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.
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!
Days are getting shorter, and also colder, so that only means that the beer is getting darker. This time a year is a special time for beers, due to the fact that almost every single craft brewer throws out their special “Winter” seasonal brew. 21st Amendment Brewery is no exception to this rule, enter their Fireside Chat.
Winter ales are usually a tad heavier in general, but this beer is a pleasure to drink. I have to admit, what sold me on the beer itself was the packaging. On the six pack cardboard holder, and also the can (more on that later) is a nice artist rendition of F. D. Roosevelt sitting in a comfy chair, smoking a cigarrette, and doing his depression era radio addresses. This picture made me happy when I first laid eyes on it. Such a good image. The other thing that I found interesting on this beer is that it is in cans.
Cans just make sense for beer. Especially craft beer. With a can, you get lighter shipping loads, which makes it easier for smaller craft brewers to turn a profit. It also packs easily, for taking your beer along for the trip. For example, it worked pretty well in the Xtracycle freeloaders. Another perk is that when it goes empty, you crush the can, and have less bulk leftover to pack back out. That is nice, with no clanking around, the can keeps that horrible sound at bay. But, the biggest perk in my opinion when dealing with cans is that there is ZERO light pollution. In a can, you are probably not going to get the dreaded skunky beer that reaches this point from being exposed to too much sunlight during the shipping process. This essentially gets you, the consumer, the beer in the intended state that the brewer would prefer. Seriously, who likes skunky beer? Not I.
Lets get down to the beer itself. I have been nursing a sixer of this brew for around a week. Due to a current cold that I have been struggling with, I have had to take my sweet time just so I could get the full effect of this beer without a ruined sense of taste. I will admit, my first taste of this beer with a cold made me think I was drinking a Spice Girl. Let your mind ponder that for a second.
After my taste buds returned to normal, I have grown to appreciate this delicious beer. Here is the rundown: 7.9% alcohol, which there is not as much of an alcohol taste in this beer. I feel a larger alcohol after-burn would probably ruin it, but that’s just an opinion. Lots of spice flavor going on in here, which when mixed with all of the various malts that are used, it keeps the spice in check. Maybe that was the issue with Anchor Steam’s Christmas ale last year. That was the only beer that I poured out in 2010, it made me feel like I had done a line of ginger. Back to 21st though, the beer finishes nicely, and makes you head to the fridge for another.
Hats off to 21st for making this beer. Winter, spice driven ales are not my forte, but this one is definitely one that I will remember for next season. If you are intrigued, run fast to your local grocer due to the season for this beer goes from October to December.
I have a feeling that FDR himself would approve…