Copper colour, off-white head. Aroma of raisins, figs and pit fruit. Flavours of roasted malt and musty tastes. A nice complex beer, with a great start-to-finish taste. I had this one out of the same bottle with DougShoemaker given to us by Lyle Ostrow at Premier Gourmet in Buffalo, New York. DougShoemaker (3147) - Toronto, Ontario, CANADA - JUL 20, 2003
1997. Inviting treacle, candied malt aroma. Deep copper, with a small tan head. Sweet malt, treacle, caramel and butterscotch flavours mingle together well. Complex, full bodied, bitter, dry finish. Terrific! Thanks again, Lyle Ostrow! celogan (204) - Oroville, California, USA - JUL 7, 2003
This was 1997 batch.
Poured a rootbeer brown with very little head and no lacing.
The alcohol was very present in the aroma and taste. To me almost overpowering at first. Very little carbonation and almost like drinking a wine, but malty and sweet. Some essenses of fritiness but I couldn't distinguish what it was. No bitterness or hopiness at all. I doubt I'll be a fan of this style, but everyone should at least try one.
DrinkingbuddyD (129) - Warsaw, New York, USA - JUL 6, 2003
Sweet red wine aroma, cloudy brown color with a very small head. Delivers a smooth malty sweetness finising with a mild bitterness. Delicious but doesn't have a very strong flavor. BBB63 (6557) - La Porte, Indiana, USA - JUL 5, 2003
1996 vintage # 894. After a night of pils, witbiers, and fruit beers, I decided to give my taste buds a ride. Murky earthy brown with little head and minimal lacing. Full-bodied. Raisins, tobacco/smoke, pears, caskwood, vinous aroma. Sweet and fruity taste with woody undertones, nicely complex. Slightly bitter and alcoholic on finish but not overpowering, smoother than expected. Also, more lively on the palate than expected. This bottle has aged very well, highly recommended. Found in Buffalo at Premere Gourmet. frylock (1135) - Atlanta, Georgia, USA - JUN 29, 2003
bottle from 2001. Murky brown color. Fruity aroma. Very sweet raisin, oily feel. Very small amount of hops bitterness in the finish. Libeerian (209) - Garner, North Carolina, USA - JUN 18, 2003
This was one of the best beers of the year. It featured great complexity of flavor and aroma, displaying touches of licorice, raisin and sherry as well as the usual attributes of a fine English Barleywine. rauchbier (3889) - Isle Of Beer, Lincolnshire, ENGLAND - JUN 8, 2003
Bottled. Deep amber/chestnut colour, thin off white head that quickly evaporates and low condition. Thick toffee and caramel aromas with a slight burnt smoky edge. Seems initially quite thin in the mouth but starts to reveal itself if you let it slosh about a little before swallowing. Good malt flavours with a nutty roastiness mingled with toffee and alcohol. Slight metallic note noticable in the long hop bitter finish.