Showing posts with label Barley Wine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Barley Wine. Show all posts

Mar 20, 2014

Victory Brewing Company Old Horizontal

    
     It's not uncommon for a group of us beer geeks to get together, try a few different brews and discuss them along with a billion other things beer geeks will discuss. It's not unusual for the conversation to turn to the topic of barley wines and especially barley wines we have tried before and want to try again if we ever spot them on a beer hunting adventure.
     The one that our group seems to have talked the most has been Victory Brewing Company's Old Horizontal. It had been a good few years since it has been seen on the shelves around these parts. From what we have gathered though-that was the case all around the nation as it was on a two year hiatus til it started appearing again late last year. The times I had tried it before I was always a delight but I never got around to making any notes about it. This time around I have.
     Pouring a clear burnt orange color a large, bubbly two finger tan head appears before slowly melting down and leaving rings of lace behind. The scents of fresh baked raisin bread, caramel apples and grapefruit introduce themselves almost immediately from a light whiff before they begin to intermingle with each other culminating into a sweet aromatic blend.
      Lots of buttery toffee and caramel and a very silky texture in the mouthfeel comes out in the front on the first sip. They hold strong for a moment then give way to rye toast and orange marmalade flavors in the middle followed quickly by blend of dates, blueberries and black currants along with the first initial hints of warmth from the +11% abv. Towards the end the hop characteristics come out adding a pine bite that does not push out the perfect blend of all the flavors that proceed it but adds and compliments them. The finish closes with a bit of a white pepper linger along with citus peel tang and hint of hazelnuts and dark chocolate.
     When I first spotted these around this year I bought two bottles with the intention of putting on in the cellar and one to drink. I didn't want to go all crazy and buy up every bottle because that hoarding mentality kinda pisses me off (unless they intend on sharing) and wanted to make sure that others around town who may be interested in trying it would get a chance to to grab a bottle or two for themselves. In the past they were here and gone within a couple of weeks. Luckily a few stores around these parts got enough so the bare spot on the shelf where they once were has not happened yet so I have been able to reward myself every couple of weeks with one as well as stick a few away to see how they age.
    One of my most favorite barley wines ever!
www.victorybeer.com

    

Jan 22, 2011

Short's The Wizard

Here I am a few weeks into a new year and, DAMN!, it's already seeming to fly by. Full time student, full time parent and full time job seeker. Then factor the program director gig along with the mundane day to day things likes laundry, making dinner and trying to fix up an old rickety house that has two new problems for every one that gets fixed and it all makes leisure time a rare commodity. Tonight though I have found some and Bellaire, Michigan's Short's Brewery has released a barley wine called the Wizard so dammit I am going to sit, sip and contemplate what kind of magic it has going on.
The color is on the darker end of the barley wine scale with it's mahogany and ruby shade. The head is minimal and recedes into a constant collar and slightly cloudy cap that hangs on through the entire glass with slight, spotty lacing. Nothing unusual for a barley wine in respects.
What is unusual is almost everything else about it. Short's fancies themselves in making things that are out of the ordinary and this is no exception. For this they've decided to tweak the standard barley wine recipe by adding raisins in to the brewing process. Instead of the green apple and apricot aromas that usually show up as the dominant backbone of most barley wines I've tried in the past this Wizard bears more of a scent along the lines of black cherries and molasses that sends a warming sensation up through the sinuses. One of the most interesting things about the way it smells though is that it's not uncommon to detect the higher end of the alcohol content that barley wines sport but here, even with an approximate ABV of 11%, it's boozy bottom is hardly even noticeable.
The raisin show up first in the flavor. They seem to bring a dark oak like nuance to the brew while throwing in a curve ball of vanilla bean in as an accent. Through the middle and end it's shifts several times on the palette first with a walnut and dark chocolate qualities then ending slightly astringent with a hoppy floral bite. There is quite a warming effect in the finish where otherwise well hidden alcohol content comes out to say hello.
As an introduction to barley wines I would most likely not suggest this to a beginner as it's not the most traditional take on the style but for a veteran looking for something different that can be done with it I'd tell them to put this at the top of their list.
http://www.shortsbrewing.com/

Nov 5, 2010

Dogfish Head Olde School

Ohhhh man. Barley wine! They're a rare treat around here in Smashin' Transistors land. One reason is that they're not something you see just at any random store. Another reason is that they're usually an occasional or season thing for most breweries. Usually packed with sweetness and a high alcohol count they can be thick and syrupy laying down some major hurt the next day. Moderation is the key as usual but doubly when it comes to them.
When it comes to suggesting a barley wine to a first timer Olde School from Dogfish Head is always at the top of my list. It is sweet but not way to syrup like, packs a 15% abv and sports one of Jon Langford's country music art pieces on it's label (which makes it 100% more bad ass than any other barley wine out there just based on it's cool factor alone). We're talking on of the kings of the style here.
Deep and clear amber color and a fizzy head and some serious lacing clinging to the side of the glass all the way through. Quite a few levels in the aroma. Apricot, green apple, toffee, sweet malts, some piney hops and, yes, many an alcohol fume on the nose. Reminds me some really fancy brandy or something like that.
The thing that jumps out the most on an initial sip is a bittersweet sting and a whole lotta warmth that doesn't seem to come from the alcohol but from the blast of flavor that comes out all the way through the glass. When it's cooler malt, caramel and sour fruits lays it down heavy then as it warms it takes on more of a dark fruit and spicy, hinting at a Belgian Quad ale or almost a cognac, flavor. It's finishes full and bold but it's stickiness doesn't coat the tongue and the back of the throat too thickly. We had a slight bit of snow flying around this evening. I'm looking out the window, sipping this and smiling because even if the heat wasn't turned on this is keeping me warm.
http://www.dogfish.com/

Oct 10, 2010

Founders Nemesis 2010

As a music fan and working in various degrees of the business involved around it for years I used to get a laugh out of the obsessive collectors. You know the type, The ones that have to have every single released format variation of their favorite artist. Never satisfied with having the music in one form they'd have to have the 12inch, the 7inch, the import 7inch on colored vinyl, the picture disc 7inch, the 12inch with a different color variation than the other 12 inch, the CD single because the mix is slightly different than the one on the import 7inch of colored vinyl and on and on. They would haunt record stores, distributors, trade lists etc on a daily (and in some cases an hourly) basis scaring up copies. It would get to a point where you'd see them, make eye contact and just give them a nod of the head to let them "No, we don't have it yet" and save the breath of telling them so.
Nowadays, things are different. With the internet and a paypal account they can usually end up finding whatever record you're looking for and, if price is no object, possess their very own copy to add to the shrine. I was always like "Hey man, I just want it for the music. What's the big damn deal." Then I became a beer geek.....
With almost all of Founders specialty brews I scoured the county for at least one bottle of this years Nemesis. My trusted beer sellers were just as frustrated as I was about not being able to get any (because they love GOOD beer too) and then would make comments about the local distributor of Founders only being good at keeping up on things that come in cans and are advertised on the Super Bowl. I ended up scouring the next county over and following an anonymous tip rolled into a particular store. Lo-and-behold there was one lowly bottle sitting on the shelf. She's been sitting in my fridge ever since taunting me. Until tonight.
Brown/almost black in color while sitting in the glass and a deep mahogany when held up to the light I'm a little taken back because I'm am more used to barley wines looking a bit more of an amber color than this. I know they style can variate in color and all that but I guess I've just haven't seen many this dark. Very minimal head but a millimeter or so size ring hangs tight all through the glass leaving some spotty and running lacing behind.
Lots of chocolate come out first in the scent followed by aromas of date nut bread, cherries that have been soaking in bourbon for a couple of months and some slight coconut. Not much notice of alcohol to this nose which is surprise because of it hitting a 12% abv. The taste has a very interesting complexity to it. A dark like licorice and tart like grapefruit hop bite comes out that then is wrapped cozy by coffee, maple and bourbon flavors. With each sip it's the same experience-here comes this bite then it's surrounded and softened up. The finish gives the hops some hang time again with some coffee hanging in the background. Founders always does a good job covering up their higher end alcohol content and here is no exception. Very mellow. It's different than the Nemesis of the past but each year tweak has never been a sidestep. If you see one on the shelf-snatch it, sip it and savor it. It's gonna be another year til they're spotted again.
http://www.foundersbrewing.com