Ughsmash (7508) - Pewaukee, Wisconsin, USA - JUN 29, 2006
2004 vintage on tap at the Brew Kettle. Poured a deep chestnut/burgundy with a nice cap of beige head (short-lived, though). Nose was quite seductive... with rum-soaked raisins, figs, and rich, rustic caramel... kind of an old ale feel to it. Alcohol-fueled rich dark fruity base with floral highlights and smoky caramel. Booz factor increased greatly with warmth... quite tasty! Sticky sweet, but satisfying... some grainy bitterness across the middle. Medium-to-low carbonation. Definitely enjoyed this one. ClarkVV (6708) - Boston, Massachusetts, USA - APR 24, 2006
UPDATED: APR 25, 2006 2004 bomber generously given by Kujo and shared with SuIIy on 4/23/06. kramer (6682) - Sunbury, Pennsylvania, USA - JAN 27, 2007
Impressive carbonation levels for a 2 year old barleywine. Very large, off-white head is foamy, well-retained and provides light bits of lacing. Color is a strong, auburn-red, very crystal malt driven, with a high clarity, no sediment on bottom, seemingly filtered and force carbonated.
Aroma is heavily bitter hops, not overly aromatic, just dry citrus and some strong pine resin. This spikes up at first and is combined with moderately hard crystal malt that seems to have softened with 2 years, bits of caramel sweetness and noticeable munich malt sourness that seems to grab at the nostrils rather violently. Strong yeast bi-products due to the high gravity; fruits, vanilla and corn. It all adds up as to overload the nose, rather dry, bitter and sharp, though the alcohol is not too fierce for this level. Caramelly, with dry peaches created from the munich malt, caramel sugars and fruit esters, leading to some redeeming aroma complexity, but ultimately it’s just dry note after dry note. Strength is medium to strong on the aroma.
Heavy, heavy hop bitterness dynamites the palate upon first sip, corroding all the taste buds and really forcing a cringe. If there is still this much bitterness in the bottle after 2 years, it must have been downright brutal when fresh. As the palate adjusts to the bitterness, it must also confront the dry, lightly toasty/earthy crystal malt that seems to delay the onset of the sourish, bready munich malt. Once that begins working, combined with the alcohol warmth and heavy, caramelized sugars, the richness and decadence are matched by few. That being said, the acidity from the hops, munich malt and alcohol sharpness/dryness are only balanced by the intense, sugary, syrupy, coating, candy-caramel-sugars. Texture is creamy, smooth and liquorous, the forced carbonation having settled out after 2 years in the bottle. Hmm, what to think? For an American-style Barleywine, it certainly is well-made, that is, rich, unbalanced, decadent and massively bitter. After 2 years, I can’t expect much hop flavor, so you can’t fault it for that, and the alcohol, while gratuitous, is not more apparent than I would expect for this level. Full-bodied, that’s for sure. As it warms and the carbonation comes off further, you get a gritty maple-caramel-honey sugariness that is thick, rich and syrupy (and pleasant, in a decadent way). I think my usual tendency to really rate these types in to the ground for their lack of balance and elegance is not quite fair. It is a well-made beer, in that it is not flawed, fuselic, fuelic or poorly malted, but there is little excitement from the rich, heavily sugared caramel-maple malts and deadening hop acidity. Like an after-dinner cordial, also reminds me of Barleys Barleywine from Ohio. With some sherry-like oxidation after 5 or so years, this could be very intriguing.
As a postscript, the brewer informs me that there is no munich malt in this. Not sure what accounts for the light sourness and breadiness, but perhaps the alcohol dryness with the crystal malts and some yeast biproduct?
22 oz bottle, via kujo9. Pours a mostly clear orangish copper colored body under a foamy one finger beige head that receeded to a thin covering. A good amount of sediment in bottle. Nose is sweet toffee and caramel maltiness with a nice balancing hoppiness. Some brown sugar, nougat, and a touch of smoke. Flavor is rather sweet with a light pepperyness, lots of dark brown sugar, and toffee up front. Finishes a little harshly bitter with alot of very hot alcohol. Mouthfeel is full bodied and chewy up front and slightly sticky and cloying on the finish. The carbonation is fairly active, but still pretty soft. This was pretty decent, but still slightly harsh on the finish. Even at 3-4 years old this could use some more cellar time. BBB63 (6557) - La Porte, Indiana, USA - MAY 31, 2004
Tap: Hazy copper hue with oily film on top. The aroma has notes of pepper, juniper berries, sage, pineaplle, grapefruit, blueberry, vanilla, earthy and sherry qualities, some phenols. The taste starts with a wild floral and piney character. A fruity undertones follows with a sublime malt background. Vanilla, wood, and spices upon the finish. The mouthfeel is sticky, oily and lush. Provides a twangy and snappy feel upon the finish and is warming upon the chest. Wow, what a wonderful brew, full of complexity and depth, a winner! (Note: As most small brewpubs, it is served too cold, let warm to near room temp) Dickinsonbeer (5074) - Hoboken, New Jersey, USA - FEB 6, 2009
Bottle at my latest BW tasting. Pours a deep peachy amber, hazy with an ok head. Aroma is light in alcohol right off the start, good nutty doughy and toasted swet malts, honey, raisin and slightly estery with a nice floral hop component. Flavor seems a bit sweet, caramel and honey in there, molasses and toasted malts with a floral honey finish and a bit dirty yeast as well- not quite refined but still ok.
jsquire (4489) - St. Marys, Ohio, USA - JUN 17, 2004
Amber color with a quick tan head that faded to a lasting ring. Very complex nose of rosemary, juniper and spruce. Lots of complex sugars in the flavor. Apricot, orange, caramel, toffee, alcohol with the hops finishing with a sustained citrus rind note. The highlight of the tour. goldtwins (4320) - Nesconset, New York, USA - FEB 7, 2009
2004 Vintage. Poured a hazy golden amber color with a small off-white head. The aroma was of oxidized malt with some cheezy notes. Sweet malty flavor with notes of caramel and a hoppy finish. Warming with a medium-full body. SpringsLicker (3639) - Tennessee, USA - AUG 1, 2007
On tap at Rich O’s Publick House when I stopped on the way to Dark Lord Day. Left over from Gravity Head.
Slightly hazy, deep amber in color, with a frim off-white head.
Light malt aroma that lacks complexity for a Barleywine.
Sweet malt flavor (but not overly so)with some bitterness in the finish. A bit one-dimensional, this would be a good candidate to age a bit more. aracauna (3606) - Georgia, USA - JUN 6, 2004
This is a hazy light copper with an ok head that fades quickly. There’s a nice little burst of hops in the aroma. There’s a slight bit of butter and a good caramel sweetness, but not too sweet. It’s got a slick mouthfeel and is pretty sticky. Tasty. puzzl (3258) - New York, New York, USA - DEC 19, 2008
Bottled. Aroma is ok, toasty sweet, mildly oxidized. Taste is incredibly astringent, still hoppy but only in bitterness. Tough to drink. Not great.