Barley wines.. Must they age?

Discussion in 'Cellaring / Aging Beer' started by steve50, Jan 27, 2015.

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  1. steve50

    steve50 Initiate (131) Dec 10, 2006 New Jersey

    Enjoyed a 2014 Bigfoot Ale , then went and purchased a sixes of Flying Dog Horned Dog. The flavor was just ok. Going to let this sit until next year. My Q is are there aged BW' s out there to purchase if I search or do I just need to pick up some and let them age at home? Also my guy at Bottle King told me that the 2015 SA Bigfoot was released during the holidays,did I miss it?
  2. Brew33

    Brew33 Initiate (0) Oct 24, 2007 Ohio

    For me, I prefer hoppy, American Barleywines fresh (Bigfoot, Behemoth, etc) but I like English Barleywines with a little age. I find a little oxidation is endearing with something like JW Lees Harvest Ale. But to answer your question, no.
  3. spicoli00

    spicoli00 Defender (641) Jul 6, 2005 Indiana

    2015 Bigfoot around now. It's usually around for a few months.

    if you search you may be able to find vintage BW's. There isa whole foods near me that just got some 2012 brooklyn monster.

    i like them fresh and aged. drink what you like.
    Greywulfken likes this.
  4. Roguer

    Roguer Poo-Bah (7,150) Mar 25, 2013 Connecticut
    Moderator Society Trader

    Must? No.

    First off, it depends on the style. American Barleywines are typically very hoppy (Bigfoot being a great example). For some people, they like that massive kick in the teeth. For others, they'd rather let it age at least a couple years, where the hops mellow out.

    English Barleywines, by contrast, are typically smoother and more malt-driven when fresh. Age should improve them, as well, but they don't have that same kind of bite when fresh that an ABW has.

    So to the question must they age, I'd have to say no. It depends on the style and on your personal preference. I prefer my EBWs at any stage, and my ABWs aged, but that's just me.
    Greywulfken likes this.
  5. nuggetlover

    nuggetlover Initiate (0) Apr 13, 2012 Pennsylvania

    While I occasionally stumble across a vintage BW, I've aged most of my cellar on my own. And I I almost always drink one, cellar the rest. Patience is a virtue, and I've been rewarded with less burn / more flavor time again.
  6. Dan_Inreallife

    Dan_Inreallife Initiate (0) Jan 22, 2012 Colorado

    Whether or not a BW should be aged is up to your own particular tastes. For an American style like Bigfoot, you'll get a lot more hop presence when fresh, so if that's what you're looking for, drink up. English style BW tend to age a bit better IMO but I also enjoy a lot of them fresh.

    And yes '15 Bigfoot is out now.

    Edit: Looks like @Roguer beat me to it!
  7. KMitch

    KMitch Initiate (0) Aug 29, 2012 Alabama

    Try this 4 bottles of something you want to age. drink one fresh...then let the others age...try one at 6 months, another at 1 year, the last at 2 years and see how it changes over time.

    Or even better get 5 bottles of Bigfoot each year...Drink 1 2015 now. Next year, one 2016 and one 2015 and so on until you are able to do a 5 year vertical every year and you will really see how they change over time because you are drinking them side by side. Also, you may want to invite a friend because that's a lot of high gravity beer at one time...LOL

    I do this with BCBS and Expedition stouts and it's interesting to see how they change over time.
  8. steve50

    steve50 Initiate (131) Dec 10, 2006 New Jersey

    Thank guys . Will venture out to search for the 2015 Bigfoot. Cheers all.
  9. riotontheroad

    riotontheroad Devotee (460) Apr 7, 2010 California

    i was recently poking around in the bw section of total wine and found 2 bottles of 2012 old guardian hiding behind a row of 2014s. always check behind bottles in the big stores for forgotten gems.
    and yes, to me, bws are better with age.
  10. jmdrpi

    jmdrpi Poo-Bah (8,573) Dec 11, 2008 Pennsylvania

    I would agree with this. The highlight of most American barleywines is more of the hop flavor - with English it's the malt flavor all the way.
  11. mich34

    mich34 Initiate (56) Jan 5, 2015 Michigan

    I need to give my bigfoots a side by side. Over the weekend in Kalamazoo I hit 2 bottle shops, the first had a 4 pack of 13 bigfoot in the fridge and the second had 4 packs of bigfoot out so I bought a 4 pack of each. I thought I'd hit them this weekend but instead I had a 14 KBS and a world wide stout followed by rasin d'extra - Saturday morning put me off beer for the rest of the weekend...
  12. machalel

    machalel Initiate (0) Jan 19, 2012 Australia

    I haven't had a huge variety of BW, but I have to agree with the general consensus. Part of what makes an American BW is that assertive "punch in the mouth" of hops, whereas the English BW have the malty focus. I find that the ABW are amazing fresh, but more likely to go downhill faster when aged, whereas the EBW don't knock your socks off fresh, but tend to mature nicely.
  13. Zimbo

    Zimbo Savant (956) Aug 7, 2010 Scotland

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  14. MOVERTON1284

    MOVERTON1284 Initiate (0) Jul 23, 2014 Alabama

    I am aging a few to see if I like the style better with age. I have yet to find a barleywine fresh I like, including the BCBBW.
  15. neromatic

    neromatic Initiate (78) Dec 24, 2010 Michigan

    They are around depending who has them. I recently moved to Grand Rapids, MI, the shops here pull random aged bottles on the regular. I had never tried the Bigfoot but spotted an 07, 11 and recently grabbed and 11 and 13, all within the same week. Took photos that night and brought the 7 along for nye to share with my, now, ex (split on me out of no where 3 days later just before my 30th bday, so I kinda was bummed to not share it with my homeboy) anyway... Link to them unopened.
    I felt like it wasn't worth it for the later 2.kind of like this With Kindness by Perrin, no carbonation, lost aroma, still has a small bite and a great brew, but not at all the fullness of what I remembered on tap with said girl in November at the brewery. Anyway... Point being, I found it here... Which is kind of a beer town, so... Um...
  16. Sneers

    Sneers Initiate (0) Dec 27, 2009 Pennsylvania

    I've not been a big fan of some aged barleywines that were very hoppy to start out with. While the hops do mellow, their actual character changes as well, getting earthier and "rounder." That said, those I've had like this were around a year old, and I wouldn't be surprised if another year or two would get them over that awkward hump.

    I tend to prefer English barleywines, period, both fresh and aged, but I haven't had any that really needed aging, which is not to say they couldn't have been better with some.
  17. mattosgood

    mattosgood Initiate (0) Jan 13, 2014 Massachusetts

    I'll just add my two cents to the already great answers here.

    I've always found barleywines to be hit or miss, but I'm beginning to realize that there are just some styles I prefer better. American barleywines tend to work best for me fresh, or within six months. After that, I have no use for them. I think they drop off considerably. On the other hand, English barleywines are best for me after an entire year. A notable exception is Pretty Things, an English BW that's fantastic forever. I want a tank of it permanently on tap in my home.

    So, no. They don't have to age. American = good fresh; English = good all the time, but best after a year. That's just my opinion.

    I also haven't found a Bigfoot 2015 around here yet. Annoying. I still have a 2014 and want to drink it, but don't want to drink it without it's counterpart from this year.

    (Shit, I'm going to the beer store looking for barleywines today, aren't I? I told myself I have enough beer at home then my wife sends me on an errand .5 miles away from my store.)
  18. Prince_Casual

    Prince_Casual Disciple (356) Nov 3, 2012 District of Columbia

    A case of Bigfoot should only run you about $60. Unless space is a huge issue that's not a large amount of money for a fun experiment. As you drink them, you can fill the box up with the next years release.
  19. RDMII

    RDMII Initiate (0) Apr 11, 2010 Georgia

    A good English barleywine should not need aging, period. Some examples though from American breweries aren't fully English in my book and the time they sit helps to mellow the hop profile that shouldn't be there in the first place. Mirror Mirror is a great example of this, it's labeled English but I got a burst of both hop bitterness and aroma when I opened one which was a letdown. That shouldn't have been there. Our Finest Regards on the other hand is a classic and solid interpretation of the English style, it's dead on perfect fresh and does great with some time too. True English BWs from England fall into the same category, they're great fresh and continue to be great for years to come, as there's no worry of the hops oxidizing or turning into cardboard.

    American barleywines are just the opposite, and in most aspects are just barley driven Imperial IPAs to me, Bigfoot, Hog Heaven, Old Horizontal, etc. These for me need time to mellow as the hop profile is way too sharp and aggressive fresh, but letting them age does oxidize them too. For a hop lover I'd assume you'd want them fresher than aged, but for me I cannot stand those hop profiles and will only drink them aged, but by the time they're to my liking there's not much left to enjoy.
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  20. wordemupg

    wordemupg Poo-Bah (4,292) Feb 11, 2009 Canada (AB)
    Society Trader

    Sometimes I don't mind a fresh hop bomb, sometimes I like a mellow caramel malt bomb. The fun part is figuring out what BW's you like and at what age they peak for you personally:wink:
    TurkeyFeathers likes this.
  21. TurkeyFeathers

    TurkeyFeathers Initiate (0) Jun 22, 2014 New York

    I routinely buy a 4/6 pak. Drink 2/3 fresh and cellar the others. Have a nice variety aging now. Going to be like Christmas a few years down the road.
  22. Traquairlover

    Traquairlover Meyvn (1,026) Nov 10, 2007 Virginia

    All barleywines must be aged and people who don't cellar them are bad people.

    Well, okay, not really. In truth while I do personally prefer virtually all barleywines aged, there are those I find difficult to enjoy too fresh and others that are wonderful from the start. Given the wide variety of opinions I see on this topic (indeed, including in this thread), I think it is very difficult to lay down any hard and fast rules in an absence of knowing your general likes and dislikes.

    I'd suggest trying everything fresh, just in case you like particular beers better that way, and cellaring those which you find just too raw, or aggressively hoppy. At the end of the day, the only way to be sure of the a swer to your question os to experiment a little.
  23. mattosgood

    mattosgood Initiate (0) Jan 13, 2014 Massachusetts

    I'd love your suggestions on what I should pick up in this exact category. DM me, or post here.
  24. RDMII

    RDMII Initiate (0) Apr 11, 2010 Georgia

    JW Lee's Harvest Ale and all barrel treatments, JW Lee's Moonraker, Meantime BW, Young's Old Nick, Adnams Tally-Ho and Tally-Ho Reserve are the standouts. Most English old Ales are just lower ABV or 'light' barleywines and fall into the same category. We don't get as much of the English stuff here but I'd bet most smaller breweries in the UK do at least once house barleywine in their rotation too.
  25. mattosgood

    mattosgood Initiate (0) Jan 13, 2014 Massachusetts

    I need a trip to England.
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  26. RDMII

    RDMII Initiate (0) Apr 11, 2010 Georgia

    Forgot my favorite, Traquair 2020 (if you can find it anywhere, local place still has a case with my name on it).
    Traquairlover likes this.
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