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A Barley Wine for Every Day

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by zid, Nov 29, 2015.

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  1. zid

    zid Champion (836) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Beer Trader

    [​IMG]

    The second beer from Central Waters didn't fill my mind with good thoughts when I poured it. It appeared to suffer from the negative effects of oxidation. After I adjusted to the beer, it turned out to be a real winner. This is an example of the kind of strong ale that I've been waiting for this month but didn't quite get yet. It provided a layered, malty, rich experience. There's a herbal bitterness in the back end that clashed a bit in the beer. While having the second half of the bottle, this flavor started to take over and unfortunately resulted in a Ricola quality.
     
  2. SudsDoctor

    SudsDoctor Aspirant (229) Nov 23, 2008 New York

    Mind sharing where you found the Ballantine Burton? I'm on Long Island (Suffolk County). Thanks.
     
    zid likes this.
  3. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Defender (641) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    The first beer that came to mind is Sierra Nevada's Bigfoot. Although it's seasonal, so that sort of makes the "easily available" part a bit problematic. Of course, you could always buy a case and drink it throughout the year and beyond...one of the best beers to age in my opinion.
     
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  4. drocpsu

    drocpsu Initiate (195) Dec 25, 2006 New Hampshire

    Uhh, that would be New Hampshire. Portsmouth, NH.
     
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  5. DrStiffington

    DrStiffington Meyvn (1,083) Oct 27, 2010 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    Yeah, I bought it on my way through NH when I STAYED in Maine. Then I brought it back with me from Maine. Happy?
     
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  6. zid

    zid Champion (836) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Beer Trader

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    Thirsty Dog Bernese
    Great beer. This is coming across far less hoppy than the last time I had it. This might be due to the fact that the previous time was on tap and was likely much younger. Would like to try again to get a better grip on it.
     
    #206 zid, Dec 17, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2015
  7. RUN-4-B33R

    RUN-4-B33R Initiate (0) Jul 7, 2015 North Carolina

    Try Middle Ages (Syracuse) Druid Fluid. American Barleywine.
     
    foundersfan1, zid and utopiajane like this.
  8. zid

    zid Champion (836) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Beer Trader

    Would love to. Middle Ages is not given enough credit for their malty beers.
     
    RUN-4-B33R likes this.
  9. Shroud0fdoom

    Shroud0fdoom Poo-Bah (1,598) Oct 31, 2013 Maryland
    Beer Trader

    Blasphemy!!! :stuck_out_tongue:. This and the Scotch Ale are in my upper tier beverages.
     
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  10. zid

    zid Champion (836) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Beer Trader

    When is everybody going to learn that I embrace blasphemy?
    (Shroud, you outta know)
    OK, I'll add a little more info. The Scotch ale is one of the most satisfying bourbon-yadda-yadda beers that I've ever had. I've had this barley wine before (on tap) and thought it was nice but nothing I'd run back to. This time around, that first sip was fantastic. It just didn't hold it's spell over me much after that. Maybe I'll love it on a different future date. Sometimes a beer just tires me out and frame of mind is always a factor.
     
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  11. Shroud0fdoom

    Shroud0fdoom Poo-Bah (1,598) Oct 31, 2013 Maryland
    Beer Trader

    I dig, I dig. I know how you feel. Sometimes I drink a brew and it doesn't hold attention. Try it again and Bam! I need a new pair of boxers.. The Scotch Ale is on the same level of greatness like that of Wulver and Backwoods Bastard. Central Waters' doesn't distribute here, so when I get to try their Barrel Aged Brews I already set in my mind it's going to be better than Barrel Aged Beer X :rolling_eyes:.
     
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  12. luisfrancisco

    luisfrancisco Disciple (323) Dec 1, 2009 Mexico
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    I like SN Bigfoot, but I think it's too hoppy/bitter to be considered an English Barleywine. I've tried one year old bigfoot and while the hoppyness had faded somewhat, I still found it bitter.
     
    zid likes this.
  13. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Defender (641) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    Ah, I didn't know you were looking for an English Barleywine. Sierra Nevada out of the gate is about as American as they come, more or less a double IPA when fresh.

    I find it takes a minimum of two years for the hops to fade at all, and it's still fairly hoppy at that point. After that I haven't noticed much of a difference until year 5. After 5 years it's one of my favorite beers ever, such a rich, malty brew and the hops have taken a back seat (but still contribute to overall flavor profile).

    If you want to wait 5 years, I would say the beer becomes more English in character by that point.
     
    foundersfan1, zid and luisfrancisco like this.
  14. zid

    zid Champion (836) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Beer Trader

    There have been times when the first sip of a beer tastes heavenly, but I end up struggling to finish it. Volume is an underrated thing here. I liken it to music. Sometimes, the stuff that ends up earning your deepest admiration is the stuff that didn't sound great at first, but slowly won you over... whereas the stuff that proves immediately pleasurable doesn't end up sustaining any satisfaction.

    Central Waters is a good brewery. My favorite might be Mudpuppy Porter. 5 1/2 percent and flavorful. Just wish they consistently dated their product.
     
  15. zid

    zid Champion (836) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Beer Trader

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    Barrier Archibald

    Barrier is a brewery that I would consider local to me. They are a relatively small operation. Drinking this beer, I couldn't help but think of how easy it is to lose a brewery. One of my favorites, Pretty Things, is ending their run. Their beers will be no more. When the brewery lives and breathes due to just a couple of people, it's easy for it to stop. Barrier was almost wiped out by Hurricane Sandy. Hard work (and some support from the brewing community) allowed Barrier to get back up. They are still operating despite any setbacks. They bottle infrequently but this might now change.

    This beer exceeded my expectations. It's a highlight of the month so far. It was aged at the brewery for a year. It reminded me of bread pudding with a little caramel, but it managed to avoid being cloying. Really fantastic. I could drink more of this. The amazing thing, is how a little local brewery can put out a beer that overshadows the other beers I've had so far. This isn't due to home-team favoritism. I was once a big fan and drank much of their output. Recently, I've found myself dissatisfied with brewery visits. I was unhappy with their beer, and also experienced far too much substandard beer from other "locals." This barley wine has renewed my faith. Loved it.

    The moral of this story? Don't look at your locals with rose-tinted glasses, but keep in mind that they might be putting out beer that will rock your socks off... and you should enjoy it while you can. This one goes out to @ecpho
     
  16. zid

    zid Champion (836) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Beer Trader

    New additions (I hope this is the last group shot). I felt the need to have more English beer in the thread.

    [​IMG]
     
  17. Shroud0fdoom

    Shroud0fdoom Poo-Bah (1,598) Oct 31, 2013 Maryland
    Beer Trader

    This sounds Delicious! I'm a fan of English Style Barleywines. I also agree with you on the don't give up on Local Breweries. I almost gave up on DuClaw. Then I tried Guilty Filthy Soul. That brew changed my mind on them. I will purchase that brew again if they decide to brew it again.
     
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  18. Ricelikesbeer

    Ricelikesbeer Zealot (566) Nov 29, 2006 Colorado
    Subscriber

    What? Not 30 days of Thomas Hardy's? I recently had a Hardy's from 1981 which was still incredible! Very cool experience. I honestly think I'd tire of barleywines after a week or so but power to you! Quite the collection.
     
    zid likes this.
  19. zid

    zid Champion (836) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Beer Trader

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    Kulmbacher Eisbock

    Yeah, it's a bock, not a barley wine. This is the Captain America of beers... frozen, thawed out, and pushed to the physical limits. Hopefully Captain American won't be upset by the German comparison. I was hoping to have a lightbulb moment where I'd perceive the differences and similarities between the two types. I gained no such thing. This bottle could be very old, and I'm suspicious that the changes due to oxidation helped to hide the differences between the two beer types. I don't get the clean qualities that might be expected. This beer poured a cola brown and tasted of prunes. At times, it tasted entirely different from any of the strong ales I've had this month (a unique sweetness), and at other times, it wasn't too different (dark fruits). I bought another Eisbock (as the previous post shows) and I'm curious if I'll get a more rigid experience.
     
  20. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,008) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Supporter Beer Trader

    That beer always reminded me of a ramped-up Celebrator (which isn't such a bad thing to be :wink:); and I think it's in a different sort of substyle that features that spiciness and dried fruits as part of its makeup. I think it's really cool how they get those qualities out of a lager, but I could see how it would be a surprise it one went into it with the expectation of just getting a pure hit of melanoidin-rich Munich-maltiness.
     
  21. msscott1973

    msscott1973 Devotee (447) Dec 28, 2013 North Carolina
    Beer Trader

    My morning after would be.......I don't even want to think about it.
     
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  22. darktronica

    darktronica Savant (972) Aug 29, 2014 Indiana
    Beer Trader

    One of my local bottle shops just randomly put out a bunch of 2009 and 2010 Stone Old Guardians. Got one of each to see how they're holding up these days!
     
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  23. beergrrl

    beergrrl Initiate (0) Dec 9, 2003 New Hampshire

    Chucklehead.
     
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  24. cello

    cello Initiate (151) Oct 17, 2013 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    [​IMG][/URL][/IMG] picked this up this afternoon.[​IMG]
     
  25. zid

    zid Champion (836) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Beer Trader

    I agree. It feels far removed from a standard bock in a way, but does remind me of Celebrator specifically. For me, the extreme quality of Eisbocks tend to mask the richness that makes a typical Doppelbock enjoyable. The first time I ever had this Eisbock, it made me feel a little sick - and not in an alcohol way. Having this one brought me right back to that. There's something sickly about it. There's a syrupy taste, but not feel.
     
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  26. zid

    zid Champion (836) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Beer Trader

    Sounds like five years of reform school. :wink:

    Regarding @luisfrancisco 's inquiry, I do think that Bigfoot is too much of an iconoclast to be an "Old Rasputin."
    @AlcahueteJ , your post did push me over the edge. Despite what I said earlier, I did decide to grab one recent Bigfoot to stash away for a later date. :slight_smile:
     
    AlcahueteJ likes this.
  27. mstrcrwly

    mstrcrwly Aspirant (204) Dec 21, 2013 New York
    Beer Trader

    Double or Nothing is the best of that bunch..drinking one right now
     
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  28. zid

    zid Champion (836) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Beer Trader

    I've had Hardy's once. From 2006, and had 7 years later. At the time, I found it too extreme to really enjoy. If the latest reincarnation is ever released over here, I'll want to try it for sure. By the strict (and some would say inaccurate) definitions of many here, that "old ale" would be a lager!
     
    #228 zid, Dec 19, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2015
  29. zid

    zid Champion (836) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Beer Trader

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    Samuel Smith Winter Welcome Ale

    I know this beer is very different from most of the beers in this thread. It was just put on the shelf and I thought it would be the freshest that I could get it. I thought it would also be a good reference point for Stingo. The BJCP actually lists this beer as a good example of an old ale - so it's inclusion is actually warranted. The style listing on this site is winter warmer. Far different from American winter warmers, it's probably a better fit than old ale anyway. I guarantee it wouldn't be listed as a winter warmer if it didn't have winter in the name. That's not necessarily a bad way of doing things either. If this beer is an old ale, it is surely at an extreme end of the definition. The BJCP has this on the same list as Gale's Prize - the spectrum here is huge. To me, this is an ESB (if you can forgive me even thinking of "ESB" as a style - I sort of don't). It's essentially the same ABV as Fuller's bottled beer. It drinks like a strong bitter. As it's on the extreme end of an old ale, perhaps it's on the extreme end of a bitter... just strong enough to be "strong." It's a beautiful, crystal clear darkish amber. It has that distinctive British fruitiness. As hoped, this bottle was indeed the freshest tasting I've had it. In this condition (and with the proper expectations), it's a really nice drink.

    [​IMG]

    Samuel Smith Yorkshire Stingo

    Having Stingo in this context was an absolute revelation. In my memory, it was a murky complex beer... I now think that my memory exaggerated a good bit. I was surprised by how close this beer was to Winter Welcome (rather than, let's say George Gale's again). My hunch of using Winter Welcome as a reference point really paid off. While not as clear, it was still much closer than I would have thought. The nice fruity flavors were far subtler than what was found in other beers this month. There's a balance to this beer, and that surprises me too. While nicely crafted, I'm left with the feeling that this isn't worth the expense. Treating this beer as just another English strong in a long string of drinking big beers has maybe given it an unfair platform... but on the other hand, treating it as a special occasion beer perhaps provided too much bias. I love restraint in beer, but the price and production of this beer demanded something else. Until I decide to really splurge and have it again, it's gone down in status for me.
     
  30. utopiajane

    utopiajane Poo-Bah (2,384) Jun 11, 2013 New York


    I love your review of Winter Welcome. That beer is becoming a tradition at my house. If I ever see Stingo I will try it. Cheers!
     
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  31. zid

    zid Champion (836) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Beer Trader

    Thank you. If you could call it a "review." :wink: My reviews tend to be 99% musings, 1% tastings. :slight_smile:
    The price tag of Stingo might scare you off, but don't let the age of the bottle scare you off.
     
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  32. ecpho

    ecpho Initiate (178) Mar 28, 2011 New York

    Yeah I really enjoyed this one, would love to find more somewhere - hopefully it comes back around this coming year. I'm a big Barrier fan b/c they aren't afraid of making non trendy styles like an English Barleywine or a Kolsch or a Cali Common. Not many other locals bother with styles like these, or if they do they are way over hopped. I'd like to see them make a few more Belgian styles and German lagers.
    Didn't know Greenport bottled Anti-freeze, only had Triton a long time ago.
     
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  33. zid

    zid Champion (836) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Beer Trader

    [​IMG]

    Hofstetten Granitbock Ice

    Another Eisbock and I think I promise that it's the last one in this thread. This guy confirms my experience with the Kulmbacher beer and eliminates any grey area for me. All of the things that made the Kulmbacher beer unique are here without any other distractions. I had to adjust to this beer after the first few sips. It's also cola brown and reminiscent of prunes. It has the same sickly syrupy flavor without a syrupy feel. Carbonation starts strong and disappears very quickly. These Eisbocks invite measured sipping more than the barley wines.
     
  34. Shroud0fdoom

    Shroud0fdoom Poo-Bah (1,598) Oct 31, 2013 Maryland
    Beer Trader

    I dig this brew! Can't wait for cases to land at my shops. (Had it on Tap last Sunday).
     
    zid likes this.
  35. zid

    zid Champion (836) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Beer Trader

    I'm glad you mentioned your tradition. I might start doing the same.
     
    utopiajane likes this.
  36. zid

    zid Champion (836) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Beer Trader

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Weyerbacher Blithering Idiot and Insanity

    I think these might be the only two beers I am having where I have the opportunity to drink a "base beer" and then its barrel aged version. Blithering Idiot was cherry juice red in color. I found it to be intensely sweet. It tasted of caramel. It's a nice dessert beer if you are in the mood for something sweet. Insanity is in the same color ballpark. The barrel flavors mask some of the sweetness of Blithering Idiot, but one can taste Idiot underneath it all. The nuttiness provided by the barrel mitigates Idiot's identity - it is decadent in a different way. I'd say that Insanity is the more conventional of the two based on what's out there today. Nicely done.
     
  37. zid

    zid Champion (836) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Beer Trader

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Against the Grain London Balling

    This beer had a lot to live up to. Against the Grain's Jerrytall is one of my favorite old ales. It is a pineapple-ish delight. Their Brettish Bulldog is a great old ale with some intended sourness in the background - something that's surprisingly absent in our beer landscape (come on American brewers, for all of your supposed dedication to adventure and history, you can't put a British fungus in a British beer... step up!). I wish either of those two beers were present this month. On top of that, their 70K is one of my favorite "barrel aged" beers.

    Against the Grain's packaging is totally inconsistent. I absolutely love this particular bottle shape.

    This beer is a murky chestnut brown that turns translucent yellow on the edges. Carbonation was minimal. I'd say I marginally enjoyed this more than the other bourbon barrel aged barley wines that I had so far this month. It found a good balance between achieving barrel presence without having those characteristics clash with the beer itself. The flavor was more bourbony than other beers. I do not mean that the barrel flavors were more intense, but rather: what was present tasted more of bourbon than vanilla. In some ways, this was detrimental. It was a more cohesive beer than others in its category, and as a result, I could drink more of this than others. When considering availability and price, this beer loses to the others. Unlike Central Waters, I can't grab a four pack at the store (but I would if I could). I don't know if this beer is produced via contract brewing or at their brewpub. Either way, it's great.
     
  38. Harrison8

    Harrison8 Poo-Bah (1,557) Dec 6, 2015 Missouri
    Beer Trader

    That's a fun way to celebrate your birthday. Happy birthday!

    The New Belgium Lips of Faith Barleywine has been staring me in the face every time I go to a certain liquor store. I'm think it's about time I pick it up and try it. Never had a barleywine. I'm curious.
     
    zid likes this.
  39. zid

    zid Champion (836) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Beer Trader

    If that's the blackberry one, it might be a little unusual for a barley wine (I haven't had it).
     
    #239 zid, Dec 20, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2015
  40. zid

    zid Champion (836) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Beer Trader

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    Otter Creek & Lawson's Double or Nothing

    As can be seen in these photos, the beer is a dark walnut stain in one lighting condition, and an absolutely stunning red in another. It is brewed with maple syrup, aged on maple wood, and called a "maple barleywine" on the packaging. This is heading dangerously close to gimmick territory in this regard. I get that it's going for a certain level of "terrior" (it even says "Vermont Collaboration" on the label). Conditions being what they are (one of which is beer-fan romanticism), Vermont can pull this off better than some other locations. If handed to me blind, I wouldn't think "maple" and that's not necessarily a bad thing. The heat, sweet malt, bittering hops, and wood contributions seem to be competing for attention in a rough mix. This isn't a beer for those who want seamless harmony, but it's not off-putting in any way.
     
    #240 zid, Dec 20, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2015
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