AleSmith Decadence 2011 Maple Smoked Barleywine Barrel Aged - AleSmith Brewing Company
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Ratings: 82 | Reviews: 13 | Display Reviews Only:
3.55/5 rDev -12.3%
750ml brown glass (black glass?) bottle with black foil-ed over unbranded pry-off pressure cap acquired at Alesmith a year ago or so and served into an EKU 28 stem-snifter in me parents' gaff in high altitude Castle Rock, Colorado. Reviewed live. Expectations are fairly high given its current 90 rating, though I wasn't very fond of the base beer. 11% ABV confirmed per the label. The label features gold font and is classy and intricate. Style per the label: "Smoked Barleywine-Style Ale Brewed with Maple Syrup and Aged in Bourbon Barrels." 2011 vintage (obviously).
Served cold - straight from me fridge - and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.
A: No bubble show forms as it's poured.
Pours a one finger wide head of khaki colour. Nice creaminess and thickness. Nice smooth even consistency. Little lacing clings to the sides of the glass as the head recedes, and little remains for very long. Head retention is average - about two minutes.
Body colour is a translucent orange-amber of average vibrance. Nontransparent. No floating yeast particles/sediment is visible.
Overall, it's an appealing appearance for the style. I'm looking forward to trying it, but it's not unique or special. What I'd expect from a barleywine.
Sm: The maple is more subtle than I remember from the base beer - or maybe it's just covered up by the bourbon notes, which consists of ample vanilla and oak , but sadly no toasty character. Any smoke character is very restrained/faded. In my experience, smoke recedes with age. Plenty of typical barleywine malts - brown malts primarily. There's also some cream and some hints of fruit - faint cherry and currants mostly. Clearly, a suitable bourbon was chosen given the richness of the oak and seeming extent to which the barrel notes complement (if not develop) the base beer.
No yeast character, hop character, or overt booziness is detectable.
As it warms, the maple syrup emerges a bit more, lending some sweetness up front. The aroma does seem a biteen too sweet, but it's tolerable. It's a pleasant aroma of mild to moderate strength.
T: Ah. So much more well balanced and built than the base beer. The smoke has faded, to be sure, but there is a faint subtle hint of beechwood. The foundation is pretty standard for a barleywine: brown malts mainly, with some biscuit malt, caramel, and cream. The barrel notes are lovely and really complement the base beer nicely; I pick up lovely oak and some wonderful vanilla - neither of which feels artificial. Still, I would like some toasty character. The maple is much more reticent than would be ideal, unfortunately. I'd like it with a bit more wood.
It also boasts some faint burnt sugar, very light hints of leather, and a kiss of dark fruit (which develops as it warms).
Overall, it's a very cohesive build, but not quite a gestalt one. There's abundant complexity here as well as a fair amount of subtlety. The smoke and maple would provide nuance if they were more present, but having tried the base beer I'm glad they've faded. Fairly intricate. Above average depth of flavour. Average duration and intensity of flavour.
No yeast character comes through. It has a pleasant alcohol warmth which fits with the premise of the beer yet admittedly restricts drinkability.
Mf: Has a nice creaminess - especially up front. Smooth and wet. Nice thickness and body. Heavy on the palate, to style. Nice presence on the palate. As well as it complements the flavour profile, the texture doesn't come off custom-tailored to the taste. It's a biteen overcarbonated, unfortunately.
Not oily, astringent, gushed, rough, or hot - though it does have some pleasant alcohol warmth.
Dr: It's a sipper, to be sure, and is best consumed in the winter months. I'm surprised at its quality given the base beer used, but Alesmith has again shown their mastery over barrel aging and heavy American styles. It hides its ABV pretty well, but there's room for improvement. I'll enjoy killing this bottle alone and I almost wish I had another bottle. I'd recommend this to friends, and can verify aging has done it well. One of most improved-with-age beers I've had. I'd definitely buy it again just to see how it develops.
A lovely barleywine with well-integrated barrel notes that will please even the discerning drinker.
12-29-2013 03:55:28 | More by kojevergas
AleSmith Decadence 2011 Maple Smoked Barleywine Barrel Aged from AleSmith Brewing Company
90 out of 100 based on 82 ratings.