Barleywines are a favorite style of mine, and every time that I see one that I have not had I usually buy it. There is just something almost elegant ending the day with a nice, slow sipping Barleywine. Not one to miss a new one for my list, I spotted this guy hanging out at the new Jungle Jim’s, so of course it came home with me. That said, lets take a look, enter Mendocino’s Imperial Barleywine:
This beer pours into my snifter like a solid Barleywine. The smells are spot on for the style, with darker fruits taking the stage mixed with a slight sweetness. Taste wise, dark fruits are there again, this time mixing with a nice alcohol warmth, which makes sense due to the 11%ABV. This is a big beer.
Overall, this beer is average to me. Nothing really stands out to really make me want to buy this again. With so many amazing barleywines on the market, this one kind of falls to the rear of the lineup. It’s good, but I would call it average at best.
If you have ever read this blog before, you know that I do enjoy my barleywines. Something about the style makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. That something would probably be the higher alcohol content that comes with barleywines, but that is only an educated guess. That said, let’s take a walk down memory lane with this guy, straight from Brooklyn. Enter the Monster Ale:
Quite some time ago, around 2003 or so, I discovered Monster Ale for the first time. In my beer infancy, this beer was something of the holy grail for me, only due to the fact that it had the highest ABV that I had ever seen in a beer. Little did I know that I would discover a style that I would still enjoy to this very day.
The ale pours a nice ruby/amber in your goblet, with barely if any head leftover. But appearances are not why we drink, right? This barleywines scent is not too strong, with just a tiny bit of sweet fruit smells. But the taste, is something a little different. This beer hits you up front with a sweet taste, and smooth malt flavors with a slight alcohol burn at the end. But that is about it. Nothing too much standing out with this English barleywine. I should point out that this is from 2010, for those keeping score out there.
As barleywines go, Monster Ale holds a special place in my beer drinking heart, for being my first barleywine. But, this beer does not really deliver as much as I remember. For this style, there are far too many superior brews that deserve your money. One that comes to mind for an English barleywine would be Anchor’s Old Foghorn. Well out of the price range of Monster Ale, but if you are going to do an English barleywine, you might as well do it right.
Overall, it was nice to take a stroll down memory lane, but this beer fails to make any new memories with me.
Barleywines are big beers, and in my household they are commonplace. There is nothing like settling down after a nice dinner with friends and enjoying one of these big beers over conversation. I feel that is what they are made for. Let’s take a look at Stone’s offering, and see how it stands up to some of the other brands. Enter the Old Guardian…
After warming the beer up for a bit, just during the course of dinner, it pours like a good barleywine should; a nice ruby coloration and sticky, foamy head that dissipates on it’s own time frame. The beer has a pleasant, faintly sweet aroma, which is also there in the taste. But that is not all. The beer has a great, familiar Stone hop flavor, mixed with some malt sweetness, and candy sugar flavors. Not over the top sweet like some barleywines, and also not over the top hoppy, this beer is a delight. The beer finishes up with a nice warm alcohol feel, that reminds you that this beer is big, 11% ABV big. Drink a few of these and you will feel like you have been banging your head against a tree, maybe like this guy:
Again, barleywines are one of my favorite styles, and this beer ranks up with the best. I would put it, flavor-wise, in between Sierra Nevada’s Bigfoot and Great Divide’s Old Ruffian. Definitely in the top tier of barleywines. This is a great beer that should be enjoyed slowly, or that 11% ABV will remind you that you are not a woodpecker, with their special adaptations to keep them from getting headaches. Regardless, well done Stone, always a pleasure!
Yesterday I took out my wife for her birthday lunch at our favorite restaurant in our little burg, Padrino (Check them out here. Not only is their food top notch, but their beer list is one of the best in the Cincinnati area. Anyway, once inside the restaurant, I glanced at the taps and spotted something that I had not seen before. Enter 21st Amendment’s Lower DeBoom Barleywine:
If you remember, I first noticed 21st Amendment with their winter seasonal, Fireside Chat (Review here). Definitely a tasty brew, which got me interested in the brand. This beer, however, was completely off of my radar. Here is why:
This beer is part of their “Big Can” series, which basically is a keg only, three times a year or so release of a limited, small batch beer. Luckily, Padrino scored a keg of this monster, here are my thoughts…
The beer pours into your snifter like most barleywines, with a ruby hue, topped off with a decent sized, almost creamy head. Flavor wise, this barleywine delivers. Nice fruity flavors blend with malt goodness and hints of toffee, finishing with a nice bit of alcohol. Easier to drink than Sierra Nevada’s Bigfoot, or Anchor Brewing’s Old Foghorn. Not knocking those two beers, but this beer is special. The flavors blend so nicely, and more start to show themselves once your glass has warmed a bit. I found myself wanting a second glass, but since it was my wife’s birthday lunch I had to refrain, luckily for me since this beer is around 10.5% ABV.
This has been a solid barleywine from 21st Amendment, and one of the best that I have had. This beer ranks up their with Great Divide’s Old Ruffian for me when it comes to the style. I will be heading back to Padrino to have some more of this delight. Well done!
In life, beers come and go. Every now and again you will find a beer that you are absolutely crazy about, then all of a sudden it is no longer available. The shelf life for some brews is unfortunately just too short. Luckily, that is not the case with this beer. Anchor’s Old Foghorn has been around since 1975, and was the “first modern American barleywine.” I have wanted to try this for a while, lets pull the anchor and set sail…
This beer pours like your typical barleywine, showing up to play in a nice, amber/ruby appearance, with an off white head that bubbles to the top. It doesn’t stick around for very long, with little lacing, if any left on the glass. When you tip the glass up for a drink, the pleasant aroma of fruit mixed with the smell of alcohol hit your nose. It smells good, but it is not as strong of a smell as some other recent barleywines that I have tasted. Moving on to the taste, it is very different than most that I have ever had. The carbonation is very different, and after some reading, it is very different. To achieve this type of carbonation, Anchor uses a natural process, unfortunately called “bunging,” to give the beer a champagne type carbonation. Interesting, but it fits very well. Horrible name though. Anyway, this gives the beer a special occasion feeling, which makes it a pleasure to drink. More of a sipping beer, the flavors are a nice mix of sweet fruits, a bit of malt bitterness, and finishing with a nice, almost bourbon alcohol feel. Overall, this is not your run of the mill barleywine, a very good choice if you are into the style.
The only downfall that I believe that this beer has though, is it’s price. I know, a quality product demands a premium price. I understand that. But at around $17 for a six pack, that price makes it hard to swallow, especially with quite a few comparable barleywines at much cheaper prices. As far as barleywines go, this one is a classic, with almost a legendary status, so for that reason it will be my special occasion barleywine. Well done Anchor!
There are a lot of beer companies that I have had and then forgotten about. Sometimes, you are at a bar and there is a special beer on tap, so you have a glass and it’s the most amazing beer that you have ever tasted. A lot of times, it fades to the back of the mind due to other circumstances, ex. events, conversation, too much to drink, etc. Sometimes you pick up a random bottle or two of a far off distant company, enjoy the beer, and then forget all about it. That happened to me with this company, Great Divide Brewing. Not that the beer was forgettable, just that I could not remember the company name…
My first dance with Great Divide came in the form of their Oak Aged Yeti imperial stout. An amazing beer that was big in flavor, that always stuck in the back of my mind. The problem was I could not remember who made it, I could only remember the clever name of it, due to me being a Sasquatch enthusiast. Sure I could have looked it up, but sometimes I am a bit lazy I guess. Anyway, while scanning the beer isle at my local grocer, I spied with my little eye this dandy of a brew:
Old Ruffian barleywine style ale.
Barleywines are one of my all time favorite styles of beer. My very first taste into the complex world was from Brooklyn Brewing with their Monster Ale, back in 2003. From then on, I have searched out for more and more barleywine ales to quench my thirst. Enter this beer…
At first taste, the familiar flavors of a barleywine hit you, but this beer hits you with a hint of hops. The label of the beer says a “huge hop character,” but I would not go that far. When I think of huge hops in a barleywine, I immediately think of Sierra Nevada’s Bigfoot ale, which punches you in the taste buds with hop flavor. With GD’s Old Ruffian, the hops are more subdued, which makes this beer more drinkable in my opinion. I should point out though, when I say “subdued,” that is only in comparison to SN’s Bigfoot. The beer does boast 90 IBUs, which definitely puts it in the “hoppy” category.
The major difference of this barleywine compared to others that I have had though, is it is more balanced, drinkable, and smooth. All of the ingredients in this beer work well together, each one complimenting the other. I would go as far as calling it a more refined Bigfoot ale. That is in no way a knock on either beers, but at first taste, side by side, Old Ruffian will be easier and more enjoyable to drink. This is now the beer I am going to recommend to folks when they want to try out the style. Hands down, best barleywine that I have ever tasted.
Now that this beer is under my belt, I don’t believe that I will be forgetting the Great Divide name any time soon. And also, for style points, I need to pick up one of these:
Well done, now I need to go on a beer run…
Cycling jersey photo from Great Divide’s site.