Posts Tagged ‘Barley Wine’

Barleywine Anyone?

Posted: November 1, 2010 by Overclocked in Beer Thoughts
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Tried my first barleywine today. Specifically, a 2008 Schlafly Reserve – Barelywine-Style Ale by The Saint Louis Brewery.

Seeing as this is my first barelywine, lets take a quick look at what this beverage actually is. Generally a barleywine is a strong beer ranging from 8% – 12% abv that has been aged a certain amount of time. Barleywines are ‘big’ beers meaning they use a lot of grain relative to the desired batch size. This means the beer will start with a high specific-gravity and therefore, will have a higher alcohol-by-volume when finished fermenting. The reason barelywines are aged is to mellow, or ‘marry’ the flavors in the beer. The large grain bill and high alcohol content will benefit from years of aging which allows the flavors to combine into something tasty rather than a ‘rough’ taste. (A beer that has little time to age will have flavors that are still very strong and can often overpower each other)

The pour produces a very nice dark amber almost red color with medium haze. A very small 1-finger head shows up and then vanishes. The aroma of very sweet caramel malt is present along with dark fruit (plums perhaps?). Two years of aging has almost eliminated any hop aromas.

Upon the first taste I realized I am using the wrong glass. A standard pint glass is not the correct vessel for this beverage. A goblet or wide-mouth glass would be more suitable. Nonetheless, it tastes very complex. The sweet caramel maltyness coats the inside of your mouth and combines with the aroma to become almost too sweet. Hop bitterness is very very slight but still there. Alcohol hides very well and is pretty much unnoticeable. The sweetness now combines with hints of dark fruit and the oak starts to come in at the end of the taste. The aftertaste is full of oak and sweetness.

Halfway through the pint glass and the taste has almost grown on me. Its still a very different beer than what i’m used to. Still a nice drink to try. I would personally prefer a sharper, perhaps more toasted oak flavor to balance the sweetness. This beer was aged on new Missouri oak with a ‘medium toast’. The new oak definitely adds to the sweet flavor. A heavier toast or aging with an older bourbon barrel along with more hop presence (perhaps a 1-year bottle) might have suited my tastes better.

– Overclocked