Thursday, December 21st, 2017

Craft Beer Crosscut 12.21.17: A Flight of A Barleywine Carol

Ron Swarner


Beer-Flights-Logo-no-wordsTonight, Peaks and Pints presents A Barleywine Carol, inspired by the classic Charles Dickens holiday tale A Christmas Carol, the festivities held at Mr. Fezziwig’s and Bob Cratchet’s, and a glass of Christmas cheer for the holidays. In addition to live bluegrass by the Barleywine Revue, Peaks and Pints will tap five barleywines. Despite its name, the barleywine is indeed a beer but at wine strength — ranging as low as 7-percent alcohol by volume in British versions and upwards of 15 percent in American interpretations. Despite its name, barleywines aren’t made with tons of specialty grains, as one might assume. Historically, barleywines are brewed with pale malt, the same malts used for pale ales. Brewers achieve that rich caramel flavor that’s expected in barleywines by extending the length of the boil, which caramelizes the flavors and imparts that deep color. Yeast and hops vary between English-style and American-style barleywines, but either way, the barleywines we drink today are expectedly bold, yet surprisingly complex. All day, Peaks and Pints presents five, 3.5-ounce pours of barleywines in our Craft Beer Crosscut 12.21.17: A Flight of A Barleywine Carol. Cheers!

Sound-Old-Scoundrel-Barleywine-TacomaSound Old Scoundrel Barleywine

10.4% ABV, 40 IBU

Sound Brewery’s Old Scoundrel is a delicious malt balanced barleywine with enough Cascade hop to make it a great marriage of the Old and New Worlds. The nose is malt forward, with healthy doses of caramel and toffee, often characteristic of English barleywines. There is also an essence of molasses and a vague fruitiness. Notes of brown sugar, faint nuttiness and dried apricots coat the tongue followed by a distinct hoppiness. While hoppy, Old Scoundrel is well balanced against the malt and sweetness.

Firestone-Walker-Sucaba-TacomaFirestone Walker Sucaba

13.5% ABV, 42 IBU

One of Firestone Walker Brewing Co.’s annual Proprietor’s Vintage Series releases, Sucaba is a 13.4 percent ABV English barleywine brewed with Munton’s pale, crisp Maris Otter pale, Munich, dark and light crystal and chocolate malts along with spalter select hops before being aged in bourbon barrels. Big, boozy bourbon and American oak aromas combine with soft chocolate malty undertones. Aroma offers chocolate, roast malt, vanilla and caramel tones. Flavor follow the nose with rich, almost fudgey toffee, caramel, brown sugar, toasted notes, slight chocolate, lots of vanilla from the oak, plus dried and candied figs. A touch of booze and drying from the oak counteract the sweetness in the finish, but it’s still a rich, sweet beer with a full mouthfeel and soft carbonation.

Three-Magnets-BiL-TacomaThree Magnets BiL

11.9% ABV, 50 IBU

Three Magnets Brewing grabbed its 2015 GABF award-winning Old Skook in the Woods barleywine — with 100 percent English malts, hops and yeast — and conditioned it on whiskey-soaked oak chips. The aroma offers up booze, boozy bourbon and then sweet caramel malt, figs, marzipan and sticky malt covered oak. The taste delivers smooth rich sweet malts and a dash of fig — without being sticky or heavy — heading straight into a boozy wall of bourbon. Behind all of that is a sense of thick malt sweetened spicy oak.

Ecliptic-Barrel-Aged-Orange-Giant-Barleywine-Ale-TacomaEcliptic Barrel-Aged Orange Giant Barleywine Ale

13.8% ABV, 70 IBU

Like the blazing giant stars that inspire it, Ecliptic Brewing’s Orange Giant is truly massive. Three malts and copious amounts of Chinook and Nugget hops impart a creamy malt profile and resin hop character to the beer. After resting 10 months in 12-year-old Heaven Hill Bourbon barrels, this barleywine packs a big punch. The initial impression is boozy, but not hot. Sweet malts of barleywine create the backbone. There is a definite orange-vanilla presence, with the vanilla originating from the barrel. Nose is not as intense as taste and mostly gives you the nice barrel aromas.

Elysian-Wide-Eye-Coffee-Barleywine-TacomaElysian Wide-Eye Coffee Barleywine

10.2% ABV, 82 IBU

Brewed with 10 gallons of cold brew coffee concentrate from Olympia Coffee Roasters, Elysian Wide-Eye Coffee Barleywine is brewed with nearly all pale malt, with some crystal and Munich for color, bittered with English Magnum and finished with Northwest Amarillo and Centennial hops. The beer looks typical of a barleywine in that it pours clear-ish with a rich garnet-like color. Aromas are dessert-like with toffee, chocolate, caramel, a mild edge of coffee, and character that is reminiscent of sticky pudding. Flavors are unsurprisingly big and sweet, with a finish of toffee and coffee. The coffee is enjoyably subtle and well integrated into the barleywine profile. It doesn’t feel like disjointed companionship, and it’s quite enjoyable to experience the interplay of rich sweetness and slightly roasted coffee.