Sugar & Spice | Martin House Brewing Company

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41 Ratings

Brewed by:
Martin House Brewing Company
Texas, United States

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 12.00%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Michaeldmanley on 12-28-2013

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Ratings: 41 |  Reviews: 6
Reviews by MattSweatshirt:
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Photo of WTKeene
4.38/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a growler filled 1/19/2014 at Craft and Growler into a Bourbon Barrel Temptress Snifter, a day later.

Appearance: No head to speak of. The beer itself is a beautiful crimson and vermilion at the base, fades to rust on the top when held to the light.

Smell: Sticky sweet tropical fruits, but not in a hoppy way. No hint of guava or anything like that, but sweet papaya and what can only be described as cherimoya (related to the paw-paw, if that helps anyone) come through strong. This is a really interesting smell I haven't smelled in beer before. I love it though. Hints of alcohol heat come through here too.

Taste: Exactly like the smell. Loads of sweet papaya and cherimoya. I can only assume this is from the piloncillo added, the brown sugar of the piloncillo has got to be contributing a lot of this. It is even a bit on the dry side, surprising because of the sugar content. A tad on the watery side, but not overwhelmingly so. Really unique flavor for a barleywine though, and I like it. Glad I have a full 64oz of it.

Mouthfeel: Quite thin for a barleywine. A nice level of carb though, on the lower side of moderate for sure. Flavor lingers in the mouth quite a while.

Overall: This was really unique, and it paid off. Kudos to the folks at Martin House for coming up with something like this. A rum barrel aged version of it would probably be fantastic if they do it right. I'd like to see this bottled/canned too. Delicious.

 1,465 characters

Photo of En29356
4.23/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of BeerRunner
4.46/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Photo of Thanx4AllDaFish
4.5/5  rDev +11.4%

Photo of Bearman13
4.5/5  rDev +11.4%

Photo of ruzzal
3.22/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Photo of aufie
3.96/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Photo of BeerBucks
3.9/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of cmcquirk
3.31/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

Photo of tubeyes
4.23/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Brown in appearance with lots of tan head and tons of lace. Amazingly sweet nose but subdued compared to taste. Taste is ridiculously sweet, lots of winter spices, nutmeg, cinnamon, clove. Had on tap in snifter at Smokes in Dallas paired before and after their mixed barbeque plate. Absolutely rich and heavenly.

 312 characters

Photo of jtaylord
3.82/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of mlhooper
4.4/5  rDev +8.9%

Photo of cdwil
4/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Photo of sd123
3.85/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Jdotswizz
4/5  rDev -1%

Photo of kojevergas
2.43/5  rDev -39.9%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.5

Impression from a can nabbed at Trader Joe's in Austin:

"Spiced American barleywine." 12% ABV. "Made in Texas by Texans" (so I guess they're either not hiring any out-of-state brewers or they're just lying to consumers for marketing purposes?). Canned 11/15/17.

Served chilled into a conical pint glass.

APPEARANCE: The head is somewhat creamy and is khaki in colour. Head retention is good for the high ABV - ~8 minutes.

Body colour is a clear amber-copper. No yeast/lees are visible within; it's obviously a filtered beer.

Appears well-carbonated. Far from unique or special, and certainly not amongst the best barleywine appearances I've encountered, but it's not a poor appearance.

AROMA: Caramel, amber malt sweetness, graham cracker, artificial sweetness (as though sugar or natura i.e. artificiall flavour was added), toffee, cardamom, cinnamon, imitation vanilla extract, barrel sugar-like sweetness, sage, and some tingly mint family herbs.

Not very appealing given its high sweetness, but at least it's not boozy. No overt off-notes are detected. Tends towards a more English yeast profile than an American one by my estimation, but apparently I'm wrong as they bill this as an American barleywine. Hop presence is mild.

TASTE: The spices lend it an overt artificiality which is off-putting coupled with its unnecessary high sweetness. It's not as boozy as its 12% ABV had me expecting, but that's probably the best thing I can say about it. It's a muddled mess of a beer lacking vivid distinct flavours and depth of flavour.

I do find some caramel and herb bouncing around as well as generic floral hop flavour. I was wrong in terms of yeast; this does tend towards an American ale yeast profile.

Nutmeg, imitation vanilla, clove, cinnamon, caradamom.

TEXTURE: Thick and sticky, flirting with syrupy. Smooth, wet, unrefreshing, heavy on the palate, and chewy. Combined with its saccharine taste, this coating mouthfeel has me mentally reminding myself to schedule a dental checkup.

OVERALL: A subpar barleywine across the board. Very forgettable fare that neither nails a classic barleywine flavour nor steers enough into the "spiced" skid to stand out in the category. I'll easily finish the can I got and its well disguised 12% ABV will prove quite the wallop, but I couldn't recommend this to either discerning or casual drinkers and I definitely wouldn't entertain the idea of purchasing it again.

*Update: I checked Martin House's website after reviewing this and discovered it's brewed with piloncillo, which helps explain that problematic sweetness it suffers from. This would undoubtedly have been better without all the unnecessary additives.


 2,704 characters

Photo of Dusty6467
4.75/5  rDev +17.6%

Photo of Michaeldmanley
5/5  rDev +23.8%

Photo of cwreay90
3.77/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Jame515
4/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of kevinobryan
4.15/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

Great dark amber color. The initial sip packs an extremely sweet punch for me, as I'm not a big fan of sweetness. However, it's not a lingering sweetness. Has a great aftertaste. I can space the time between sips and this is a very drinkable beer for me. Awesome winter beer with the spices.

 296 characters

Photo of Bryan12345
4.25/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of BTHU
4.5/5  rDev +11.4%

Photo of Foxybrau
4.11/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

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Sugar & Spice from Martin House Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.04 out of 5 with 41 ratings