craftbeerdesign (2254) - Fort Collins, Colorado, USA - DEC 7, 2008
sample on Nov 6, 2008. pours a deep red with a small white head. aromas of fresh piney hops... medium to full smooth body with a nice bitter presence. this one was fresh and the hops really shined. a great american english barley wine mixture. Perm (151) - Tryon, North Carolina, USA - SEP 8, 2009
750 mL (the only size bottle)
Appearance: Cloudy caramel-toffee brown with abundant antique-white, foamy, frothy head. Looks like carbonated madeira!
Aroma: A nose that tells a story! Toffee, caramel, vanilla, Old Library, hay, hop resin, violin rosin, dark chocolate, madeira.
Taste: A bit tangy and sharp, perhaps -- but this bottle is still in its infancy! This incipient sharpness leads into a smorgasbord of vinous delights. Lots of caramel, toffee, hop, and vanilla, with a sweet finish.
Palate: As the brew is still young, it’s a bit hot, but a nice spritz on the tongue and throat.
Overall: Well-nuanced, well-balanced, really and truly excellent. I imagine this beer (I got two bottles just for this reason) will be stellar in a year or two. Good by itself, but I can imagine this next to creme brulee, dark chocolate, roasted almonds, or a pipe!
And kudos on the percentage donation to keeping the endangered Hellbender salamander in our midst.
Who says organic beer’s no good? This stuff is tip-top.
Drake (14447) - Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA - OCT 28, 2010
22 ounce bottle from Greenlife Grocery in Asheville, purchased in March 2010 and opened 10/12/10. I was doing a bunch of admin work on NC beers, so I needed to crack one. This one pours a clear ruby red color with a medium tan creamy head. Good head retention and decent lacing. Toffee aroma with notes of berries, spices, hops and brown sugar. The taste is toffee, brown sugar, bitter citrus hops, plums, faint spicy notes and a faint bit of roastiness. Medium-full bodied. Good beer. I’m a sucker for brown sugar, which they add to this, so I’m digging this one quite a lot. corby112 (2813) - philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA - MAY 4, 2011
Bomber, 2009 vintage(?)
Pours a dark ruby/copper color with golden amber edges when held to a light and a one finger frothy yellowish beige head that quickly fades into a thick lasting ring. Sporadic spots of lacing left behind.
I was expecting the aroma to be very leathery/boozy but it’s surprisingly sweet with dark malt notes and zesty spice. There is a touch of earthy/leathery malt and alcohol sweetness but the nose is dominated by hints of caramel, toffee and rye as well as some cinnamon, brown sugar and dark fruit. Hints of fig, raisin and plum.
Fuller bodied than expected with a beautiful balance of sweet and earthy/leathery malt as well as some autumnal spice, dark fruit, booze and faint hops. Lots of luscious sweet malt flavor with a lot caramel, toffee, chocolate, rye and hazelnut. This is countered by some zesty spice with notes of pepper, brown sugar and cinnamon. I’m also picking up some sweet dark fruit, notably raisin, plum and fig. There is some faint hop bitterness balancing things out as well as some subtle alcohol sweetness but there is little to no heat. The ABV is excellently masked with only subtle warmth in the finish, making this beer dangerously drinkable.
Overall, this beer has developed very nicely. The alcohol heat has mellowed very gracefully, allowing the sweet malt and dark fruit notes to shine. Incredibly complex, well balanced and extremely quaffable. I had to slow myself down from drinking down the whole bomber to fast. Another excellent beer from Pisgah that I highly recommend.
NachlamSie (3641) - Denver, Colorado, USA - FEB 14, 2006
draught. Hellbender is a rich ruby color with a thick white head. I wasn’t really expecting the fullness of the hops. They were quite nice and foresty over the rich caramel and berry notes. Nicely aromatic brew. There’s a great balance of pine, citrus, caramel, juicy berries, a bit of wood and barley all of which culminates to finish dry and slightly puckering. Very nice!
surffisher (198) - Raleigh, North Carolina, USA - MAY 10, 2008
2008 corked and wired bomber. Pours hazy dark copper colored. Hiighly carbonated with a large, long lasting, frothy, tan head. Aroma is very much in the English style with relatively low hops and lots of bready, doughy malts, caramel, dark fruits, and syrupy alcohol. I can easily see this evolving to the tropical fruity aromas and flavors of the aged 2006 version. Flavor is malty with some sweet molasses and fruit character but balances quite dry and a little hot yet. Full bodied and very smooth with full, soft carbonation and deep warmth. Overall, an excellent example of an English barleywine. Bottle-conditioned, it should age very well. Butters (4062) - Richmond, Virginia, USA - JUN 7, 2009
Bottle shared at the 6th Cellar Reduction. Near clear dark purple with reddish highlights and some small floating particulate, and decent white head with fair lacing. Terrific plum, mild alcohol, rum soaked fruits, cherries, candied malt. Very excellent job of hiding the abv. Great label and name. Great barlywine. punkrkr27 (903) - Berkley, Michigan, USA - SEP 18, 2009
Bottle dated April ’08. Opaque ruby pour with a dense white head and good lace. Rich dark fruit aroma with molasses, sharp pine and wet oak. The flavor follows through from the aroma with a sweet honey finish. Sticky, medium-full body with soft carbonation. Gmku (302) - Baltimore, Maryland, USA - APR 7, 2010
I find the sweetness just slightly cloying but otherwise this is a fine barleywine. kp (10880) - Woodstock, Georgia, USA - SEP 1, 2007
UPDATED: JAN 17, 2009
Date: March 31, 2006
Source: Barley’s, NC
Appearance: clear dark amber, thin beige head
Aroma: sweet fruit aroma, lots of sweet fruits
Flavor: rich fruity flavor with just the right amont of sweetness, great chatacter
Overall: an excellent english barley wine right out of the gate
Date: April 11, 2008
Score: 3.8 to 4.0
Appearance: clear dark red, fine beige head, scattered drippy lace
Aroma: light sweet dark caramel aroma with a lot of fruity character
Body: creamy body
Flavor: rich dark caramel flavor, lots of fruity character, brown sugar sweetness, just enough sweetness from the dark caramel to bring out the fruityness, just enough earthy bitterness for balance
Overall: best batch yet, this will be tremendous with additional age
Date: May 24, 2008
Source: cellar party
Aroma: more fruity character coming through on the aroma
Flavor: more earthyness in the flavor cuting back on the fruityness, long bitter finish
Overall: bottle especially needs age
Aroma: 7/10; Appearance: 7/10; Flavor: 8/10; Palate: 8/10; Overall: 17/20