We’re winding up for our monthly style feature here at the shop, and this month, due to the final cold stretch of winter laid out before us, we’ve decided to feature barleywine. Starting Sunday, February 14th, we’ll be featuring 6 different varieties of barleywine. It’s a style that weighs in heavily when it comes to flavor and alcohol content. Large grain bills and generous hop additions lead to big ales, that can be as delicate and distinctive on the palate as fine wine. These ales are also fit for aging for multiple years.
This last fact seems fitting, as the first known references to barley wine date back to ancient Greece. Greek historian Xenophon (sweet name we know) makes mention of barley wine being stored and consumed on a regular basis. These earlier versions would be unlike modern barleywine however as the use of hops was not documented until centuries later. Something tells us these Greek versions were both big and funky.
Style wise, barleywine breaks down along English and American lines. As is somewhat standard in the craft beer world, American versions tend to be more aggressively hopped, while english versions rely on deep malting and more subtle balance. This leaves both versions at similar alcohol by volume percentages, but vast difference in flavor profile and visual appearance. English barleywines can be amber, to deep amber, even to very dark. American barleywines are usually honey colored or even lighter, with amber and red amber being on the dark end. They are all big beers, meant to warm in your glass as you sip slowly and let the burn of the alcohol settle in your stomach.
One more quick aside here, for those of you who like splitting hairs (a favorite pastime of ours)….Barley wine has traditionally been written as two words in britain, and dating all the way back to it’s origins. This makes sense linguistically if it is being described as a type of wine, with ‘barley’ as the qualifier. Legend has it that when Anchor Brewing Company brewed the first significant barleywine on American soil in 1976 (Old Foghorn it’s called), they decided to make it one single word, so that it would not be confused with wine made from grapes in the marketplace. We think it was a wise move, and for the record, we have decided editorially to side with our new world brethren and keep with the tradition. Ok, end of rant.
On that note, we’d like to introduce our starting lineup of barleywines, starting Feb. 14th:
Grand Teton – 2012 Oak Aged Barleywine: 10.0% ABV – Victor/ID
Brimming with bold flavors of bittersweet malt and heaps of aggressive hops, this barleywine was part of Teton’s annual holiday ‘Coming Home’ series. It was aged in Oak for two years, and then has been aged in stainless since 2014. A rare treat indeed.
Bozone – Wee Nip Barleywine: 9.0% ABV – 100 IBU – Bozeman/MT
Wee Nip boast piney and citrusy hop aromas, and a subtle blend of three specialty malts keeping the beer in balance. A more conservative approach to the alcohol content keeps this brew a little more approachable than other big beers.
Stone – Old Gaurdian Barleywine: 11.2% ABV – 80 IBU – Escondido/CA
The maltiness of this beer is only tamed by a prodigious addition of hops, creating a rich, slightly sweet, ale infused with assertive bitterness and bright hop notes, all culminating in a pleasing dryness.
Rogue – New Crustacean Barlywine/IPA: 11.3% ABV – 88 IBU Newport/OR
Not quite a barley wine and not quite an imperial IPA. Featuring 8 Ingredients: Weyermann & Bohemian Malts; Bravo, Amarillo, Falconer’s Flight & Horizon Hops; Free Range Coastal Water & Pacman Yeast.
New Belgium – Blackberry Barleywine: 10.0% ABV – 50 IBU – Fort Collins/CO
Blackberry Barleywine channels the elegant spirit of a classic English barleywine, but with a kiss of blackberry. A deep wash of caramelized sugar and toasted bread, courtesy of Caramel Munich malts, adopts subtle laces of floral fruit for a proper pairing.
Moylans – Old Blarney Barleywine: 10.0% ABV – Navato/CA
Our Barleywine Style Ale is a rich and heavy ale brewed to a high gravity. Massive body, mouthfeel and hoppiness. Barleywines are the “brandy” of the ale world. A great sipping ale, and a perfect finish to any meal.
Ask us about our flights too!